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Biblical and Theological Foundation of the Family

Joseph C. Atkinson

Publication Year: 2014

Published by: The Catholic University of America Press

Title Page, Copyright Page, Dedication, Epigraph

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José Granados

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pp. ix-xiv

In the documents of the Second Vatican Council, of which we now celebrate the 50th anniversary, we find the expression that “the family is, so to speak, the domestic Church” (Lumen Gentium 11). The rich magisterium of John Paul II on the family has made it clear that this sentence is not an isolated fragment...

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Francis Martin

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pp. xv-xviii

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...

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Author’s Preface

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pp. xix-xxii

The value of the family is, in many ways, self-evident. We owe our origins to our father and mother and to the long family line from which we come. Our culture, the language we speak, the values we hold, the traditions we observe, and above all the life of which we are given the stewardship, all of this is a...

Notes on Hebrew Language and Sources

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pp. xxiii-xxvi

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Introduction: The Need for a Theology of the Family

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pp. 1-12

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “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

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Part 1. Foundations of the Family in the Old Testament

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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...

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1. The Family in Mythological Thought

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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...

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2. The Principles of Creation and Covental Reality

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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...

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3. Abraham and the Family of Faith

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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...

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4. Family as the Carrier of the Covenant

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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...

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5. Family as the Image of the Covenant

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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...

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6. Hebraic Anthropological Principles

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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...

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Part 2. Foundations of the Family in the New Testament, Early Church, and Vatican II

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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...

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7. The Family of Abraham in the New Testament

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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...

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8. The Corporate Dimension of Baptism in the New Testament

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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...

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9. Appropriation by the Church Fathers

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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...

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10. Vatican II and the Problems of Appropriation

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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...


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pp. 327-336

Scriptural Indexes

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pp. 337-342

Index of Names

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pp. 343-345

General Index

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pp. 346-354

Production Note

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p. 355-355

E-ISBN-13: 9780813221717
E-ISBN-10: 0813221714
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813221700
Print-ISBN-10: 0813221706

Page Count: 381
Publication Year: 2014

Edition: 1