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He was educated in universities of Geneva, Munich, Heidelberg, and Berlin. After receiving his J. He then got his LL. He joined the law faculty of the University of Utah in , and became a professor at the Law School of University of California, Davis in Born 83 years earlier in a Germany that proved neither gentle nor kind, Edgar devoted his professional life to understanding the place of law in the scheme of things.
How was one to understand the many unrighteous things done in the name of the law, and how was one to gauge whether a proposed law, or a legal system, was fair and just? For Edgar, these were burning questions--a search for guidance in addressing major issues of our times. An eminent jurisprudential scholar, he had a tolerance for ideas and conclusions he did not share and a willingness to reexamine his own. But he also had the intellectual and moral courage, when others pursued more popular and less normative views of legal philosophy, to stand by the basic truths as he saw them.
While he was one of the few brave souls of his day to embrace the idea of natural law--some essential aspect of human nature that shapes our sense of justice--he defied classification as either conservative or traditional. His exquisitely modern mind was fascinated with scientific developments in fields as diverse as physics, biology and psychology, because these held clues of understanding our individual and collective behavior and goals.
Born in Berlin on March 4, , the son of Siegmund and Rosi Bodenheimer, Edgar received his continental education in law and political science at the universities of Geneva, Munich, Heidelberg and Berlin.
But in , the year he earned his J. While working for a New York law firm and taking night courses at N. Brigitte Levy, who had also emigrated, was studying law at Columbia. The couple married in and moved to Seattle, where Brigitte, who was later to become a distinguished member of the Utah and Davis law faculties in her own right, received a law degree in Edgar completed his American law degree in , followed two years later by a B.
He also wrote the first edition of his most famous work, originally published in as Jurisprudence. Naturalized in , Edgar became a member of the bar. As an attorney in Washington, D. The jurisprudential issues he confronted there later became the topic of lectures that fascinated several generations of law students.
A devoted and memorable teacher, over the years Edgar taught many subjects: jurisprudence, international law, legal history, unfair trade practices, the conflict of laws, and equity. He also devised an introduction to law course, later coauthoring the published text. Even after assuming emeritus status in , he taught at the law school and the graduate school of management at Davis.
His true love and the basis for his fame, however, was jurisprudence, a subject to which he dedicated four books and most of his numerous articles. His enduring work, Jurisprudence, later appeared in two extensively revised editions as Jurisprudence: The Philosophy and Method of the Law, and was also published in three foreign languages. Its most recent translation was in , when the Chinese government chose it as a text for students and scholars in that country.
Quite literally, Edgar never stopped writing, having published an important article on Hegel just weeks before his death. He was a good citizen of the law school and University, too, serving both in numerous capacities.
Edgar was blessed with two happy marriages. There were three children of his marriage to Brigitte M. Brigitte M. Bodenheimer, whose life is warmly recalled in the In Memoriam volume, predeceased him in In , Edgar married his second wife, the gracious Brigitte Hirschfeld Bodenheimer, also a native of Berlin.
She survives him, as do his children and three grand children. Unassuming despite his eminence, Edgar was equally beloved by his family, his students and his colleagues. He will be missed.
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