Divine law

Divine law comprises any body of law that is perceived as deriving from a transcendent source, such as the will of God or gods - in contrast to man-made law or to secular law. Divine laws are typically perceived[by whom?] as superior to man-made laws,[1][2] sometimes due to an assumption that their source has resources beyond human knowledge and human reason.[3] Believers in divine laws might accord them greater authority than other laws,[4][5][2] for example by assuming that divine law cannot be changed by human authorities.[2]

Divine laws are noted[by whom?] for their apparent inflexibility.[6] Divine laws are often perceived[by whom?] as beyond the authority of humans to change.[citation needed] The introduction of interpretation into divine law is a controversial issue, since believers place high significance on adhering to the law precisely.[7] Opponents to the application of divine law typically deny that it is purely divine and point out human influences in the law. This element of human influence is understood[by whom?] as incorporating some degree of fallibility. These opponents characterize such laws as belonging to a particular cultural tradition. Adherents of divine law, on the other hand, are sometimes reluctant to adapt inflexible divine laws to cultural contexts.[8]

Divine laws are assumed[by whom?] to be transmitted through several mediums, most frequently through time-out-of-mind tradition or through religious texts.[citation needed] Medieval Christianity assumed the existence of three kinds of laws: divine law, natural law, and man-made law.[4] Others,[who?] on the other hand, assume that natural law is a subset of divine law delivered through general revelation from a creator deity.[citation needed] Theologians have substantially debated the scope of natural law, with the Enlightenment encouraging greater use of reason and expanding the scope of natural law and marginalizing divine law in a process of secularization.[9][additional citation(s) needed] Some people[which?] may understand themselves as receiving guidance through prayer or conscience, although the moral authority of these methods of transmission ranks much lower than that of written divine law.[citation needed]

Since the authority of divine law is rooted in its source, the origins and transmission-history of divine law are important.[10][a]

Conflicts frequently[quantify] arise between secular understandings of justice or morality and divine law.[11][12]

Religious law, such as canon law, includes both divine law and additional interpretations, logical extensions, and traditions.[5]

Thomas AquinasEdit

In Thomas Aquinas's Treatise on Law, divine law comes only from revelation or scripture, hence biblical law, and is necessary for human salvation. According to Aquinas, divine law must not be confused with natural law. Divine law is mainly and mostly natural law, but it can also be positive law.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ See, for example, in Judaism Biblical Mount Sinai, Shavuot#Giving of the Torah, Yitro (parsha), and the Letter of Aristeas. And note disputes over Biblical canonicity.


  1. ^ Chaniotis 1996, p. 85.
  2. ^ a b c Peters 1988, p. 244.
  3. ^ Chaniotis 1996, p. 86.
  4. ^ a b Anghie 1996, p. 323.
  5. ^ a b Molano 2009, p. 212.
  6. ^ Chaniotis 1996, p. 67.
  7. ^ Chaniotis 1996, p. 75.
  8. ^ Peters 1988, p. 244f.
  9. ^ Anghie 1996, p. 323f.
  10. ^ Weiss 2010, Part II. The Indicators of God's Law.
  11. ^ Chaniotis, Angelos (1996). ""Conflicting authorities: Greek Asylia between Secular and Divine Law in the Classical and Hellenistic Poleis" (PDF). Kernos. 9: 65-66. Retrieved 2020-04-04. In Euripides' Ion [...] [t]he distinction between the secular nomos which condemns the assailant and the divine themis which protects the suppliant, regardless of the crime he has committed, is clear; equally clear is Ion's condamnation [sic] of this indifference of the divine law towards the suppliants, righteous and unrighteous alike.
  12. ^ Chaniotis 1996, p. 69.


Further readingEdit

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