Junius (1545–1602) was a Reformed scholar and theologian at the Universities of Heidelberg and Leiden, and is known for producing a popular Latin translation of the Bible and De theologia vera, which became “a standard textbook in theological prolegomena among Reformed Protestants.”
In their introduction, editor Andrew McGinnis and translator Todd Rester offer more on the historical context and the questions Junius aims to answer, explaining how he was “personally called upon by ‘good men’” to “address the contemporary political implications of the laws of Moses.”
The Leiden faculty frequently had the task of solving theological conundrums for the church and sometimes for the state. While the Dutch Reformed Church (Nederduits Gereformeerde Kerk) and the Dutch Republic were both still in their infancy, it was not uncommon for theological, civil, and legal paroxysms to rock both church and state simultaneously. It is in this context of the almost concentric overlap between a rising republic and a rising national church that the question of the role of the Mosaic polity surfaced. After all, the Dutch Republic, forged as it was in the fires and blood of a religious rebellion against Roman Catholic Spain, was a proud but young Reformed Protestant republic. Thus at some level, if Scripture alone is the authority in the Church for faith and morals and if all of Scripture is inspired and profitable for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16–17), how does it apply in the realm of the Christian state?
Answering such a thorny question requires both legal and theological acumen, particularly because the question is layered with further complexities, such as: What role, if any, should the Mosaic law play in the development of a civil legal code? What are the roles of the church and state respectively? What is the relationship between a right or law-principle (ius), common law (ius commune), particular law (ius particulare), and statutory law (lex)? How binding is the Mosaic case law? Do the Mosaic capital punishments still apply? For a person to even attempt to answer these and related questions in the Dutch Reformed context of the last decade of the sixteenth century, he must first have unquestioned ability in the original languages of the Bible, deep familiarity with Scripture, trusted academic training and expertise in Christian theology, grounding and proficiency in the study of law and rights, pastoral sensibility, and impeccable creedal and confessional credentials. Perhaps most of all, he would have to have the wisdom to know when to stop writing.
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