Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Two from Witte on Luther and Law

John Witte Jr., Emory University School of Law, has posted two items from his backlist.  The first is “The Law Written on the Heart”: Natural Law and Equity in Early Lutheran Thought, in The Legal Teachings of the Protestant and Catholic Reformations, ed. Wim Dekock  (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, September 2014), 231-265:
This Article analyzes the transformation of Western legal philosophy in the sixteenth-century Lutheran Reformation, with a focus on the legal thought of theologian Martin Luther, moral philosopher Philip Melanchthon, and legal theorist Johann Oldendorp. Starting with Luther’s two kingdoms theory, Melanchton developed an intricate theory of natural law based not only on the law written on the hearts of all persons, but also on the law rewritten in the Decalogue, whose two tables provided the founding principles of religious law and civil law respectively. Building on both Luther and Melanchthon, Oldendorp developed an original theory of equity and equitable law making and law enforcement as part of a broader biblical-based theory of natural law. Together these writers, laid the foundations for a new legal, political, and social theory which dominated Lutheran Germany and Scandinavia for the next three centuries.
The second is The Mother of All Earthly Laws: The Lutheran Reformation of Marriage, which appeared in Gettysburg Seminary Ridge Review 15:2 (2013): 26-43:
Martin Luther and his colleagues transformed the theology and law of marriage and family life in sixteenth-century Germany and Scandinavia. They replaced the medieval Catholic views of marriage as a sacrament and celibacy as a superior institution, with a new view of marriage as a natural and necessary institution for all fit adults, clergy and alike, that brought private goods to the couple and their children and public goods to the community. These new theological teachings placed marriage and family life under secular rule, and introduced legal reforms that simplified the rules of marital formation and introduced divorce for cause and remarriage at least for the innocent party.

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