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Codes and Codification


CODES AND CODIFICATION . While codes and codification are only rarely discussed in broad studies of religion, there are nevertheless preliminary studies that allow us to outline the subject with some accuracy. Henry Sumner Maine, in his Ancient Law, first published in 1861, tried to describe the evolution of human society by comparing all preserved collections of ancient laws. With the discovery and diffusion of the art of writing, laws engraved on tablets took the place of the customary law recollected by privileged aristocracies, and "democratic sentiment" added to their popularity. "Inscribed tablets," Main notes, "were seen to be a better depository of law and a better security for its acccurate preservation than the memory of the aristocracies" (1905, p. 12).

In 19011902, when French archaeologists discovered in former Susa the stela with the text of the code of Hummurabi from the eighteenth century bce, it became clear that Maine's connection of codification with the struggles of plebeians against aristocrats was much too simple. On the other hand, the finding did confirm the existence of the literary genre of the law code. The law code was in widespread use as a means to make legal regulations accessible to the public. We can thus broadly define law codes as collections of laws (in casuistic style) written on stones, papyrus, or parchment and made accessible to the public.

There also existed, however, cultures that did not attach much value to recording their traditions in writing. Among the Celts, for example, the powerful priesthood of the druids considered it fitting that their holy traditions be transmitted only in oral and not in written form, as reported by Caesar in the Gallic Wars (4.14). The Zoroastrians handed down their holy texts by word of mouth for centuries until, forced by external circumstances, they wrote them down in the third century ce. In rabbinic Judaism some rabbis advocated that written and oral tradition should be separated. "You are not permitted to recite from writing things that are transmitted orally; those that are written you are not permitted to say orally" (B. T., Temurah 14b). And some Islamic ʿulamāʾ advanced the view that the adīth should not be written down. In these cases oral traditions could become public without being written down.

Means of Codification: Stela, Scroll, and Codex

The oldest texts of law codes of the ancient Near East were written down on stelae, large stones that were inscribed and publicly displayed. In some cases the texts of these stelae were copied on clay tablets by pupil-scribes. By means of these clay tablets Mesopotamian codes were preserved, even though the original stelae had disappeared. In the Hebrew scriptures (Old Testament) two tables (luot ) are mentioned, on both sides of which the text of the Decalogue has been engraved (Ex. 32:1516). The prophet Isaiah received the order to write the word of the Lord on a tablet (made of wood or ivory with a layer of plaster or wax on it), that it might "become an eternal witness for a day to come" (Is. 30:8; cf. Hab. 2:2). The Book of Isaiah (eighth century bce) also testifies to the transition to writing on papyrus, the pith of an Egyptian water plant. For in Isaiah 8:1 the Lord asked the prophet to take a papyrus leaf (gillayon ) and write on it. The oldest Hebrew papyrus is a palimpsest found in the Wadi Murabbaʿat that goes back to the eighth century bce. The sheets of papyrus (chartes ) were stuck together to form a scroll with the text on the inside. In the second century bce parchment came into use. It was prepared from the skin of various animals and turned out to be stronger than papyrus. Pergamon exported parchment of particularly fine quality. Sheets of parchment that could be inscribed on both sides were since the first century bce put in layers and folded as a codex. Christians promoted the use of the codex, while Jews stuck to the scroll.

Scroll and codex, then, were used in addition to the stela to record collections of laws. The Hebrew Book of the Covenant (sefer ha-berit; Ex. 24:7) should be imagined as a scroll; the same holds true for the "book of the torah " (sefer ha-torah; 2 Kgs. 22:8, 23:2) discovered at the time of the Judahite king Josiah (639609 bce), which is partly identical with Deuteronomy. The Codex Justinianus, on the contrary, was a manuscript in the form of a codex.

There are some differences between these means of codification. Laws written down as edicts could be sent to bureaus throughout the empire. But there was always the problem of authenticity. "A law that has been sent must be accepted and must undoubtedly be valid, and the power to emend and to revoke shall be reserved to our clemency [i.e., that of the Emperor]" (Codex Theodosianus 1.1.5). The scrolls indeed enabled scribes to make emendations. The scribe could add glosses to the text or introduce new authorized regulations at the end of the transmitted ones. Stelae could scarcely be falsified, but they were not easily used for the dissemination of edicts. It is therefore not surprising that laws sometimes were edited in both fashions. The Jewish law of purification, prohibiting foreigners to enter the Temple, was made public by means of slabs, one of them reading: "No alien [allogenēs] shall enter the holy place; if he is caught, he shall die" (Gerhard Pfohl, Griechische Inschriften, Munich, 2d ed., 1980, no. 135). In the beginning of the second century bce, a local official ordered stelae to be set up in his villages recording letters of King Antiochos III that protected these villages from molestation. Stelae inscribed and publicly displayed could make such orders respected.

Custom and Law, Restitution and Punishment

When laws were codified and written down their institutional context was changed. There is a process of assimilation and elimination that is typical of oral transmission in a nonliterate society: what continues to be of social relevance is stored in the memory while the rest is usually forgotten. Literacy puts an end to this process. The tradition becomes a fixed object, and inconsistencies within it become obvious. If systems of writing are complex, as in the ancient civilizations, then a deep gulf may develop between the esoteric literate culture and the popular culture. In the ancient Near East, scribes formed a class of their own, separate from the priesthood and in the service of the king. They became the experts in law and dislodged the elders previously responsible for the transmission of oral tradition (Goody and Watt, 1968).

It is common to discriminate custom from law. We call "custom" any habitual or usual course of action, any established practice. We call "law" a rule of conduct administered by a ruler or his subordinates. Laws are enforced by explicit sanctions while customs are enforced by social control. These are merely logical distinctions. But it is evident that the historical factor of writing worked in favor of laws sanctioned from above. Even if customs remained unchanged, their incorporation in an official code reinforced the power sustaining them. Often the institution of a law code became an opportunity to select from among customary practices. When in 303 bce Antigonus I granted the citizens of Teos and Lebedos the right to write down their laws, he asked them to draw up only those laws they deemed the best. Sometimes there are clear cases of breaching custom. Solon prohibited in 594593 bce loans on the person of the debtor. The regulations concerning debt-slavery in Mesopotamian and Jewish codes show similar attempts to temper severe customs concerning debtors. They reflect efforts to subordinate private power to public control.

We must further discern between two sanctions: restitution and punishment. The law codes are full of examples of this distinction. The codes have the form of a collection of casuistic laws: conditional sentences in the third person. The dependent clause contains the facts supposed and the main clause the sanction. The arrangement of topics conforms to no general logic but seems random and includes homicide, battery, theft, slavery, sexual offenses, property rights, bride-price, inheritance, and so on. The difference between restitution and punishment concerns the sanction. A thief could be forced to restitute what he had stolen. In this case his action was regarded as a civil breach. In other cases theft was regarded as a serious offense, and the thief was made to restitute a multiple value of the thing stolen (as in Exodus 21:3722:3). And finally theft could be judged as a crime to be punished by death or mutilation (as in code of Hammurabi 6f). Stanley Diamond maintains, as previous scholars have, that the customary law followed only the principle of restitution. Only with the rise of the state and legislation did homicide and theft become punishable crimes. The institution of the state was responsible for the severity of sanctions (In Search of the Primitive, 1974, chap. 6). Émile Durkheim argued precisely the opposite. He drew a distinction between two types of sanctions: restitutive sanctions and repressive ones. These two types are supposed to correspond to two types of social solidarity: the mechanical and the organic. In societies based on mechanical solidarity there is a predominance of repressive law, whereas restitutive (cooperative) laws prevail in societies based on organic solidarity. Though it holds true that Durkheim vastly overstated the role of repressive law and understated the degree of reciprocity in primitive societies, there remains much testimony that primitive societies are disposed toward penal sanctions. It is therefore improbable that with the creation of the state came repressive sanctions.

On this issue the reflections of Henry Sumner Maine are still valid. He discerned two types of offenses: offenses against one's neighbor and offenses against God (Maine, 1905, pp. 307309). Offenses against one's neighbor (torts) gave rise to an obligation that was fulfilled by payment. In the Hittite laws, for example, the general sanction for homicide is the handing over of a number of persons. Offenses against God (sins), on the contrary, are punished with severity. Take for example the Jewish laws regarding homicide: "Ye shall take no ransom for the life of a manslayer liable to death, for he shall surely die. So ye shall not pollute the land wherein ye are, for blood polluteth the land and no expiation can be made for the land for the blood which is shed therein but by the blood of him that shed it" (Nm. 35:3133). Durkheim advanced a similar idea: "In primitive societies, criminal law is religious law" (The Division of Labor in Society, New York, 1947, p. 92). E. Adamson Hoebel (1954) also subscribed to the view that in primitive society criminal law coincides with certain notions of sin (p. 259).

A. S. Diamond (1935) used this distinction to classify preserved law codes. He arranged them in three groups. In the first group (early codes) the sanctions imposed are only pecuniary, including those for homicide and battery (e.g., the early laws of the peoples of western Europe). The second group ("central" codes) comprises codes in which some civil wrongs are regarded as criminal offenses and others not (e.g., the Hittite laws of the sixteenth century bce). The last group (late codes) is formed of codes that regard the more serious wrongshomicide, adultery, rape, and theftas crimes (e.g., the code of Hammurabi, eighteenth century BCE). Diamond postulated an evolution according to which the field of the law of criminal offenses gradually expanded. Considering the historical dates of the law codes mentioned it seems far more appropriate to speak of logical types of codes.

Comparison of Law Codes

A review of extant law codes should attempt to address two main scientific problems: Did the codes contribute to public control of private power, as exercised, for example, in the enslavement of others? What are the reasons that law codes differ, principally with regard to sanctions for the same offense?

Mesopotamian codes

The most important Mesopotamian law codes are the following: the laws of the Sumerian king Urnammu (hereafter called LU, 21112094 bce); the laws of King Lipit-Ishtar (LL, 19341924 bce); the code of the city Eshnunna (CE, eighteenth century bce); the code of the Akkadian king Hammurabi (CH, 17931750 bce); the Hittite laws (HL, c. 1600 bce); the Assyrian laws (AL, eleventh century bce). (These texts are collected in Borger, 1982.)

The most famous code is of course the code of Hammurabi. It was written on a diorite stela, topped by a bas-relief showing Hammurabi receiving from Shamash, the sun god and god of justice, the commission to write the law book. The stela was carried off as a trophy of war to the Elamite capital Susa. The code of Hammurabi is particularly valuable because it reveals something of how such a code was intended to function. The epilogue speaks about the motives of the king and the function of the stela. The king set up the stela with the aim of protecting the weak against the strong, procuring justice for the orphan and the widow, and establishing equity in the land (CH 47). The motivations given in the LU (104116, 162168) and in the LL (1f., 19.6ff.) are similar. A citizen who has been injured shall read the stela, recognize his legal claims, and thank Hammurabi. If a subsequent king disregards the words of the stela, kingship shall be taken away from him (CH 48f.). The epilogue of LL blesses him who does not damage the stela (19.3645). It has to be mentioned that among the hundreds of thousands of extant cuneiform tablets the number of copies of these codes is surprisingly small. The codes did not leave clear traces in Mesopotamian jurisdiction. J. J. Finkelstein (1961) concludes that the purpose of these codes was not legislation. Of course a litigant could appeal to the provisions of a code, but such an appeal would have carried moral rather than legal force. The codes must be regarded as political justifications of kingship.

The three codes proclaiming in prologue and epilogue protection of the weak against the strong belong together even in terms of their contents. In the Hittite laws the sanction of killing a free man or woman is the handing over of four persons (HL 1). For theft of cattle the sanction is payment of a stated multiple of the value (HL 45.57ff.). If a man steals from a house, "in former times he restituted for the theft one mine of silver. But now he gives twelve shekels [one-third of a mine] silver" (HL 94). A similar alleviation of punishment is decreed in HL 166167: here a capital sanction has been replaced by a restitutive one. Only adultery, rape, and sexual offenses are punished with death (HL 187f., 197f.). Herein the code of Hammurabi is in accordance with the Hittite laws (CH 129f; cf. CE 26.28; LU 6f.). But in the other cases the code of Hammurabi inflicts heavy penalties. The following offenses are regarded as crimes punishable by death: an unproved accusation of murder (CH 1), murder (LU 1), false testimony (CH 3), theft of property (CH 6f.; only by night, CE 12f.), kidnapping (CH 14), hiding of a slave (CH 16), burglary (CH 21), robbery (CH 22; LU 2), sorcery (CH 2, AL 47). These severe penalites are imposed only in cases of offenses against citizens. The rape of a female slave, for example, can be requited by a pecuniary payment (LU 8; CE 31, to be compared with 26). The Assyrian laws very often prescribe mutilationsthe removal of ears, fingers, eyes, or lips, for example, sanctions quite rare in the code of Hammurabi, which prescribes amputation of a hand only if an overseer steals the seed or fodder of an owner (CH 253).

Did criminal law arise from religion, as Maine, Durkheim, and Hoebel maintain? The codes themselves refer to a more specific concept: The king established justice (misharum ) on behalf of the gods (LU, prologue; LL, epilogue; CH 5.14ff., 47.84ff.). It is not so much religion in general but the specific idea of a divine, just order that lies behind these codes. We must therefore explain the differences between sanctions (pecuniary versus capital) in terms of different concepts concerning this order. The case of debt slavery can elucidate the essence of these differences. The Hittite laws do not deal at all with enslavement of citizens, though such enslavement did exist. The Assyrian laws, the code of Eshnunna, and the code of Hammurabi, on the other hand, presuppose as a fact that a creditor who has a claim to corn or silver seizes persons of the debtor's family (CH 115; AL 39, 44, 48). This is only illegal if the claim is not substantiated, in which case a fine must be paid (CH 114). The code of Eshnunna gives more details: if the seized person is a female slave, the pledger shall pay silver in full compensation for her; if he doesn't return her and she dies, he shall give two female slaves as replacement; if he distrains the wife or children of a citizen and causes their death, he shall die (CE 2224). The code of Hammurabi goes beyond these regulations and introduces laws protecting the person legally seized. "If the distress dies in the house of him who has taken him as a distress through blows or ill-treatment, the owner of the distress shall convict his merchant, and if [the distress is] a [free] man's son, his son shall be put to death or, if [he is] a [free] man's slave, he shall pay one-third mine of silver and forfeits anything whatsoever that he has lent" (CH 116). "If a man has become liable to arrest under a bond and has sold his wife, his son or his daughter or gives [them] into servitude, for three years they shall do work in the house of him who has brought them or taken them in servitude; in the fourth year their release shall be granted" (CH 117). These regulations were an effort to establish a public control over the harsh and merciless practice of debt slavery. The customary law of enslaving the debtor's family yields to statute law decreed by the emperor. Some of these emperors ordered at the beginning of their rule a remission of debts. "Whoever has given barley or silver to an Akkadian or an Amorite as an interest-bearing loan because the king has invoked the misharum for the land, his document is voided" (Edict of Ammisaduqa 4). "Because the king has instituted misharum in the land, he [the enslaved citizen or his wife or his children] is released" (20). The release (anduraru ) of the debt-slaves is due to justice. As J. J. Finkelstein cogently argued, the misharum and the law codes drew from the same concept, a concept of divine, just order that secured the citizen's property (human and otherwise) and reputation from infringement. The code of Hammurabi added to these rights the protection against permanent enslavement.

Jewish codes

The most important Jewish codes were the Book of the Covenant (sefer ha-berit; Ex. 24:7) incorporated into Exodus (20:2223:19) and the legal part of Deuteronomy (1226), perhaps identical with the "book of the torah " (sefer ha-torah ), discovered at the time of Josiah (639609 bce) in the Temple (2 Kgs. 22:8, 23:2). As compared with the Book of the Covenant, the genre of the law code in Deuteronomy has lost its genuine form.

The Book of the Covenant contains casuistic law and apodictic law. Albrecht Alt has argued that the Israelites took over from the Canaanites the secular casuistic law, while the sacral apodictic law belonged to their own heritage. But Alt understated the religious background of the casuistic law in the code of the ancient Near East (see Alt, Kleine Schriften zur Geschichte des Volkes Israel, Munich, 1959, pp. 278332). The Book of the Covenant starts with a prologue. Yahveh commissions Moses to erect an altar and to give the Israelites laws (mishpatim; Ex. 21:1) with regard to slaves (21:211); the capital offenses, including intentional homicide, abduction, beating and cursing of one's parents (21:1217); inflicting bodily injuries (21:1836); and theft, property delicts, and seduction (21:3722:16). Thereupon follow apodictic laws on different subjects (22:1723:19).

The Book of the Covenant belongs to the group of codes that regard private wrongs as capital offenses. A comparison with the code of Hammurabi, however, shows similarities and differences. Murder and abduction are in both codes capital crimes. But not all the capital offenses enumerated in the code of Hammurabi are regarded as such in Israel. In Judaism, the thief caught stealing livestock and selling them shall return fivefold (for oxen) or fourfold (for sheep) the number he stole. If the cattle are found in his possession alive he shall pay double. If he has not the means to do so he himself shall be sold. If the owner kills the thief there is no blood revenge, except if it happened in broad daylight (Ex. 21:3722:3). On the other hand, the code of Hammurabi did not regard offenses against parents as crimes deserving death. In Israel offenses against persons and their status seem to weigh more heavily than offenses against property.

The Book of the Covenant acknowledged loans on the person and enslavement of debtors. But it made an attempt to temper the severe customs regarding the Hebrew debtors. The Hebrew slave shall be released after six years. A female slave that doesn't please her master may not be sold to a foreign people (21:78). Assault of a debt slave shall be avenged if he dies immediately. Bodily injuries shall lead to his release (21:2021, 21:2627). We recognize efforts similar to those in the Mesopotamian codes to alleviate the harsh fate of debt slaves and to institute a public control over it.

Deuteronomy departs from the genuine form of law codes. But Moshe Weinfeld (1972) has cogently argued that it still reflects this genre, maintaining that the book marks the transition from a narrow casuistic law corpus to a humanistic law code. Laws concerning property are nearly completely lacking. The Deuteronomic legislator aimed at setting forth a code of laws assuring protection for individuals and particularly persons in need. The debt slave is regarded as a citizen, a brother (a ), who only sells his servicebut not his personto his master. He conducts an independent family life. His master is obliged to manumit him after six years (Dt. 15:1218). A slave who seeks refuge shall not be turned over to his master (23:15f.)an offense punished by death in the code of Hammurabi (CH 16). The code in Deuteronomy still follows the casuistic form, but it introduces a new element unparalleled in the codes of ancient Near East: the motive clause. The release of the debt slaves is not only a command of God. The Deuteronomic legislator adds a further reason to follow the law: "Remember that you were a slave in Egypt and your Lord has released you" (15:15). He does not base the political recognizance of his code on the power of kingship but on the personal conviction of citizens.

Greek and Roman codes

The most important codifications are the laws of Solon, the laws of Gortyn, and the Roman Twelve Tables. The legislation of Solon was preceded by that of Draco (seventh century bce). The thesmoi of Draco addresses the prosecution of homicide. Intentional homicide was avenged by the kin of the victim, manslaughter was compensated by payment of a wergild. The laws of Draco had officially been published on wooden tablets, set up on revolving pillars (axones ). The laws of Solon were published in the same way.

The legislation of Solon (594/3 bce) is only transmitted fragmentarily by Greek historians. The archonship of Solon (594 bce) was preceded by civil strife in which the enslavement of poor Athenians by wealthy ones seems to have been an important issue. Solon at first ordered a cancellation of debts (seisachtheia ); afterwards he enacted laws. His laws prohibited loans on the person of the debtor, arranged the population according to property qualifications into four classes, and established rules for electing the magistrates. Solon also made the curious law that whoever in a time of political strife did not take an active part on either side of a conflict should be deprived of his civic rights. He prohibited dowries and changed the rule of inheritance. Citizens without children could convey by testament their property to anyone they wished. Previously the heritage had to remain in the genos (kin group) of the deceased. He enacted a law saying that a son who had not been given the chance to learn a craft by his father was not obliged to sustain him later. Another law inhibited the export of agricultural products except olive oil.

Aristotle may have committed a historiographical error when he assigned to Solon the setting up of a constitution (politeia ); only since the fourth century has Solon been regarded as founder of a constitution. But Aristotle referred rightly to the democratic feature of the laws of Solon (Athenaiōn Politeia, 9.1). The law that nobody could contract a loan secured on a person was a breach of the custom of debt slavery. This breach didn't occur all over the Greek world, but the view that law that could breach custom seems fairly common. Law was identified with statute law, and this identification remained characteristic of the whole Greek world. "Unwritten law" (agraphos nomos ) should not be used by the court. The conflicts that could arise between custom and statute law are illustrated by the Antigone of Sophocles. This preference for statute law was a natural corollary of democracy. Justice, to which Solon also had appealed, became subject to the political discourse of citizens.

The most important source of pre-Hellenistic legislation is that found in the city of Gortyn (Crete). An inscription from the fifth century bce begins with an injunction against taking the law into one's own hands: "Gods! He who will institute legal proceedings regarding a freeman or a slave shall not take him away before the judgement." But a condemned man or a debtor (katakeimenon ) can be taken away without punishment. The inscription gives laws concerning rape and adultery (punished with a fine); conveyance of property in case of divorce, adoption, and death; ransom of compatriots; marriage, especially of an heiress; security and liability; and adoption.

There are some texts elucidating the process of codification of Greek law. After the liberation of Chios from the Persians in 333332 bce, Alexander ordered that the expelled democrats should return, that Chios should be a democracy, and that scribes should draw up and systematize the laws. I have already suggested that the sunoikismos of Teos and Lebedos in Asia Minor should be recognized as an act of common legislation. After his victory over the Egyptian forces in 200 bce the Seleucid ruler Antiochos III recognized the Jewish customs and laws as patrioi nomoi. It was a privilege of political communities to dispose a written law code. The law codein the ancient Near East a justification of kingshiphad in the Hellenic and Hellenistic culture the function of a constitution.

According to Livy, the Roman law of the Twelve Tables was compiled in 450449 bce in an attempt to control the struggle between plebeians and patricians and to secure equal liberty for the two groups (Livy, 3.31.7). His account can hardly be considered satisfactory in view of its inconsistencies and improbabilities. The Twelve Tables are known only from later sources. The law code begins with a number of short rules indicating how to start and pursue legal proceedings (cf. the law of Gortyn). They proceed to debt slavery: "Unless they make a settlement, debtors shall be held in bonds for 60 days. On the third market day they shall suffer capital punishment or be delivered up for sale abroad, across the Tiber" (table three). Tables four to six contain fundamental principles of conveyance and of property law. Table eight deals with criminal law. Intentional homicide is a capital offense. For theft the sanctions vary, from paying double the amount of the stolen object's value to a capital sentence.

Some Final Remarks

The later codices of the Roman Empire deviated fundamentally from the preceding ones. The Theodosian Code was a compilation of laws issued by the emperors from 313 until 438 ce. In 429 Theodosius ordered such a compilation be made, and nine years later the code was solemnly promulgated. The code contained the legislative enactments issued by the emperors on given dates. These imperial laws (called constitutions) had been edicta (official proclamations), decreta (decrees in the settlement of lawsuits), rescripta (decisions in answer to officials and private persons) and epistulae (letters to officials). The emperor was conceived as the sole source of law, and his enactments were considered divine. His orders were called constitutiones, since they formed the fundamental law. The contravention of a given statute would be considered a crime, punishable usually be death. The fundamental Greek identification of justice and law was thus fused with monarchy. Again, as in the Mesopotamian codes, there is an emphasis on punishment. And again, not religion in a general sense, but specific notions of justice, had given rise to the code.

Other famous codes are the Syrian lawbooks and the Zoroastrian Madigani Hazar Dadastan. In the Islamic community a law code as such did not develop. The Qurʾān was regarded as the supreme source of Islamic law. Besides this source, the sunnah, the adīth, the consensus of the Islamic community, and the analogical method were used to develop rules.

See Also

Law and Religion; Revenge and Retribution.


Borger, Rylke, Heiner Lutzmann, Wilhelm H. P. Römer, and Einar von Schuler. "Rechtsbücher." In Texte aus der Umwelt des Alten Testaments, vol. 1, pp. 15125. Gütersloh, 1982. A fresh translation of Mesopotamian law codes provided with explanations and a list of recent studies.

Diamond, A. S. Primitive Law, Past and Present (1935). London, 1971. An attempt to describe the general development of law by studying the offenses regarded as crimes and by arranging the codes in different classes.

Fikentscher, Wolfgang R., Herbert Franke, and Oskar Köhler, eds. Entstehung und Wandel rechtlicher Traditionen. Freiburg, 1980. A collection of profound essays dealing with the great cultures and attempting a historical anthropology of law.

Finkelstein, J. J. "Ammiaduqa's Edict and the Babylonian 'Law Codes.'" Journal of Cuneiform Studies 15 (1961): 91104. Tries to establish the relationship between reform acts and law codes of Mesopotamian kings.

Fried, Morton. The Evolution of Political Society: An Essay in Political Anthropology. New York, 1967. A meritorious study that defines the essential notion of social control and sanction, power and authority, custom and law.

Goody, Jack, and Ian Watt. "The Consequences of Literacy." In Literacy in Traditional Societies, edited by Jack Goody, pp. 2768. Cambridge, U.K., 1968. A prolific article that sets forth the differences between memorizing in oral cultures and in literate cultures and that evaluates the systems of writing with regard to their spread.

Hoebel, E. Adamson. The Law of Primitive Man: A Study in Comparative Legal Dynamics. Cambridge, Mass., 1954. A fundamental study in the anthropology of law.

Kohler, Josef, and Erich Ziebarth. Das Stadtrecht von Gortyn und seine Beziehungen zum gemeingriechischen Rechte (1912). Hildesheim, 1972. A valuable study that gives text, translation, and commentary of the inscription of Gortyn and adduces other relevant Greek legal texts.

Maine, Henry Sumner. Ancient Law: Its Connection with the Early History of Society and Its Relation to Modern Ideas (1861). London, 1905. Maine's early study, still in print in various editions, recognized the ancient law codes as systems of their own.

Rendtorff, Rolf. Das Alte Testament: Eine Einführung. Neukirchen-Vluyn, 1983. A useful overview of the Old Testament, including the legal codes incorporated into it.

Weinfeld, Moshe. Deuteronomy and the Deuteronomic School. Oxford, 1972. A comprehensive study comparing the "Book of the Covenant" with Deuteronomy and tracing the relation of Deuteronomy to Mesopotamian law codes.

H. G. Kippenberg (1987)

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