Tangled Roots and Branches

I started to reflect on legal traditions after reading Andrew’s response to this post.

It’s worth noting that Orthodox Jewish belief and practice (like all contemporary Judaism) grows out of a strand that was still in development at the time of Jesus. What we conceive of as modern Judaism grew out of the Pharisees (we don’t have anything like Sadducees, or Essenes today). In other words, Orthodox Judaism has grown up as a peer to secular (and Christian canonical) law in the West.

In a similar manner one could surely point to the Christian and Jewish communities of Arabia as being obvious sources of influence for Islamic law (Mohammad, with all the bits in the Qur’an about Moses and Jesus and others from both the Jewish and Christian tradition, certainly must have known those traditions). While Islamic law does not influence modern Western legal practice, in its influences (both biblical and classical) it remains related to Christian and Jewish legal traditions.

It’s strange that we might countenance a Jewish law court in addition to our secular courts, but a Muslim one is viewed as utterly alien. Personally, I’d prefer that everyone was afforded the same legal protections regardless of their background, but I wonder what others think. For those Christians out there that look to recreate something like Calvin’s Geneva (Keith insists they are around) accommodation of autonomous religious communities would be a requisite.