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Pilgrim Law

Pilgrim Law

Robert E. Rodes, Jr.

In this extension of his earlier work Law and Liberation, Robert E. Rodes, Jr. presents a general theory of law based on the principles of liberation theology. Taking a systematic approach, he points up the compatibility of this theology with traditional doctrines of natural law and traditional Catholic social teaching. His work here advocates using law to make the ruling class accountable to the wider society, alleviating class tensions with a justice based on universal solidarity and the provision of useful services.

Rodes establishes a new category, pilgrim law, which expands the confines of natural law and complements the traditional understanding to include an eschatological dimension. Before doing so, he examines the historical outcome of trying to use law to improve society and reflects, " . . . we were trying to bring history under control, and the thing cannot be done." However, by positing an eschatological dimension to legal issues, he asserts that, “The pursuit of justice through law is eschatologicaly validated even if its historical fruition is problematical.”

Philosophers, political theorists, economists, and social scientists as well as lawyers and theologians will find in this volume an engaging look at the theoretical underpinnings of law. The reader will explore how paths of church and state, justice and empowerment, class and poverty, history and consciousness have intersected along the pilgrim journey.

“This is a powerful and telling book, instructive on every page, and splendidly lucid throughout. One need not go all the way with Rodes in distinguishing ‘natural’ from ‘pilgrim’ law to be grateful for this book’s many insights. . . .” — John Finnis, Oxford

ISBN: 978-0-268-03822-9
216 pages
Publication Year: 1998

Robert E. Rodes, Jr., is the Paul J. Schierl/Fort Howard Corporation Professor of Legal Ethics Emeritus at the University of Notre Dame Law School. His other books include The Legal Enterprise, Ecclesiastical Administration in Medieval England and Lay Authority and Reformation in the English Church.

“Rodes makes intelligent applications of ideas from liberation theology and Vatican II. An insightful and must-read book for those interested in the relation between law and justice.” — Religious Studies Review

“In this eclectic and creative study, Robert Rodes, Jr. of the University of Notre Dame Law School seeks to erect a jurisprudence based on what he understands to be the best insights of liberation theology. Rodes’s work is tightly constructed and passionately argued, surveying a wide range of contemporary religious, political, and legal theory. Throughout, his view is fair, avoiding the polemical dudgeon now so common among legal scholars. . . . Pilgrim Law is a worthwhile study that has much to say to today’s secular princes of politics and policy—for they studiously avoid the transcendent questions it so provocatively engages.” — New Oxford Review

“Rodes . . . seeks ‘to present a coherent theory incorporating the principles of liberation theology into Anglo-American jurisprudence.’ His chief sources are Gustavo Gutiérrez and some major documents of the Catholic Church. He describes pilgrim law as a law based on Christian eschatology, the jurisprudential manifestation of the theology of liberation. He emphasizes class differences, the preferential option for the poor, and the role of the church in society, illustrating them with many concrete examples.” — Theology Digest

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Pilgrim Law

Robert E. Rodes, Jr.

 Pilgrim Law
Paper Edition

In this extension of his earlier work Law and Liberation, Robert E. Rodes, Jr. presents a general theory of law based on the principles of liberation theology. Taking a systematic approach, he points up the compatibility of this theology with traditional doctrines of natural law and traditional Catholic social teaching. His work here advocates using law to make the ruling class accountable to the wider society, alleviating class tensions with a justice based on universal solidarity and the provision of useful services.

Rodes establishes a new category, pilgrim law, which expands the confines of natural law and complements the traditional understanding to include an eschatological dimension. Before doing so, he examines the historical outcome of trying to use law to improve society and reflects, " . . . we were trying to bring history under control, and the thing cannot be done." However, by positing an eschatological dimension to legal issues, he asserts that, “The pursuit of justice through law is eschatologicaly validated even if its historical fruition is problematical.”

Philosophers, political theorists, economists, and social scientists as well as lawyers and theologians will find in this volume an engaging look at the theoretical underpinnings of law. The reader will explore how paths of church and state, justice and empowerment, class and poverty, history and consciousness have intersected along the pilgrim journey.

“This is a powerful and telling book, instructive on every page, and splendidly lucid throughout. One need not go all the way with Rodes in distinguishing ‘natural’ from ‘pilgrim’ law to be grateful for this book’s many insights. . . .” — John Finnis, Oxford

ISBN: 978-0-268-03822-9

216 pages

“Rodes makes intelligent applications of ideas from liberation theology and Vatican II. An insightful and must-read book for those interested in the relation between law and justice.” — Religious Studies Review

“In this eclectic and creative study, Robert Rodes, Jr. of the University of Notre Dame Law School seeks to erect a jurisprudence based on what he understands to be the best insights of liberation theology. Rodes’s work is tightly constructed and passionately argued, surveying a wide range of contemporary religious, political, and legal theory. Throughout, his view is fair, avoiding the polemical dudgeon now so common among legal scholars. . . . Pilgrim Law is a worthwhile study that has much to say to today’s secular princes of politics and policy—for they studiously avoid the transcendent questions it so provocatively engages.” — New Oxford Review

“Rodes . . . seeks ‘to present a coherent theory incorporating the principles of liberation theology into Anglo-American jurisprudence.’ His chief sources are Gustavo Gutiérrez and some major documents of the Catholic Church. He describes pilgrim law as a law based on Christian eschatology, the jurisprudential manifestation of the theology of liberation. He emphasizes class differences, the preferential option for the poor, and the role of the church in society, illustrating them with many concrete examples.” — Theology Digest