US Tort-Law as a 'Bible's Child'

Essay, 2001

6 Pages, Grade: 11 Punkte


US-Tort Law as a “Bible’s Child”

A central idea of the Holy Bible is the concept of right and wrong. Following this idea a whole set of commandments and prohibitions, such as “…Thou shall not kill. Thou shall not commit adultery…” or “…that ye love another”[1], are developed in this book establishing an unique moral system. As Christians are told about good and evil, defined in Bible’s rules and construed by Theologians, their believe comprises a complete legal system as well. As it is typical for legal systems the religious basic principles are not just meant as signposts on one’s way through life, but are enforced by the common practice of reward and punishment, too. God as the final individual’s judge is believed to decide all cases, if a person’s soul will be blessed with “life everlasting” or will be sentenced to be “cast into the lake of fire.”[2] Concerning its methods the Christian set of rules is therefore well comparable to other legal systems such as the US-Common Law. In its concrete content quite different of course, rewards as the guaranty of the Civil Rights and punishments as imprisonment are to be found here as a similar framework , too.[3] Since the Christian believe undoubtedly has had a strong influence on modern western moral concepts, in the following part it will be examined, how strong the Bible’s impact on recent legal terms and the concept of modern US-law of intentional torts and product liability has been and if other influences must be recognised.

An intentional tort in general concludes a wrongful act or omission leading to liability towards an injured person.[4] In this case a sanction as the “liability for the injury (or damage)” is combined with a moral evaluation of the act as “wrongful”. The basic definition of tort shows a strong influence of moral values in society on legal terms: Each individual is expected to reasonably foresee to avoid acts or omissions, which are able to harm one’s Neighbour.[5] Differing behaviour is called “wrong,” and sanctions must follow. Keeping the bible’s “Neighbour principle” in mind, “Thou shalt love thy Neighbour,”[6] first similarities to concepts of Christianity can be found.

A particular example of an intentional tort is a battery. The Definition of battery in modern US-Common Law is a “direct intentional application of physical force to another person.”[7] A situation in the Bible , which could match these requirements, is the fight between David and Goliath at Ephes-Dammim. David “smote the Philistine in his forehead, and slew him… and took his sword and… cut off his head…”[8] David obviously applied physical force to Goliath, committing a battery. It is not known, whether the ancient Jews knew of a similar tort to battery, but taking the fifth of the Sinai-commandments “thou shall not kill” into consideration David’s behaviour should be an wrongful act in the eyes of his own people, too. Goliath is dead and David should at least be liable to Goliath’s family-members for they suffer emotional distress and lost their “bread winner.” Despite of this reproach “David was accepted in the sight of all the people”[9] and even became their king later. To defend David a lawyer could remark that Goliath consented into a fight for death or life and that in times of war a battery is an accepted way to defeat the enemy. Still the killing of Goliath can not be called a war-necessity and aims just at stopping the Philistine’s provocation of the Jew’s peoples’ pride, in Bible’s words: “taketh away the reproach from Israel.”[10] Nowadays David’s defence could probably not avoid his punishment, but only decrease the sanctions of a judgement. In the days of the Old Testament self-defence concerning the honour of one’s own peoples was obviously respected to a degree, which even justified a breach of the fifth commandment.


[1] Exodus, 20, 13-14; St. John 13, 34

[2] St. John 12,50; Revelation 20, 15

[3] Findlaw US-Supreme Court: The Constitution; US-Department of Justice: Sanctions

[4] Lundmark P.1

[5] Donoghue vs. Stevenson

[6] St. Matthew 5, 43

[7] Ledger & Associates, Info, Assault & Battery; Bailey, Terms, Battery

[8] 1. Samuel ,17, 50-51

[9] 1. Samuel, 18, 5

[10] 1. Samuel 17, 26

Excerpt out of 6 pages


US Tort-Law as a 'Bible's Child'
Professional Skills for Law
11 Punkte
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
File size
401 KB
Tort-Law, Bible, Child, Professional, Skills
Quote paper
Sebastian Zellmer (Author), 2001, US Tort-Law as a 'Bible's Child', Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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