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Release date:
March 23, 2001
Contact: Elaine Justice, Assistant Director, 404-727-0643, or

Emory Law and Religion Program Receives $600,000 For Study of Christianity and Law

Emory University's Law and Religion Program has received a $600,000, six-year grant to complete a two-phase study on Christian jurisprudence.

The project, supported by The Pew Charitable Trusts, is part of a broader effort to stimulate and support new Christian scholarship in various academic fields. Pew has awarded a total of $3 million to the University of Notre Dame to coordinate this effort.

Notre Dame, in turn, is commissioning separate studies from eight groups of leading Christian scholars in the fields of law, philosophy, literature, political theory and economics, among others. The first phase of the overall project addresses the general theme of "The Nature of the Person." Notre Dame has engaged Emory's Law and Religion Program to lead the team of legal scholars.

The legal team will complete a study of "Human Nature and Law: The Teachings of Modern Christianity." The leaders of the project are Frank S. Alexander, co-director of the Law and Religion Program; and John Witte Jr., director of the Law and Religion Program and director of the Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Religion, also supported by Pew. They will head a team of leading Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox jurists, ethicists, philosophers and theologians from North America and Europe, including Timothy P. Jackson, professor of Christian ethics at Emory's Candler School of Theology.

The team will hold two conferences over the next three years, the first scheduled for April 5-6 at Emory, and will produce and publish two major works: an anthology of original articles analyzing major figures who have influenced modern Christian teachings on law; and a reader of freshly edited and translated texts.

The point of the study and its publication, says Witte, is "not to force modern Christian jurisprudence into tight, analytical categories, but to provide the start to a useful Christian grammar of and methodology on law for the 21st century."

"Our goal," says Alexander, "is to explore the depth and richness of the relationships between Christian theology and law and to gain a renewed foundation for the nature and function of law."

The next phase of the overall project, commencing in 2003, will address "The Nature of Human Society" and will result in similar research and publication efforts.

The Pew Charitable Trusts support nonprofit activities in the areas of culture, education, the environment, health and human services, public policy and religion. Based in Philadelphia, the Trusts make strategic investments to help organizations and citizens develop practical solutions to difficult problems. In 2000, with approximately $4.9 billion in assets, the Trusts committed more then $235 million to 302 nonprofit organizations. Click on for additional information.

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