Thinking Law in Ancient Cultures and ReligionHow did people in the ancient and early medieval past think about law? What does thinking about, and with, ancient legal sources do for our contemporary notions of law? How should we think about law across different cultural, geographical and temporal contexts? In this seminar, we will approach such questions through the lenses of (ancient and modern) legal theory and through the comparative study of ancient legal systems including those of Chinese, Hindu, Buddhist, Near Eastern, Jewish, Greek and Roman cultures. We will ask about what light contemporary legal theory sheds on pre-modern legal cultures, and conversely, we will test/rethink modern and contemporary theories of law and jurisprudence as we examine different cultural historical instantiations of law and legal theory. Our analysis will focus on particular legal cultures in terms of their substantive law (what areas are considered to be within the legal realm) and also in terms of how these legal cultures conceptualize their own authority, sources, and notions of "law."The course is open to those interested in law, comparative law, legal history, legal theory, political theory, religion, or ancient and medieval history and culture.
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