'Others-in-Law': Legalism in the Economy of Religious Differences
Law, Culture and the Humanities, Forthcoming
25 Pages Posted: 8 Mar 2018
Date Written: February 26, 2018
Religious legalism encompasses a wide range of attitudes that assign religious meaning to legal content or to legal compliance. The phenomenology of religious legalism is assuming a significant role in various contemporary debates about legal pluralism, accommodation of religious minorities, religious freedom, and so forth. This article revises this conception and the commonplace equation of Judaism and legalism. It suggests that we ought to regard both as part of the economy of religious differences by which religious identities are expressed and defined as alternatives. The common ascription of religious legalism to Judaism (and Islam) is criticized here through a historical analysis of the law-religion-identity matrix in three cultural settings: late ancient Judeo-Hellenic, medieval Judeo–Arabic, and post-Reformation Europe.
Keywords: religious legalism, Judaism, Christianity, nomocentrism, reformation, Martin Luther, Maimonides, Mendelssohn, torah-nomos, identity politics, law-gospel, identity
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