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A new legal cosmos: late Roman lawyers and the early medieval church

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The idea that a knowledge of Roman legal techniques would lead to a correct understanding of Christian Scripture, and thence to orthodox belief and practice, belongs to the age of Justinian. One reason why Roman law appears in early Christian writings is because early Christian writers used Roman law and Roman legal institutions in everyday contexts. The chapter focuses on a specific example: the imperial grant of permanent 'defenders' (advocates) to Christian churches, made in response to a planned and co-ordinated initiative from a group of early fifth-century North African ecclesiastics. It briefly describes the late Roman imperial law and its cosmological context. Christian, legal cosmos in which the 'saints' function as privileged cosmic actors–their earthly judgments underpinned by their participation in the Final Judgment to come. On a cosmological scale, heretics were to be 'eliminated like a poison from humanity'.


Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe medieval world
EditorsPeter Linehan, Janet L. Nelson, Marios Costambeys
Place of PublicationAbingdon, Oxon
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9781315102511
ISBN (Print)9781138848689, 9781138848696
Publication statusPublished - 9 Feb 2018

Publication series

NameRoutledge worlds

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ID: 249994443