Biblical Natural Law A Theocentric and Teleological Approach

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2008-06-02
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

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The theory of natural law is controversial today because it presumes that there is a stable "human nature" that is subject to a "law." How do we know that "human nature" is stable and not ever-evolving? How can we expect "law" not to constrict human freedom and potential? Furthermore if there is a "law," there must be a lawgiver. Matthew Levering argues that natural-law theory makes sense only within a broader worldview, and that the Bible sketches both such a persuasive worldview and an account of natural law that offers an exciting portrait of the moral life. To establish the relevance of biblical readings to the wider philosophical debate on natural law, this study offers an overview of modern natural-law theories from Cicero to Nietzsche, which reverse the biblical portrait by placing human beings at the center of the moral universe. Whereas the biblical portrait of natural law is other-directed, ordered to self-giving love, the modern accounts turn inward upon the self. Drawing on the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas, Levering employs theological and philosophical investigation to achieve a contemporary doctrine of natural law that accords with the biblical witness to a loving Creator who draws human beings to share in the divine life. This book provides both an introduction to natural law theory and a compelling challenge to rethink current biblical scholarship on the topic.

Author Biography

Matthew Levering is Associate Professor of Theology at Ave Maria University, and he has also held the Myser Fellowship at the Center for Ethics and Culture at the University of Notre Dame. He is co-editor of the theological quarterly Nova et Vetera. He co-edited Vatican II: Renewal within Tradition (Oxford, forthcoming), and he has authored books treating a wide variety of systematic theological topics, including Christ's Fulfillment of Torah and Temple, Scripture and Metaphysics: Aquinas and the Renewal of Trinitarian Theology, Sacrifice and Community, Participatory Biblical Exegesis (forthcoming), and Hierarchy and Holiness (forthcoming).

Table of Contents

Introductionp. 1
The Bible and Natural Lawp. 22
Anthropocentric Natural Lawp. 69
Natural Law and Natural Inclinationsp. 140
Natural Law and the Order of Charityp. 189
Conclusionp. 224
Works Citedp. 235
Indexp. 255
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