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The Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes

The Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes are often considered significant texts for the Christian moral life. However, most interpretations of these passages either focus on the original meaning of the text or how the texts should impact ordinary living today. In The Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes Yiu Sing Lucas Chan brings together biblical studies and Christian ethics to look at these foundational texts in a new way. For each passage Chan asks both what the texts meant and what they mean today. He helps readers to carefully study the text's original meaning, then interpret the text within a sound ethical framework. The Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes is an excellent introduction to key concepts in biblical studies and Christian ethics that combines sound study with warmth and wisdom.
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Table of Contents

Foreword Abbreviations Prologue: Ten to Eight Acknowledgments I: A Schema for Bridging Biblical Studies and Christian Ethics 1 Emerging Consensus 2 Reading Scripture through the Lens of Virtue II: Exegeting and Interpreting the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:2-17 for Ethical Living 3 The Decalogue in History 4 Some Preliminary Questions 5The First Commandment in 20:2-6 6 The Second Commandment in 20:7 7 The Third Commandment in 20:8-11 8 The Fourth Commandment in 20:12 9 The Fifth Commandment in 20:1 10 The Sixth Commandment in 20:14 11 The Seventh Commandment in 20:15 12 The Eighth Commandment in 20:16 13 The Ninth Commandment in 20:17 14 The Tenth Commandment in 20:17 III: Exegeting and Interpreting the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:3-12 for Ethical Living 15 The Beatitudes in History 16 Some Preliminary Questions 17 The First Beatitude in 5:3 18 The Second Beatitude in 5:4 19 The Third Beatitude in 5:5 20 The Fourth Beatitude in 5:6 21 The Fifth Beatitude in 5:7 22 The Sixth Beatitude in 5:8 23 The Seventh Beatitude in 5:9 24 The Eighth Beatitude in 5:10-12 Conclusion: A Radical Invitation to All Epilogue: West to East Glossary of Chinese Terms

About the Author

Yiu Sing Lucas Chan (1968-2015) taught at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, a graduate school of Santa Clara University.


Chan, a Jesuit from Hong Kong, seeks to bring together biblical studies and Christian ethics through the vehicle of Christian virtue ethics, and illustrates his approach with reference to the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes. After an eleven-page prologue, Chan develops his schema for bridging biblical studies and Christian ethics. Then through the lens of virtue ethics, he examines each of the Ten Commandments according to Exod 20:2-17, and each of the Beatitudes in Mt 5:3-12. For each of the Commandments and the Beatitudes, he starts with the original meaning of the text and explores its significance for contemporary Christian moral living through a hermeneutics of virtue ethics. At the end of the book he discusses the possible reception of the core Christian virtues of the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes for Confucian society out of his conviction that interfaith or cross-cultural ethics begins with very specific texts and needs to be both text-based and interpretive. J. F. Keenan and D. J. Harrington have provided a three-page foreword. New Testament Abstracts This is an important contribution to Catholic and Christian ethics that works to bridge the key sources of Scripture and systematic ethical reflection. Too often scholars either explore the biblical perspectives on ethics alone or take a more philosophical approach to ethics, but not the two together. Chan, who is on the faculty of Trinity College in Dublin, focuses on two key biblical texts that have had enormous influence on Christian ethics-the Decalogue and the Beatitudes. He probes these biblical sources through the lens of "virtue" ethics, an approach to ethical reflection that has to come to the forefront in recent years. This approach does not focus just on identifying moral principles but also considers the issues of character formation, Christian practices, and habits of virtue. Chan wants not only to bring sound biblical exegesis to these key biblical texts but to consider their practical meaning for an ethical Christian life. The Bible Today In The Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes: Biblical Studies and Ethics for Real Life, Yiu Sing Lucas Chan, a Jesuit from Hong Kong who trained at Boston College, seeks to build bridges between the two disciplines with the help of Christian virtue ethics. The key questions of virtue ethics are, Who am I? What is my goal? and How do I achieve that goal? Done in the Christian key, we are children of God in search of eternal happiness with God through Christ. The cultivation of the appropriate virtues, attitudes and dispositions is the major task of Christian virtue ethics. America: The Jesuit Review of Faith & Culture The work is thoroughly an outcome of a scholarly work. The effort that the author has rendered to bring out such an excellent work is praiseworthy... The work is a landmark to bridge the gap between biblical studies and moral theology. The work will be really an asset to the scriptural based ethics. Bible Bhashyam: An Indian Biblical Quarterly In this fine study Yiu Sing Lucas Chan focuses on the Decalogue and the Beatitudes as formative of virtuous community and character. It makes a significant contribution to the important conversation about the relation of Scripture and Christian Ethics not only because these Biblical passages surely count among the most important and influential biblical passages for Christian Ethics but also because of its innovative use of the virtue tradition as the mode of exposition. Moreover, the epilogue comparing his exposition to the Confucian tradition is a brief but important contribution to comparative ethics. It's a good book, and I welcome it. -- Allen Verhey, Duke Divinity School Lucas Chan skillfully brings together biblical exegesis and ethical theory in this excellent book. He is a bridge builder across cultures, east and west, and confessional differences, Catholic and Protestant. Yet the truly masterful achievement of Chan's work is the ability to cross over and back between biblical scholars and moral theologians to develop a biblical ethic that is insightful and wise. -- Kenneth R. Himes, OFM, Boston College Lucas Chan combines responsible exegesis with sophisticated ethical theory in a way that is all too rare in studies of biblical ethics. Rooted in Catholic tradition, he draws on Calvin as well as Aquinas and even interacts with Confucianism. This is a stimulating and important contribution to the study of biblical values. -- John J. Collins, Holmes Professor of Old Testament, Yale University This book constitutes a major step forward in the blending of biblical studies and ethics. Moreover, it brings together scholarly research, wisdom, and practical insights for our daily lives. It offers treasures for any reader seeking paths for moral and spiritual growth. -- Margaret A. Farley, Gilbert L. Stark Professor of Christian Ethics, Yale University Divinity School

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