Christian Love

Christian Love

Christian Love

Christian Love

Excerpt

I love, therefore I am. Loving seems entirely natural and being loved seems wonderfully good. When we love great things or when we love greatly, we feel most alive. We make friends. We marry. We live in families. We feel a connection, however distant, with others. We work. We dedicate ourselves to ideals. We love, therefore we are.

Loving and existence are dramatically and emphatically tied together for the Christian. At least they ought to be. Christian faith attests to a God described as love, and holds that God demands that we love. God models love particularly and most intensely through the life, teachings, and death of Jesus. By nature we love; by faith we must love.

This book presents the occasion to think about love, ourselves as lovers, and what we love. It is an attempt to gather interesting and important voices from the Christian theological tradition and to hear what they have to say about love. A significant feature of the book is that it contains a pluralism of views (including several authors who do not appreciate this pluralism!). The first two chapters survey the biblical material on love. Then the following eight chapters take us through the relevant history of Christian thought. These views can be read as sincere appropriations and interpretations of the biblical themes. The pluralism evident here is not unbounded, however. It is circumscribed by the words of the Bible.

The first chapter surveys stories and sayings about love in the Old Testament. I use the term "Old Testament" instead of "Hebrew Scriptures" because I use the deuterocanonical writings, which are recognized as Scripture in the Roman and Orthodox Catholic traditions, but not in the Jewish tradition. The second chapter reviews the dominant themes of love in the New Testament. The third chapter explores the many writings of St. Augustine (354–428) on love. The next three chapters examine different understandings of love in the Medieval Ages. The fourth chapter focuses on the tradition of mystical love for God. It considers the theology of Bernard of Clairvaux (1090–1153), Hadewijch (dates unknown, her written work is dated around 1220), and Julian of Norwich . . .

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