God's Joust, God's Justice: The Revelations of Legal history
John Witte Jr.
Emory University School of Law
Princeton Seminary Bulletin, Vol. 20, No. 3, p. 295, 1999
Emory Legal Studies Research Paper
History is more than a “series of tricks we play on the dead” and more than simply an arid and accidental chronology of first one thing happening and then another. History is also a source of revelation, a collection of wisdom. The archive is a treasure trove. Old books are windows on truth. The challenge of the Christian historian is to search within the wisdom of the ages for some indication of the eternal wisdom of God. It is to try to seek God's revelation and judgment over time without presuming the power of divine judgment. It is to try to discern God's justice within God's joust.
This Article defends this religious perspective on legal history, and then uses the “binocular of law and religion” to offer first a panoramic overview of Western legal history and then more narrow denominational and thematic pictures of discrete eras and areas of legal history. The themes and contents of this Article were greatly expanded and revised in the author’s later book: God’s Joust, God’s Justice: Law and Religion in the Western Tradition (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2006).
Number of Pages in PDF File: 19
Keywords: History; Christianity and History; Legal History; Law and Religion; Augustine; Martin Luther; John Calvin; Protestantism
Date posted: August 7, 2011 ; Last revised: December 21, 2015
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