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From Irenaeus to Grotius: A Sourcebook in Christian Political Thought Hardcover – December, 1999

4.9 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Oliver O'Donovan is Regius Professor of Moral & Pastoral Theology and Canon of Christ Church, University of Oxford. He is the author of The Problem of Self-Love in Saint Augustine (1980), Begotten or Made (1984), Peace and Certainty: A Theological Essay on Deterrence (1989) Resurrection et l'Experience Morale (1992), On the Thirty-Nine Articles: A Conversation with Tudor Christianity (1993), Common Objects of Love (2002).

Joan Lockwood O'Donovan is a theologian and author of Theology of Law and Authority in the English Reformation (Eerdmans). --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 858 pages
  • Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company; 1St Edition edition (December 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802838766
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802838766
  • Product Dimensions: 9.8 x 6.8 x 2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #575,370 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
Oliver O'Donovan, a Brit, and Joan Lockwood O'Donovan, born and raised a Canuck, of Christ Church College, Oxford, do a tremendous service to our understanding of the West's pre-Enlightenment constitutional tradition.
Political theorists and philosophers seemed to suffer an epidemic of historical and philosophical amnesia beginning about the 17th century with Hobbes, Locke, et al. Although their writings clearly rely on some sixteen centuries of thought with respect to political authority in the Christian tradition, 17th-c. theorists and on give little hint of the extent of their claiming the ideas of "dual (or plural) authority" and the rule of law as developed in western Christendom.
With selected excerpts from early church father Irenaeus to father of modern constitutionalism Grotius, the O'Donovans trace this development from an early church in tension (and persecution) with the sacralist Roman state; through the power struggles between church and imperial, and church and feudal authorities; and the development of Lutheran and Calvinist theories of resistance vis a vis 16th-c. absolutist theories of the divine right of kings.
Far from its being an invention or child of the Enlightenment, the O'Donovans make clear the West's tradition of plural authority and consitutionalism was delivered to Enlightenment theorists as a mature creature which continues to inform and instruct Western constitutional thought to the present, albeit far too little.
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Format: Paperback
This collection truly is indispensable to anyone interested in the Christian tradition of political theology. A vast array of sources-many of which are quite inconvenient to obtain-are placed at the fingertips of anyone interested. Additionally, the authors distinguish their collection with numerous erudite, probing essays preceding each collection and author. These not only provide historical context but also the outlines of modern scholarly debate. Also, for further reference, bibliographies are concluded. In a word, it is a `sourcebook' par excellance.
There are omissions, as is the case with all collections; however, this does not detract from the overall utility of the collection.
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Format: Paperback
This anthology is extremely valuable. It provides accurate translations of the most important writings in the history of Christian political theology from the 2nd to the 17th century. Quite a notable resource.
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Format: Paperback
This sourcebook is divided into five parts: The Patristic Age, Late Antiquity and Germanic Kingship, The Integration of Aristotle, Spiritual Polities and Dominum, and Renaissance and reformation. At the risk of sounding Hegelian (purely accidental) we see the O’Donovans guiding us through the struggles each age had to face in integrating biblical truth, not only with their present culture, but with the achievements of previous ages.

The Patristic Age

Christian thinkers had to wrestle with the uncomfortable fact that the NT praised Roman soldiers with the present reality of Rome’s attack on the faith. Further, military service, whatever conclusion one reached, challenged ideas of continuity.

Eschatology factored heavier in these accounts. As a separate community living in the time between the times, they awaited the arrival of Yahweh and the judgment of the age. This sheds light on the confrontational (spiritual, anyway) atmosphere: thinkers like Irenaeus and Cyril of Jerusalem saw a coming showdown with Antichrist (quoted in O’Donovan 41).

The Transition: Towards the end of the age both East and West will have been shaped by Justinian’s Law. The West would move to see links between Christology and political imagination (cf Kantorowicz)

Reformation and Beyond

Expanding exploration and new markets forced a rethinking of many theories, particularly those of ius naturale and ius gentium (O’Donovan 549). The idea of “covenant” began to play a more prominent role (per Knox and Junius Brutus) in how one relates to kings. On the Romanist and Anglican sides, develops in Thomism provided new reflections.

Observations

It took me ten years to work through this book, but I think it was worth it.
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