Bodenheimer was born in Berlin in 1908. He was educated in universities of Geneva, Munich, Heidelberg, and Berlin. After receiving his J.U.D. from the University of Heidelberg in 1933, he emigrated to the United States to escape from the Nazis. He then got his LL.B. from the University of Washington in 1937.
His career started in 1940 as an Attorney for the U.S. Department of Labor, where he worked for two years before taking on the Principal Attorney position at the Office of Alien Property Custodian in Washington D.C.
In 1945, Edgar served in the Allies' Office of Chief of Counsel (OCC) for the prosecution of Axis Criminality at the Nuremberg Trials, utilizing his degrees in both American and German law.
He joined the law faculty of the University of Utah in 1946, and became a professor at the Law School of University of California, Davis in 1966. Retiring in 1975, he continued writing and lecturing at UC Davis as Professor Emeritus until his death in 1991
Works by Edgar Bodenhimer have been translated into Spanish, Portuguese, and Chinese.