Biblical and Theological Foundations of the Family: The Domestic Church

Biblical and Theological Foundations of the Family by Dr. Atkinson is an excellent resource book for anyone looking to understand the structure, meaning and vocation of the family.  It carefully examines the Biblical foundations for the family in both the Old and New Testaments. It explores the principles of creation that affect marriage and family, the specific relationship between men and women in the creation narrative (Gen 2) and its relationship to the covenant of salvation, the Hebraic father-led rituals that were essential in passing on the faith,  the transforming effects of baptism on the family, and the phenomenon of household baptism in the NT.  The book deals with how the Church Fathers understood the family and its role as the “domestic church.”  The book concludes with an examination of the debates on the family at Vatican II and how the term domestic church was finally re-appropriated. It brings together many primary sources with translation and provides the critical basis for the development of a theology of the family.

Book Description

Biblical and Theology of the Family argues that the family has a constitutive nature and a specific theological purpose, which God reveals in the Church. Dr. Joseph Atkinson investigates the principles of the doctrine of Creation which inform the family ‘from the beginning’; the vital way the family functions as ‘carrier of the covenant’ in the Old Testament; and the critical aspects of Hebraic anthropology, especially corporate personality, upon which the family is based.

This book provides a counter argument to the view of the human person developed in modern thought and which prevails today–the autonomous, self-determining individual, with no essential nature or social or ecclesial aspects. Atkinson discusses the constitutive corporate nature of the human person and how the covenantal family of the Old Testament finds its fulfillment in Jesus Christ. The author does so by investigating how baptism transforms the family and gives it an ecclesial identity, making it a ‘domestic church’. The book then examines the development of the family’s ecclesial nature in the Church Fathers, and the providential re-appropriation of the family’s inner ecclesial identity in the teachings of the Second Vatican Council and in subsequent magisterial teachings.

This ground-breaking work establishes a solid Biblical and theological foundation on which a theology of the family can be constructed. It thus fills a critical lack in the current literature on the family. The wide range of sources, including Jewish, Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant, give this work a genuine ecumenical dimension. Bilblical and Theology of the Family will become indispensable for anyone wanting to engage in serious study of the structure and meaning of the family and its place in the salvific will of God.


Joseph C. Atkinson is Associate Professor of Sacred Scripture at the John Paul II Institute, The Catholic University of America, Washington, DC

February * 200  pages * xxx

Paper $39.95 * 978-0-8132-XXXX-X

Ebook * 978-0-8132

A link to purchase this book, testimonials, and photos are coming soon!

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