Georgia State Law Professor Partners with High School Students
Timothy Lytton, associate dean for faculty development, Distinguished University Professor and professor of law, helped members of the Young Israel of Toco Hills examine and compare the preambles to three of history’s most important legal documents: the Code of Hammurabi, the Ten Commandments and the U.S. Constitution, during a Nov. 19 session on Thanksgiving and Law.
“Each of these preambles provides reasons for why those subject to them ought to obey, and they provide insight into how law works that is, how a ruler can govern a population using not brute force but obedience to law,” Lytton said.
The Code of Hammurabi was one of the earliest and most complete written legal codes, proclaimed by the Babylonian King Hammurabi, who reigned from 1792 to 1750 B.C. The Ten Commandments are a set of biblical laws from the Old Testament.
And, the U.S. Constitution is the supreme law of the United States. One of the main takeaways from the discussion was that Ancient Near Eastern Law Codes attempted to secure fidelity to law by convincing subjects to be grateful for all of the benefits provided by the law maker.
By contrast, the U.S. Constitution attempts to secure fidelity to law by offering a vision of a shared future (“We the people, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility….”). The session offered insights into how law works–how it secures obedience without overt violence, which is a significant advance in the technology of governance.