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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: June 2019

12 - John T. Noonan, Jr.: Catholic Jurist and Judge

Summary

Harold J. Berman, a Jewish convert to Christianity, was a pioneer in the study of legal history, legal philosophy, and law and religion. He mapped the deep Christian and post-Christian foundations of the Western legal tradition as a whole and of many of its particular legal doctrines. He developed an integrative jurisprudence that transcended many of the dualistic dialectics of the past, and that reconciled natural law theory, legal positivism, and historical jurisprudence with each other on the basis of a holistic theory of God and humanity. He offered creative explorations of the roles of language, speech, and dialogue in the development of local and global legal communities. And he developed an innovative theory of the religious dimensions of law, the legal dimensions of religion, and the need for a healthy interaction of legal ideas, institutions, and methods in a just and orderly society. Despite the tensions that exist in all societies between religious faith and legal order, he argued, law and religion inevitably interact, and neither can maintain its vitality independently of the other. At the highest level, surely the just and the holy are one.