Oxford Studies in Roman Society and Law

The second volume in the series, Oxford Studies in Roman Society and the Law, has appeared. The aim of this timely new monograph series is to create an interdisciplinary forum devoted to the interaction between two established academic disciplines, legal history and ancient history, in the context of the study of Roman law. Focusing on the relationship of law to society, the volumes will cover the most significant periods of Roman law (up to the death of Justinian in 565) so as to provide a balanced view of growth, decline, and resurgence. Most importantly, the series will provoke general debate over the extent to which legal rules should be examined in light of the society which produced them in order to understand their purpose and efficacy.

The second volume is by Robert M. Frakes – Compiling the Collatio Legum Mosaicarum et Romanarum in Late Antiquity (OUP 2011).


The blurb reads: The expansion of Christianity and the codification of Roman law are two of the most significant facets of late antiquity. The Collatio Legum Mosaicarum et Romanarum, or Collation of the Laws of Moses and the Romans, is one of the most perplexing works of late antiquity: a law book compiled at the end of the fourth century by an anonymous editor who wanted to show the similarity between laws of the Hebrew Bible, or Old Testament, and Roman law. Citing first laws from the Hebrew Bible – especially from Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy which he believed were written by Moses – the anonymous Collator then compared corresponding passages from Roman jurists and from Roman laws to form discussions on sixteen topics such as homicide, adultery, homosexuality, incest, and cruelty towards slaves. While earlier scholars wrestled with dating the Collatio, the religious identity of the Collator, and the purpose of the work, this book suggests that the Collator was a Christian lawyer writing in the last years of the fourth century in an attempt to draw pagan lawyers to seeing the connections between the law of a monotheistic God and traditional Roman law. Frakes's volume presents a five-chapter historical study of the Collatio with a revised Latin text, new English translation, and a historical and juristic commentary.