Selection from on the Observation of the Mosaic Polity

By Junius, Franciscus | Journal of Markets & Morality, Spring 2011 | Go to article overview

Selection from on the Observation of the Mosaic Polity


Junius, Franciscus, Journal of Markets & Morality


Contents *

Introduction by Todd Rester
Title Page
Author's Preface
Theological Theses: Concerning the Judicial Laws of Moses
and Their Observance
1. On the Just Definition and Division of the Law
2. On the Law of Moses and the Substance of It in General

* Ed. note: This selection includes the full text of two of
the eight chapters in the treatise.

Introduction

Francois du Jon (1545-1602), Latinized as Franciscus Junius, was a significant Reformed Protestant voice in the era of late sixteenth-century confessionalization. (1) He is perhaps best known as a professor of theology at Leiden University from 1592-1602. The faculty of Leiden University frequently had the task of solving theological conundrums for the church and sometimes for the state. While the Dutch Reformed Church (NL: Nederduits Gereformeerde Kerk, 1571-1795) and the Dutch Republic (NL: Republiek der Zeven Verenigde Provincien, LAT: Foederatae Belgii Provinciae, 1581-1795) were both still in their infancy, it was not uncommon for theological, civil, and legal paroxysms to rock both church and state simultaneously. It is in this context of the almost concentric overlap between a rising republic and a rising national church that the question of the role of the Mosaic polity surfaced. After all, the Dutch Republic, forged as it was in the fires and blood of a religious rebellion against Roman Catholic Spain, was a proud but young Reformed Protestant republic. Thus at some level, if Scripture alone is the authority in the Church for faith and morals and if all of Scripture is inspired and profitable for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17), how does it apply in the realm of the Christian State?

Because such a thorny question required both legal and theological acumen, it was a prickly question indeed, layered with many variegated barbs, such as: What role, if any, should the Mosaic law play in the development of a civil legal code? How much of the Mosaic polity applies in light of the promulgation of the gospel in which Christ fulfilled the law? How does the Mosaic law relate to or reflect the natural law? How much of the case law is mutable or immutable? On what grounds? What are the roles of the church and state respectively? What are the proper limits of each in the exposition and institution of morals? What is the relationship between right and law? Is there a difference between a universal or common right and a specific or particular right? How does this impact legislation? Can we distinguish between law for human beings and law for Christian human beings? How is the classic Christian distinction of the Mosaic law into ceremonial law, judicial law, and moral laws coordinated to eternal law, natural law, and human law? How binding is the Mosaic case law? Do the Mosaic capital punishments still apply? How does the Mosaic law regarding the capital offense of idolatry apply to sixteenth-century heresy trials, if at all?

As you can imagine, such a project has many moving parts in order to answer these and related questions. In the Dutch Reformed context of the last decade of the sixteenth century, for a person to even attempt an answer to such a question, he must first have unquestioned ability in the original languages of the Bible, deep familiarity with Scripture, trusted academic training and expertise in Christian theology, grounding and proficiency in the study of law and rights, pastoral sensibility, and impeccable creedal and confessional credentials. Perhaps most of all, he would have to have had the wisdom to know when to stop. That is quite a tall order for one person. Following by way of introduction is a brief account of how Junius was uniquely equipped for such a momentous task in the late sixteenth-century Dutch Reformed context.

A Brief Overview of Junius' Life

Junius was born in Bourges, France, into a family of minor nobility with all of the attendant social and educational advantages of one of such rank. …

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