Death in the Setting of Divine Wisdom: The Doctrine of St. Thomas Aquinas

Lawrence Dewan

in Wisdom, Law, and Virtue

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print February 2007 | ISBN: 9780823227969
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823237210 | DOI:

Series: Moral Philosophy and Moral Theology

Death in the Setting of               Divine Wisdom: The Doctrine of St. Thomas Aquinas

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This chapter clarifies St. Thomas's doctrine that the Decalogue, including the commandment “thou shalt not kill,” has such primacy in the order of law that God himself cannot dispense anyone from obeying any of them—God himself cannot make it just that anyone act contrary to any of the Ten Commandments. This seems evident enough for those commandments having to do with man's order to God, but it is more difficult to admit when the commandment treats of the relations among human beings. To see why Thomas teaches that God cannot make exceptions even concerning the order of man to man, one must grasp the unity of justice, or the unity of eternal law (which is identical with God), the indissociability of the order of man to God, and the order of man to man. To bring out this indissociability, which pertains to the eternal establishment of fundamental human relations, the chapter begins with Thomas's presentation of God as just. It shows that the reason God cannot permit exceptions regarding “thou shalt not kill” is that the commandment belongs essentially to justice itself, and, God being justice, for him to deny this commandment would be for him to deny himself.

Keywords: Thomas Aquinas; Decalogue; God; justice; wisdom

Chapter.  3861 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

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