Overview of the Collection

IntroductionCivil LawReligious Law16th–19th Century Legal HistoryComparative Law
French manuscript
Glossed Liber extra (bound with other decretals) French manuscript, c. 1275.

Religious Law

Canon and Ecclesiastical Law

Lloyd M. Robbins's first major donation to the law library was the first edition of William of Lyndwood's Super constituciones provinciales (Oxford: Theodoricus Rood, 1483), the foundation of English canon law. Since then many more incunables and early printings have been added to the rare book collection. The collection also holds numerous manuscripts. Of these, the two earliest are twelfth-century copies of the Collectio tripartita by Yves de Chartres and the Collectio in decem partes. A comprehensive body of more recent books, secondary literature and journals complements the material available for research in canon and ecclesiastical law.

The ecclesiastical law holdings are not limited to the Roman church. The collection encompasses the Anglican and Protestant denominations, as well as the Slavic and Byzantine churches, highlighted by a thirteenth-century manuscript of the Canons of the Church Councils and the Nomocanon of Photius—both of which are accompanied by the commentaries of Theodore Balsamon, the Greek archbishop of Antioch (c. 1140-1195)—and a fifteenth-century Greek manuscript of the Epitome iuris canonici of Konstantinos Harmenopoulos († 1380).

Jewish Law

The extensive Jewish law holdings form another important part of the religious law collection. While the collection contains predominantly halachic material, there are also numerous philosophical works, as well as some works in other areas of study, such as Midrash, biblical exegesis, Jewish history, and encyclopedias. The collection possesses the basic materials needed to engage in Jewish law research, such as various Hebrew, English, and German editions of the Talmud (both the Babylonian and the Jerusalem Talmud), along with concordances and the major halachic treatises and commentaries. In addition, the most distinguished feature of the Jewish law section of the Robbins Collection is its extensive collection of Responsa, one of the best in the United States. The Hebrew part of the Jewish law collection is being cataloged and will soon be available online.

The holdings of the Judaica collection range from early sixteenth-century printed books—among them a number of volumes from the Bomberg printing shop in Venice—to nineteenth- and twentieth-century monographs (published in Hebrew, English, French, German, and other languages) to periodicals dealing with contemporary halachic problems. Finally, there are a number of valuable first editions, such as a copy of Gevuroth Hashem by Rabbi Jehudah Loew ben Bezalel, known as the Maharal of Prague, published in Cracow in 1582.

Islamic Law

The Islamic law section is an integral part of the religious law collection. In conjunction with the extensive resources available in other Berkeley libraries both on and off campus, the Islamic law material provides excellent access to the field of comparative religious law.

The Islamic law section contains codes, sources, and summaries of schools of Islamic law that were compiled and printed by European colonial offices to assist their administration of Muslim territories, especially India, North Africa, and Indonesia. The Collection also holds numerous monographs, seminar and conference reports that analyze Islamic law in the areas of personal status, family law and inheritance, the status of women, human rights, and banking and finance. Secondary works summarizing the sources, history, and development of Islamic law, along with translations of the Qur'an with modern commentaries, constitute a helpful complement to the above-mentioned material.