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The New Testament, Mosaic Law and Ecclesiastical Law Today

  • Anthony Bash (a1)
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This article explores the New Testament's critique of Old Testament law, a genus of positive law. It looks at the applicability of that critique to modern ecclesiastical law: The article identifies three common misconceptions about the view of the New Testament concerning Old Testament law, and then sets out what the New Testament does say about Old Testament law, principally from the writings of St Paul. The principles underlying the New Testament's critique are established. The critique is made not on natural law grounds but on pragmatic and utilitarian grounds. The grounds of the critique are (i) the efficacy of the law to achieve its true intent; and (ii) the extent to which human beings exaggerate the usefulness of Old Testament law.

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1 This is an edited and adapted version of a paper given at a conference on 23 February 2004 at the University of Hull to celebrate the golden jubilee of the teaching of theology at the University.

2 Sanders, E P, Paul and Palestinian Judaism (SCM Press, London, 1977) and Paul, the Law and the Jewish People (SCM Press, London, 1983). Sanders' views have been further developed and refined by, among others, most notably J D G Dunn and N T Wright, now the Bishop of Durham.

3 References are to St Paul's Letter to the Romans unless stated otherwise.

4 Here I offer my apologies to those who do not like a neologism derived from discrete Greek and Latin roots: ‘nomostreph’ or ‘legovert’ may satisfy the purist but they lack elegance and impact.

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Ecclesiastical Law Journal
  • ISSN: 0956-618X
  • EISSN: 1751-8539
  • URL: /core/journals/ecclesiastical-law-journal
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