News Release: Law, Religion and Ethics

Jan. 26,  2011

Emory to Open Digital Collection of Berman Writings

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Emory University’s Center for the Study of Law and Religion (CSLR) officially opens Feb. 2 a digital collection of non-book writings of the late Harold J. Berman, Emory Law’s first Robert W. Woodruff Professor of Law and the pioneer of the modern study of law and religion. Many of the works have never been published, or have been available only in foreign sources.

“The digital collection gives Professor Berman’s fans and students around the world access to his 70 plus years of outstanding scholarship, including pieces published in foreign sources that are very hard to find today, and scores of unpublished writings that widen and deepen an already astonishing collection of exquisite scholarship,” says John Witte, Jr., CSLR Director, Jonas Robitscher Professor of Law and Alonzo L. McDonald Family Foundation Distinguished Professor.

Berman (1918-2007) published 25 books, more than 400 articles, and also left numerous unpublished works, including two nearly complete book manuscripts. Prior to this death, he designated Witte, his former student at Harvard Law School, and close friend and colleague at Emory Law, to serve as his literary executor. Witte has collected some 500 pieces written between 1938 and 2008 to be made available in digital format.

About 20 percent of the total collection will be available initially and housed on a Zotero website. It also can be accessed via the CSLR website.

Each piece contains a title, date of writing, page length, and a downloadable PDF image. The documents are searchable via Internet search engines, but the word “zotero” needs to be included along with other key words in the title for the best results.

The full collection will be available over the next several months via the Zotero site and ultimately housed in the university’s digital library collection. 

Berman wrote on the topics of law and religion, comparative legal history, Russian law and culture, legal philosophy, and private international law. His major works have been translated into 18 languages, with new Chinese and Italian translations recently published of his last major work: Law and Revolution II: The Impact of the Protestant Reformations on the Western Legal Tradition (Harvard University Press, 2003). His prize-winning book, Law and Revolution: The Formation of the Western Legal Tradition (1983), has been published in German, French, Chinese, Russian, Polish, Spanish, Italian and Lithuanian translations.

Berman lecturer

Tibor Varady, former student of Berman at Harvard Law School, and professor of law at Emory and Central European University in Budapest, will deliver the annual Harold J. Berman Lecture in conjunction with the launch of the digital collection. An internationally recognized scholar and expert on international trade, commercial transactions and dispute settlement, Varady will discuss “Law and Language,” drawing on one of Berman’s unpublished book manuscripts of that same name.  

CSLR founding director Frank S. Alexander, who studied both law and theology with Berman at Harvard Law School and Harvard Divinity School, will preside over the festivities on Feb. 2.  “Hal Berman’s life and scholarship has been a gift to all who encountered him and his writings.  Being able to make this extended library of his writings available in digital format extends these gifts throughout the world,” says Alexander, Sam Nunn Professor of Law.

In addition, CSLR will dedicate its conference room as the "Berman Library," complete with a display of his main writings, memorabilia, last portrait and a bound, 15-volume set of the new digital collection.

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