Wilfried Hartmann and Kenneth Pennington , eds., The History of Byzantine and Eastern Canon Law to 1500. Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 2012. Pp. xviii, 356. $59.95. ISBN: 9780813216799.
Wilfried Hartmann and Kenneth Pennington, together with the contributors to this volume, have produced an invaluable introduction to Byzantine and eastern canon law. As the editors point out, “no other book in any language covers the rich history of canon law in Eastern Christianity” (vii). This is doubly true if one surveys only material available in English. As a field, the study of eastern canon law has been formed, led, and dominated by German and Greek scholars whose work has been inaccessible to most American undergraduates. The field has also been characterized by monographs and close textual studies that are intimidating even for graduate students who can read the sources in their original language. What we have needed is a way in, a clear and concise introduction to give the neophyte the foundation he or she needs to study the material further. This is precisely what this History of Byzantine and Eastern Canon Law to 1500 does, but it also does much more, summarizing the history of legal scholarship while presenting the results of the most up-to-date and comprehensive studies. Scholars whose work touches centrally or peripherally on canon law will benefit at least as much as the student seeking an introduction.