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Saber and Scroll

Abstract

The attempt to reconcile Christ’s injunctions against violence with the unfortunate necessity of war resulted in the development of what philosophers now call the “just war theory,” the conditions under which war can be waged without sin. It is fitting that the first great philosopher to write about the just war, Augustine of Hippo, lived during the death throes of the Roman Empire, in a world plagued by the strife of nations. Over eight hundred years later, the man who would further develop this theory, Thomas Aquinas, lived in a world where warfare had assumed a truly spiritual function through the concept of the crusade and the blending of monastic and knightly traditions. Faced with this new idea of positive warfare, Aquinas reinterpreted Augustine’s theology to fit this context.

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