Mere History: The Place of Historical Studies in Theological Ethics

Journal of Religious Ethics 25 (3):103 - 126 (1997)
This article offers two arguments for the centrality of historical studies to constructive theological ethics. The first is pedagogical: it is argued that precisely because historical texts call for reflective interpretation, the close study of these texts can provide insights that are not readily available in other ways. The second is more foundational: the Christian moral tradition is the proper subject matter of Christian theological ethics, and because that tradition evolves over time and cannot be understood apart from some account of that evolution, historical studies are a constitutive part of Christian theological ethics. This claim is defended through an ex- amination of the historical dimension of the interpretation of Scripture as a moral document. The essay closes with some reflections on the institutional implications of these arguments.
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