A Prequel to Law and Revolution: A Long Lost Manuscript of Harold J. Berman Comes to Light

36 Pages Posted: 2 Nov 2014 Last revised: 11 Aug 2019

See all articles by John Witte, Jr.

John Witte, Jr.

Emory University School of Law

Christopher Manzer

Emory University

Date Written: 2014


The late Harold Berman was a pioneering scholar of Soviet law, legal history, jurisprudence, and law and religion; he is best known today for his monumental Law and Revolution series on the Western legal tradition. In the early 1960s, Berman wrote a short book, Law and Language, which was only recently discovered and published in 2013. In this early text, he adumbrated many of the main themes of his later work, including Law and Revolution. He also anticipated a good deal of the interdisciplinary and comparative methodology that we take for granted today, even though it was rare in the intense legal positivist era during which he was writing. This essay contextualizes Berman’s Law and Language within the development of his own legal thought and in the evolution of interdisciplinary legal studies. It focuses particularly on the themes of law and religion, law and history, and law and communication that dominated Berman’s writing until his death in 2007.

Keywords: Harold J. Berman; law and language; legal history; legal positivism; interdisciplinary legal studies; Cold War; Soviet Union; law and religion; rhetoric; legal anthropology; ritual; courtroom

Suggested Citation

Witte, John and Manzer, Christopher, A Prequel to Law and Revolution: A Long Lost Manuscript of Harold J. Berman Comes to Light (2014). Journal of Law and Religion, Vol. 29 (2014) 142-169, Emory Legal Studies Research Paper No. 14-313, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2517759

John Witte (Contact Author)

Emory University School of Law ( email )

1301 Clifton Road
Atlanta, GA 30322
United States
404-727-6980 (Phone)
404-712-8605 (Fax)

Christopher Manzer

Emory University ( email )

201 Dowman Drive
Atlanta, GA 30322
United States

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