Anglican Marriage Law in the Making: Becon, Bullinger, and Bucer

John Witte, Jr., George Hunston Williams, THE CONTENTIOUS TRIANGLE: CHURCH STATE AND UNIVERSITY - A Festschrift in Honor of Professor George Huntston Williams, Vol. LI, pp. 243-259, Calvin Peter, Rodney Petersen, eds., 1999

Emory Legal Studies Research Paper

22 Pages Posted: 15 Jun 2011 Last revised: 14 Jan 2020

Date Written: 1999

Abstract

The sixteenth-century Anglican reformation of marriage was born of Henry VIII’s abrupt break with Rome over his desire to end his marriage with Katherine of Aragon and marry Anne Boleyn. While initially experimenting with a variety of new Protestant teachings, the Anglican Church soon settled on a commonwealth model of marriage, which viewed marriage as a created institution that was at once a gracious symbol of the divine, a social unit of the earthly kingdom, and a solemn covenant with one's spouse. But the essential cause, condition, and calling of the family was that it served and symbolized the common good of the couple, the children, the church, and the state all at once. Marriage was “a little commonwealth” created to foster the mutual love, service, and security of husband and wife, parent and child, and their blood kin. It was also a “seedbed and seminary” of the broader commonwealth to teach church, state, and society the essential moral norms and habits need for the community to flourish. This Article analyzes this understanding of the private and public goods of marriage as expounded by three key sixteenth-century theologians – Thomas Becon, Heinrich Bullinger, and Martin Bucer. The three of them offered a range of approaches based on the Bible, the Church Fathers, and the medieval Catholic tradition, and even more the Lutheran and Calvinist teachings on the Continent.

Keywords: Anglican, theology, law, marriage, Reformation, Bacon, Bullinger, Bucer

Suggested Citation

Witte, John, Anglican Marriage Law in the Making: Becon, Bullinger, and Bucer (1999). John Witte, Jr., George Hunston Williams, THE CONTENTIOUS TRIANGLE: CHURCH STATE AND UNIVERSITY - A Festschrift in Honor of Professor George Huntston Williams, Vol. LI, pp. 243-259, Calvin Peter, Rodney Petersen, eds., 1999, Emory Legal Studies Research Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1863585

John Witte (Contact Author)

Emory University School of Law ( email )

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