The impact of the ancient Near East law, philosophy and religion on human rights

Birutė Pranevičienė, Darius Amilevicius

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Every religious and philosophical theory of ethics tends to determine what is good, and what is evil. Among ancient peoples religious laws governed every aspect of the communitys life. Ancient legal and moral codes have a religious quality because religion and government were never separate in the ancient world. In the teaching of the utilitarian, the utility is regarded as the basis of the appropriateness and of the obligation. Thus proceed the formation of the public utility concept. The purpose of this study – to examine the impact of the ancient Near East Law, Philosophy and Religion on human rights. Human rights in the early civilizations of both the East and the West were composites of various philosophies that served a peoples social and cultural contexts. The Code of Hammurabi from about 1800 B.C. is often cited by historians for its foundational place in the Western tradition of human rights. In the Hebrew Bible ethics also can be referred to as “human rights,” but they are based on a very different foundation than the “human rights” commonly promoted today. Both the Hammurabi Code and the Hebrew Bible are utilitarian in their approach, but in the biblical writings use of both utilitarian and deontological methods are used. In a narrow sense, the Mosaic Code reflects the point of view of the radical relativism school. In a broad sense, some of the Commandments involve protecting people from other people, and in this sense a form of “human rights” is established At the very heart of biblical ethics lie the fundamental values that infuse moral conduct and principles. In the Hebrew Bible all morality was legislated. No distinction was made between law and morality, as one could find in a pluralistic society.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-143
JournalVisuomenės saugumas ir viešoji tvarka: mokslinių straipsnių rinkinys
Publication statusPublished - 2011



  • Utilitarianism
  • Ancient Near East
  • Law

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