Divine Justice: Religion And The Development Of Chinese Legal Culture, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Divine Justice

Religion And The Development Of Chinese Legal Culture, 1st Edition

By Paul R. Katz


240 pages | 11 B/W Illus.

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Paperback: 9780415574334
pub: 2009-12-22
Hardback: 9780415443456
pub: 2008-12-03
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pub: 2008-12-08
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This book considers the ways in which religious beliefs and practices have contributed to the formation of Chinese legal culture. It does so by describing two forms of overlap between religion and the law: the ideology of justice and the performance of judicial rituals.

One of the most important conceptual underpinnings of the Chinese ideology of justice is the belief in the inevitability of retribution. Similar values permeate Chinese religious traditions, all of which contend that justice will prevail despite corruption and incompetence among judicial officials in this world and even the underworld, with all wrongdoers eventually suffering some form of punishment. The second form of overlap between religion and the law may be found in the realm of practice, and involves instances when men and women perform judicial rituals like oaths, chicken-beheadings, and underworld indictments in order to enhance the legitimacy of their positions, deal with cases of perceived injustice, and resolve disputes. These rites coexist with other forms of legal practice, including private mediation and the courts, comprising a wide-ranging spectrum of practices

Divine Justice will be of enormous interest to scholars of the Chinese legal system and the development of Chinese culture and society more generally.


"Divine Justice remains a fascinating, stimulating and pioneering study. Its path-breaking approach opens new perspectives for legal specialists, and will surely contribute to the intensification of dialogue between legal studies and other disciplines." - Claude Chevaleyre, The China Journal, No.63

"The particular attraction of this book is not the conclusions, but the data, which has been gathered both extensively and intensively. Each chapter provides interest and challenge. I can confidently predict that the book will be well-cited, because future scholars in the field cannot avoid Katz’s work. Scholars may agree or disagree with his conclusions, but they will read the chapters with care, and then build on the work he has done." - Roderick O’Brien; Chinese Cross Currents

Table of Contents

Introduction 1. The Development of the Judicial Underworld: A Comparative Perspective Background 2. The Judicial Continuum 3. Oaths and Chicken-beheading Rituals 4. Indictment Rituals 5. Trials of the Insane and Dressing as a Criminal 6. Judicial Rituals in Asian Colonial and Immigrant History 7. Judicial Rituals in Modern Taiwan 8. Case Study: The Dizang Abbey. Conclusion

About the Author

Paul R. Katz is Research Fellow at the Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica in Taiwan.

About the Series

Academia Sinica on East Asia

Published in association with Academia Sinica, Taiwan

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Asia / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General