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Law and Legality in the Greek East: The Byzantine Canonical Tradition,…
by David Wagschal
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Byzantine church law remains terra incognita to most scholars in the western academy. In this work, David Wagschal provides a fresh examination of this neglected but fascinating world. Confronting the traditional narratives of decline and primitivism that have long discouraged study of thesubject, Wagschal argues that a close reading of the central monuments of Byzantine canon law c. 381-883 reveals a much more sophisticated and coherent legal culture than is generally assumed. Engaging in innovative examinations of the physical shape and growth of the canonical corpus, the contentof the canonical prologues, the discursive strategies of the canons, and the nature of the earliest forays into systematization, Wagschal invites his readers to reassess their own legal-cultural assumptions as he advances an innovative methodology for understanding this ancient law.Law and Legality in the Greek East explores topics such as compilation, jurisprudence, professionalization, definitions of law, the language of the canons, and the relationship between the civil and ecclesiastical laws. It challenges conventional assumptions about Byzantine law while suggesting manynew avenues of research in both late antique and early medieval law, secular and ecclesiastical.
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)262.9815Religions Christian church and church work Church Polity; Ecclesiology Church law and discipline
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Building upon the pioneering work of the Frankfurt School, a group of legal historians housed at the Max Planck Institute for European Legal History in Frankfurt best known for their excellent editions of Byzantine legal texts, Wagschal is well-placed to explore the formation of Byzantine canon law. He has an impressive command of modern languages, and in particular takes advantage of Russian scholarship, which until the first decades of the twentieth century was incredibly important for Byzantine Studies in general and Byzantine canon law in particular. He is also acquainted with scholarship in Modern Greek. It is one of the great strengths of Wagschal’s study that he is able to tie together the work of professional scholars of Byzantine law (e.g. the Frankfurt School) as well as that of clerics of the Orthodox Church. This is not an easy balancing act but he manages it quite well most of the time.