Introduction to Jewish and Catholic Bioethics: A Comparative Analysis

By Aaron L. Mackler | Go to book overview
Save to active project

Introduction

ONE OF THE CLASSIC, IF APOCRYPHAL, NARRATIVES ABOUT comparisons of religious traditions is related by Protestant ethicist James Gustafson. Three speakers were asked to offer Catholic, Jewish, and Protestant perspectives on a particular moral issue. The priest began, “The Church teaches that… .” The rabbi began, “The tradition teaches that….” And the minister began, “Well, now I think that… . 1

A second anecdote arises from my work with an interdisciplinary and interreligious commission that addresses issues of bioethics and public policy. A Catholic attorney reported half-jokingly that he had asked his bishop what he might do if an issue arose for which he was uncertain about Catholic teaching. “If you want to know the Catholic position,” he was told, “follow the rabbi”—referring to a very traditionalist Jewish member of the commission.

I use these anecdotes to illustrate three points. First, even an oversimplified account can be instructive. A full analysis of Jewish and Roman Catholic approaches to bioethics would require many books. The comparison in this book necessarily involves some broad strokes and simplifications. Nonetheless, I believe it conveys general characteristics that generally are accurate and important.

Second, as religious intellectual traditions with extensive histories of engagement with bioethics, Roman Catholicism and Judaism share important foundational elements and substantive positions. Nevertheless, as the first anecdote suggests, there are differences as well, including divergent methodologies. Jewish approaches generally are based on tradition, especially halakhah—a term meaning “path” or “way” and denoting Jewish law. Although Catholic moral approaches accord significant weight to tradition, more commonly they are centered on natural law, together with magisterial teaching.

-1-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Introduction to Jewish and Catholic Bioethics: A Comparative Analysis
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 266

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?