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Biblical Vision of Justice

Bianchi, H
June 4, 2015

Source: (1996) Mennonite Central Committee, United States.

People use the concept of retaliation to justify a repressive criminal law system, claiming it is found in the Bible. A check of the original Hebrew text shows that where western translators use the words ‘retaliation’ or ‘retribution,’ the original words are related to peace. Compared to St. Jerome’s translation and the King James Version, only the German translation by Martin Buber is fair and honest. The Old Testament does not say ‘retaliate’ when crime occurs, but rather recommends peace through conflict resolution processes. An ‘eye for an eye’ means a person should never demand during the negotiation more than the value of it. The laws of Moses are not rules of behavior, but an indiction of the direction in which individuals should go. The Ten Commandments mean that when people follow God’s directions, they will not kill or steal. The criminal law system does not live up to its promise to bring justice, but instead provokes criminality. The legal system should be interpreted according to two Hebrew concepts: ‘t’sedeka’ meaning to speak the truth, and ‘t’shuvah’ meaning to stop something if it is wrong, repair the damage, and take another approach.


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