The following question is based on the accompanying documents. Remember,
documents need not be written, but may be visual or graphic. Write your answer on
standard notebook paper.
The question is designed to test your ability to work with historical documents. As
you analyze each document, take into account its source and point of view of the
author. Write an essay on the following topic that integrates your analysis of the
documents; in no case should documents simply be cited and explained in a
“laundry list” fashion. You may refer to historical facts and developments
mentioned in the documents.
Differentiate between religious motivations and secular public concerns behind the
respective laws and lawbreaking. Determine if there has been any change over times
in perception of the purpose of criminal codes.
The legal institution is one of humankind’s oldest and most widespread patterns of
organization. However complex or simple, whether oral or written, all humans and
civilizations have had laws and legal systems. As soon as humans became settled and
cities arose, laws and punishments for people living in close contact with one
another who broke laws multiplied. Many of the world’s first documents deal with
laws, lawbreakers, and punishment. Laws, which had evolved out of traditional
cultural practices were codified, standardized, and made public. Originally,
“justice” and law enforcement was the duty of the village elder or tribe leader.
Later, as civilizations and cities arose, the responsibility was divided between either
the religious leaders or the secular authorities. Often these two centers of authority
Copyright @ 2001 by Paul W. Philp. All rights reserved. Teachers may copy and
use for teaching and classroom instruction.
Document 1
Old Testament, Book of Leviticus 24:17-23
And he that killeth any man shall surely be put to death.
And he that killeth a beast shall make it good; beast for beast.
And if a man cause a blemish in his neighbour; . . . so shall it be done to him;
Breach for breach, eye for eye, tooth for tooth: as he hath caused a blemish in a
man, so shall it be done to him again.
Ye shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger, as for one of your own
country: for I am the LORD your God.
And Moses spake to the children of Israel, that they should bring forth him that
had cursed out of the camp, and stone him with stones. And the children of Israel
did as the LORD commanded Moses.
Document 2
Southwest Asia, Kingdom of Babylon, Code of Hammurabi, c. 1780 BCE
3. If any one bring an accusation of any crime before the elders, and does not
prove what he has charged, he shall, if it be a capital offense charged, be put
to death.
4. If he satisfy the elders to impose a fine of grain or money, he shall receive the
fine that the action produces.
5. If a judge try a case, reach a decision, and present his judgment in writing; if
later error shall appear in his decision, and it be through his own fault, then he
shall pay twelve times the fine set by him in the case, and he shall be publicly
removed from the judge's bench, and never again shall he sit there to render
8. If any one steal cattle or sheep, or an ass, or a pig or a goat, if it belong to a god
or to the court, the thief shall pay thirtyfold therefor; if they belonged to a
freed man of the king he shall pay tenfold; if the thief has nothing with which
to pay he shall be put to death.
Copyright @ 2001 by Paul W. Philp. All rights reserved. Teachers may copy and
use for teaching and classroom instruction.
Document 3
Han Fei Tzu, Chinese Legalist Scholar of the Chin Dynasty, his comments, c. 230
“The law does not fawn on the noble . . . Punishment for fault never skips
ministers, reward for good never misses commoners. Therefore, to correct the
faults of the high, co rebuke the vices of the low, to suppress disorders, to decide
against mistakes, to subdue the arrogant, to straighten the crooked, and to unify
the folkways of the masses, nothing could match the law. To warn the officials
and overawe the people, to rebuke obscenity and danger, and to forbid
falsehood and deceit, nothing could match penalty. If penalty is severe, the
noble cannot discriminate against the humble. lf law is definite, the superiors
are esteemed and not violated. If the superiors are not violated, the sovereign
will become strong and able to maintain the proper course of government.”
Document 4
The 4th Pillar Edict of the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka, 4th c BCE
“Beloved-of-the-Gods speaks thus . . . My [advisors] are working among the
people, among many hundreds of thousands of people. The hearing of petitions
and the administration of justice has been left to them so that they can do their
duties . . . and so that they can work for the welfare, happiness and benefit of
the people in the country. But they should remember what causes happiness and
sorrow, and being themselves devoted to Dhamma [sayings of the Buddha], they
should encourage the people in the country (to do the same), that they may
attain happiness in this world and the next. . . . It is my desire that there should
be uniformity in law and uniformity in sentencing. I even go this far, to grant a
three-day stay for those in prison who have been tried and sentenced to death.
During this time their relatives can make appeals to have the prisoners' lives
spared. If there is none to appeal on their behalf, the prisoners can give gifts in
order to make merit for the next world, or observe fasts. Indeed, it is my wish
that in this way, even if a prisoner's time is limited, he can prepare for the next
world, and that people's Dhamma practice, self-control and generosity may
Copyright @ 2001 by Paul W. Philp. All rights reserved. Teachers may copy and
use for teaching and classroom instruction.
Document 5
Twelve Tables of the Roman Republic, Tables I and VIII, extracts, 5th c. BCE
“If anyone summons a man before the magistrate, he must go. If the man
summoned does not go, let the one summoning him call the bystanders to
witness and then take him by force. (I -1) . . .
Let the protector of a landholder be a landholder; for one of the proletariat,
let anyone that cares, be protector. (I – 2) . . .
When the litigants settle their case by compromise, let the magistrate
announce it. If they do not compromise, let them state each his own side of the
case, . . . Afterwards let them talk it out together, while both are present. After
noon, in case either party has failed to appear, let the magistrate pronounce
judgment in favor of the one who is present. If both are present the trial may
last until sunset but no later. (I – 6 to 9) . . .
If one has maimed a limb and does not compromise with the injured person,
let there be retaliation. If one has broken a bone of a freeman with his hand or
with a cudgel, let him pay a penalty of three hundred coins If he has broken the
bone of a slave, let him have one hundred and fifty coins. If one is guilty of
insult, the penalty shall be twenty-five coins. (VII – 2)”
Document 6
Nihongi, The chronicles of old Japan, Prince Imperial (heir) Tahema, 593 CE
“Harmony is to be valued, and an avoidance of wanton opposition to be honored.
All men are influenced by class-feelings, and there are few, who are intelligent.
Hence there are some who disobey their lords and fathers, or who maintain
feuds with the neighboring villages. But when those above are harmonious and
those below are friendly, and there is concord in the discussion of business, right
views of things spontaneously gain acceptance. . . . Chastise that which is evil
and encourage that which is good. This was the excellent rule of antiquity.
Conceal not, therefore, the good qualities of others, and fail not to correct that
which is wrong when you see it. Flatterers and deceivers are a sharp weapon for
the overthrow of the State, and a pointed sword for the destruction of the
people. . . . Men (men who lie and will do anything) of this kind are all wanting
in fidelity to their lord, and in benevolence toward the people. From such an
origin great civil disturbances arise. . . . Give clear appreciation to merit and
demerit, and deal out to each its sue reward or punishment. In these days,
reward does not atten upon merit, nor punishment upon crime. . . . let it be
your task to make clear rewards and punishments.”
Copyright @ 2001 by Paul W. Philp. All rights reserved. Teachers may copy and
use for teaching and classroom instruction.
Document 7
Cesare Beccaria, Italian criminologist, his book, On Crimes on Punishments, 1764
"The one true measure of criminality is the damage done to the nation . . . The
purpose [of punishment], therefore, is nothing other than to prevent the
offender from doing fresh harm to his fellows and to deter others from doing
likewise . . . The force which attracts us, like gravity, to our own good can be
controlled only by equal and opposite obstacles. . . . The legislator behaves like
the skilled architect, whose task is to counteract the destructive forces of
gravity and to exploit those forces that contribute to the strengthening of the
building. . . . Any punishment that goes beyond the need to preserve this bond
[of contract] is unjust by its very nature. . . . The inappropriate distribution of
punishments will give rise to that paradox . . . that the punishments punish the
crimes they have caused. If an equal punishment is laid down for two crimes
which damage society unequally, men will not have a stronger deterrent against
committing the greater crime if they find it more advantageous to do so.”
Document 8
John Stuart Mill, this speech was given before Parliament on April 21, 1868
“It is through their efforts that our criminal laws . . . have so greatly relaxed
their most revolting and most impolitic ferocity, that aggravated murder is
now practically the only crime which is punished with death by any of our
lawful tribunals.
When there has been brought home to any one, by conclusive evidence, the
greatest crime known to the law; and when the attendant circumstances
suggest no palliation of the guilt, no hope that the culprit may even yet not be
unworthy to live among mankind, nothing to make it probable that the crime
was an exception to his general character rather than a consequence of it, then
I confess it appears to me that to deprive the criminal of the life of which he
has proved himself to be unworthy . . . is the most appropriate as it is
certainly the most impressive, mode in which society can attach to so great a
crime the penal consequences which for the security of life it is indispensable
to annex to it.”
Copyright @ 2001 by Paul W. Philp. All rights reserved. Teachers may copy and
use for teaching and classroom instruction.
Document 9
BRADWELL V. ILLINOIS, 1873, United States Supreme Court Case
“In the nature of things it is not every citizen of every age, sex, and condition that
is qualified for every calling and position. It is the prerogative of the legislator
to prescribe regulations founded on nature, reason, and experience for the due
admission of qualified persons to professions and callings demanding special
skill and confidence. This fairly belongs to the police power of the State; and, in
my opinion, in view of the peculiar characteristics, destiny, and mission of
woman, it is within the province of the legislature to ordain what offices,
positions, and callings shall be filled and discharged by men, and shall receive
the benefit of those energies and responsibilities, and that decision and firmness
which are presumed to predominate in the sterner sex.”
Document 10
The Straits Times, Singapore, 14 September 1974 Editorial “Brutal Blow”
“Also on Thursday, Deputy Commissioner of Police V.N. Ratnasingham said
there was a need to "deter the potential offender by penalties equated to the
seriousness of the crime and to incapacitate the actual violent criminal for
periods proportional to his violence, thus balancing with pain the pleasure a
criminal derives from his violent acts." That is the basic argument of the "tough
regime" school of penology, and those who oppose or question it on
humanitarian grounds would be well advised to spare a thought for the victims
of violent crime. This does not mean, however, that punishment should
degenerate into brutality. Its purpose could well be lost, then, hardening the
criminal, making him irredeemable and a permanent menace to society. Even
the hardcore criminal deserves less than brutality. For this reason, it seems
advisable to review the methodology of punishment.”
Copyright @ 2001 by Paul W. Philp. All rights reserved. Teachers may copy and
use for teaching and classroom instruction.
Document 11
Encyclical Letter Evangelium Vitae, of Pope John Paul II, 1995
“God, who is always merciful even when he punishes, "put a mark on Cain, lest
any who came upon him should kill him." He thus gave him a distinctive sign,
not to condemn him to the hatred of others, but to protect and defend him from
those wishing to kill him, even out of a desire to avenge Abel's death. Not even a
murderer loses his personal dignity, and God himself pledges to guarantee this
. . . As Saint Ambrose writes: "Once the crime is admitted at the very inception
of this sinful act . . ., then the divine law of God's mercy should be immediately
extended. If punishment is forthwith inflicted on the accused, then men in the
exercise of justice would in no way observe patience and moderation, but would
straightaway condemn the defendant to punishment. God drove Cain out of his
presence and sent him into exile far away from his native land, . . . God, who
preferred the correction rather than the death of a sinner, did not desire that a
homicide be punished by the exaction of another act of homicide"
Document 12
Arabia On-Line, 7 January 1999 “Islamist Kuwaiti MPs Advocate Islamic
“Heading a group of MPs, Tabtabai, a member of a strict Islamist party, has
called for the Islamic punishments of flogging, amputation and stoning to be
introduced in Kuwait, a religiously conservative country. According to the bill
. . . adulterers charged after testimony of four male witnesses or a confession
will be given 100 lashes, . . . Rapists will also face 100 lashes as well as a
minimum 10-year jail term, which will be increased to a death sentence or life
prison term if the victim is less then seven years old, mentally retarded, a relative
or a maid. Thieves in this oil-rich emirate who steal more than the equivalent
value of 17 grams of gold from people other than relatives will have their right
hand amputated, after a thorough medical examination. The proposed bill covers
all crimes. Abortion is classified under premeditated murder in the bill, and will
be punishable by the death penalty, while [a homosexual act] carries 40 lashes
and a jail term. Drinking alcohol similarly carries 40 lashes, but defamation
carries 80 lashes. Converts from Islam will have only 30 days to repent and revert
to their religion or face being sentenced to death in all but exceptional cases, as
Islam does not allow its followers to convert.”
Copyright @ 2001 by Paul W. Philp. All rights reserved. Teachers may copy and
use for teaching and classroom instruction.
Scholarly Technology Group, Bible Browser [database on line] (Providence, RI: Brown
University, accessed June 27, 2000); available from http://www.stg.brown.
Paul Halsall, Internet Ancient History Sourcebook, Legal Texts [database on line] (New York:
Fordham University, accessed June 27, 2000); available from http://
Alfred J. Andrea and James H. Overfield, The Human Record: Sources of Global History, Vol 1,
2d. ed. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1994), pp. 95-97.
The Edicts of King Ashoka, trans by S. Dhammika [database on line] (Ft. Collins, Co: Colorado
State University, accessed June 27, 2000); available from http://
Paul Halsall, Internet Ancient History Sourcebook, Legal Texts [database on line] (New York:
Fordham University, accessed June 27, 2000); available from
Nihongi: Chronicles of Japan from the Earliest Times to A.D. 697, 2 vols. in 1, trans. W.G. Aston
(Rutland, Vermont: Charles E. Tuttle, Company, 1972), 2: 128-131.
Bruce Hoffman, Crime [database on line] (Seattle, Washington: University of
Washington, accessed June 28, 2000); available from http://
Speech by John Stuart Mill In Favor of Capital Punishment at Ethics Update [databse on line]
(San Diego, Ca: University of San Diego, accessed June 27, 2000); available from
Adam Rubinson, CIVNET: International Resource for Civic Education and Civil Society [database
on line] (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University, Syracuse, accessed June 28, 2000); available at
10. Colin Ferrell, World Corporal Punishment Research [database on line] (London, accessed June
28, 2000); available at index.htm
11. Evangelium Vitae: The Holy Father [datbase on line] (Vatican City, accessed on June 27, 2000);
available at
12. Colin Ferrell, World Corporal Punishment Research [database on line] (London, accessed June
28, 2000); available at index.htm
Copyright @ 2001 by Paul W. Philp. All rights reserved. Teachers may copy and
use for teaching and classroom instruction.