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Foreword PROFESSOR FRIER'S book could not have come at a more crucial time for legal history, law, and jurisprudence. For legal history it signals, I hope, a revival of interest in Roman law, a topic which has almost disappeared from view in America and is struggling for survival in Europe. For American law it comes at a time when the winds of change arc blowing strong in the area of urban landlord and tenant law but when the course these changes ought to take is by no means clear. For jurisprudence it comes at a time when interest is once again keen in the mechanisms by which legal systems develop, but when the comparative knowledge which is necessary to develop a general theory of legal development is becoming increasingly difficult to obtain. It is a remarkable tribute to Professor Frier's capacities that as a classicist he is nonetheless able to speak to three diverse concerns normally associated with the legal profession. The sad state of Roman law studies is well known. In the United States, Roman law has virtually disappeared from the university curriculum, as a result of the death, retirement or return to Europe of an extraordinary group of scholars whom the chaos of the war brought to our shores. While the subject is still taught in many of the great law schools of Europe, it has suffered badly as a result of the curriculum reforms of the late sixties and early seventies, and new names in the field are disturbingly few. We could dismiss these developments as simply the reflection of the lack of scholarly discipline of the age. Roman law is difficult. Learning it requires command of a language that fewer and fewer Americans and Europeans have, mastery of a formidable scholarly apparatus written in virtually every Western language, and persistence with detail and Xl Foreword legal imagination, qualities that are rarely found in combination in any age. But I think the decline of the study of Roman law must be attributed to causes deeper than its difficulty. The last generation of scholars of Roman law, for all their greatness, did not, on the whole, speak to this generation. Their minds had been formed by teachers in the pandectist tradition. They were systematic, rule-oriented, and analytical. Unlike the nineteenth-centurv pandectists, however, they had learned from the philologians of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries the critical importance of establishing the text. Because of the peculiar way in which most of Roman law has been transmitted to us, the last generation of scholars of Roman law had to devote great energy to establishing what was the text of the classical jurists and what the work of Justinian's Bvzantine compilators . With the legal realist movement in America and with the advent of sociological jurisprudence on the Continent somewhat later, much of the jurisprudential underpinning of this effort was removed. Lawyers became far more concerned with the way in which law and society interact, and the average student and professor of modern law can have no more than "academic" interest in the study of an abstract scheme of rules from a time long past. Unless legal historians respond to these developments by investigating the interaction of law and society in the past, they will have no students and nothing to say to their colleagues. At the same time, I am convinced that the effort to reconstruct society and law of the past is crucial not only for the professional survival of legal historians, but also for the advancement of our own knowledge of the present. No theory of law and society can begin to have any generality unless it can account for the evidence of the past, and the modern reformer who wishes to use law for the purpose of social engineering is likely to do as much damage as good if he changes the rules inherited from the past without an adequate appreciation of how they came to be there in the xu Foreword first place or if he changes rules without an adequate knowledge of how other societies deal with similar problems. If today's legal historian, then, can show how law and society interacted in the past, he will have a considerable contribution to make to the ongoing debate about the relationship between law and society. Showing how law and society interacted in the past is, however, a formidable undertaking. We know remarkably little about how rules of law, particularly private...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781400855148
MARC Record
OCLC
55702269
Pages
288
Launched on MUSE
2015-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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