Originalism in Theology and Law

 

Cover ImageMy new book is in print. It was my idea originally, and I edited it and wrote the intro and one chapter. Mark Eckel (@markeckel) also edited and wrote two chapters.

The point of the book is only that originalism in law and originalism (or something near enough) in theology have some connections. The rest is details on some similarities and some subtle differences.

An early preview of my chapter occurred in a Ricochet post, “Originalism in Theology and Law: Venerating Authoritative Texts.”  As explained there, originalism in theology looks for the meaning of the Bible in the intentions of the authors of the Bible, and originalism in law looks for the meaning of law to the text of the Constitution, not to the intentions of the authors. This is because these two texts have different sources of authority: for the Bible, G-d speaking through the human authors of Scripture; for the Constitution, the people.

Unless I’m wrong. One of the chapters in the book might indicate as much. You could always read it to find out.  Publisher page here, Amazon page here, and give a thought to your local bookstore. And here’s a flyer for my Ricochet peeps, if you’re interested in a good deal.

Published in Religion & Philosophy
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  1. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Audiobook by Douglas Pratt?  :-)

    • #1
  2. colleenb Member
    colleenb
    @colleenb

    Congratulations to you both.

    • #2
  3. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    As explained there, originalism in theology looks for the meaning of the Bible in the intentions of the authors of the Bible, and originalism in law looks for the meaning of law to the text of the Constitution, not to the intentions of the authors. 

    I will give my understanding of the common meanings of originalism and textualism in current judicial literature. They are, at least, the meanings that the late Justice Scalia had. But I should mention the general public makes no distinction between originalism and textualism; is unfamiliar with the word “textualism; and uses “originalism” for both. To Scalia this historic controversy amongst legal scholars was of the second-highest priority. Defeating the apostasy of the “living Constitution” was number one.

    Originalism is the doctrine that when interpreting a text, the Supreme Court must be guided by the meaning attached to it in the minds of the people who signed it, at the moment they signed it, if that can be determined and to the extent it can be determined. Thus, originalists put great weight on the intent of the words that can be extracted from the minutes of the debates at the Convention, and the pamphlets, letters, and books in circulation among the members.

    Textualism is the doctrine strongly supported by Justice Scalia. It holds that the Court must be guided only by the common meaning of the language of the voters in the several States at the time they ratified it.  It is the decision of the People that is authoritative.

    • #3
  4. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    As explained there, originalism in theology looks for the meaning of the Bible in the intentions of the authors of the Bible, and originalism in law looks for the meaning of law to the text of the Constitution, not to the intentions of the authors.

    I will give my understanding of the common meanings of originalism and textualism in current judicial literature. They are, at least, the meanings that the late Justice Scalia had. But I should mention the general public makes no distinction between originalism and textualism; is unfamiliar with the word “textualism; and uses “originalism” for both. To Scalia this historic controversy amongst legal scholars was of the second-highest priority. Defeating the apostasy of the “living Constitution” was number one.

    Amen.

    Originalism is the doctrine that when interpreting a text, the Supreme Court must be guided by the meaning attached to it in the minds of the people who signed it, at the moment they signed it, if that can be determined and to the extent it can be determined. Thus, originalists put great weight on the intent of the words that can be extracted from the minutes of the debates at the Convention, and the pamphlets, letters, and books in circulation among the members.

    Textualism is the doctrine strongly supported by Justice Scalia. It holds that the Court must be guided only by the common meaning of the language of the voters in the several States at the time they ratified it. It is the decision of the People that is authoritative.

    Yeah, I’d call both of those originalisms, one a textualism and one an intentionalism. But the words are used in different ways sometimes.

    • #4
  5. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Yeah, I’d call both of those originalisms, one a textualism and one an intentionalism. But the words are used in different ways sometimes.

    Your ‘OIT’ schema is more logically comprehensive and precise than the ‘OT’ one I am familiar with: it accurately models the parent-child relationship between O, I and T.

    Incidentally, both schemas are a bit sloppy with respect to choice of Class (Category) names. A label for a Class ideally gives the Value of an Attribute (Property) that (a) distinguishes it from its siblings and that (b) its descendants inherit.

    • #5
  6. Old Bathos Member
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    Wouldn’t acceptance of this approach in theology interfere with the unfolding grand reconciliation between the Vatican and the NYT editorial page?

    • #6
  7. Nanocelt TheContrarian Member
    Nanocelt TheContrarian
    @NanoceltTheContrarian

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    Wouldn’t acceptance of this approach in theology interfere with the unfolding grand reconciliation between the Vatican and the NYT editorial page?

    As things stand, neither one of those have anything to do with Law or Theology and certainly not originalism…at least in my view.

    • #7
  8. Old Bathos Member
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    Nanocelt TheContrarian (View Comment):

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    Wouldn’t acceptance of this approach in theology interfere with the unfolding grand reconciliation between the Vatican and the NYT editorial page?

    As things stand, neither one of those have anything to do with Law or Theology and certainly not originalism…at least in my view.

    Exactly.  So both forms of Originalism are inconsistent with leftish wonderfulness.

    -George

    • #8
  9. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    Wouldn’t acceptance of this approach in theology interfere with the unfolding grand reconciliation between the Vatican and the NYT editorial page?

    If we were looking for more reasons to take the original meanings of texts seriously, . . . a good one to add to the list.

    • #9
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