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Law in Context

Abstract from Volume 34 No 1 (2016) Law and Love

Jurisprudence of Love in Paulís Letter to the Romans

Joshua Neoh is a philosopher of law and love.

Paul proclaims that Christ is the end of law. The new Christian community promises to be a community sustained not by law, but by love. His zeal for love reinforces his proclamation of Christ as the end of law, for love is lawless, literally outside of law. In contrast to Moses who establishes the rule of law on Mount Sinai, Paul proclaims the power of love over law and asserts the inherent lawlessness of love. Legal rules predict human behaviour; but love makes human actions unpredictable. Legal rules dictate outcomes; but love is, by definition, free. However, inasmuch as love is free, love is also fleeting. According to Paul, Christianity marks the end of law and the dawn of love, but it does not take long for the first church council to be formed and decrees to be issued. The promise of a lawless community ends up with codes of canon law. The modern political state carries with it this ancient theological baggage. We inherit from Paul a particular cognitive dissonance: we dream in the language of love, but speak in the language of law. The radical ideal of love as the ultimate negation of law remains a powerful eschatological vision in our theo-political imaginary.

(2016) 34(1) Law in Context p7

   
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