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date: 16 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter discusses the historical relationship between comparative law and religion. After a brief review of the literature, it considers some of the ancient connections between law and religion. In particular, it examines how the world religions emerged in what scholars of comparative religion call the ‘axial age’ of the first millennium BCE. It then describes the relationship between law and ritual, noting that the role of ritual in the law lies at the heart of the differences between the various religion/legal traditions of the Eurasian landmass. It also highlights the definitional problems in distinguishing ‘law’ from ‘religion’ that are exacerbated by contrasts in concepts of ‘religion’ itself, along with Wolfgang Fikentscher’s work on the axial age transformations. Finally, it analyzes two other institutional developments associated with axial age religion that have shaped the comparative development of the law: the centrality of written texts and and monasticism.

Keywords: axial age, comparative law, monasticism, religion, ritual, Wolfgang Fikentscher, written texts

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