Bryn Mawr Classical Review

BMCR 2018.08.32 on the BMCR blog

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2018.08.32

Hans-Albert Rupprecht, Andrea Jördens​ (ed.), Beiträge zur Juristischen Papyrologie. Kleine Schriften​.   Stuttgart:  Franz Steiner Verlag, 2017.  Pp. xiii, 408.  ISBN 9783515116848.  €68.00.  


Reviewed by Robert A. Kugler, Lewis & Clark College (kugler@lclark.edu)

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[The Table of Contents is listed below.]

This collection of essays published by Hans-Albert Rupprecht between 1981 and 2016 is a testament to his singular significance to the small but important field of juristic papyrology. The brief introduction by Andrea Jördens, herself a leading papyrologist at Heidelberg, puts the significance of Rupprecht’s work in proper perspective. Jördens notes that Rupprecht was appointed the successor to Emil Kießling in the Chair for Papyrology in the Faculty of Law and Political Science at Philipps-Universität Marburg in 1969, just a year after the beginning of a series of educational reforms at the gymnasium and university levels in Germany that effectively pushed legal history to the background (along with other specialized areas of humanistic and social scientific study that the German educational system had nurtured even as support for them declined in other European systems). As a result of those “reforms,” by the time of Rupprecht’s transition to emeritus status the systematic study of juristic papyrology was, apart from his work, all but unheard of in German universities. So, as Jördens tells it, Rupprecht is something of the “last of his kind” in German university (legal) education. For this reason alone, his considerable scholarly output has signal importance for those interested to understand something of the extremely complex legal world of Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt to which we have such abundant access in the papyrological record.

A reading of the collection of essays reminds one that Rupprecht’s distinction comes not first from the fact that he stands so nearly alone among German papyrologists as a legal historian; rather it comes from the breadth and thoroughness of his scholarship, and the service it provides to those who would otherwise have little or no access to the world of juridical papyrology and the insights it offers on daily life in the ancient world from which those texts are drawn—which is to say nearly all of us who are interested to study that world. The breadth of his scholarship is evident in the structure of the volume. The thirty-two essays it reproduces are divided into eight categories that correspond to a range of subtopics in juristic papyrology—the “law of obligations,” property law, family and inheritance law, contract law, the formation and character of legal documents, the law of delicts, and public law. A ninth section addresses features of two well-known and long-discussed lawsuits for which we have a relatively substantial documentary record. The index of primary texts is further testament to Rupprecht’s thoroughness—it runs to thirty pages, listing the hundreds of documentary texts he has mastered in producing the scholarship gathered in the volume. More than a few of the essays assembled in the volume constitute the latest and best on the subjects addressed, treating in several instances topics left untouched since the early days of papyrology as a discipline. Virtually all of the essays provide a gold mine of references to any relevant documentary texts, providing an essential resource for researchers driven to these topics by their encounters with the documentary record. For these reasons, this volume should prove to be something of a reference work for future research, a topic I return to below.

The first three essays grouped under the heading “Papyrologie allgemein” (Papyrology in general) address the present state of juristic papyrology, the body of juridical papyri housed in the Papyrological Institute in Florence, and the important question of the range of, and relationships among the legal systems that served the largely Greek and Egyptian inhabitants of Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt. The first and last essays in this section are two of three in the volume most accessible to nonspecialists, and which are most likely to reward the uninitiated with immediately useful insight. Rupprecht’s survey of the field in chapter 1 (first published in 2007) addresses major issues including the unity of Greek law, the origin of Greek law in Egypt, the influence of other ancient legal systems on law in Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt (e.g., Jewish law), the special cases of the relationships between Greek law and Roman law and the laws of Egypt, the use of the Justinian law in Egypt, and the notion of an independent, dogmatic structure of Greek law in Egypt (especially vis-à-vis the structure apparent in Roman law). With remarkable brevity, the essay comprehensively orients the reader to the state of the question on these key overarching topics in the study of the legal papyri. With equal brevity (that still provides an all-embracing perspective on the topic), the third essay documents and reaffirms the fairly broad consensus that the diverse bodies of law present in Egypt as a result of the Macedonian occupation (e.g., Greek, Egyptian, Jewish, and other normative systems) remained separate and distinct and were not melded into a single “Ptolemaic law” over time.

The second section contains the largest group of essays, seven in all. The essays address topics from the broad category of Schuldrecht, the “law of obligation” in contractual relationships. Two essays address “Vorkaufsrecht” in the papyri (the claim of right of purchase when a piece of jointly held property was for sale), three deal with the features of what one might call cautelary jurisprudence (the practice of forestalling legal difficulties through the use of things like bebaiosis-, noninterference, and eviction clauses in the relevant kinds of contracts), a sixth addresses “mixed type” contracts, and a seventh tackles the development of parachoresis, the transfer of title (and related legal maneuvers). Like most of those that follow in the remaining sections of the collection, these essays are highly technical—writing them required a command of the ancient documentary evidence and of a fairly specialized juristic vocabulary and conceptual world. As a consequence, the reader has to work hard to keep up; careful attention, a good legal dictionary, and frequent recourse to the primary texts Rupprecht discusses pay off richly.

The same double-edged admonition to readers holds true for virtually all of the essays in the remaining sections of the book. The third section contains five essays on a number of very technical topics associated with property law, among them the ananeosis (the extension of a contract’s duration), antichresis (loans in exchange for the use of property or an object, or someone’s labor), and various practices aimed at enforcing contracts and agreements and establishing restraint on alienation and warranty of title in mortgage law. The fourth section contains six essays on topics related to family and inheritance law, including the practice of requiring women to be represented by a kurios in legal matters, the norms for marriage contracts and related documentary practices, the phenomenon of mixing marriage contracts with stipulations regarding inheritance, spousal rights of inheritance, the obligations and norms relative to the care for the elderly in Greco-Roman Egypt, and the law regarding the inheritability of real property. The fifth section addresses topics related to contract law—the theme of surrogacy in its various forms in legal matters (especially in contracts) and the termination of contractual relationships in the area of leases. The sixth section addresses topics related to the formation and character of legal documents, “Urkundswesen,” the formulaic praxis clause with special regard for its practical meaning and impact and the phenomenon of the six-witness document and its importance for registering a contract or related legal document. The seventh section incudes essays touching on the law of delicts and includes an invaluable overview of criminal acts and relevant legal remedies/responses in Ptolemaic-era texts, as well as what is now the standard treatment of the delict of hubris in Ptolemaic- and Roman-era law in Egypt. The eighth section takes up selected issues in two well-known lawsuits that give us insight on civil procedure in Roman Egypt, one involving a certain Drusilla (second century CE) and the other the first-century CE legal conflict between a certain Satabus and his adversary Nestnephis. And the final section offers three essays on “public law.” The first is a text edition that provides the transcription, translation and discussion of P. Mon. III 71, a census document pertaining to the 159/160 CE census in Memphis, and the second discusses the complex legal means by which individuals sought to escape liturgy requirements. The final essay in this last section is the third of the trio of essays that are most accessible to readers without any background in juristic papyrology. As such, it constitutes a fitting conclusion to the volume. It addresses the question of the extent to which Egyptian law was taken into account by Roman officials in Egypt. Rupprecht concludes that Roman officials and administration recognized and applied Egyptian law and legal practice, as they did Greek law, and that they had no difficulty doing so out of respect for local circumstances.

It would be embarrassingly presumptuous of me to offer any kind of genuinely critical comments on the essays gathered in this volume, as I count myself among those who know just enough of the subfield of juristic papyrology to know how little I actually do know—especially in comparison with a master of the field such as Rupprecht. I do know enough, though, to say without reserve that working papyrologists and historians of Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt (especially those interested in social history) would be deeply remiss in failing to recognize the ways in which this book amounts to a critical resource for grappling with many of the themes and topics in juristic papyrology that come up in doing papyrology more generally and contemplating, researching, and writing about the history of Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt. For papyrologists, these essays will be an essential resource to consult in preparing editions of texts that employ the legal formulae, concepts, and processes Rupprecht treats, or that touch on the issues he addresses. For historians—which includes many who would identify themselves as papyrologists as well—the book’s essays are a nearly inexhaustible source of guidance both to the technical conceptualities of juridical papyrology on a wide range of selected topics, as well as to the most important primary evidence related to those topics. In short, it is one of those rare “collected essays of scholar X” that really does belong on the shelves of all other scholars in his field.

Table of Contents

Vorwort vii
PAPYROLOGIE ALLGEMEIN
1. Zu Entwicklung, Stand und Aufgaben der juristischen Papyrologie 1
2. I papiri giuridici di Firenze 15
3. Griechen und Ägypter – Vielfalt des Rechtslebens nach den Papyri 25
SCHULDRECHT
4. Zum Vorkaufsrecht der Gemeinschafter nach den Papyri 33
5. Zu Voraussetzungen, Umfang und Herkunft des Vorkaufsrechts der Gemeinschafter nach den Papyri 39
6. Βεβαίωσις und Nichtangriffsklausel – Zur Funktion zweier Urkundsklauseln in den griechischen Papyri bis Diocletian 51
7. Die Eviktionshaftung in der Kautelarpraxis der graeco-aegyptischen Papyri 62
8. Die «Bebaiosis» – Zur Entwicklung und den räumlich-zeitlichen Varianten einer Urkundsklausel in den graeco-ägyptischen Papyri 75
9. Vertragliche Mischtypen in den Papyri 86
10. Rechtsübertragung in den Papyri – Zur Entwicklung von Parachoresis und Ekchoresis 95
SACHENRECHT
11. Die Ananeosis in den gräko-ägyptischen Papyri 119
12. Zur Antichrese in den griechischen Papyri bis Diokletian 127
13. Die dinglichen Sicherungsrechte nach der Praxis der Papyri – Eine Übersicht über den urkundlichen Befund 137
14. Zwangsvollstreckung und dingliche Sicherung in den Papyri der ptolemäischen und römischen Zeit 150
15. Veräußerungsverbot und Gewährleistung in pfandrechtlichen Geschäften 162
FAMILIEN- UND ERBRECHT
16. Zur Frage der Frauentutel im römischen Ägypten 173
17. Ehevertragliche Regelungen und urkundliche Praxis 181
18 Ehevertrag und Erbrecht 199
19. Zum Ehegattenerbrecht nach den Papyri 204
20. Die Sorge für die Älteren nach den Papyri 208
21. Die Vererblichkeit von Grund und Boden im ptolemäischen Ägypten 219
VERTRAGSRECHT
22. Die Systasis – eine besondere Gestaltung in der Praxis der Papyri 231
23. Die Beendigung von Vertragsverhältnissen. Überlegungen zur Rechtswirklichkeit anhand der Pacht 244
URKUNDSWESEN
24. Urkundsformular und Wirklichkeit. Bemerkungen zur praktischen Bedeutung einer Urkundsklausel 254
25. Sechs-Zeugenurkunde und Registrierung .. 266
DELIKTSRECHT
26. Straftaten und Rechtsschutz nach den griechischen Papyri der ptolemäischen Zeit 279
27. Hybris. Anmerkungen zu einem Delikt in den Papyri der ptolemäischen und römischen Zeit 290
PROZESSE
28. Ein Verfahren ohne Ende: Der Prozeß der Drusilla 297
29. Die Streitigkeiten zwischen Satabus und Nestnephis 307
ÖFFENTLICHES RECHT
30. Ein Münchner Papyrus zum Provinzial-Zensus 316
31. Rechtsmittel gegen die Bestellung zu Liturgien nach den Papyri 323
32. Τῶν Αἰγυπτίων νόμοι 336
Schriftenverzeichnis 346
Allgemeine Hinweise und zitierte Literatur 357
INDICES
Quellenindex 367
Griechische Papyri und Ostraka 367
Demotische Texte 394
Inschriften 395
Literarische Quellen, biblische Quellen 396
Römisches Recht 397
Sachindex 398
Griechische Termini 398
Deutsche und lateinische Termini 402

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