Jurisprudence of Love in Paul’s Letter to the Romans

Joshua Neoh, ‘Jurisprudence of Love in Paul’s Letter to the Romans’ (2016) 34 Law in Context 7

17 Pages Posted: 11 May 2020

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Joshua Neoh

Australian National University

Date Written: 2016

Abstract

Paul proclaims that Christ is the end of law. The new Christian community promises to be a community sustained not by law, but by love. His zeal for love reinforces his proclamation of Christ as the end of law, for love is lawless, literally outside of law. In contrast to Moses who establishes the rule of law on Mount Sinai, Paul proclaims the power of love over law and asserts the inherent lawlessness of love. Legal rules predict human behaviour; but love makes human actions unpredictable. Legal rules dictate outcomes; but love is, by definition, free. However, inasmuch as love is free, love is also fleeting. According to Paul, Christianity marks the end of law and the dawn of love, but it does not take long for the first church council to be formed and decrees to be issued. The promise of a lawless community ends up with codes of canon law. The modern political state carries with it this ancient theological baggage. We inherit from Paul a particular cognitive dissonance: we dream in the language of love, but speak in the language of law. The radical ideal of love as the ultimate negation of law remains a powerful eschatological vision in our theo-political imaginary.

Keywords: Law, Love, Paul, Letter to the Romans

Suggested Citation

Neoh, Joshua, Jurisprudence of Love in Paul’s Letter to the Romans (2016). Joshua Neoh, ‘Jurisprudence of Love in Paul’s Letter to the Romans’ (2016) 34 Law in Context 7 , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3591733

Joshua Neoh (Contact Author)

Australian National University ( email )

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 0200
Australia

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