2.1 INTRODUCTION TO UNIT 2

Unit 2 Contents

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What lies behind CST, historically?  This is the topic of this Unit 2.

Unit 1 touched on the historical background of CST, especially when introducing the list of the main Vatican documents (1.2.3) and addressing the ‘sources’ of CST (1.2.4).  But it did not do more than that.

In this unit we start with the Christian Bible.  This of course comprises a set of historical texts, so can be seen as part of the historical background to CST.  Among the four sources of CST discussed in 1.2.4, the Bible is the “starting point”, as Massaro put it.  He went on to say,

[A] strong case may be made that the greatest contribution of scripture to moral theology and social ethics [and therefore CST] is not in specific biblical injunctions or commands, as important as they might be, but rather in the overall shape of the narrative of God’s relationship to the faithful. (p. 61, italics added)

In this unit we shall take the approach to studying the Bible that the last part of this quotation suggests. It will only be in the context of the long story of God’s relationship with his people that we shall look at particular passages and questions.

If you have not the studied the Bible before, this will not be a problem.  No prior knowledge is assumed.

The part of this unit about the Bible, 2.2, is the longest.  This reflects the fact that on the issues that Module B addresses, notably those to do with justice and government (see 1.2.5), very careful study is required in order to gain a good understanding.

The next part of the unit, 2.3, gives a very rapid run through of aspects of Church history relevant to CST, from the first century to the eighteenth century.

The final part picks up where that leaves off.  It locates modern CST against the background of other major historical developments which have made what historians call ‘the modern period’ so different from others.

Please note that there is much more to read on the screen for this unit than for Unit 1.  This is largely because of how closely and carefully we shall study biblical texts.  However, there is not more reading overall than for other units (taking into account readings from other material that you are asked to do).

NB: At various points in this unit, you will need at hand a copy of the book that accompanies study of the module, J. Milburn Thompson, Introducing Catholic Social Thought.  (If you are unfamiliar with this book, see 1.1.2.)

To complete this introduction, here are the learning outcomes.

Learning outcomes for Unit 2

By the end of this unit, you should be able:

  • to describe what this unit means by the ‘just government strand’ in the Christian Bible
  • to discuss how to interpret some of the main texts about government in both Old and New Testaments
  • to name some of the historical developments that are especially significant both in the background to, and actually as part of, the emergence of modern CST
  • to outline the meanings of ‘liberalism’, ‘conservatism’ and ‘socialism’, and how  CST is related to these positions

We shall return to them at the end of the unit.

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End of 2.1

Go to 2.2 THE ‘JUST GOVERNMENT STRAND’ IN THE BIBLE

Module B outline

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