Biblical and Theological Foundations of the Family argues that the family has a constitutive nature and a specific theological purpose, which God reveals in the church. Joseph Atkinson investigates the principles of the doctrine of Creation which inform the family "from the beginning"; the vital way the family functions as "carrier of the covenant" in the Old Testament; and the critical aspects of Hebraic anthropology, especially corporate personality, upon which the family is based.
This book provides a counter argument to the view of the human person developed in modern thought and which prevails today—the autonomous, self-determining individual, with no essential nature or social or ecclesial aspects. Atkinson discusses the constitutive corporate nature of the human person and how the covenantal family of the Old Testament finds its fulfillment in Jesus Christ. The author does so by investigating how baptism transforms the family and gives it an ecclesial identity, making it a "domestic church". He then examines the development of the family’s ecclesial nature in the church fathers, and the providential re-appropriation of the family’s inner ecclesial identity in the teachings of the Second Vatican Council and in subsequent magisterial teachings.
This ground-breaking work establishes a solid biblical and theological foundation on which a theology of the family can be constructed. It thus fills a critical lack in the current literature on the family. The wide range of sources, including Jewish, Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant, give this work a genuine ecumenical dimension. Biblical and Theological Foundations of the Family will become indispensable for anyone wanting to engage in serious study of the structure and meaning of the family and its place in the salvific will of God.