‘Divine Offspring’: Richard Hooker’s Neoplatonic Account of Law and Causality

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Abstract

Richard Hooker’s (1554-1600) adaptation of classical logos theology is exceptional and indeed quite original for its extended application of the principles of Neoplatonic apophatic theology to the concrete institutional issues of a particular time and place-the aftermath of the Elizabethan Religious Settlement of 1559. Indeed, his sustained effort to explore the underlying connections of urgent political and constitutional concerns with the highest discourse of hidden divine realities-the knitting together of Neoplatonic theology and Reformation politics-is perhaps the defining characteristic of Hooker’s distinction mode of thought. Hooker’s ontology adheres to a Proclean logic of procession and reversion (processio and redditus) mediated by Aquinas’s formulation of the so-called lex divinitatis whereby the originative principle of law remains simple and self-identical as an Eternal Law while it emanates manifold, derivative and dependent species of law, preeminently in the Natural Law accessible to human reason and Divine Law revealed through the Sacred Oracles of Scripture. For Hooker, therefore, ‘all thinges’-including even the Elizabethan constitution in Church and Commonwealth, are God’s offspring: ‘they are in him as effects in their highest cause, he likewise actuallie is in them, the assistance and influence of his deitie is theire life.’

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Perichoresis

The Theological Journal of Emanuel University

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