Review Of "Understanding Religious Ethics" By C. Mathewes

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This splendid introduction to the ethical reasoning of the three Abrahamic traditions--Judaism, Christianity, and Islam--offers a highly readable analysis of the moral life by exploring the ethical dimensions of these faiths both individually and comparatively. Mathewes (Univ. of Virginia) examines how and what proponents of these faiths think about such issues as friendship, marriage, homosexuality, lying, forgiveness, capital punishment, the environment, and warfare. This book goes beyond a summary of predigested views to give readers a sense of the arguments animating the three traditions. How do the most serious and profound exponents of these traditions deliberate and decide about issues that they deem significant? Impressive as the book's extensive coverage is, the decision to focus on the three Abrahamic traditions to the exclusion of Stoicism, for example, may have led to the neglect of gratitude as a subject for more extended analysis. But perhaps this is a mere quibble, given Mathewes's laudable comprehensiveness. He also wrote Evil and the Augustinian Tradition (2001) and A Theology of Public Life (2007). Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-level undergraduates and above.


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