Monday, August 20, 2007

Spielberg's 'Pre-Crime' in the World of the Rabbis

Spielberg’s ‘Minority Report’ depicts a terrifying future in which individuals are arrested and punished for murders they have not (yet) committed (‘pre-crime’). The police believe that they can foresee these terrible crimes with absolute certainty, yet what of free choice? Can the future really be read like a book? Few people realise that this terrifying system forms a central part of Jewish law; while in Spielberg’s world the potential murderers are put in suspended animation, the only rabbinic punishment for pre-crime is death. Our story begins in this week’s parasha of Ki-Teze, with the laws of the ‘Wayward and Defiant Son’,

18 If a man has a wayward and defiant son (‘ben sorer umoreh’), who does not heed his father or mother and does not obey them even after they discipline him, 19 his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his town at the public place of his community. 20 They shall say to the elders of his town, "This son of ours is disloyal and defiant; he does not heed us. He is a glutton and a drunkard." 21 Thereupon the men of his town shall stone him to death. Thus you will sweep out evil from your midst: all Israel will hear and be afraid. (Deut. 21.18-21)

The first question facing the reader of this shocking text[1] is, what crime precisely has the son committed? At first (v. 18) it seems that the crime is disobeying his parents, whereas when his parents stand before the elders they add that “he’s a glutton and a drunkard” (v. 20). The rabbis, selecting the latter of these two options, conclude that the son is punished specifically for being ‘a glutton and a drunkard’; they reason that it is morally unthinkable that the Torah could allow a son to be put to death for disobeying a simple parental instruction[2]. However, even by dodging the bigger moral problem, the rabbis find the alternative, no less problematic:

Rabbi Jose the Galilean said: Because he ate a Tarteymar of meat and [a mere] 0.17 litres of Italian wine the Torah said he will go out to the court and be stoned!? Rather, the Torah concluded [according] to the future actions of the wayward and rebellious son, for in the end, [once] he finishes off his father’s funds, seeks [resources to continue] his addiction and doesn’t find them, he will go out to the crossroads and rob people[3].

The rabbis refuse to believe that the act of eating some meat and drinking some wine[4] could possibly warrant the death penalty, even if that is exactly what the Torah says (by their reading); according to their moral compass the punishment simply does not fit the crime. It is out of desperation at this conundrum that the rabbis launch themselves into the world of pre-crime: if the son steals[5] happy-meal size[6] amounts of meat and wine from his parents, this demonstrates a pattern of behaviour that will repeat itself over and over, until he can no longer support his addiction stealing from his parents’ pockets and becomes a highway robber. The rabbis are so confident that they can predict his future actions with certainty that they are willing to have him executed on the second occasion that this moderate booze-up occurs[7]!

All of this may sound rather far-fetched, but the reality may be even more shocking. During the crusades, many Jewish families committed suicide out of fear that they would be butchered by Christian mobs and their children converted; parents felt compelled to slit their own children’s throats. For hundreds of years afterwards, authorities on Jewish law struggled with these events; some tried to justify the actions of these parents, while others condemned them. One authority justified their actions based on the passage we have just read:

…They relied on this [source] to kill their children at the time of the decree [i.e. times of emergency during the crusades] for [the children] cannot distinguish between good and evil. We are afraid lest they settle amongst the gentiles of their nation as they grow up; better that they die innocent and not die guilty, for thus have we found concerning the Defiant and Wayward Son, that because his future actions would be to rob people and transgress Sabbaths, he is [put to death] with stoning…[8]

This is a very weak analogy indeed; the transgression of Sabbaths (not found in our passage) constitutes no threat to society whatsoever and as such cannot be considered within the rabbinic pre-crime framework (see below). Thus, this twist on our passage seems unacceptable from a legal standpoint, whatever it was used to justify. In fact, today we know that most of these parents probably justified their actions by comparison with the events at Masada as recounted by the medieval ‘Yosippon’ (a frum reworking of Josephus), which they regarded as an authoritative work of Jewish law/lore[9]. However, the rabbinic pre-crime enterprise did not stop with the ‘Wayward and Defiant Son’ and is basic to a number of well-known laws, such as the laws of Rodef (‘the pursuer’). The main pre-crime corpus is found in the 8th chapter of Mishnah Sanhedrin,

(5) The Wayward and Defiant Son is judged according to his future actions. He should die innocent and not die guilty, for the death of the wicked is good for them and good for the world and that of the righteous is bad for them and bad for the world…

(7) These are they whose souls we save: one who pursues (‘rodef’) his fellow (to murder him), the male [to rape him] or the engaged woman [to rape her].

But, one who pursues the animal [to bestialise it], who violates the Sabbath or who engages in foreign worship: we do not save their souls[10].

This passage conjures up a host of new theological questions: are we killing off the Wayward and Defiant Son for the good of ‘the world’ or for his own spiritual welfare, so that ‘he should die innocent and not die guilty’? In the second section of our passage, whose soul is it we are ‘saving’ exactly: that of the pursuer (so that he should die innocent) or that of the pursued (so that he should not die at all)? For several reasons[11] it seems more likely that the phrase ‘save their souls’ here refers to the pursuer (other sources differ[12]); the rabbis were willing to kill in order to keep people’s souls clean. The salient point of this passage, however, is that pre-crime only applies when a person’s actions will significantly harm another person or society as a whole; the rabbis do not apply pre-crime in cases where a person wishes to harm only themselves (e.g. by bestiality, the transgression of the Sabbath, or idol worship). The similarity to John Stuart Mill’s ‘Harm Principle’[13] here, a foundational principle of modern liberal democracies, is especially striking.

Amongst this rabbinic framework of pre-crime we have uncovered, readers will still be most distressed by the case of the Wayward and Defiant Son: whereas in all of our other cases the threat is so immediate that the label ‘pre-crime’ barely applies, the case of the Wayward and Defiant Son involves the prediction of patterns of behaviour many years down the line - no exact science! Arguably the redactor of the Mishnah deliberately juxtaposed it with the others precisely to make it seem more reasonable! One thought, however, is comforting; from the very earliest strata of rabbinic law[14] there is a tendency to restrict the circumstances under which the law is applied to the point of making a conviction impossible, effectively ‘ruling the law out of existence’.

What does [the Mishnah] mean when it says [that the son cannot be convicted if his mother is] ‘not suitable’ [to his father]?...It means that they must be equal. Such has also been taught in an external tradition:

‘Rabbi Judah says: “If his mother is not equal to his father in voice, height and appearance, he is not convicted as a Wayward and Defiant Son”. What is the reason [for this restriction]? Scripture states “He does not heed our voice”, due to the fact that their voices must sound the same [because it states “our voice”] so too must their appearance and height be the same’.

Whose approach does this external tradition exhibit? [It exhibits the same approach as that seen in the following external tradition:]

The case of the Wayward and Defiant Son never occurred and never will occur. Why then was it written [in the Torah]? Expound it and receive reward!’

Rabbi Jonathan said, “I saw [the Wayward and Defiant Son convicted] and sat on his grave”![15]

Rabbi Judah’s impossible restrictions on the parents of the Wayward and Defiant Son deliberately make the law impossible to implement; this is recognised by the narrator who associates him with the position that ‘the case of the Wayward and Defiant Son never occurred and never will occur’. A plain law of Deuteronomy is turned into a scholarly curiosity but not only because it is deeply troubling on the moral plain[16]; just as Spielberg’s ‘Minority Report’ concludes that the future is difficult to predict with certainty, so did (many of) the rabbis.

________________________________

Thanks go to my havruta Jesse Marglin alongside Rabbi Dudi Goshen, Bethany Boyd, Steve Slater and Hannah Sassoon, for teaching me these sources over many early mornings, long afternoons and late nights. I am also significantly indebted to Prof. Moshe Halbertal’s Revolutions in Exegesis as They Came to Be: Values as Exegetical Factors in Midrash Halakha (Heb) for much of what follows.



[1] This text may be shocking to us but it is not shocking at all within the larger biblical picture, it might even be considered relatively tame. Early biblical theology posited familial collective responsibility: children could be punished for the sins of their forbears (Exodus 20.3-5, 34.5-7) and children could be incinerated as a result of their fathers’ crimes (Joshua 7.24-25). What we might call the ‘right to life’ was not considered innate but rather flowed from the individual’s membership of the family unit, thus in three distinct biblical cases the patriarch of the family orders/permits the killing of one of their subordinate family members (Genesis 31.32, 38.24, 42.37). This is reinforced by the prohibition in Exodus (21.17) against cursing one’s father and mother; disrespect to those whom one owed one’s ‘Right to Life’ to was punished by death. Our text of the Wayward and Defiant Son already represents a departure from this early biblical theology; it demands a full judicial procedure including a trial before the ‘elders of his town’ and that the sentence be carried out by the ‘men of his town’, a far cry from the expected summary execution. In a further development to the theology expressed in Exodus, Deuteronomy does not permit children to die for the sins of their forbears (Deuteronomy 24.16 and so too Jeremiah 31.28-29; Ezekiel 18.2-4; 2 Kings 14.6).

[2] ‘He does not heed his father or mother’; it would be possible [to convict him] even if his father and mother [only] told him to light a candle and he did not light it. [The verse] therefore teaches ‘he does not heed’ [a second time] to create an ‘Equation by Association’ (‘Gezerah Shava’). Just as in [the second] ‘he does not heed’ mentioned below ‘he is a glutton and a drunkard’, so too in [the first] ‘he does not heed’ mentioned here ‘he is a glutton and a drunkard’. (Sifre Deuteronomy 218 – Ed. Finkelstein)

This follows the 5th of Hillel’s Principles of Exegesis (numbered as the 4th of Rabbi Ishmael’s Principles of Exegesis – see p. 51 in the Artscroll Siddur) which states that in a case where a generalisation is followed by a specification, the rule only applies to that specification. However, in the midrash cited above it is the moral problem that seems to be decisive rather than any exegetical principal.

[3] Midrash Tannaim on Deut. 21.21 (Ed. Hoffman)

[4] The rabbis take ‘a glutton and a drunkard’ to refer specifically to meat and wine due to an inner-biblical midrash found in the book of Proverbs: 19 Listen, my son, and get wisdom; Lead your mind in a proper path. 20 Do not be of those who guzzle wine, Or glut themselves on meat; 21 For guzzlers and gluttons will be impoverished, And drowsing will clothe you in tatters. 22 Listen to your father who begot you; Do not disdain your mother when she is old. (Proverbs 23.19-22) This passage, full of allusions to our text of the Defiant and Wayward Son, portrays meat and wine as the paradigmatic foci of inebriation and gluttony. The specific quantities mentioned here (so too, see Mishnah Sanhedrin 8.2) are selected by the rabbis to represent typical rather than excessive consumption because they are concerned about patterns of behavior that will repeat themselves, as will be explained. The conversion of these quantities ‘half a log’ is notoriously difficult, I have provided the conversion here tentatively as an illustration of the quantities depicted.

[5] Both the Sifre (Deuteronomy 218 – Ed. Finkelstein) and the Mishnah (Sanhedrin 8.3) assume that this is so. What is striking about the Mishnah’s criteria for this theft is its acute awareness of the psychology of addiction. Only theft from parents and consumption amongst others is likely to be reflective of what will ultimately be a socially destructive pattern of behaviour.

[6] See note 4 above.

[7] Mishnah Sanhedrin 8.4

[8] The ‘Smak’ of Zurich – Commandment 6.19 (?), quoted in Halbertal, Revolutions in Exegesis as They Came to Be: Values as Exegetical Factors in Midrash Halakha (Heb) pp. 50-51 f. 15.

[9] Cited as authoritative many times by the classical commentators on the Bible and Talmud, especially Rashi. See Rashi to 2 Kings 20.13; Isaiah 21.4, 39.2; Zechariah 9.14; Daniel 5.1, 8.21, 11.17,18,23,30; 1 Chronicles 11.17. Rashbam to Genesis 36.31. Ramban to Genesis 32.4, 49.31. Radak to 1 Kings 19.2. However, some of these references may have been added by later editors.

[10] M. Sanhedrin 8.5, 7 – The tangent at the end of mishnah 5 was off topic while mishnah 6 was not cited for the sake of brevity. However, note that the tunneller of mishnah 6 provides the link between ‘future actions’ and the immediacy of ‘save their souls’.

[11] Firstly because the subject of ‘these are they whose souls we save’ is most naturally the pursuer and secondly because there is no ‘soul’ of the pursued to save in the second clause of mishnah 7. Thirdly, the introduction of the idea in mishnah 5 that the death of the Defiant and Wayward Son is ‘good for [him] and good for the world’ makes it extremely likely that a parallel sentiment is to be expected in mishnah 7.

[12] The Sifre to Deuteronomy uses the term differently: …‘[but you shall do nothing to the girl. The girl did not incur the death penalty,] for the case is like that of a man attacking another and murdering him’ (Deut. 22.26) - This teaches that all of the rape victims in the Torah are exempt [from punishment] and we save their souls. (Sifre Deuteronomy 243 – Ed. Finkelstein)

[13] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harm_principle

[14] Such might arguably be seen in Sifre Deuteronomy 218 – Ed. Finkelstein (quoted above, note 2) and is also fairly obvious in the first mishnah on the Defiant and Wayward Son, Mishnah Sanhedrin 8.1.

[15] BT Sanhedrin 71a. Note also the tendency to state that the law, though morally difficult, simply cannot be understood ‘for it is a decree of a king’ (Tosefta Sanhedrin 11.6), along the lines of ‘ours is not to reason why, ours is but to do and die’ (Byron, The Charge of the Light Brigade).

[16] As suggested by many commentators. See Eliezer Berkovits’ classic ‘Not in Heaven’.

Labels: , , , , , ,

10 Comments:

Anonymous Anna said...

dude.

It's all very nice theoretically, yet theory departs greatly from practical halacha as you and i studied together this year. The problem with minority's report is the actual performing of the pre-crime arrest. No one has ever performed for real in judaism. If anything we suffer from a lack of appropriate punishment.

7:01 am  
Anonymous Yedidya said...

When you think about it, the Rabbinic tradition is trying to do two things at once - both explaining the rationale behind an apparantly disturbing law (the kid is being executed not for stealing a pound of meat, but for refusing to function within the only framework of authority that exists within his society), while adjusting its practical application to account for a more sophisticated form of law enforcement that was presumably already in place. Very smart.

12:33 am  
Anonymous Ydid said...

I have the free choice not to eat for three weeks and effectively starve myself to death. I am not going to do it as it is against my natural disposition. So you can safely assume I won't do it.

The boy has the free choice to obey ownership law but that is against his natural disposition and he is unlikely to do it. So society writes him off.

I can't see a logical contradiction, it's just a question of social planning. Not everyone has to (and does) like it, but the oral tradition speaks.

BTW Kraus, are you trying to make a case for how the Torah and western liberalism are incompatible? Or evil Rabbis misusing Torah? Not a difficult task, methinks...

12:34 am  
Anonymous Yonatan said...

As an expert on Ben Sorerh u'Moreh - actually. This is a huge exageration. The nedoon al shem sofo, is just one of many voices in the talmuds on the issue. Additionally, they were not "willing to kill" in fact the same voice is the most (insanely) restrictive on the details.

12:34 am  
Blogger Adam said...

Yoni: The voices you are tallking about (which I quote) don't come about until the Amoraic period. Nidon al shem sofo is in the Mishnah and Midrashey Halakha. It would therefore seem that the Tannaim were willing to kill (and probably couldn't) and the Amoraim wern't (and probably couldn't). You disagree?

12:35 am  
Anonymous Aryeh said...

"Ben Sorer u-Moreh, lo hayah ve-lo atid lihyot" is Tannaitic, in the Tosefta (Sanh. 11:6) and brought as a baraita on TB Sanh. 71a. Of course, the contradictory opinion there is attributed to R. Yonatan, also a tanna: "ani raitiv ve-yashavti al qivro". However, this is the more suspicious voice, since as far as I know, it is not attributed in any of the extant tannaitic literature and appears only in that Bavli baraita, as far as I know.
Moreover, most of the strident limitations are in the Mishnah. Look over the first 4 mishnayot of the 8th pereq of Sanhedrin. It is interesting to consider whether there is a development within the tannaitic literature and if not, what the tannaim gain from establishing the concept of "nidon al shem sofo" if they're not prepared to apply it. Tzarikh iyyun.
Remember, also, that even the tannaim couldn't apply these or any other punishments, certainly not capital. The vast majority of tannaitic literature, including almost all the named statements, postdates the destruction of the Temple and elimination of the Sanhedrin by a lot. So the question of what they thought about this punishment should be considered in context of what they were thinking about every other punishment, as well as most of Sidrei Qodashim and Taharot, as well.

5:31 am  
Anonymous Richard said...

the chief rabbi has a nice piece dealing with your blog on this week's parsha - http://www.chiefrabbi.org/thoughts/kitetse5767.pdf - more than the fact that the required conditions make the law almost impossible to implement, it could only follow r' shimon bar yochai's interpretation - a state of pre-crime arrest (or indeed murder) is quite the opposite of what's going on here: g-d judges us only as we are now, not how we might be in the future.

7:09 am  
Blogger Adam said...

Richard:
Thanks, it's a beautiful piece, especially for this time of year.
There are three options presented by the Tannaim (Mishnah and Tosefta) to try to deal with the problem:
1) The thing I am calling ‘pre-crime’ and the Chief is calling ‘deterrent’. (M+T)
2) ‘It never was and never will be’. (T)
3) ‘It is the decree of a king’ – We must do it without understanding how to solve the moral problem. (T)
The Talmud spends most of its time on (1) but also brings (2) and (3). It does not decide between them, there is no ‘winner’. When the Chief depicts (2) as the winner, he does so without any justification and entirely for didactic reasons. The Talmud does not bring the Midrash about Ishmael ‘as he was then’ at all and does not even hint to it, nor does the presence of such an opinion ‘prove’ that any of the above options is the winner or loser. It is simply and alternative opinion. Note also that the midrash is a polemic against pre-crime, it has nothing to do with deterrence; he has suddenly swapped to my interpretation of (1).
I think that his interpretation of (1) as deterrence rather than Pre-crime is unjustifiable. First of all, nowhere in any rabbinic text (M, T or Talmud) that I know of is it spoken of as a deterrence. The primary rabbinic source text for (1) (in the Midrashei Halakha, also Tannaitic) makes quite clear that we are talking about Pre-crime:

Rabbi Jose the Galilean said: Because he ate a Tarteymar of meat and [a mere] 0.17 litres of Italian wine the Torah said he will go out to the court and be stoned!? Rather, the Torah concluded [according] to the future actions of the wayward and rebellious son, for in the end, [once] he finishes off his father’s funds, seeks [resources to continue] his addiction and doesn’t find them, he will go out to the crossroads and rob people. (Midrash Tannaim on Deut. 21.21 - Ed. Hoffman)

Secondly the Mishnah very clearly juxtaposes ‘he must die innocent and not die guilty’ alongside ‘for the death of the righteous benefits them and benefits the world’ alongside the laws of rodef ‘these are [the pursuers] whose souls we save [by killing them in order that they don’t kill the person they are pursuing]’ (full discussion in note 11 of the blog). We are talking about keeping people’s souls clean from future killing; it is not presented as a deterrent.

Thirdly, the fact that ‘the required conditions make the law almost impossible to implement’ in the Mishnah is a RESULT of the varying approaches amongst the rabbis as to how this is to be dealt with, it is not a given. Some Mishnayot reflect (1) (try to determine if he will continue down a dangerous path) and some reflect (2) (try to make it impossible to implement). The Talmud itself interprets one mishnah as reflecting (1) explicitly ‘because [it must assess] that he will continue [down a dangerous path]’ on one occasion and that is the interpretation given by Rashi on many other occasions.

All in all, it seems that all the Chief has to go on is the biblical verse ‘so that all Israel will hear and fear’; nobody will argue with him that the TORAH sees it as a deterrent, but that fact is totally ignored by the Rabbis: they simply cannot accept the idea that a kid could be put to death as a deterrent when he doesn’t listen to his parents. Hence they need to shift the crime to the future.

8:49 am  
Blogger Adam said...

Aryeh,

Thank you for your comments. You are, of course, correct that the ‘never occurred and never will occur’ voice is already present in the Tosefta; I replied to Yoni without thinking carefully. There are three competing tendencies that can already be seen in the Tannaitic literature: (1) ‘Judged according to his future actions’ (2) ‘Never occurred and never will’ and (3) ‘It is the decree of a king’ and cannot be comprehended.

You refer to the most strident limitations, representative of tendency (2) already being present in M San. 8.1-4. I would argue that both there and throughout that chapter both tendencies (1) and (2) can be seen; that alongside the tendency to ‘rule out of existence’ there is also a tendency to legislate for pre-crime. For example, 8.2 requires that only an average amount of wine be drunk; this indicates that they are attempting to catch a person who is likely to repeat the crime, rather than one instigating a one-off booze-up. Furthermore, the exception of religious events from situations in which he may be found culpable seems to indicate that one caught up in the religious fervour of the festive occasion is unlikely to become a dangerous addict. So too 8.3, the Mishnah seems aware that the behaviour of the true addict is to take resources from his parents, trying to convince them that he needs the money to ‘clean up’, while relying on their unwillingness to condemn him; at the same time he fuels his addiction amongst friends who do not know where the resources are coming from. Perhaps one could also argue with regard to 8.4 that those who come from disadvantaged backgrounds are being given the benefit of the doubt; perhaps we just cannot find them fully culpable for their future actions when their home environment has been a negative factor in conditioning their behaviour. Either way, these are not random ‘strident limitations’ that aim to make the law inoperable but rather considered discussions as to what behaviours typify the repeat offender.

This concern for what behaviour typifies the repeat offender (and hence can lead to a reliable ‘pre-crime’ conviction) is brought explicitly in the Talmud in relation to the quality of the meat and wine (BT San. 70a) and in relation to the exception of religious events ‘because he is involved in the performance of a commandment he will not continue’ (70b). Rashi applies this logic more widely: that the wine cannot be expensive (70a ‘yayin bezol’), concerning the quality of his company (70b ‘kulah seriqin’), that the beverage must be wine (70b ‘develah qe’ilit’) and concerning the addict’s care not to fuel his addiction at home (71a ‘be’it’ & ‘ad sheyignov mishel aviv’). All in all the foci of the Mishnah and Talmud seem to be much more on legislating for pre-crime than ruling the case out of existence.

I completely agree that it is unlikely that the Tannaim were applying capital punishment, but I am inclined to take them seriously when they indicate that they would be willing to implement the law. It seems that the least extreme of the interpretive tendencies we have seen (i.e. (1) or (3) rather than (2)) are the most likely to have been used to justify the law when it actually was implemented in earlier times, although there are certainly scholars (e.g. Goodblatt) who see the specific judicial system painted in the tannaitic literature as largely fictional. Having said that the Tannaim are unlikely to have applied capital punishment, there is at least one source that indicates otherwise, at least with regard to the court of the Nasi. In Origen’s letter to Africanus c. 230 CE, a decade after the death of Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi, he attempts to prove that a Jewish subject population at the time of the first exile may well have had the ability to impose the death penalty on its members. In so doing, he provides the first real description of the Nasi’s powers and his relationship with Rome; it seems highly likely that he was referring to Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi himself:

‘But you say, “How could they who were in captivity pass sentence of death?”…The answer is that it is no uncommon thing, when great nations become subject, that the king should allow the captives to use their own laws and courts of justice. Now, for instance, that the Romans rule and the Jews pay the two drachmas to them, we, who have had experience of it, know how much power the Nasi has among them and that he differs in little from a king of the nation. Trials are held according to the Torah and some are condemned to death. And though there is not full permission for this, still it is not done without the knowledge of the ruler [i.e. the Romans], and we found out about this to our certainty when we spend much time in the country of that people’.
(Origen: Epistle to Africanus XIV, PG XI, 81, 84)

Overall I think you are right that I should have placed more emphasis on tendencies (1) and (2) existing simultaneously in the Tannaitic literature, although presumably they represented distinct schools of thought. I very much appreciate your feedback.

Kind regards,

Adam

4:47 am  
Blogger Adam said...

yedidya:

See what I wrote in footnote 1:

'Early biblical theology posited familial collective responsibility: children could be punished for the sins of their forbears (Exodus 20.3-5, 34.5-7) and children could be incinerated as a result of their fathers’ crimes (Joshua 7.24-25). What we might call the ‘right to life’ was not considered innate but rather flowed from the individual’s membership of the family unit, thus in three distinct biblical cases the patriarch of the family orders/permits the killing of one of their subordinate family members (Genesis 31.32, 38.24, 42.37). This is reinforced by the prohibition in Exodus (21.17) against cursing one’s father and mother; disrespect to those whom one owed one’s ‘Right to Life’ to was punished by death. Our text of the Wayward and Defiant Son already represents a departure from this early biblical theology; it demands a full judicial procedure including a trial before the ‘elders of his town’ and that the sentence be carried out by the ‘men of his town’, a far cry from the expected summary execution. In a further development to the theology expressed in Exodus, Deuteronomy does not permit children to die for the sins of their forbears (Deuteronomy 24.16 and so too Jeremiah 31.28-29; Ezekiel 18.2-4; 2 Kings 14.6)'.

4:53 am  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home