Biblical and Theological Foundation of the Family

Biblical and Theological Foundation of the Family

Joseph C. Atkinson
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 400
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt6wpkkz
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  • Book Info
    Biblical and Theological Foundation of the Family
    Book Description:

    This ground-breaking work establishes a solid biblical and theological foundation on which a theology of the family can be constructed. It thus fills a critical lack in the current literature on the family. The wide range of sources, including Jewish, Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant, give this work a genuine ecumenical dimension. Biblical and Theological Foundations of the Family will become indispensable for anyone wanting to engage in serious study of the structure and meaning of the family and its place in the salvific will of God.

    eISBN: 978-0-8132-2171-7
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. ix-xiv)
    José Granados
  4. FOREWORD
    (pp. xv-xviii)
    Francis Martin

    It is said that Gilbert K. Chesterton declared, as early as 1927, that the next great crisis which the Catholic Church would have to face would be in the area of sexuality. The obvious confirmation of that prediction in our own day must evoke a response on the part of Catholic theologians. Atkinson’s return to the patristic understanding of the family as a domestic church is a good example of a response which is also a valuable modern teaching on the ecclesial dimension of the family.

    One of the key advantages of this study is that it begins by taking...

  5. AUTHOR’S PREFACE
    (pp. xix-xxii)
  6. NOTES ON HEBREW LANGUAGE AND SOURCES
    (pp. xxiii-xxvi)
  7. INTRODUCTION: THE NEED FOR A THEOLOGY OF THE FAMILY
    (pp. 1-12)

    TheCatechism of the Catholic Churchstates: “The Christian family constitutes a specific revelation and realization of ecclesial communion, and for this reason it can and should be called a domestic church” (section 2204).¹ Its inclusion in the Catechism reveals that the term “domestic church” has become a fundamental concept in regard to the family. Its essential meaning is that the family (the father, mother, and children converted to Christ and baptized into Him) has been endowed with an ecclesial nature. This organic unit is considered to be the smallest articulation of the Church and the sphere in which, in...

  8. PART 1. FOUNDATIONS OF THE FAMILY IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
    • [PART 1. Introduction]
      (pp. 13-18)

      The whole trajectory of salvation history is a single revelation of God’s encounter with His fallen creation. As the Catechism puts it, “Through all the words of Sacred Scripture, God speaks only one single Word, his one Utterance in whom he expresses himself completely.”¹ From the very first, Christians refused to view the Old Testament antagonistically² and knew it to be not only the revelation of God but also the foundation for the Christian revelation.³ Because there is only the one divine will being worked out in time and history, there is of necessity an organic connection among all parts...

    • CHAPTER 1 THE FAMILY IN MYTHOLOGICAL THOUGHT
      (pp. 19-32)

      The family, in order to assume its proper functioning with the Judeo-Christian covenants, had first to undergo a process of demythologization. In the ancient Near East, sexuality, marriage and fecundity were understood within a mythological context that united them to the divine sphere and made them instruments by which the natural world order could continue. In this context, sexuality and fecundity were means by which the divine sphere could be manipulated magically. Thus, these basic human realities were not understood on their own terms but as parts of a complex mythological worldview. This understanding had first to be purified before...

    • CHAPTER 2 THE PRINCIPLES OF CREATION AND COVENANTAL REALITY
      (pp. 33-77)

      With the first line of the Hebrew revelation, the fundamental principles of the mythological worldview were challenged and a radical vision of reality was set in opposition to the omnipresent pagan understanding.¹ The uniqueness of this view was captured by von Rad in his commentary on Genesis:

      The idea of creation by the word preserves first of all the most radical essential distinction between Creator and creature. Creation cannot be even remotely considered an emanation from God . . . but is rather a product of his personal will. The only continuity between God and his work is the Word.²...

    • CHAPTER 3 ABRAHAM AND THE FAMILY OF FAITH
      (pp. 78-90)

      From the previous chapter, it is evident that the role the family plays is vital not only for the individual but also for the covenant itself. Once the family had been freed from mythological deformations, it then could assume its proper function. Now the human person was inserted not only into chronological history but also into the salvific order (Heilsgeschichte). We now turn to investigate how this newly “dimensioned” covenantal family functioned within the Israelite covenant. Here, we will discover that the family had a threefold function: (1) it became the carrier of the covenant, (2) it imaged forth the...

    • CHAPTER 4 FAMILY AS THE CARRIER OF THE COVENANT
      (pp. 91-127)

      If the family was to carry out its function of transmitting unimpaired the covenant from generation to generation, it had to ensure that both the ethos of the covenant and all its specific details were faithfully “handed over” to the next generation.¹ To do this, the family had to acquire a precise form and structure by which this task could be accomplished. Within the covenant, human sexuality and the family played a significant role which would ensure the survival of the covenant. They were no longer merely the instruments by which human life was physically continued. Rather, as the well-known...

    • CHAPTER 5 FAMILY AS IMAGE OF THE COVENANT
      (pp. 128-160)

      Although the differences between a sign and a symbol are not always clear, one general distinction is that the symbol inwardly participates in the reality and shows forth what it represents, whereas the sign is of an arbitrary nature vis-à-vis the object represented.¹ As we have seen, the family is an intrinsic part of the Hebraic revelation and plays a symbolic role in the covenant. The Abrahamic family not only carries and transmits the covenant but also inwardly participates in it. There are two critical questions that flow from this fact: What within the created nature of the family allows...

    • CHAPTER 6 HEBRAIC ANTHROPOLOGICAL PRINCIPLES: Corporate Personality
      (pp. 161-192)

      To understand the organic structure of marriage and family and why they are capable of their function within the divine covenant, it is necessary to grasp the basic principles informing Hebraic anthropology. Earlier, the Semitic concept of corporate personality which lies at the heart of Old Testament anthropology was briefly examined. Having investigated the structure of the Hebrew family and its purposes, we will now more fully examine the structure of corporate personality and see how it provides the fundamental informing principle of both the individual person and the family.¹ This concept alone allows the family to have an organic...

  9. PART 2. FOUNDATIONS OF THE FAMILY IN THE NEW TESTAMENT, EARLY CHURCH, AND VATICAN II
    • [PART 2. Introduction]
      (pp. 193-196)

      In analyzing the New Testament texts in terms of the domestic Church, it is important to recognize that there is no fully developed theology of the family within the New Testament. This is accounted for by the fact that the entire early Church was initially Jewish. Indeed, Christianity was considered as emerging from within Judaism and was called “the Way” (cf. Acts 9:2). For the early Church it was not a question of repudiating the Hebrew covenant; rather, early Christians believed that in Christ the covenant with Abraham had reached its teleological conclusion.¹ In effect, this meant that the first...

    • CHAPTER 7 THE FAMILY OF ABRAHAM IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
      (pp. 197-219)

      From the beginning of Christianity there has been a tension between the revelation in Christ Jesus and its relationship to the covenant with the Hebrews. It formed the basis for the first major theological struggle in the Church, when the relationship between circumcision and baptism had to be worked out. Later, Marcion championed the idea that the Christian revelation was so radically different from the Old Testament that it necessitated a rejection of the older Semitic understanding of God. While this teaching was determined to be heretical, it nonetheless underscored the problem of the relationship between the two testaments. Even...

    • CHAPTER 8 THE CORPORATE DIMENSION OF BAPTISM IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
      (pp. 220-268)

      The manner in which Abraham functioned in the New Testament is once again reflective of the Semitic understanding of corporate personality which is foundational to Hebrew anthropology. Each family, tribe, or nation had its originating point in a single father to whom was given the covenant. All that sprung from Abraham is organically connected to him and imprinted with hisnephesh(soul). This meant that whatever fundamentally informed Abraham’s being continued to structure the person, family, or nation that participated in him. Specifically, that meant that those who participated in Abraham’snepheshshared in his covenant and the promises that...

    • CHAPTER 9 APPROPRIATION BY THE CHURCH FATHERS
      (pp. 269-300)

      We have seen that, in the New Testament, the Hebraic understanding of the person continued to play a critical role in the understanding of salvation in Christ. We have also seen through the phenomenon of household baptisms (Acts 10:1–48; 16:15, 31–34; 18:8, and 1 Corinthians 1:16; 16:15; cf. also with Heb 11:7 and 1 Tim 3:4) that the corporate nature of salvation, which is clearly evident in the Old Testament, is still discernible in the New Testament. In addition, Paul in 1 Cor 7:10ff. shows that even in the marriage between a pagan and a Christian, the influence...

    • CHAPTER 10 VATICAN II AND THE PROBLEMS OF APPROPRIATION
      (pp. 301-326)

      With the end of persecutions under Constantine, a major hermeneutical shift occurred within the life of the Church. Prior to this time, to profess Christ was to endanger one’s life. Consequently, only those who were earnest about their faith and willing to die embraced it. In this environment, it was clear that the vocation to holiness which informed every Christian life would be a costly path to follow. There was no need for any extraordinary measures to show one’s faith, because the ordinary Christian often had to exercise heroic virtue simply to maintain the faith. After ad 313, when the...

  10. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 327-336)
  11. SCRIPTURAL INDEXES
    (pp. 337-342)
  12. INDEX OF NAMES
    (pp. 343-345)
  13. GENERAL INDEX
    (pp. 346-354)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 355-355)