Judging by the Book: Christian Codices and Late Antique Legal Culture


particular Christian codices ACTUALLY INVOKED THE SPIRITUAL PRESENCE OF GOD”



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particular Christian codices ACTUALLY INVOKED THE SPIRITUAL PRESENCE OF GOD”
Too, believed that such codices “… LITERALLY INVOKED GOD AS A VIRTUAL PARTICIPANT IN LEGAL TRIALS UNDER JUSTINIAN’S JURISDICTION”
C/H cites ‘clever effect’ in ~530 constitution re “contumacious proceedings” (i.e., trials where one of litigants was absent).
Per Justinian: When a copy of scripture is present in courtroom, absence of litigant is to be understood as “… remedied by the presence of God”
Emperor “neatly extricates himself from conflict” of Roman law and Christian Canon law:

TRADITIONAL ROMAN PROCEDURAL REGULATIONS ALLOWED CONTUMACIOUS PROCEEDINGS, WHEREAS ECCLESIASTICAL PRACTICE INSISTED THAT DEFENDANTS SHOULD NOT FORFEIT THEIR CASES UNHEARD
C/H argues that Justinian manages to uphold both Roman and Canon law by SUBSTITUTING GOD FOR THE ABSENT DEFENDANT, GOD’S PRESENCE BEING GUARANTEED BY SACRED SCRIPTURES THEMSELVES
In constitutions published in same year (Cod. Iust. 3.1.14), C/H further points out Justinian ordered that “…every judge who decides cases according to Roman Law must not start proceedings until a copy of the Sacred Scriptures has been placed before the judge in the tribunal hall, where it was to remain until after the sentence had been delivered.”

As a result, Justinian would often terrify his legal officials by reminding them that they might judge now, but they will be judged in turn (!)
Thus, late Roman judges were to proceed “BY THE BOOK” (of Sacred Scriptures), although they themselves would be judged by the same book (!)
Justinian’s “eschatological threat of future judgment” similarly leveled against litigants, their advocates, and their witnesses (per Byzantine papyrological reports of courtroom proceedings)

Importantly, given centrality of texts and that act of judging was fundamental tenet of Judeo-Christian tradition, C/H poses following question:
WHAT BOOK – EXACTLY – WAS TO BE PLACED BEFORE EVERY JUDGE WHO HEARD CASES “ACCORDING TO ROMAN LAW” IN AGE OF JUSTINIAN ?
THE BOOK,” To modern eyes, term “Sacred Scriptures” (Scripturae Sacrosanctae) might suggest placing




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