Pub. date: 2007 | Online Pub. Date: September 25, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952637 | Print ISBN: 9780761923879 | Online ISBN: 9781412952637| Publisher:Sage Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Religion, Law And
James T. Richardson
Religion and law are intertwined in several ways that are germane to a sociolegal perspective. One important perspective concerns the derivation of systems of law, with religious systems of thought often credited with giving birth to law. Another major approach concerns the functions that law can play when treated as an independent variable affecting religious groups and the religiously motivated actions of individuals. Scholars commonly agree that the origin of much formal law can be found in religious traditions. Indeed, the first formal systems of law were probably religious law systems developed in what were effectively theocratic societies. Research documenting this connection include Max Weber's (1864–1920) and Peter Berger's treatments of the origins and functioning of Jewish law, Mark Leone's discussion of the application of Mormon law and courts in some western territories of the United States, and Kai Erickson's analysis of the role of Puritan law in New England ...