Social Justice in the Ancient World

Social Justice in the Ancient World

Social Justice in the Ancient World

Social Justice in the Ancient World


This edited collection focuses on the problem of social justice or, more particularly, how the demand for social justice was articulated and implemented in ancient civilizations, including the Chinese, Indian, Iranian, Babylonian, Assyrian, Israelite, Egyptian, Greek, and Roman. These essays are supplementd by discussions of the functioning of social justice in early and medieval Islam and in the postmedieval Anglo-Saxon world.


This volume resulted from a conference on Social Justice in the Ancient World held at the City College of the City University of New York on March 10, 11, and 13, 1993. All the papers read at the conference are published here, with the exceptions, regretfully, of H. Z. Szubin 'Law and Order' and 'Law and Equity' in the Ancient Near East and in the Bible," R. Garner Lawless Women in Classical Athens," and Baruch A. Levine The Social Parameter of Biblical Law: Kinship and Justice."

The concept of social justice is one of the more influential ideas in the annals of human social existence. It arose in social consciousness probably at the dawn of civilization and affected the formation and transformation of social structures and legal institutions throughout history.

The effect of this idea on modern life has received detailed attention. But its influence in ancient and relatively early times is deserving of much more attention than it has so far received. It was the desire to redress the intellectual balance that inspired this conference and motivated the participants.

The chapters explore several aspects of the subject--the notion of social justice in the early days of human history; the articulation of social justice in certain ancient civilizations; the social and legal practices implementing social justice in the ancient world; and the legal and socioeconomic consequences of the implementation of schemes of social justice.

Both editors wish to thank Carolyn France and Bertha Zeigler-Pickens for their invaluable assistance. Thanks are also due to Deans Jeffrey Rosen (Social Science Division) and Martin Tamny (Humanities Division) and, most of all, to . . .

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