Justice Fred Blume and the Translation of Justinian’s Code
By Timothy G. Kearley
Law Library Journal, Vol. 99 (2007)
Abstract: Justice Frederick H. Blume, attorney and long-time Justice of the Wyoming Supreme Court, single-handedly translated Justinian’s Code and Novels in the early twentieth century. His is the only English translation of the Code to have been made from the Latin version accepted as most authoritative. Using Blume’s papers, this article describes, among other things: how Blume created the extensive Roman law library needed for his translation; his approach to translation; and his collaboration with Clyde Pharr on Pharr’s “Corpus Juris Romani” series. The article also describes the author’s editing and digitization of Justice Blume’s translation.
Introduction: In the United States today, Roman law is of little consequence for the legal profession. Relatively few law schools teach a course in it, and courts do not seek guidance from it. Yet Roman law is alive and well in other venues. It provides the foundation for modern civil law systems and is still commonly taught in many countries. Moreover, Roman law, especially the Corpus Juris Civillis, is still very much of interest to classicists and historians around the world who find in Justinian’s compilations a wealth of information about Roman culture and society. Writing very recently, Carolina Humfress noted that:
For the legal historian, the Age of Justinian is nothing short of pivotal. Medievalists and early modernists interested in the so-called reception of Roman law in later times and places must look back to Justinian and his law books, as classicists and historians interested in the Roman republican of early imperial law must frequently look forward to them.
Fred Blume’s translation of The Codex of Justinian is set to be published by Cambridge University Press in the Summer of 2016. Click here to learn more.