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Lex Talionis

Encyclopedia of the Bible and its Reception

Volume 16
Editor(s): Christine Helmer, Steven L. McKenzie, Thomas Römer, Jens Schröter, Barry Dov Walfish, Eric J. Ziolkowski
De Gruyter (Berlin, Boston) 2018

Ancient Near East and Hebrew Bible/Old Testament

Anselm C. Hagedorn

The term lex talionis describes an act of regulated retributive justice and derives from a formulation of Roman legal discourse first attested in the Twelve Tables (8.2: si membrum rup(s)it ni cum eo pacit talio esto). In Roman law it is seen as an attempt to curb vigilante justice. While Roman law allows for the possibility of other (financial?) compensation (ni cum eo pacit) the common understanding of talionic justice generally assumes a form of equal retribution. This finds support in vario…

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