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Law, Divine Positive


The law given by God to man in addition to the natural law. Whereas the natural law is promulgated in the very structure of his being and is discernible by natural reason alone, the existence and content of divine positive law is known only by revelation. It is not altogether identifiable, however, with revealed law, because revelation embraces some laws of the natural order, which man could know by his own unaided reason but which God has nevertheless revealed in order that they might be grasped more readily and surely. Divine positive law includes the primitive law given by God in Paradise and after the Fall, the law of the Old Testament given through Moses and the Prophets (see law, mosaic), and the law of the New Testament revealed through Christ. The judicial and ceremonial precepts of the Mosaic Law were abrogated either on the death of Christ, or on Pentecost when the new law was solemnly promulgated, but its moral precepts were confirmed and promulgated anew in the law of Christ.

Bibliography: thomas aquinas, Summa theologiae 1a2ae, 91.4, 98108. b. hÄring, The Law of Christ, tr. e. g. kaiser, v.1 (Westminster, MD 1961) 237238. a. molien, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant, 15 v. (Paris 190350; Tables générales 1951) 9:887889.

[p. k. meagher]

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