Plato and the Pentateuch

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StephenGoranson
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Re: Plato and the Pentateuch

Post by StephenGoranson »

About Plato and Pentateuch, RE Gmirkin wote, Sat Dec 17, 2022 12:09 pm [in the Two failures... thread], in part:

"My claim is that the ancient Jews and Samaritans were much better read than anyone previously imagined, well versed in philosophy, science, and international law and literature, and brilliantly successful in creating their own national literature, following the literary agenda laid out in Plato’s Laws. Did you [sg] not read the last chapter of Plato and the Creation of the Hebrew Bible?—of course you didn’t—in which I noted that Hellenistic Era Judea, out of all the nations of the ancient world, was the only one to adopt Plato’s strategy for creating a new constitution, laws and theocratic form of government, supported by a sacred national literature, and that the Jewish experiment succeeded exactly as Plato envisioned, creating an eternal national legal charter that has survived down through time to the present day."

That may seem to imply--correct me if I am mistaken--a claim by REG that Jewish survival is due to Plato.
*If* that is what REG implied, then I do not agree,
Russell Gmirkin
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Re: Plato and the Pentateuch

Post by Russell Gmirkin »

andrewcriddle wrote: Tue Jan 10, 2023 10:37 am
Attitudes to homosexuality in ancient Greece probably varied widely.
There appears to be a prohibition of homosexuality in Assyrian Law. https://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/pwh/meso-law.asp
If a man has lain with his male friend and a charge is brought and proved against him, the same thing shall be done to him and he shall be made a eunuch.
Andrew Criddle
The Greek world seems to have been pretty tolerant towards homosexuality. It was actually mandated in the Spartan military, as it was thought to create stronger bonds of loyalty among troops that would make them more effective in battle. But gay prostitutes were looked down on, and selling one's body was cause for loss of citizenship in Athens.

The categories of permitted sexual relations in the Ancient Near Eastern law collections were essentially the same as in the biblical text: first and second wives, handmaidens, concubines and prostitutes.

Ancient Near Eastern laws touched on various forbidden sexual acts, but not as systematically as Leviticus. Unsubstantiated accusations of homosexuality were severely punished (MAL A 19) and homosexual rape carried an Assyrian penalty of castration (MAL A 20).

MAL A 19: If a man has secretly started a rumor about his neighbor saying, “He has allowed men to have sex with him,” or in a quarrel has told him in the presence of others, “Men have sex with you,” and then, “I will bring charges against you myself,” but is then unable to substantiate the charge, and cannot prove it, that man is to be caned (fifty blows), be sentenced to a month’s hard labor for the king, be cut off, and pay one talent of lead.
MAL A 20: If a man has had sex with his neighbor (and) he has been charged and convicted, (then) they shall turn sodomize him and turn him into a eunuch.

It does appear that homophobia was a feature in Assyrian society (MAL A 19), but I don’t believe that MAL A 20 (which you quote) criminalized homosexuality per se. Otherwise why wasn’t both the man in question and his neighbor both punished? Rather, MAL A 20 appears to refer to non-consensual sex, i.e. rape, where only the rapist was punished.

One class of Assyrian prophets, the assinnu (“cult singers”), appears to have engaged in cross-dressing, suggesting that androgyny or gender ambiguity had an elevated status in the cult of Ishtar (Huffmon 2000: 52; Parpola 1997: xxxiv). This contrasts with biblical strictures against cross-dressing.

I'll omit Hittite laws, which were permissive in the extreme, and permitted any consensual sex between men and women (or any variation thereof) that did not violate marriage contracts or sexual taboos (HL 190-91, 199).
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Secret Alias
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Re: Plato and the Pentateuch

Post by Secret Alias »

In East Africa there are two words for what we in the West term "homosexuality." The receiver of sex is called "shoga" https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/shoga (I think it has some relation to the concept of "girl friend" or friend of a girl). The one who "busts ass" as they say is called basha or "playa" https://www.moscasdecolores.com/en/gay- ... ili/basha/. Otherwise straight men will boast about how many European asses they busted in the beaches of Kenya, Tanzania etc. They don't consider it "gay" unless you are penetrated. Very unusual. They say dozens of European mean pay them money to make tomba. The ability to service anyone, anywhere, anyhow is a source of pride for them. The basha isn't attracted to the European men. He is just so masculine that he gets hard under any circumstance. Apparently according to east Africans Italians are especially gay. It is said that a young African man can't walk down the streets in Italy at night without being propositioned a half dozen times.

I think the ancient world had similar notions.
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neilgodfrey
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Re: Plato and the Pentateuch

Post by neilgodfrey »

andrewcriddle wrote: Tue Jan 10, 2023 10:37 am Attitudes to homosexuality in ancient Greece probably varied widely.
There appears to be a prohibition of homosexuality in Assyrian Law. https://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/pwh/meso-law.asp
If a man has lain with his male friend and a charge is brought and proved against him, the same thing shall be done to him and he shall be made a eunuch.
Given the difference between the Assyrian and Pentateuchal laws (the penalty of castration) I would have expected you to infer that one did not derive from the other. ;-) Where any Pentateuchal law contains some difference from all others perhaps it was sui generis, even directly from God! (-- joking, of course.)

But as I tried to indicate, my chief interest was the unexpectedness of finding Plato introducing a prohibition on homosexuality in Laws given that elsewhere he is so accepting of it as if part of a natural order.

--------
P.S. -- I posted this before seeing RG's more detailed response.
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Re: Plato and the Pentateuch

Post by andrewcriddle »

neilgodfrey wrote: Wed Jan 11, 2023 8:41 pm
andrewcriddle wrote: Tue Jan 10, 2023 10:37 am Attitudes to homosexuality in ancient Greece probably varied widely.
There appears to be a prohibition of homosexuality in Assyrian Law. https://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/pwh/meso-law.asp
If a man has lain with his male friend and a charge is brought and proved against him, the same thing shall be done to him and he shall be made a eunuch.
Given the difference between the Assyrian and Pentateuchal laws (the penalty of castration) I would have expected you to infer that one did not derive from the other. ;-) Where any Pentateuchal law contains some difference from all others perhaps it was sui generis, even directly from God! (-- joking, of course.)

But as I tried to indicate, my chief interest was the unexpectedness of finding Plato introducing a prohibition on homosexuality in Laws given that elsewhere he is so accepting of it as if part of a natural order.

--------
P.S. -- I posted this before seeing RG's more detailed response.
My point is that the condemnation of homosexual acts in the Pentateuch has parallels in the Semitic world and doesn't really need explaining as a borrowing from Plato. (One could in theory argue that Plato is un-Greek here and influenced by the Pentateuch. Which is what some church fathers did argue. However I don't think either of us regard this as likely.)

As to Plato's general attitudes here. In the Phaedrus he strongly approves of homoerotic relationships but disapproves of, (while tolerating), full physical expression within such relationships. (Platonic love.) In the Laws he no longer tolerates what in the Phaedrus he disapproved of. (This is assuming that Socrates in the Phaedrus and the Athenian in the Laws are both straightforwardly speaking for Plato.)

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neilgodfrey
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Re: Plato and the Pentateuch

Post by neilgodfrey »

andrewcriddle wrote: Thu Jan 12, 2023 9:29 am
My point is that the condemnation of homosexual acts in the Pentateuch has parallels in the Semitic world and doesn't really need explaining as a borrowing from Plato.
I don't see the parallel with the Assyrian law we addressed above and that Russell Gmirkin commented on. That Assyrian law appears to have specified only one guilty party and we must conclude then that it was about rape.

But what really establishes the connection with Plato, in my view, is not simply that Plato in Laws is condemning the homosexual relationship entirely, but his stated reasons for doing so in addition to the whole tone and point of the law itself. I would be very surprised if any other law in Mesopotamia/Levant area went beyond the statement of the crime and its penalty. Plato says that the reason for prohibiting homosexual relationships is that they stand against "piety" and are "unnatural". The law itself, Plato is arguing in Laws, is to be educative, teaching right attitudes to moral principles, not just obedience.

So when Plato says the law against homosexual relationships it comes with a reason, and that is the need to cultivate godliness and good character and to learn to abhor all that is against piety and the good. That is a major theme running all through Laws. So when in Leviticus we read the introduction to the laws on sexual relations:

Lev 18:1 The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘I am the Lord your God. 3 You must not do as they do in Egypt, where you used to live, and you must not do as they do in the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you. Do not follow their practices. 4 You must obey my laws and be careful to follow my decrees. I am the Lord your God. 5 Keep my decrees and laws, for the person who obeys them will live by them. I am the Lord.

we are reading what Plato would have approved wholeheartedly --
  • a narrative with a reminder of a dramatic story about the divine origins of the laws,
  • a reminder that the laws come from God (not a human institution),
  • and a promise of a reward for keeping the laws.
Then when we come to the specific law on homosexual relations we read:

Lev 18:22 Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. (KJV translation)

Not even a penalty is given here. Just the teaching that one must consider the practice to be "unnatural". I don't think that's anything remotely like any other law code.

(A few verses on a general punishment for the entire people is stated -- they will be cast out of the land as the nations before them. Again we are reading here of an inducement of national reward for keeping the laws. The most individual that chapter 18 gets is to say at the very end, after the list of sexual offences that are said to be "confusion", "defiling" etc, is that the person who commits them shall be "cut off from among the people". I don't know if that is a reference to treating the person as a stranger (as per Plato's statement of appropriate punishment) or execution.)

And later when the penalty is given we find a Taliban severity that might make even Plato a little uneasy:

20:13 If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

But even there the reason for the death penalty is made clear: it is not the act itself that is said to be deserving of the death penalty, but that the act is "an abomination" (KJV).

I think those three distinctive things --
  • the educational and inspiring narrative of divine origins of the law,
  • the promise of reward for keeping the law,
  • and the educational factor of the "right moral attitude" being built into the text of the law itself
-- are what links the Pentateuch's laws to Plato.
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Re: Plato and the Pentateuch

Post by andrewcriddle »

neilgodfrey wrote: Thu Jan 12, 2023 11:10 pm
andrewcriddle wrote: Thu Jan 12, 2023 9:29 am
My point is that the condemnation of homosexual acts in the Pentateuch has parallels in the Semitic world and doesn't really need explaining as a borrowing from Plato.
I don't see the parallel with the Assyrian law we addressed above and that Russell Gmirkin commented on. That Assyrian law appears to have specified only one guilty party and we must conclude then that it was about rape.
the passage
If a man has lain with his male friend and a charge is brought and proved against him, the same thing shall be done to him and he shall be made a eunuch.
does assume that the active partner is seen as primarily responsible, I see no reason to regard this as implying physically coercive rape or to assume that the accusation has been made by the culprit's male friend.
neilgodfrey wrote: Thu Jan 12, 2023 11:10 pm But what really establishes the connection with Plato, in my view, is not simply that Plato in Laws is condemning the homosexual relationship entirely, but his stated reasons for doing so in addition to the whole tone and point of the law itself. I would be very surprised if any other law in Mesopotamia/Levant area went beyond the statement of the crime and its penalty. Plato says that the reason for prohibiting homosexual relationships is that they stand against "piety" and are "unnatural". The law itself, Plato is arguing in Laws, is to be educative, teaching right attitudes to moral principles, not just obedience.

So when Plato says the law against homosexual relationships it comes with a reason, and that is the need to cultivate godliness and good character and to learn to abhor all that is against piety and the good. That is a major theme running all through Laws. So when in Leviticus we read the introduction to the laws on sexual relations:

Lev 18:1 The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘I am the Lord your God. 3 You must not do as they do in Egypt, where you used to live, and you must not do as they do in the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you. Do not follow their practices. 4 You must obey my laws and be careful to follow my decrees. I am the Lord your God. 5 Keep my decrees and laws, for the person who obeys them will live by them. I am the Lord.

we are reading what Plato would have approved wholeheartedly --
  • a narrative with a reminder of a dramatic story about the divine origins of the laws,
  • a reminder that the laws come from God (not a human institution),
  • and a promise of a reward for keeping the laws.
Then when we come to the specific law on homosexual relations we read:

Lev 18:22 Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. (KJV translation)

Not even a penalty is given here. Just the teaching that one must consider the practice to be "unnatural". I don't think that's anything remotely like any other law code.

(A few verses on a general punishment for the entire people is stated -- they will be cast out of the land as the nations before them. Again we are reading here of an inducement of national reward for keeping the laws. The most individual that chapter 18 gets is to say at the very end, after the list of sexual offences that are said to be "confusion", "defiling" etc, is that the person who commits them shall be "cut off from among the people". I don't know if that is a reference to treating the person as a stranger (as per Plato's statement of appropriate punishment) or execution.)

And later when the penalty is given we find a Taliban severity that might make even Plato a little uneasy:

20:13 If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

But even there the reason for the death penalty is made clear: it is not the act itself that is said to be deserving of the death penalty, but that the act is "an abomination" (KJV).

I think those three distinctive things --
  • the educational and inspiring narrative of divine origins of the law,
  • the promise of reward for keeping the law,
  • and the educational factor of the "right moral attitude" being built into the text of the law itself
-- are what links the Pentateuch's laws to Plato.
Plato's doctrine involves a whole ideology opposing hedonism and promoting natural (procreative) sex. I don't think that the Pentateuch use of abomination involves the same sort of moral/ethical theory.

There may be an underlying issue between us (or alternatively I may be misunderstanding you). IIUC you are sympathetic to an origin of the Pentateuch in which an elite group which really held what you regard as the ideology of Plato's Laws, invented the Pentateuch as a means of indoctrinating ordinary people into accepting their agenda. I doubt whether this is what Plato is really suggesting, (although in principle later Platonists might have understood Plato in this way), and I regard it as deeply improbable as an account of Pentateuchal origins. IF this is what you are suggesting then I would require a clear historical parallel to this sort of process before regarding it as in any way plausible.

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DCHindley
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Re: Plato and the Pentateuch

Post by DCHindley »

IIRC, Socrates as described by Plato in The Symposium, positions himself to artfully plant a kiss on another man's lips, to the applause of the other participants in the symposium, who are presumed to have noticed that Socrates was staging a performance, and this was the climax of the show.

If you think about it, many of the artistic expressions or histories that Plato's Socrates would have banned or heavily censored, were things that Plato's Socrates did himself.

To me it is, as if, Plato was suggesting that it was alright for geniuses and perhaps deviant thinkers to come up with this kind of utopia city-state, one that denied these very things should be preserved. In other words, the founder/thinkers here retire as governors and allow themselves to be absorbed into the essence of the city-state.

Am not sure, but I wonder if someone has suggested that the whole point of Plato having his Socrates work out a utopia state like this was because Plato thought it was self contradictory, and thus unworkable.

Plato had not divined what Marxist socio-political thinkers would do with it (create sanitized history and carefully censor ideas) in the Soviet era state.

DCH
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Re: Plato and the Pentateuch

Post by neilgodfrey »

andrewcriddle wrote: Sat Jan 14, 2023 6:22 am
neilgodfrey wrote: Thu Jan 12, 2023 11:10 pm
andrewcriddle wrote: Thu Jan 12, 2023 9:29 am
My point is that the condemnation of homosexual acts in the Pentateuch has parallels in the Semitic world and doesn't really need explaining as a borrowing from Plato.
I don't see the parallel with the Assyrian law we addressed above and that Russell Gmirkin commented on. That Assyrian law appears to have specified only one guilty party and we must conclude then that it was about rape.
the passage
If a man has lain with his male friend and a charge is brought and proved against him, the same thing shall be done to him and he shall be made a eunuch.
does assume that the active partner is seen as primarily responsible, I see no reason to regard this as implying physically coercive rape or to assume that the accusation has been made by the culprit's male friend.
neilgodfrey wrote: Thu Jan 12, 2023 11:10 pm But what really establishes the connection with Plato, in my view, is not simply that Plato in Laws is condemning the homosexual relationship entirely, but his stated reasons for doing so in addition to the whole tone and point of the law itself. I would be very surprised if any other law in Mesopotamia/Levant area went beyond the statement of the crime and its penalty. Plato says that the reason for prohibiting homosexual relationships is that they stand against "piety" and are "unnatural". The law itself, Plato is arguing in Laws, is to be educative, teaching right attitudes to moral principles, not just obedience.

So when Plato says the law against homosexual relationships it comes with a reason, and that is the need to cultivate godliness and good character and to learn to abhor all that is against piety and the good. That is a major theme running all through Laws. So when in Leviticus we read the introduction to the laws on sexual relations:

Lev 18:1 The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘I am the Lord your God. 3 You must not do as they do in Egypt, where you used to live, and you must not do as they do in the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you. Do not follow their practices. 4 You must obey my laws and be careful to follow my decrees. I am the Lord your God. 5 Keep my decrees and laws, for the person who obeys them will live by them. I am the Lord.

we are reading what Plato would have approved wholeheartedly --
  • a narrative with a reminder of a dramatic story about the divine origins of the laws,
  • a reminder that the laws come from God (not a human institution),
  • and a promise of a reward for keeping the laws.
Then when we come to the specific law on homosexual relations we read:

Lev 18:22 Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. (KJV translation)

Not even a penalty is given here. Just the teaching that one must consider the practice to be "unnatural". I don't think that's anything remotely like any other law code.

(A few verses on a general punishment for the entire people is stated -- they will be cast out of the land as the nations before them. Again we are reading here of an inducement of national reward for keeping the laws. The most individual that chapter 18 gets is to say at the very end, after the list of sexual offences that are said to be "confusion", "defiling" etc, is that the person who commits them shall be "cut off from among the people". I don't know if that is a reference to treating the person as a stranger (as per Plato's statement of appropriate punishment) or execution.)

And later when the penalty is given we find a Taliban severity that might make even Plato a little uneasy:

20:13 If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

But even there the reason for the death penalty is made clear: it is not the act itself that is said to be deserving of the death penalty, but that the act is "an abomination" (KJV).

I think those three distinctive things --
  • the educational and inspiring narrative of divine origins of the law,
  • the promise of reward for keeping the law,
  • and the educational factor of the "right moral attitude" being built into the text of the law itself
-- are what links the Pentateuch's laws to Plato.
Plato's doctrine involves a whole ideology opposing hedonism and promoting natural (procreative) sex. I don't think that the Pentateuch use of abomination involves the same sort of moral/ethical theory.

There may be an underlying issue between us (or alternatively I may be misunderstanding you). IIUC you are sympathetic to an origin of the Pentateuch in which an elite group which really held what you regard as the ideology of Plato's Laws, invented the Pentateuch as a means of indoctrinating ordinary people into accepting their agenda. I doubt whether this is what Plato is really suggesting, (although in principle later Platonists might have understood Plato in this way), and I regard it as deeply improbable as an account of Pentateuchal origins. IF this is what you are suggesting then I would require a clear historical parallel to this sort of process before regarding it as in any way plausible.

Andrew Criddle
As for the Assyrian law, I can't go beyond the argument that Russell Gmirkin set out.

My only focus has been on the literary and ideological parallels between the Pentateuch and Plato. I am not as confident in the historicity underlying the letter of Aristeas as RG seems to be. That comes down to our differences in what we consider the most reliable methods in our analysis of the sources. I go no farther at this point than identifying clear literary, thematic structural and ideological parallels between the Pentateuch and Plato.

There's a word for the type of legislation that we find so often in the Pentateuch that escapes me. The first appearance I quoted on the homsexuality law is actually a moral instruction and not a law at all in the sense of case law or having any specific link to a penalty. More, the laws are couched in narratives of origins. That's all Plato and has no parallel in the Mesopotamian-Levantine world that I am aware of.

I am in no position to argue for an Alexandrian origin of the Pentateuch though I may have several times attempted to respond to what I see as misunderstandings and even distortions of Gmirkin's argument from SA and SG.

I don't think the idea of literary influence needs exemplar precedents to be convincing. What the motives and intents behind that literary exercise were is another question that I am still pondering.
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Re: Plato and the Pentateuch

Post by Russell Gmirkin »

neilgodfrey wrote: Sat Jan 14, 2023 2:23 pm
Plato says the law... comes with a reason, and that is the need to cultivate godliness and good character and to learn to abhor all that is against piety and the good. That is a major theme running all through Laws. So when in Leviticus we read the introduction to the laws on sexual relations:

Lev 18:1 The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘I am the Lord your God. 3 You must not do as they do in Egypt, where you used to live, and you must not do as they do in the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you. Do not follow their practices. 4 You must obey my laws and be careful to follow my decrees. I am the Lord your God. 5 Keep my decrees and laws, for the person who obeys them will live by them. I am the Lord.

we are reading what Plato would have approved wholeheartedly --
  • a narrative with a reminder of a dramatic story about the divine origins of the laws,
  • a reminder that the laws come from God (not a human institution),
  • and a promise of a reward for keeping the laws.
...

I think those three distinctive things --
  • the educational and inspiring narrative of divine origins of the law,
  • the promise of reward for keeping the law,
  • and the educational factor of the "right moral attitude" being built into the text of the law itself
-- are what links the Pentateuch's laws to Plato.

There's a word for the type of legislation that we find so often in the Pentateuch that escapes me. The first appearance I quoted on the homsexuality law is actually a moral instruction and not a law at all in the sense of case law or having any specific link to a penalty. More, the laws are couched in narratives of origins. That's all Plato and has no parallel in the Mesopotamian-Levantine world that I am aware of.
From Plato and the Creation of the Hebrew Bible, Chapter 4:

Motive clauses attached to individual laws attempted to persuade the citizens to obey the laws, either by explaining the reason for the law or by making an appeal to obedience in the form of either positive incentives for compliance or threats for disobedience.<1> Although legal introductions, exhortations and motive clauses are also found attached to other Pentateuchal laws, they predominate in Deuteronomy.<2> Both parenetic hortatory addresses and motive clauses are entirely absent from Ancient Near Eastern law collections<3> and have often been claimed as unique biblical innovations.<4> This claim to biblical originality appears inaccurate, however, since the same combination of legislation and persuasive rhetoric appeared prominently in Plato’s Laws of ca. 350 BCE.

Notes:
<1> The seminal work on motive clauses was Gemser 1953. Motive clauses invoked reasons for the law, or for obedience to the law, that included the practical (Deut. 20.19), ethical (Deut. 24.6), religious (Lev. 17.4), and historical (Ex. 23.14). Common historical themes were the deliverance from slavery in Egypt and the giving of the Promised Land to the Israelites, coupled with the warning that they would be taken from the land if they failed to obey.
<2> Motive clauses and parenetic passages throughout the Pentateuch law collections were cataloged, analyzed and numerically compared in Sonsino 1980.
<3> ...As Sonsino commented, “It is noteworthy that, unlike biblical laws, no cuneiform law is ever motivated by reference to an historic event, a promise of well-being or, for that matter, a divine will. In fact, the deity is completely silent” (1980: 174; cf. Janzen 1994: 81 n. 12). It follows that the motive clause, as defined by Gemser, is indeed absent from Ancient Near Eastern law...
<4> “In absolutely none of these law books or code collections can one single instance of motive clauses be discovered. The motive clause is clearly and definitely a peculiarity of Israel’s or Old Testament Law.” Gemser 1953: 52; cf. Janzen 1994: 61; Berman 2008: 115.


In Plato’s Laws, his final dialogue, which represented the culmination of his thinking on the intersection of philosophy and politics, Plato advocated a new type of political system in which education, rhetoric and legislation would be combined to create a body of citizens who had been enculturated and conditioned from birth towards obedience of the laws. In this text he laid out his plans for the innovative use of persuasive argument by the colony’s legislators in the presentation of both the law collection as a whole and—selectively—of individual laws or groups of laws. Plato’s program for combining legislation and persuasion began with the lawgiver crafting a persuasive prooem or prologue to the laws as a whole in order to make the citizens pliant and not hostile to the laws that would soon govern their conduct (Plato, Laws 4.719e-720a). Smaller blocks of laws should also have their own prooimia, as appropriate, and even individual laws should contain carefully crafted persuasive content (Plato, Laws 4.718b-723d; cf. Morrow 1993: 553-55). Plato insisted that every legislator who wished to be effective must master the art of skillfully combining the usual commands and penalties of the law with persuasive explanations (which Plato designated as paramuthia or “exhortations”), in order that the citizens would understand the benefits of complying with the laws the legislators had crafted. Plato described his innovative legislative technique for attaching persuasions to individual laws as writing a double law, in contrast to the usual single law that he disparaged as a format appropriate for tyrants, who utilized only threats without any effort at persuasion or education. A single law would consist of a simple apodictic command (“a man shall marry between the ages of thirty and thirty-five years old” in his example) followed by a casuistic command (“if he fails to do so, he shall be punished by both a monetary fine and by degradation, the fine being of such and such amount, and the degradation of such and such a kind”) (Plato, Laws 4.721a-b). A double law would interpose between the two a persuasive and educational explanation of the law, which might include its basic rationale, its divine background or holy character, the benefits of compliance and the negative effects of disobedience, both for the citizen himself and for the polis as a whole, and by so combining threats and persuasion achieve greater compliance to the law than by using threats alone (Plato, Laws 4.721b-d). A more explicit definition, explanation and example of the motive clause (as biblical scholars call it) can scarcely be imagined. This blending of persuasive rhetoric, education and legislation was a Platonic innovation and was encountered nowhere in antiquity (Annas 2010: 75) outside of Plato’s Laws, the Pentateuch, and occasional later literary texts that explicitly endorsed the innovative legislative approach found in Plato’s Laws such as Cicero’s On Laws of ca. 50 BCE. Given the striking correspondence between the biblical use of parenetic introductions and motive clauses and the persuasive prooimia or paramuthia first advocated in Plato’s Laws, there can be little doubt regarding the influence of Plato’s Laws on the text of Deuteronomy.

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