Aside

Loci Communes and Legal Synthesis

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Stephen Grabill says, in his introduction to ‘Selections from the Dicaeologicae’ (Journal of Markets & Morality 9, no. 2 (2006): 399–483),

‘The Dicaeologicae was Althusius’ principal juridical work and evidences the “method” of legal systematization initiated at Wittenberg by Johann Apel (1486–1536) and Konrad Lagus (ca. 1499–1546). The new legal science pioneered in the works of Apel, Lagus, Nicolas Vigelius (1529–1600), and other early and middle sixteenth-century German Protestant jurists was strongly influenced by the topical method of the Reformer Philip Melanchthon (1497–1560) and developed over the next two centuries by jurists throughout Europe, both Roman Catholic and Protestant. In Harold Berman’s estimation, Johannes Althusius and Nicolas Vigelius are “among the most prominent German legal ‘methodists’ of the latter part of the sixteenth century.” The new legal science differed from the earlier legal sciences “in its use of topical method to analyze and synthesize law as a whole as well as to analyze and synthesize the various systems of law that prevailed in Europe – Roman, canon, royal, feudal, mercantile.” It was this legal science, above all, contend Berman and Reid, “that constituted the basis of the new European jus commune of the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries. The legal scholars who developed it formed a pan-European class of jurists, a Juristenstand, who wrote not only for their respective countrymen but also, and sometimes primarily, for each other.” ’

It is likely that the topical method will be a way not only to develop a cohærent systematic theology that adequately addresses the needs of life in tomorrow’s China, but also to systematize its legal system and thus complete and ethically integrate Chinese law’s earlier modernization on the basis of German law.

p.s. A blessed St Andrew’s Day to all.

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