Wolfhart Pannenberg is considered by many to be one of the preeminent living Protestant theologians. Now retired, Pannenberg's active career spanned almost five decades. From 1968 to 1994 he was Professor of Systematic Theology at the University of Munich; previously he taught in Mainz and Wuppertal in Germany. Pannenberg has published prolifically, culminating with his three-volume Systematic Theology. Even in retirement, Pannenberg has continued to publish extensively, producing several volumes over the past decade. He has lectured in the U.S. on numerous occasions, and many of his books and articles have appeared in English translation. In this country, Pannenberg is generally associated with the theology of hope, a now-dated movement that was characterized by an emphasis on eschatology and the proleptic anticipation of the future through the events of history. But that association reflects only a limited aspect of Pannenberg's lengthy career, one since eclipsed by the further development of his thinking and concerns.
The breadth of Pannenberg's interests is vast. In addition to his concentration on the classical themes of theology, he has explored other subjects from a theological perspective, among them sociology, science, nature, anthropology, politics and ethics. Over the course of his career, Pannenberg has repeatedly addressed questions of law and jurisprudence, beginning with essays in the early 1960s and continuing up to a publication that appeared in 2004. For the most part, these writings consist of thematic essays, a form Pannenberg has used extensively for a wide variety of subjects. In addition to these essays, portions of Pannenberg's larger works treat law and jurisprudential themes, though as subsidiary topics. His continuing concern with law reflects his view that law is strongly tied to ethics, an area to which he has devoted more attention after he completed his Systematic Theology. Taken together, Pannenberg's writings on law constitute a coherent and reasonably well-articulated theory of law, though one that has unfortunately received limited attention, and no sustained exposition in English. Nonetheless, because of Pannenberg's prominence, and because of his incisive analysis, his work on law deserves attention in this country as well.