Jewish Theology and Bioethics
Newman, Louis E.
Journal of Medicine and Philosophy. 1992 Jun; 17(3): 309-327.
This article explores the theological foundations of both classical and contemporary Jewish ethics, with special reference to biomedical issues. Traditional views concerning God's revelation to Israel are shown to underlie the methodological orientation of classical Jewish ethics, which is both legalistic and particularistic. Contemporary Jewish ethicists, by contrast, have tended to embrace more liberal views of revelation which have mitigated both the legalism and the particularism of their approach. Apart from methodological considerations, much of the content of Jewish medical ethics has also been shaped by theological concerns. Specifically, a Jewish theology of creation provides basic norms and values which inform Jewish responses to a range of contemporary biomedical issues. Finally, it is suggested that the theological roots of this ethical tradition do not disqualify it from making a significant contribution to the wider discussion of biomedical issues in our secular, pluralistic society.
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