Walter Selb

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Walter Selb (born May 22, 1929 in Munich ; † June 2, 1994 in Vienna ) was a lawyer , university professor and legal historian in Austria and Germany .


Selb's family moved to Speyer during his childhood . From 1940 he attended the humanistic grammar school there and began to learn Hebrew with Jakob Bisson .

In 1949 he began studying law in Heidelberg . At the same time, he expanded his language skills to Aramaic and Syriac . The orientalist Anton Schall , who had already dealt with the Syrian language in his dissertation, and the legal historian Wolfgang Kunkel had a decisive influence on his studies . In 1953 Walter Selb passed the trainee exam . In 1954 he became a doctor of law doctorate . The basis was a work from international private law . In 1957 the second state examination of the then judicial training in Germany took place. He then worked as a public prosecutor and assessor in Landau , and from 1961 as a judge at the regional court in Frankenthal .

In 1961 he became assistant to Gerardo Broggini , Wolfgang Kunkel's successor at the University of Heidelberg . In 1962 Walter Selb completed his habilitation with the work “On the meaning of the Syriac-Roman legal book ” for Roman law, ancient legal history and civil law. The topic of his habilitation lecture was " Concept of damage and recourse methods ". He then developed this topic into an independent book. After his habilitation, he briefly represented civil law at the University of Göttingen .

On June 1, 1963, Walter Selb was appointed full professor of Roman law at the University of Vienna . The basis for this was discussions between Wolfgang Kunkel, Heinrich Demelius and Fritz Schwind as part of the 1962 Legal History Conference. In Vienna he succeeded Theo Mayer-Maly , who had been appointed to the University of Cologne . Walter Selb's interdisciplinary scientific activity was one of the motives for appointing the 34-year-old as a full professor. His predecessor also had an interdisciplinary habilitation (Roman law and social security law). One of Walter Selb's first courses in Vienna was a seminar on the subject of “The current state of research in the legal history of the Mediterranean region”.

The Vienna Law Faculty remained his academic home. He turned down offers from the universities of Tübingen, Heidelberg, Munich and Bonn. The reason for this was private reasons and his residence in Gainfarn near Bad Vöslau and Baden near Vienna .

His scientific work was supported by research trips to Turkey ( Southeast Anatolia ) and Syria , which were aimed at researching the manuscripts of old legal texts (as in the monasteries of Tur Abdin ).

In 1968 he was dean of the faculty . In 1970 he became a corresponding member and in 1976 a full member of the Austrian Academy of Sciences . As secretary of the philosophical-historical class, he was part of the governing body of this academy. In 1974 he founded the Commission for Ancient Legal History as part of the Academy.

Walter Selb was married and had five children.


Walter Selb has worked scientifically in Roman law , ancient legal history , civil law in Austria and Germany, and social security law in Austria. In addition to his work as a university lecturer, he also worked as an expert on questions of civil law.

From his habilitation in 1962, his academic life was accompanied by research into the Syrian-Roman legal code . A three-volume annotated edition of this legal book, to which Walter Selb contributed the commentary and other essential parts, was published posthumously in 2002 by Hubert Kaufhold in the publishing house of the Austrian Academy of Sciences.

In his academic teaching activities, Walter Selb worked at the Vienna Law Faculty for over 30 years. He held all relevant courses there, from special seminars to exercises for beginners and introductions. This made it a household name for generations of Viennese law students.


Walter Selb's list of publications comprises 18 pages, edited by Michael Memmer: Savigny Zeitschrift für Rechtsgeschichte, Romance Department (SZRom). 1995, Volume 112, pp. 770-788. The following works mark Walter Selb's main areas of work.

From the legal history works

  • On the meaning of the Syrian-Roman legal code. (= Munich contributions to papyrus research and ancient legal history. Issue 49). Verlag CH Beck, Munich 1964, DNB 454651724 .
  • 'Ebed-Jesu' Bar Bahriz Metropolita de Assur et Adiabene: 'Abdiso'Bar Bahriz. Order of marriage and inheritance, as well as decision of legal cases (Teksa d suwaga wa d iartuta wa psaqa d dine da mtaksin l abon mari 'Abdiso' mitrapolita d Ator.) Edited, translated, commented on and provided with an introduction. Syriac and German. Session reports of the philosophical-historical class of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. Volume 268.1. Vienna 1970.
  • Oriental Canon Law , two volumes:
Publications of the Commission for Ancient Legal History. No. 3 and 6. Austrian Academy of Sciences, meeting reports of the philosophical-historical class No. 388, Vienna 1981 and No. 543, Vienna 1989.
  • The content of the Sentenciae Syriacae and its legal historical significance. In: Dieter Simon (Ed.): Files from the 26th German Legal Historians' Conference in Frankfurt am Main, 22. – 26. September 1986. Frankfurt 1987, ISBN 3-465-01761-7 .
  • Sententiae Syriacae . Nāmosē de-malkē krisṭyānē wa-zakyē. Introduced, translated, provided with a Syrian and Greek glossary and commented on. Syriac and German. (= Publications of the Commission for Ancient Legal History Volume 7. Philosophical-historical class of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. Meeting reports. Volume 567). Vienna 1990, ISBN 3-7001-1798-1 .
  • benai and benat qejama in Syrian church history. In: International Commission for Comparative Church History / Sub-Commission Austria: 11. – 13. Symposium of the International Commission for Comparative Church History - Sub-Commission Austria. Alfred Raddatz on his 65th birthday. (= Publications of the Institute for Church History at the Catholic Theological Faculty and the Institute for Church History, Christian Archeology and Church Art at the Evangelical Theological Faculty of the University of Vienna 1994. New series no. 2), ISBN 3-901467-00-9 .
  • Christians in early Islamic times (up to the 9th century). In: Erwin M. Ruprechtsberger (Ed.): Syrien. From the apostles to the caliphs. Exhibition City Museum Linz-Nordico, December 3, 1993 to April 4, 1994; Schallaburg Castle, April 30, 1994 to October 30, 1994; Klagenfurt Mining Museum, December 2, 1994 to April 1, 1995. (= Linz archaeological research). Linz / Mainz 1993, ISBN 3-8053-1609-7 .
  • Ancient rights in the Mediterranean. Rome, Greece, Egypt and the Orient . Vienna 1993, ISBN 3-205-98089-1 .
  • with Herbert Hausmaninger: Roman private law. 9th edition. Vienna 2001, ISBN 3-205-99372-1 .
  • with Hubert Kaufhold: The Syriac-Roman legal book. Volume I: Introduction. Volume II: Text and Translation. Volume III: Commentary. (= Memoranda of the philosophical-historical class. No. 295). Publications of the Commission for Ancient Legal History 9. Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften. Vienna 2002, ISBN 3-7001-3007-4 .

From the works on applicable law

  • Concept of damage and recourse methods. A study on the change in the ways of thinking about recourse among the majority of debtors with the change in the concept of damage . Heidelberg 1963.
  • The private law contract as an instrument for the provision of services in social insurance. Journal for Labor and Social Law-ZAS 1976, Issues 2 and 3, pp. 43–48 and 94–98. Elaborated version of the lecture given on March 5, 1976 at the Austrian Society for Labor and Social Law in Zell am See.
  • The relationships of the social security agencies to one another and to third parties. and international social security law. In: Theodor Tomandl (Ed.): System of Austrian social insurance law. Verlag Manz, Vienna 1978 ff, ISBN 978-3-214-12462-5 , sections 5 and 7.
  • Commentary on §§ 420-432 of the German Civil Code in the Munich Commentary. ISBN 3-406-45871-8 .
  • Majorities of creditors and debtors. In: Handbook of the law of obligations in individual representations. Tübingen 1984, ISBN 3-16-644849-7 .
  • Procreation by human hands and jurisprudence. In: Display of the philosophical-historical class of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. Born in 125th publishing house of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna 1989.
  • Clinical examination and subject insurance in the ethics committees. In: Enzinger, Michael (Ed.): Current problems of corporate law. Festschrift Gerhard Frotz for his 65th birthday. Vienna 1993, ISBN 3-214-06118-6 , p. 579.

Literature and Obituaries

  • Peter E. Pieler: Walter Selb. In: Gerhard Thür: Ancient legal history. Unity and diversity. Contributions to the conference of the Commission for Ancient Legal History in Vienna on the occasion of the presentation of the edition of the Syriac-Roman Legal Book on October 29, 2002. Publishing house of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. Vienna 2005. Meeting reports of the philosophical-historical class No. 726. Publications of the Commission for Ancient Legal History 11, ISBN 3-7001-3481-9 , pp. 81–87.
  • Theo Mayer-Maly : Almanac of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. Volume 144: 1993/94. Vienna 1994, pp. 419-423.
  • Julius Aßfalg : Oriens Christianus . 78 (1994), p. 254.
  • Gabor Hamza: Hausmaninger - W. Selb: Roman private law. Böhlau study books. 7. verb. Ed. Böhlau Verlag, Vienna - Cologne, 1994. Acta Facultatis Politico-iuridicae Universitatis Scientiarum Budapestinensis de Rolando Eötvös nominatae 34 (1993-94) pp. 139-141.
  • Gerhard Thür , Hubert Kaufhold: Savigny magazine for legal history . Romance Studies Department No. 112. Vienna 1995. S. LIX – LXXX.
  • Wolfgang Ernst: Legal journal . (JZ) 1995, p. 87.
  • Peter Pieler: Austrian Archive for Canon Law. Volume 44, Vienna 1997, pp. 425-327.
  • Gabor Hamza: Hausmaninger, H. - Selb, W .: Roman private law. With the collaboration of R. Gamauf. 9. completely reworked. Edition, Böhlau Verlag, Vienna - Cologne - Weimar, 2001. Antik Tanulmányok 46 (2002) pp. 294–296.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Studies on Greek foreign words in Syriac. Dissertation 1949. Scientific. Book club, Darmstadt 1960, DNB 454305672 .