The original context is Chapter 21 of Exodus. Verse 23 is a continuation of a sentence that begins in Verse 22 as follows:
But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.A related version shows up in Chapter 24 of Leviticus. However, those who believe in "the Christian thing to do" should hopefully remember that this phrase was cited by Jesus. It shows up in Chapter 5 of the Gospel According to Matthew in an entirely different context:
Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.My own preference for a "gospel source," on the other hand, would have to be Mahatma Ghandi, who echoed Jesus with a slightly sharper stance:
An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.Come to think of it, if the whole world were blind, that would probably make it easier for the Republicans to lead them (even if they, themselves, were also blind).