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1 - Out of Time? Eternity, Christology, and Justinianic Law

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 June 2023

John Robertson
Affiliation:
University of Cambridge
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Summary

Caroline Humfress explores the distinctive relationship between sacred (Christian) temporality and (Western) ‘hermeneutics of the state’, through a focus upon the founding texts of the Civilian legal tradition: the sixth-century CE Digest, Code and Institutes. Part 1 analyses the Emperor Justinian’s claim that these law-books were to be ‘valid for all eternity’ through a series of close textual readings of the same law-books’ prefatory constitutions. Part 2 contextualises Justinian’s lawyerly invocation of ‘eternity’ within contemporary Eastern Christological disputes, including a set of theological debates, orchestrated by Justinian himself, that took place at the same time (and location) as his law-books were being compiled. Part 3 concludes by arguing that the ‘timeless’, rational, universal, authority of the Civilian Legal tradition – as explored in the chapter by Ryan – was in fact underpinned by a specific Eastern (‘Byzantine’) sacred temporality.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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