Levine takes a look at Robert Cover's 1983 Harvard Law Review article, Nomos and Narrative. Nomos is characterized by its heavy reliance on Jewish sources as a basis for analyzing contemporary American legal theory. The basis of narrative is the thesis that no set of legal institutions or prescriptions exists apart from the narratives that locate it and give it meaning, so law becomes not merely a system of rules to be observed, but a world in which we live. Cover's explanation of these ideas coincided with and influenced the emergence of what has become known as "legal storytelling". In this Article, Levine examines the interrelationship in Nomos and Narrative between these two themes - the reliance on Jewish sources and the presentation of the concept of "narrative" in law. Levine suggests that a proper understanding of Cover's use of the two themes requires that they be viewed as interdependent components of his thinking. Specifically, he examines Cover's concept of "narrative" in the law through an examination of how he viewed the parallel concept of aggada in Jewish law. Through this study, he aims to show that, although Cover found that "narrative" may find expression, at times, in the literary form of storytelling, his concept of "legal narrative" is a broader one, encompassing the wider societal context in which law functions, and one which may best be understood in light of the complex interplay between halacha and aggada in Jewish law. Part II of this Article takes a close look at Cover's definition and descriptions of narrative. Though recognizing that Cover examines the relationship between nomos and narrative in a number of contexts, this Part suggests that focusing on his analysis of the relationship of halacha and aggada in Jewish law is particularly helpful in shedding light on his understanding of nomos and narrative in other contexts as well. In an attempt to flesh out Cover's concept of halacha and aggada, Part III discusses the rich tradition and significance of the interplay between halacha and aggada in some of the major sources of Jewish law, including the Torah, the Talmud, and Maimonides' Code of Law. Finally, building on the ideas developed in Parts II and III, Part IV compares Cover's thoughts on the nature of and relationship between nomos and narrative to parallel observations of Hayim Nahman Bialik, an important Jewish modern literary figure, regarding halacha and aggada. Levine concludes with the observation, based in part on the comments of some of Cover's friends, that his emphasis on integrating the study of nomos and narrative together with halacha and aggada seemed to reflect a similarly integrated world view and way of life.
1998 Utah L. Rev. 465 (1998)
1998 Utah L. Rev. 465