"Dei Verbum" and Christian Morals | Fr. Benedict Ashley, O.P. | Ignatius InsightDei Verbum and Christian Morals | Fr. Benedict Ashley, O.P. | Ignatius Insight


Vatican II sums up the purpose of the Dogmatic Constitution Dei Verbum, “On Divine Revelation,” in the prologue as follows:
Following then in the steps of the Councils of Trent and Vatican I, this Synod wishes to set forth the true doctrine on divine Revelation and its transmission. For it wants the whole world to hear the summons to salvation, so that through hearing it may believe, through belief it may hope, through hope it may come to love.
Thus the goal of the document is to encourage the flourishing in Christians of the “theological virtues” of faith, hope, and love that St. Paul (1 Cor 13:13) declares to be the summit of Christian living to which all morality is directed.

The rest of the document, however, is chiefly concerned with matters of faith, since God’s word is received only in faith. It says little explicitly about the Scriptures, as they provide the fundamental guide for Christian conscience. Yet it declares of the Gospel that it is “the source of all saving truth and moral discipline”(7). Moreover, it strongly urges all members of the Church to have recourse to biblical reading as “a pure and lasting fount of the spiritual life”(21). We are all urged to “go gladly to the sacred text itself, whether in the sacred liturgy, which is full of the divine words, or in devout reading” (25). Thus some reflections of how in practice this can be realized may be profitable.

First of all, Christian morality must always be seen as an imitation of Christ. Christian morality is not an abstract ideal, nor is it a mere set of rules, nor is it even just a well-organized systematic moral and spiritual theology. It is discipleship, the following of Jesus Christ, the Word of God, not only outwardly but under the transforming power of his Holy Spirit sent upon all the baptized. It is not so easy to understand how this is possible. How are sinners to live like the all-holy Christ? How are mere human beings to imitate the Son of God? How are women to imitate a man? How are children or the aged to imitate this man in the prime of life? How are the rich to imitate this poor man? How are the poor, ignorant, and powerless to imitate one who is “the wisdom and power of God”(1 Cor 1:24)? How are intellectuals to imitate this carpenter? How are we moderns of various races to imitate a Jew of the first century? Yet by the power of his Holy Spirit we are called to be his Body and to live in Him. In fact our many differences are precisely the ways in which his fullness of grace is to be made manifest to the world in a way that in his short life on earth in a single place and time it could not be manifested.

This why Dei Verbum takes special care to vindicate the authenticity of the portrayal of the historic Jesus of Nazareth in the Four Gospels. It emphatically declares that the Church has "firmly and with absolute constancy maintained and continues to maintain, that the four Gospels, whose historicity the [Church] unhesitatingly affirms, faithfully hand on what Jesus, the Son of God, while he lived among us, really did and taught for their salvation, until the day when he was taken up" (19).

Of course some may be troubled by what we hear of the efforts of certain scholars, like those associated with the much publicized Jesus Seminar, to reduce the historical value of the Gospel accounts to a bare minimum. These efforts, however, have been well refuted on scholarly grounds. A distinction must always be made between the certitudes of faith and reason. As John Paul II so well shows in his encyclical Faith and Reason, the Church has always defended reason and the human sciences and is confident that when sanely pursued they will be in harmony with faith. Consequently she is not afraid of the application of critical historical methods to the Scriptures. Precisely, however, because she appreciates the value of critical thought, she is not shaken by extravagant speculations so often motivated by academic pedantry. Moreover the Church is well aware from long experience that we cannot expect from history much more than certain salient facts on which highly diverse reconstructions can be built. For Christian life, it is not historical reconstructions, however scholarly, that must be the basis of our imitation of Christ but the witness of the divinely inspired Scriptures addressed to faith. Dei Verbum is very careful in its declaration of the inerrancy of Scripture to make clear that this does not mean that the true and inspired sense of the Bible can be ascertained by a fundamentalist literalism or merely subjective interpretation. God has revealed himself in the community of faith, whose inspired Scriptures and Spirit-guided Sacred Tradition form a single source of truth so that each must be understood in the light of the other (9).

When we look to Jesus as revealed in the Gospels and the whole of the Bible as the supreme model of what it is to be truly moral, we cannot help but focus on the Sermon on the Mount as recorded in Matthew. Whether we have it in the form that Jesus gave it, or whether, as many scholars hypothesize, as a synthesis provided by tradition, or even by the author of Matthew, from the earliest days of the Church it has been accepted as the best summary of Jesus’ teaching on the Christian life. The Gospels then show us how in fact this is how Jesus himself lived, so that his life, death, and resurrection are the most profound commentary on this Sermon. In it we see that Jesus based his life and his moral teaching firmly on the Old Testament that the Sermon quotes and interprets.

There is a tendency today to attempt to construct a moral theology on the sometimes rather general ethical statements of the New Testament, while treating the more specific moral guidance of the Old Testament as pertaining to the ancient Jews but not to modern Christians. It is very true, as Dei Verbum itself notes, that the Old Testament “contains matters imperfect and provisional.” But the Council goes on to say that,

"These books [of the Old Testament] nevertheless show us authentic divine teaching. Christians should accept with veneration these writings which give expression to a lively sense of God, which are a storehouse of sublime teaching on God and of sound wisdom on human life, as well as a wonderful treasury of prayers; in them, too, the mystery of our salvation is present in a hidden way" (15).

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus himself, with an authority that astonished his hearers, indicates this imperfect character of the Old Testament revelation, “You have heard it said — but I say to you.” Yet he by no means repudiates it, but rather, following the Old Testament prophets, he corrects a misunderstanding of the Law as principally a matter of external ritual and of regulations for the Jewish community alone. Instead he highlights that what is permanent and universal in it is its moral teaching and above all its call for faith, hope, and love that is its interior spirit. It was for St. Peter and St. Paul along with the Apostles at the Council of Jerusalem guided by the Holy Spirit to apply this to the Gentiles, freeing them from the particularities of the Jewish ritual and judicial law, and calling them to observe its moral precepts not merely in the letter but the spirit.

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus calls all humanity to become “perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” which, of course, means “as Jesus is perfect,” since Jesus is the very image of the Father. Obviously this is not possible to human beings without grace, but the transforming power of grace not only makes it possible, but urges us to obey this command with our whole heart. Hence the New Law is, as St. Thomas Aquinas teaches, not an external law imposed from without, but nothing less than the internal guidance of the Holy Spirit dwelling in the Christian as in its temple and conforming the Christian to Christ, who is “perfect as the heavenly Father is perfect” (S. Th. I-II, qq. 106-108).

At first sight it might seem, therefore, that the Old Law is obsolete and hence the moral teaching of the Old Testament is of merely historic interest, but this is not so. In the passage (Mt 19:17; Mk 10:4) which expands the command against divorce in the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5:31), Jesus says of the precept of Dt 24:3 that a man in divorcing his wife should give her a legal document to that fact that this “was given because of the hardness of your heart” and “was not so in the beginning” when God created man and woman for each other. This tells us, to quote Dei Verbum again, that while the Old Testament “contains matters imperfect and provisional, [it] nevertheless shows us authentic divine teaching.” Thus the New Testament calls us to observe God’s original commands as given at the creation of an innocent and graced humanity. To this innocence and intimacy with God we are again reborn in Christ and his Church by his Holy Spirit. The New Law contains the imperfect commands of the Mosaic Law freed of the imperfection that God tolerated during the time of his gradual pedagogy of the Chosen People. As St. Paul says, “The [Old] Law was to be our pedagogue until Christ came” (Gal 3:24).

A crucial example of how important it is to understand this relation of the Old to the New Testament is the shocking Mosaic Law of the herem or “ban,” a feature of a “holy war.”
When the Lord your God has led you into the land you are entering to make your own, many nations will fall before you . . . the Lord your God will deliver them over to you and you will conquer them. You must lay them under ban. You must make no covenant with them nor show them any pity. You must not marry with them; you must not give a daughter of yours to a son of theirs, not take a daughter of theirs for a son of yours, for this would turn away your son from following me to serving other gods and the anger of The Lord would blaze out against you and soon destroy you. Instead deal with them like this: tear down their altars, smash their standing-stones, cut down their sacred poles and set fire to their idols (Dt 7:1-6).
To understand how it is possible for an inspired and inerrant Bible to represent God as commanding the Israelites to commit what today we would call “ethnic cleansing,” or even worse “genocide,” since in another text the ban is described as “kill every living thing,” (Dt 13:16) is certainly not easy. First we must understand that the inspiration of the Bible that according to the Council of Trent covers “the whole of the canon and all its parts” can be explained as recognizing that God is the principal author of the Bible taken as a whole and of its parts only in the context of the whole. This is what is today called “canon criticism.” Dei Verbum says,

"Since Sacred Scripture must be read and interpreted with its divine authorship in mind, no less attention must be devoted to the content and unity of the whole of Scripture, taking into account the Tradition of the entire Church and the analogy of faith, if we are to derive their meaning from the sacred texts" (12).

It follows that when Deuteronomy attributes this command (and other commands) to God it would be wrong to take it in isolation from the New Testament teaching, “Love your enemies as yourself.”

If then we accept its inspiration in this context, we note that, the primary intention of this command is to warn the Israelites not to permit their faith to be corrupted by the idolatry of the pagans. We must also make allowance for the Deuteronomist’s literary style of black and white rhetoric. Jesus himself was willing to use such rhetoric as when he said both that we should “Do good to those who that hate you,” but also “If any one comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life cannot be my disciple” (Lk 14:26). Moreover modern scholarship dates the Deuteronomistic writings long after this command could have had a practical application as regards actual war, but was rather intended in the strongest language to warn against idolatry, since this remained a practical problem in Israel when Deuteronomy was last edited. Finally, it is clear that the Deuteronomist thought that the ancient wars by which Israel had obtained freedom in the land God had promised them could not have succeeded if God by his providential power had not cleared the land of the pagans. In historic fact this was probably a gradual process, but for the Deuteronomist it seems like one decisive act.

Of course, since, as St. Thomas Aquinas points out (S.Th. I-II. Q. 94 a.5 ad 2), God is author of life and death, he could have given to the Jews a command to act as his executioners in punishing the pagans. He could have even included the personally innocent, since even today the innocent incur the effects of original sin and die with their parents in wars and natural disasters. But the teaching of Dei Verbum on inspiration and inerrancy does not imply that the Scriptures contain no historical errors, but only no errors that would distort its religious message of salvation. Thus it is not necessary to accept the details of the Deuteronomic understanding of past history. Hence when today we read such passages we should understand their inspired meaning to be: (1) We must avoid idolatry and corruption of the faith as of the utmost gravity; (2) God permitted (but did not surely in the literal sense command) the Jews conduct of war in the manner of their own times, a manner that for us today is seen to be barbarous; (3) In the New Testament God teaches that such brutality is no longer tolerable and must be replaced with true respect for the sacredness of life of all persons. No doubt in a just war it is still ethical to use mortal force but only against aggressors.

I have analyzed this Old Testament passage that is perhaps the most difficult one in the whole Bible to understand in a way consistent with Jesus’ teaching, to show that, as Dei Verbum teaches, the Bible correctly interpreted contains no moral error. Yet it is very easy to see how a fanatic could quote this passage to justify crimes like those of Hitler, Stalin, or Milosevic.

Why then did God permit such dangerous things to remain in the Bible? Dei Verbum responds to this question by emphasizing that the Bible must always be read in the context of the Church’s teaching, i.e., its living Sacred Tradition that today takes account of modern biblical scholarship. This explains why after the Reformation controversies the tendency in the Church for some time was to discourage Bible reading by the laity except in very controlled conditions. It was evident that the Protestant principle of “private interpretation” was in fact doing much damage and splintering the Christian community. The lingering result of this policy remains with us even after Vatican II in that not a few older Catholics remain suspicious of too much emphasis on the use of the Bible by laymen.

Vatican II, on the contrary, both because it felt that an educated laity today can use the Bible with more and better information and in order to overcome ecumenical difficulties, in Dei Verbum approved and encouraged Bible study by all Catholics. That there are risks in this, in spite of the optimism of the Council, cannot be denied, but certainly the clergy should be concerned to insure that Catholics read the Scriptures in the light of solid scholarship and the guidance of the Church’s tradition. With this kind of guidance difficult texts of the Old Testament need cause no scandal.

What then about difficult texts of the New Testament? We have all met women who were offended by St. Paul’s famous directive to the church of Corinth not to allow women to speak in church assemblies and, if they had questions, to ask them through their husbands. Similarly, the admonitions in the Pastoral Epistles for women to be “submissive” to their husbands often provoke indignant reactions from women. While some minor efforts have been made in revising the liturgical books to omit passages that might seem offensive to modern ears, some readings still contain statements that some find shocking when they hear them read at Mass. I believe that celebrants should become sensitive to such reactions and not simply hurry over the troublesome pericopes or try to make impromptu changes in the Sacred Text. While it is responsibility of preachers to be aware of passages or expressions that might offend, they should not try to silence or correct the Holy Spirit by passing over the words he has inspired. Instead they should explain them in the sense that the Tradition of the Church gives to them.

For example, he should point out, as John Paul II has done, that the texts in the Pastorals about women submitting to their husbands, if rightly read, actually speak of a “mutual submission” of husband and wife in respect and love. This is clearly the meaning of Ephesians 5:21: “Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ.” No doubt a modern author would have used other terms than “submission” or “subordination.” Yet the biblical author was teaching attitudes in marriage that are still valid today. It is only his language and rhetoric that reflect his own times. As for the “Let women be silent in Church” of St. Paul (1 Cor 14:34), the preacher should explain carefully what the situation was in the Corinthians’ church and why St. Paul, in view of the circumstances, gave this pastoral directive to quiet a divisive situation. Certain charismatic women of Corinth were giving that church a bad reputation by seeming to ignore the customs of the times that expected heads of household, generally men, to speak for their household. For women to assume this role on their own seemed at the time to indicate the notion that since baptism symbolized the resurrection, it also meant the dissolution of all earthly relationships and responsibilities. It was this heretical notion that St. Paul was writing to correct, not to provide a rule of conduct for all times. Similarly he wants women to veil their heads in church to respect local customs and not give a bad impression to outsiders as to what the Christian assembly was all about.

Does that mean that such passages are now simply obsolete and should be “exorcised” from the Bible as a certain feminist theologian has proposed? By no means; they provide a teaching occasion, in which we can explain how biblical principles remain always true, but certain of their applications necessarily change as circumstances change. In American society today nobody is shocked if women speak in their own name even in the most sacred situations. The restriction of priestly ordination to men does not rest on such texts, even if so eminent a theologian as St. Thomas Aquinas seems to have supposed so.

But what these texts still teach us and will always teach Christians, if they are rightly understood, is that everyone, men and women alike, should not abuse the liturgy by making it the occasion for division rather than for promoting understanding and mutual love and unity in the community. It was this peace and love that was St. Paul’s concern.

Another current issue about the use of New Testament passages on morality is the unfortunate tendency to misuse the great teaching of Jesus, St. Paul, and St. John that the “love of God and neighbor sums up the whole Law.” Rightly used, this is the fundamental principle in the light of which all biblical morality must be understood. But it is not always rightly used. Too often it is put forward as if it meant that “the love of God and neighbor” takes the place of the moral Law. The New Testament often uses a special word for “love,” namely agape, in order to avoid the erotic, sentimental, and other more secular connotations of the concept. This why our older biblical translations used the term “charity” for agape rather than “love.” Today unfortunately “charity” generally means a concern to help others, but does not imply that we want these persons for intimate friends, rather the contrary, we would like to get rid of them and their troublesome requests.

St. Thomas Aquinas points out that the love of the New Testament is a love of the highest kind of friendship, and this has two aspects (S.Th. II-II. Q. 27, a.2 c.). First, if we truly love someone we seek what is truly good for them, not just for ourselves, and this means above all their eternal salvation. Thus those who excuse causing another to sin on the grounds that one loves them, as extramarital “lovers” do, is not what the New Testament is talking about. Second, if we truly love someone we not only want to do them only good, but to be united to them in a common life of communication and virtue in eternal life. Friends want to be together.

From this it follows that what the New Testament means by “loving God and our neighbor” means that we both seek their good and want to share our lives with them. In other words love means to seek to include others in a community of mutual care directed toward life together with God forever. Such love seeks that spiritual solidarity that is so lacking in our individualistic and secularized culture. Consequently, those who love in this Christian sense are eager to hear what the Scriptures both Old and New say about a very detailed and concrete way of life that is directed to achieve the human good and avoid the evils that corrupt it. Unfortunately today too many read the Bible selectively.

Some quote the passages about social justice and freedom but explain away or suppress the passages about sexual morality as obsolete. Others quote the commands against sexual immorality to prove that those who talk about social justice are hypocrites, but pay little attention to how the biblical commands on social justice rebuke their individualistic political and economic views. We must take the whole biblical moral law, in all its details, as interpreted by Christ and the Tradition of the Church as given for our welfare, not to take away our freedom but to liberate us to live as Jesus did and with him.

Yet how is such a Christ-like life possible for us weak persons living in a society with a culture of death? We know, of course, that “all things are possible for God” and that he has sent us the Holy Spirit to empower us in grace to do what we cannot do of our own power. Hence, we are frequently sorry for our sins and do a little better for a while. But as St. Paul reminds us (1 Cor 9:24), no one wins a race just by taking a few steps forward. We have to keep running to the goal. This requires a consistency in our lives that is probably the hardest thing for most of us to achieve. Consistency in right living is possible not just through occasional resolutions to do better, but through virtue, that is, a quality or skill that enables us consistently to keep moving toward the goal, no matter what obstacles arise before us. Even a virtuous person in an unguarded moment can sin, as the Bible tells us about David who the Lord considered “a man after my own heart” (1 Sm 13:14), yet who in an idle moment became an adulterer and murderer. Yet if we have solid virtue we are greatly guarded against such weaknesses.

This is why today biblical scholars are pointing out that in the Old Testament the emphasis is on Law, that is, rules to guide behavior; in the New Testament, though it continues to teach this Law, the emphasis shifts to talk of the virtues. For example, St. Paul says, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, against these there is no law” (Gal 5:22-23). There are two kinds of virtue recognized in Christian Tradition: one is the gift of God, the work of the Holy Spirit in us, as St. Paul indicates. These are given in baptism and remain unless destroyed by deliberate, serious sin. Yet there are also natural virtues that we acquire by regularly living according to the moral law, and thus acquiring a skill in keeping that law consistently, just as a person learns to play golf or the piano with consistent effectiveness. What is often not understood is that if we use the virtues that are gifts of the Spirit we will gradually also acquire the natural virtues that will support these gifts. But we can fail to do so in two ways. The first is not to use our gifts of the Spirit by acting from other than Christian motives and by neglecting the use of the sacraments and prayer. Too often this is the case with baptized Christians who simply live in a worldly way, never rising above it by cooperating with the Holy Spirit. It is possible for such worldly persons, Christian or not, to acquire the natural virtues by practice, and that is why sometimes they put Christians to shame by their better conduct. Yet without grace and the use of God’s gifts no one, however naturally disciplined in virtue, can go for long with falling into mortal sin. Then the good habits acquired by a disciplined life may suddenly fail and even become a source of pride and arrogance and still deeper malice and sin.

The right way, taught in the New Testament, is to make use both of the virtues given us by the Holy Spirit and of the disciplined practice of morality urged on us by sound reason. This has through the ages been the pastoral urging of the Church, which warns us not to tempt God by simply relying on his gifts of grace without an effort at acquiring a natural integrity of life, or on the other hand, trying to live simply on our own acquired habits of morality. “Grace perfects nature” and nature, rightly used, supports grace. The Bible itself seldom contrasts these two aspects of a virtuous life, nor does the Catechism of the Catholic Church emphasize the classical distinction made by St. Thomas Aquinas between the “infused” and the “acquired” virtues. Yet the doctrines of the Creation on the one hand and of the Incarnation on the other, in which the divine and human, nature and grace, are intimately wedded, imply this twofold character of human virtue found in Christ himself.

The primary virtues that the New Testament teaches are first of all what later theologians were to call the “theological virtues” because they enable us to consistently maintain our direct and intimate friendship with God himself, and therefore with our neighbor in God. These are faith, hope, and love, of which love (agape) is the greatest, but which is not possible without faith and hope. We cannot truly love God if we do not truly know him through faith; and we cannot continue to love him in the midst of the trials of life, unless we truly hope at last to be united with him forever. These theological virtues are in the strictest sense the gifts of God, who loved us first and made it possible for us to love him in return.

Yet faith, hope, and love cannot flourish in the human person unless that person is also endowed with virtues that discipline her or his various voluntary powers to pursue the goal of love of God and neighbor and true love of self. These are required in the natural order, but if they are to strive for the ultimate goal of grace they must also have a supernatural, graced aspect. First of all we need to be free of addiction to those biological pleasures that destroy so many human lives– food, sex, drugs, comfort, greed– and for this we need the virtue of moderation (temperance). The Bible does not teach a stoic morality. It praises the physical joys that God has given us to facilitate us in satisfying our necessary biological needs, but Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount said not to be overly concerned about such matters. “So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’ All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows you need them all”(Mt 5:31-32). Christians should seek a simple lifestyle that will leave them free to pursue greater goods.

True love, moreover, requires great courage (fortitude) that is willing to make sacrifices, as Jesus did, for the sake of fidelity to God and the welfare of one’s neighbor. That requires a spiritual warfare (Eph 6:10-17) that is non-violent, and hence consists first of all in patience and endurance of the Cross (Rm 15:1-6). Thus the virtues of moderation and courage enable us to control our emotions of desire for pleasure and fear of difficulties, so that we can truly believe, hope, and love.

Moderation and courage, however, pertain primarily to control of bodily emotions. We also need to control our spiritual intelligence and free will that enter directly into free choice where good actions take place but where also sin is most profound and destructive. The virtue that puts the human will to the service of God and neighbor is justice, often called “righteousness.” We all love ourselves because God made us that way, and thus the commandment is “love your neighbor as yourself.” But, of course, our self-love is often foolish and destructive. To love our neighbor and to fulfill our duties to our Creator we must have a firm will to think not just of our own good, but also of the good of others, and this is far from easy. Justice is that virtue that respects the rights of others. It leads us to prefer the common good to our private goods. Because we realize that our private goods, though more evident to us, are actually less important for us than those common goods that we can share with others, we must have this will to solidarity with others, but to do so we must be mindful of them and of our own true good. We must be able to say as St. Paul did (1 Cor 2:16), “We have the mind of Christ.” This requires the virtue of prudence or, as the Old Testament often calls it, “wisdom.” It is that thoughtfulness that keeps us from acting under impulse and addictive compulsion and helps us consider realistically what is truly good for ourselves and others and most expressive of a sincere love of our Creator.

The New Testament, like the Old, constantly contrasts the “way of the fool” to “the way of the wise” as the “way of death” and the “way of life.” Both Testaments assure us that this wisdom can be found even in simple persons who are often regarded as of low intelligence, yet who by the gift of the Spirit exhibit a clean and true conscience. Thus the wisdom that comes from God is not the privilege simply of an educated elite, but of those whose faith teaches them to follow the guidance of God himself given through the Bible and the Church. It is this prudence or wisdom, this effort to learn what is truly good by listening to God in his biblical and traditional revelation, that makes all the other virtues work. Even love, if it is not prudent, is foolishness not true love, and often is destructive of others and ourselves. It is a kind of practical atheism, since it rejects the wisdom of God who is Wisdom.

Thus Dei Verbum, in reaffirming for our own times and circumstances the divine, inerrant inspiration of the Bible as it is united to the living Tradition of the Church guided by the Holy Spirit, points the way to the solution of the many moral questions that confront us in our society today. All of Scripture is inspired and contains for us, when properly understood, a sure and detailed guidance for our lives and the acquisition and development of the virtues that can make Christian life a success. But we must be willing to learn from it, even when we find the sayings “hard,” as the Apostles found the teachings of Jesus himself. We must not substitute for these teachings the foolishness of our own times, although they may enable us to find in our own times things that enable us to understand Jesus’ teaching more profoundly.

[This article originally appeared in the January/February 2000 issue of The Catholic Dossier.]

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Going Deeper Into the Old Testament | An Interview with Aidan Nichols, O.P.
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God, The Author of Scripture | From God and His Image | Fr. Dominique Barthˇlemy, O.P.
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Benedict M. Ashley, OP, is a priest of the Dominican Order, Chicago Province. He is a graduate of the University of Chicago and the University of Notre Dame and has doctorates in philosophy and political science, and the post-doctoral decree of Master of Sacred Theology conferred by an international committee of the Order of Preachers. He was formerly President of Aquinas Institute of Theology, St.Louis, Professor of Theology at the Institute of Religion and Human Development, Houston, TX, and Professor of Theology at the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies in Marriage and Family, Washington, D.C, and Visiting Lecturer in Humanities at the University of Chicago (1999). At present he is Emeritus Professor of Moral Theology at Aquinas Institute of Theology, St. Louis and Adjunct Professor at the Center for Health Care Ethics, Saint Louis University. He is a Senior Fellow of the Pope John Center of Medical Ethics, Boston. He is the author of numerous books and articles.

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