Author ORCID Identifier

John Witte, Jr. 0000-0001-8929-0267

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Harold Berman, Positivism, Historical jurisprudence, Legal linguistics, Western legal tradition, Interdisciplinary legal studies


The late Harold Berman was a pioneering scholar of Soviet law, legal history, jurisprudence, and law and religion; he is best known today for his monumental Law and Revolution series on the Western legal tradition. Berman wrote a short book, Law and Language, in the early 1960s, but it was not published until 2013. In this early text, he adumbrated many of the main themes of his later work, including Law and Revolution. He also anticipated a good deal of the interdisciplinary and comparative methodology that we take for granted today, even though it was rare in the intense legal positivist era during which he was writing. This essay contextualizes Berman's Law and Language within the development of his own legal thought and in the evolution of interdisciplinary legal studies. It focuses particularly on the themes of law and religion, law and history, and law and communication that dominated Berman's writing until his death in 2007.

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Journal of Law and Religion