Roman Law and Language, the long-awaited sixth volume in the Collected Works of David Daube series, is now available for purchase. Previous volumes gathered Daube’s writings on Talmudic law, Biblical law and literature, ethics, and New Testament Judaism. This new volume includes some of his work on language in Roman law. Calum Carmichael, co-editor of the volume, writes, “Daube is a master at bringing clarity to the study of law, as when he argues that general rules and legal maxims are distortions because their original narrow meanings have been diverted to include different topics.” Roman Law and Language opens with a collection of lectures Daube gave at Cambridge University in 1966 entitled Roman Law: Linguistic, Social and Philosophical Aspects. Following chapters explore the evolution and changing meaning of the nouns “suffrage,” “precedent,” “mercy,” and “grace,” and of five Latin verbs: recantare, resilire, retractare, renuntiare, and repudiare. Roman Law and Language closes with Daube’s 1967 Greek and Roman reflections on impossible laws, an engagement with Roman jurist Pomponius’s observations on iura sanguinis.
David Johnston, QC writes in the foreword, “These papers show Daube’s mastery of language, of the ancient sources, and of their historical context. But there is more. If we stand back from the historical period to which these sources relate, there are wider lessons for the modern legal scholar or lawyer too, since all texts are in need of interpretation.” Carmichael and Laurent Mayali are the editors of Roman Law and Language.