Gad Barzilai (ed.) Law and Religion. In: The International Library of Essays in Law and Society (Ashgate, 2007). [528 pp.]

Law and Religion


A Challenge
Modern law and religion are essential sociopolitical phenomena that have in common some veiled elements. Both aspire to constitute, or at least to frame, human consciousness and behaviour in all spheres of private and public life. Accordingly, modern law and religion are complementary, contradictory and simultaneous sources of rule-making, adjudication and execution. Both embed obedience and obligations, leadership, institutions and legal ideology as foundations of their maintenance and prevalence, based on a strict structure of commands. Modern law and religion are engendered through written and oral intergenerational – sometimes transnational – texts that are enforceable through authorities, and are subjected to authoritative, corresponding and alternative hermeneutics. Since modern law and religion are infinitely dynamic bounded spaces of institutions, professionalism and social mobilization, they are carriers and subjects of political power. They colonize through, and are colonized in, political power. Hence, as we will discover below, in various contexts they may, paradoxically, challenge, maintain and generate state political power. which have been revolutionary, law and religion have never been completely separated. They have never been so independent as to achieve complete autonomy from each other. Religion has essentially been embodied in modern legal systems, even in those that have aspired to privatize religion. Religions are embedded in daily practices in various regions, from the Middle East through Africa to Europe, from Latin America to North America and Asia, in Western regimes and post-communist regimes alike.

The compound interactions and multifaceted mutuality between law and religion, as
excavated in this volume, deserve a distinctive scholarly attention on account of their
immense sociopolitical significance. This volume aims to exhibit different voices of various scholars who are responding to the challenge of comprehending those interactions and mutuality. Religion and law should be redeemed from their imagined setting as metaphysical mythological entities and be conceptualized as relative sociopolitical phenomena.

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