One of the earliest works of comparative law was created by an anonymous author in the 4th century AD, the Collatio Legum Mosaicarum et Romanorum, or Collation of the Laws of Moses and the Romans, on the similarities and differences between Roman and Jewish law. Robert M. Frakes (University of Munich) has now published Compiling the Collatio Legum Mosaicarum et Romanorum in Late Antiquity (OUP 2011), which explores the work of this anonymous collator. The publisher’s description of this fascinating book follows.
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.