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Document Details :
Title: Studia et Circenses: Beirut's Roman Law School in its Colonial, Cultural Context
Subtitle: In Memoriam: William A. Ward (1922-1996)
Author(s): MACADAM, Henry Innes
Journal: ARAM Periodical
Volume: 13 Date: 2001-2002
Pierre Collinet's fundamentally important study, Histoire de l'École de Droit de Beyrouth (Paris, 1925), examined the evidence for the founding, development, influence and demise of the famous Latin law school at Beirut (which he dated to c. A.D. 200-551). He followed that five years later with a complementary volume, Bibliographie des Travaux de Droit Romaine (Paris, 1930).
Those two books remain today the bedrock studies. Since then, more than a dozen articles, or chapters of books on Roman/Byzantine law, have been published which examine in some degree the role and function of Beirut's law school. New to this survey is the argument that the Gospel of Mark originated in Beirut (see Appendix B), and a review of recent evidence for Beirut also being the provenance of Codex Bezae, both of which demonstrate the influence of that city's fundamental and pervasive Latinitas until at least the 5th century.
The law school is best known to us from the Syriac translation of Zacharias of Maiuma's Life of Severus, Bishop of Antioch (c. 520) which casts a bright light on daily life in Byzantine Beirut while it details several unusual (and entertaining) episodes in the career of one law school faculty member, Leontius of Beirut, and his influence on both secular and religious life within the city and environs.
Close analysis of that document (in the light of advances in Syriac study) plus the evidence of recently-published legal papyri and epigraphy (from Beirut and elsewhere), plus excavation reports (discussed in Appendix A), demonstrates the need to re-examine the foundation and institutions of Roman/Byzantine Beirut, some of its socio-religious aspects, and the history of its famous law school.