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The Law of God: The Philosophical History of an Idea Hardcover – May 15, 2007

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press (May 15, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226070786
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226070780
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,308,598 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

What makes a law "divine"? What characteristics does that divinity confer on the law? How can we describe societies in which human behavior is regulated by laws characterized as divine? Why has modernity abandoned the premodern notion of divine law as the foundation of social practice? Brague, who teaches philosophy at the Sorbonne and the University of Munich, addresses these and other questions in a book that is unfortunately bogged down in pedestrian prose and pedantic style. He explores the idea of divine law and its regulation of society as it developed in ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia and Israel and functioned as a component of Christianity and Islam at least through the Middle Ages. By the time of the Enlightenment, however, the law had been torn away from divinity and become a function of the secular state. Modern society thought of law as simply a human instrument rather than a divine mandate. Though the topic is potentially fruitful, Brague adds little new or startling to the discussion of divine law. Through his chronological exploration of the devolution from divine law to human law, he tells a story about religion and society that is already well known.
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"Brague's sense of intellectual adventure is what makes his work genuinely exciting to read. The Law of God offers a challenge that anyone concerned with today's religious struggles ought to take up."
(Adam Kirsch New York Sun)

"Scholars and students of contemporary world events, to the extent that these may be viewed as a clash of rival fundamentalisms, will have much to gain from Brague's study. Ideally, in that case, the book seems to be both an obvious primer and launching pad for further scholarship. In such circles, it is not inconceivable that the book may acquire something of a canonical status."
(Patrick, Mooney Times Higher Education Supplement)

“This new book by Rémi Brague features the same outstanding scholarship and skills that have characterized his previous works: deep knowledge of the languages, as well as an extensive mastery of the theology, philosophy, and religious thought of ancient and medieval Islam, Judaism, and Western and Eastern Christianity. With an impressive genealogy, he traces the roots of modernity back to these three intellectual traditions that have worked together (and fought each other) through history. And we cannot ignore the possibility that this triple origin may frame our future as much as, or even more than, anything postmodernity might allow us to foresee.”<Jean-Luc Marion, author of God without Being>


(Jean-Luc Marion, author of God without Being)

"A brilliant piece of intellectual history. . . . Determining the boundaries and interconnections of natural and revealed law still keeps Christians busy. I applaud the way Brague clarifies what is so often muddled in our own less-than-expert understanding of the history of the law."
(Lawrence S. Cunningham Commonweal)

"Because religion has reemerged as a powerful political force . . . Brague's analysis of the notion of the divine law is an invaluable resource for understanding the underlying dynamic that motivates human beings. . . . Brague offers a fascinating overview of how each scriptural source--the Torah, the New Testament, and the Koran--interprets divine law. Also valuable is his survey of the work of scholars who have tried to discern the practical implications of each faith's understanding of where and how law originates."
(Michael P. Orsi Touchstone)

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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By christopher colvin on June 3, 2011
Format: Paperback
I'm surprised at the two leaden reviews, one from a reader and one from Publishers weekly. The book was a fun and fascinating read, rich and catholic in its erudition. Of course, it may have "little that is new or startling" for those who know, but this is reassuring for us who are learning. Besides the wealth of context is new and startling to most anyone who simplifies religion, religions, law, morality, the medieval era, and other related pieties. As for the pedestrian style -- I did not notice this, but I read the French 2nd edition.

So if you wish to gain a sense of many of the "takes" on the topic of divine law -- developments, influences, filiations, etc. -- I recommend the book. Or if you just wish to read more about that other world, the past, I think you will find Brague a congenial tour guide.
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3 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Jensen W. Parr on February 15, 2009
Format: Paperback
whenever the debate between Jerusalem and athens is brought up, a straussian has something to say. this book looks at faith and law since the birth of civilization and from eccentric viewpoints. it is useless to anyone unconcerned with the theological philosophical dilemna of strauss. if modernity is acceptable, dont challenge it with this book.
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