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Samuel Parsons Scott: A Gentleman and a Scholar

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Muhammad: the Light for the Dark Ages of Europe!

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
Samuel Parsons Scott (8 July 1846 – 30 May 1929), known as S.P. Scott, was an American attorney, banker, and scholar.[1] Born in Hillsboro, Ohio, he earned his A.B. degree from Miami University of Ohio in 1868 and his A.M. degree from the same institution the following year. He was licensed to practice law in 1868 and was an attorney for several years in Leavenworth, Kansas and in San Francisco.[2] In 1875 Scott left the practice of law to return to Hillsboro and the family banking business.[3] In the following years he traveled in Europe, studied, and wrote.[4] He also was elected a fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society in 1913.[5]


Scott published Through Spain in 1886, based on his experiences there.[6] He demonstrated his growing interest in that country and culture in his scholarly work The History of the Moorish Empire in Europe, which remains in print.[7] He followed that in 1910 with his translation of early medieval Spanish law The Visigothic Code.[8] Other pieces of Scott’s scholarship were not published until after his death in 1929. In 1931 the American Bar Association published his Las Siete Partidas, an English translation of the law code ordered by Alfonso X of Castile, which also is still in print.[9] and in 1932 his executors published Scott’s The Civil Law—the first English translation of the entire Corpus Juris Civilis.[10]

Unfortunately, Scott did not base his translation of the Corpus Juris Civilis on the best available Latin versions, and his work was severely criticized.[11] The noted English legal historian W. W. Buckland, wrote that Scott “…had at his disposal an adequate latinity and has produced a version written in an English which can be read with pleasure. But much more than that was needed, and the work cannot be said to satisfy these further requirements.”[12] Buckland went on to say of some errors he noted: “These and many others like them would have disappeared if Mr. Scott had survived to see his work through the press…”[13] But there were more fundamental problems with Scott’s translation. Another commentator pointed out that while Scott had a good command of classical literary Latin, he was an amateur, operating on his own and that, moreover, “He did not use Mommsen’s great critical edition of the Digest…limiting the usefulness of the translation…[and that] [a]lthough Scott’s work was published in 1932, it shows no knowledge of any of the impressive achievements of Roman law scholarship made since the middle of the nineteenth century.”[14] Ironically, at the same time Scott was creating his solo translation, Fred H. Blume also was working by himself to translate Codex Justinianus and the Novellae Constitutiones, two parts of the same compilation ordered by Justinian I, Eastern Roman Emperor.[15]


In his will, Scott left his 8,000 volume library and a large sum of money to endow a library at the Jefferson Medical College of Philadelphia. This is now the Scott Memorial Library at Thomas Jefferson University.[16]


  1. Jump up ^ “Gesundheit!: The Story of Scott Memorial Library,” available at http://jeffline.jefferson.edu/SML/Archives/Highlights/Scott
  2. Jump up ^ “Obituary,” 56 Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society 418 (1930).
  3. Jump up ^ “Gesundheit!” supra note.1
  4. Jump up ^ “Obituary,” supra, note 2.
  5. Jump up ^ Id.
  6. Jump up ^ Samuel Parsons Scott, “Through Spain: a Narrative of Travel and Adventure in the Peninsula” (1886).
  7. Jump up ^ Samuel Parsons Scott, “History of the Moorish Empire in Europe” (1904), available at http://archive.org/details/historymoorishe03scotgoog. Reprinted in 1977 by the AMS Press and in 2010 (vol. 1) by General Books.
  8. Jump up ^ “The Visigothic Code (Forum Judicum)” (1910), available at http://libro.uca.edu/vcode/visigoths.htm
  9. Jump up ^ “Las Siete Partidas, translation and notes by Samuel Parsons Scott (1931). Reprinted with additional editorial matter by the University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001.
  10. Jump up ^ “The Civil Law” including the Twelve Tables, the Institutes of Gaius, the Rules of Ulpian, the Enactments of Justinian, and the Constitutions of Leo…” 17 vols. (1932), available at http://www.constitution.org/sps/sps.htm. Reprinted in 1973 by the AMS Press.
  11. Jump up ^ See Timothy Kearley, Justice Fred Blume and the Translation of the Justinian Code (2nd ed. 2008) 3, 21.
  12. Jump up ^ W.W. Buckland, “Book Review,” 7 Tulane Law Review 627, 629 (1932-33).
  13. Jump up ^ Id. at 630.
  14. Jump up ^ Charles Donahue, Jr., “On Translating the Digest” 39 Stanford Law Review 1057, 1062 (1987)(Reviewing The Digest of Jusinian (Theodor Mommsen, Paul Krueger & Alan Watson eds 1985).
  15. Jump up ^ For Justice Blume’s translations see [1], and [2].
  16. Jump up ^ “Gesundheit!” supra note 1.
Posted by on June 29, 2014. Filed under Muslim Heritage. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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