Political Theology

Avishai Margalit

in Powers

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print February 2010 | ISBN: 9780823231560
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823235537 | DOI:

Series: The Future of the Religious Past

Political Theology

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Two theses that are intimately related to the idea of authority are political theology and moral theology. Political theology is the claim that key notions in modern secular political doctrines are unwittingly moored in theological and teleological world views. These notions in their secularized versions make no sense and can be validated only within the theological frame for which they were designed. “Sovereignty” and “authority” are paradigmatic cases of such key notions. Moral theology is a parallel claim. Key moral notions concerning modern moral doctrines are moored in a theological and teleological frame and gain currency only there. “Obligations” and “duty” are paradigmatic examples of such notions anchored in the old idea of God the law-giver. This chapter looks at another aspect of power: legitimization by appealing to God. It develops a genealogy of authority in three stages: the authority of God, the authority of the messengers of the word of God, and the authority of the word of God in terms of the authority of Holy Scripture.

Keywords: Holy Scripture; God; power; authority; political theology; moral theology; sovereignty; legitimization; word of God; obligation

Chapter.  6039 words. 

Subjects: East Asian Religions

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