The Paths of Christian Legal Scholarship

19 Pages Posted: 17 Jan 2008

See all articles by David A. Skeel

David A. Skeel

University of Pennsylvania Law School; European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

Date Written: January 15, 2008


The history of twentieth century Christian legal scholarship - really, the absence of Christian legal scholarship in America's elite law schools - can be told as a tale of two emblematic clashes: the first an intriguing historical footnote, the second a brief, explosive war of words. In the first, a tort action in Nebraska circa 1890,William Jennings Bryan and Roscoe Pound served as opposing counsel; the second was a war of words in the 1940s between a group of neo-Thomist scholars and defenders of Oliver Wendell Holmes. Using these two incidents to frame as a starting point, this essay briefly chronicles the disappearance of Christian legal scholarship from the elite law reviews for much of the twentieth century. In the past few years, however, there have been signs of a possible renaissance. The second half of the essay focuses on the signs of renewal. To organize the discussion, I address three very basic questions: What?, Who?, and How? - What are the most promising directions for Christian legal scholarship? Who is a Christian legal scholar? And how can Christian legal scholarship best be facilitated?

Keywords: Law and Society, Legal History, Religion, evangelicals, theologically conservative Christians, law review articles, scholarly literature, Christian scholarship, realism, morality, moral philosophy, international human rights, Catholicism, William Jennings Bryan, Roscoe Pound, Oliver Wendell Holmes

Suggested Citation

Skeel, David A., The Paths of Christian Legal Scholarship (January 15, 2008). U of Penn Law School, Public Law Research Paper No. 08-05, Available at SSRN: or

David A. Skeel (Contact Author)

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