A Review of Augusto Zimmermann’s Christian Foundations of the Common Law

Mar 21, 2019 by

By Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch.

Without Christianity the West as we know it would not exist. It is impossible to separate the many goods of Western civilisation and the massive influence of biblical Christianity. This is true of every area of life, including the West’s legal tradition.

Augusto Zimmermann is one of Australia’s premier Christian thinkers and law professors as this three volume-set clearly demonstrates. In nearly 600 pages the Perth-based academic provides us with a tremendously important overview of how the Judeo-Christian worldview became the major foundational building block of Western law and legal theory.

He breaks this down by carefully examining three nations: Volume 1 deals with England; Volume 2 discusses the United States; and Volume 3 covers Australia. While all three are loaded with plenty of detail and thorough referencing, each volume is around 200 pages, making them accessible to all readers – not just academics.

His thesis in these volumes is simple: Common Law as we know it in the West would not have come into being without the Christian heritage on which it is soundly based. Says Zimmermann: “Christian philosophy provided the basic foundation of the common law tradition. . . . It is impossible to grasp the full development of the common law without first exploring its profound religious dimensions, and its motivating faith.”

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