This accessible introduction to religious ethics focuses on the major forms of moral reasoning encompassing the three ‘Abrahamic’ religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Draws on a range of moral issues, such as examples arising from friendship, marriage, homosexuality, lying, forgiveness and its limits, the death penalty, the environment, warfare, and the meaning of work, career, and vocation Looks at both ethical reasoning and importantly, how that reasoning reveals insights into a religious tradition Investigates the resources available to address common problems confronting Abrahamic faiths, and how each faith explains and defends its moral viewpoints Offering concrete topics for interfaith discussions, this is a timely and insightful introduction to a fast-growing field of interest
Acknowledgments vi Introduction: Conviction and Argument 1 Part I: Preliminaries 19 1 God and Morality 21 2 Jewish Ethics 38 3 Christian Ethics 53 4 Islamic Ethics 65 Part II: Personal Matters 81 5 Friendship 83 6 Sexuality 91 7 Marriage and Family 106 8 Lying 118 9 Forgiveness 134 Part III: Social Matters 145 10 Love and Justice 147 11 Duty, Law, Conscience 157 12 Capital Punishment 167 13 War (I): Towards War 182 14 War (II): In War 199 15 Religion and the Environment 209 Part IV: The Last Things 223 16 Pursuits of Happiness: Labor, Leisure, and Life 225 17 Good and Evil 239 Conclusion: What’s So Funny ’bout Peace, Love, and Understanding? 254 Notes 262 Index 270
“At 250 pages, the volume provides thoughtful theoretical foundations for comparative religious ethics balanced by attention to both historical context and normative issues.” (Religious Studies Review, 11 June 2013)
Charles Mathewes is Associate Professor of Religious Ethics at the University of Virginia. He is the author of Evil and the Augustinian Tradition (2001), A Theology of Public Life (2007), and several edited volumes.
This accessible introduction to religious ethics focuses on the major forms of ethical reasoning encompassing the three “Abrahamic” religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. It examines the ethical dimensions of these faiths, both individually and comparatively, by exploring how and what they think about a series of important issues such as friendship, marriage, homosexuality, lying, forgiveness and its limits, the death penalty, the environment, warfare, and the meaning of work, career, and vocation. In doing all of this, the book offers insight both into these particular traditions and into the common moral challenges confronting all people today. The book pays serious attention not just to what each faith has to say about an issue, but also to how each faith explains and defends its moral viewpoints. Equal attention is given to each faith’s deliberation and judgments on specific issues, the styles and modes of reasoning by which those judgments are reached, and the ways in which those judgments reveal some of these traditions’ deepest convictions about God, the cosmos, and humanity. Timely and insightful, Understanding Religious Ethics offers a powerful model of how the traditions can be understood and engaged charitably and critically – the sort of understanding and engagement that will be increasingly necessary in the twenty-first century.
"This splendid volume—from a distinguished scholar and teacher—is the best available general introduction to comparative religious ethics. Unlike many arid textbooks, it offers a lively examination of the moral life by initiating readers into the diverse beliefs and practices that animate Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Adherents of these traditions and their critics will find much wisdom in these pages. The serious treatment of classical questions and contemporary problems is a needed antidote to many lazy discussions of controversial issues." —Eric Gregory, Princeton University "Comparative, comprehensive and highly readable, Matthewes' book provides an overview of religious ethics in three traditions without sacrificing the specificity of each ethical system. The author effortlessly enlightens the reader as to how Judaism, Christianity and Islam deals with highly relevant topics such as family, love, sexuality, lying, war, capital punishment and many more themes in a provocative and graceful manner." —Ebrahim Moosa, Duke University
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