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Publication - Professor Jonathan Burnside

    Biblical Law and Natural Law


    Burnside, J, 2019, ‘Biblical Law and Natural Law’. in: Jonathan Crowe (eds) Research Handbook on Natural Law. Edward Elgar Publishing


    Psalm 19 addresses both what may be termed ‘natural law’ and ‘biblical law. The overall structure of the psalm brings the two into dialogue, whilst the detailed literary connections between the message of the heavens and the words of Torah indicates there are substantive connections between them. The psalmist turns from the narrative of universal creation to Israel’s salvation-history; a movement mirrored by the transition from the use of ‘El’ to denote God as generally known Creator to the personal ‘YHWH’ of Israel’s salvation history. ‘Natural law’ and ‘biblical law’ are thus as distinct from each other as these two names of God; at the same time, however, they are as closely connected. Natural law and biblical law are related but not equivalent forms of revelation, because God is known more accurately and intimately through Torah than the natural world. Another way in which the biblical material is brought into dialogue with the philosophical tradition of natural law is by looking at connections between divine activity and human activity in the realm of normativity. As with Psalm 19 itself, it enables us to glimpse a more integrated world than many in the Western philosophical tradition have envisaged. It suggests there are ways of thinking about natural law in the Bible that are as complex as the Western tradition of natural law itself.

    Full details in the University publications repository