• Ishmael’s Bane: The Sin and Crime of Illegitimacy Reconsidered

    Author(s):
    John Witte, Jr. (see profile)
    Date:
    2003
    Subject(s):
    Canon law
    Item Type:
    Article
    Tag(s):
    Adoption, equal protection, Law and religion, Bastard(y), Illegitimacy, History of common law
    Permanent URL:
    http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/q0bf-sh23
    Abstract:
    This essay offers a critical rereading of the Western theological and legal doctrine of illegitimacy or bastardy. The text first traces the Western stigma against bastards to the Bible, particularly to the story of Ishmael, the illegitimate son of Abraham and Hagar. It then shows the systematic discrimination against bastards in classic canon law and in early modern Anglo-American common law, and the slow amelioration of their plight in legal reforms in the United States in the past century. The author concludes that the Western doctrine of illegitimacy is theologically illegitimate and suggests a few historically-informed legal remedies, notably adoption, that would help mitigate the plight of illegitimates today.
    Metadata:
    Published as:
    Journal article    
    Status:
    Published
    Last Updated:
    2 years ago
    License:
    All Rights Reserved
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