Domestic Church: Biblical Foundations

Domestic Church: Biblical Foundations

JPI 816
3 Credits

John Paul II stated that the future of humanity “passes by way of the family.” The purpose of this course is to construct a theology of the Domestic Church. This task requires the development of a hermeneutic for the recovery of a Scriptural view of reality, an analysis of the biblical basis for this doctrine from both the Old and New Testaments, and an examination of how these biblical categories were developed through the Early Church and the Fathers up to the Middle Ages. This course will examine the sudden reappearance of the term “domestic church” at Vatican II and its further development in modern times, particularly in magisterial teaching. Thematically, the course examines the structure of creation, the role of the family within the Abrahamic covenant, the importance of fatherhood and its link to memory of the faith, the family as the locus of the Hebraic cult, and the educative role of the family in the Scriptures. The course concludes with an analysis of the problems of the modern appropriation of the concept of family as domestic church.

Selected Texts


Joseph Atkinson portrait

Joseph C. Atkinson

Associate Professor of Sacred Scripture
S.T.L. and S.T.D. Program Advisor

Dr. Atkinson’s work has included foundational research in developing the biblical and theological foundation of the family. He is a primary authority on the concept of the Domestic Church, which explores the ecclesial structure and meaning of the family. He teaches on the biblical structure and meaning of marriage and the family, on the Jewish background of the family, and on the nature and role of covenant.

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