Review of R.H. Helmholz: ‘The Spirit of the Classical Canon Law’
John Witte Jr.
Emory University School of Law
Charles J. Reid Jr.
University of St. Thomas School of Law (Minnesota)
Journal of Law and Religion, Vol. 16, 2001
The only palpable mistake in R.H. Helmholz’s volume on the spirit of classical canon law is his initial assertion that his work contains no originality. His work is a learned, lively account of medieval canon law from Western Christendom. This volume’s goal is to trace and tease out of the multiple texts of classical canon law common lore and the law. He reads the canon law as a modern inquisitor who wants to know what ancient brethren thought and taught about discrete legal questions. Helmholz did not choose these questions at random; he asks hard periodical questions of the 12th-16th century. Helmholz does not interpret the canon law through a modern reading or focus on issues with modern parallels. His work shows the diversity of ideas in medieval canon law but also shows the consensus of the day. The sophistication of medieval canon law demonstrated mastery of issues and wide-ranging interests. Helmholz’s volume is brilliant and is an excellent guide to medieval canon law.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 5
Keywords: R.H. Helmholz, canon lawAccepted Paper Series
Date posted: May 27, 2011
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