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Updated Up To 26/06/2018
Volume 3, Number 1 (January 2005) : 1-18
The Metaphor of Talion

Betty Rojtman
Rubric A: Literature and Ideology


The talion law, which stipulates an exact retribution of "eye for eye" in cases of injury or murder, is commonly associated with the Vengeful God of the New Testament and with the favoring of literality over spirituality. In opposition to such a view, this essay, based on a close reading of the Talmud and later Jewish commentators, and equipped with the insights of contemporary structuralist and post-structuralist theory, analyzes the modes that the Jewish tradition offers for the displacement of the literal. It attempts to show that a detour into a figurative reading of lex talionis is what effects, through subtle rhetoric, a restitution of its original sense, both ethical and ontological.

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