Does the Old Law contain judicial
precepts in addition to the moral and ceremonial precepts?
It seems that the Old Law does not
contain any judicial precepts in addition to the moral
and ceremonial precepts:
Objection 1: In
Contra Faustum Augustine says that in the Old Law
“there are precepts that have to do with living life
and precepts that have to do with signifying life.”
But the precepts that have to do with living life are
the moral precepts, whereas the precepts that have to
do with signifying life are the ceremonial precepts.
Therefore, one should not posit distinct judicial precepts
in the law over and beyond these two types of precepts.
The Gloss on Psalm 118:102 (“I have not turned from your
judgments”) says, “That is, I have not turned from what
you have set up as a rule for living.” But a rule for
living pertains to the moral precepts. Therefore, the
judicial precepts should not be distinguished from the
Judgment seems to be an act of justice—this according to
Psalm 93:15 (“Until justice is turned into judgment”).
But acts of justice, like acts of the other virtues, have
to do with the moral precepts. Therefore, the moral
precepts include the judicial precepts within themselves
and so should not be distinguished from them.
But contrary to this:
Deuteronomy 6:1 says, “These are the precepts and
ceremonies and judgments.” But ‘precepts’ refers
antonomastically to the moral precepts. Therefore, in
addition to the moral and ceremonial precepts there are
also judicial precepts.
As has been explained (a. 2), it is the function of
divine law to order men to one another and to God.
Both of these functions belong in a general way to the
dictates of the law of nature, which the moral precepts
are concerned with, but both must be specified by divine
law or human law. For in speculative matters as
well as in practical matters (tam in speculativis
quam in activis) the naturally known principles
are general. Therefore, just as the specification
of the general precept regarding divine worship is accomplished
through the ceremonial precepts, so too the specification
of the general precept of justice that must be observed
among men is specified through the judicial precepts.
one must posit three types of precepts in the Old Law,
viz., (a) the moral precepts, which have to
do with the dictates of the law of nature, (b) the ceremonial
precepts, which are specifications of divine worship,
and ©) the judicial precepts, which are specifications
of the justice that is to be observed among men.
Hence, in Romans 7:12, after having claimed that “the
law is holy,” the Apostle adds, “The commandment is
just and holy and good”—‘just’ with respect to the judicial
precepts, ‘holy’ with respect to the ceremonial precepts
(for ‘holy’ means what has been dedicated to God), and
‘good’, i.e., ‘noble’ (honestum), with respect
to the moral precepts.
Reply to objection 1:
Both the moral precepts and the judicial precepts have to
do with directing human life. And they are both contained
under one of disjuncts Augustine posits, viz., under
‘precepts that have to do with living life’.
Reply to objection 2:
‘Judgment’ signifies the execution of justice, which
consists in the application of reason in a determinate way
to particular actions. Hence, the judicial precepts share
something in common with the moral precepts, viz., being
derived from reason, and something in common with the
ceremonial precepts, viz., being specifications of general
precepts. And this is why the judicial and moral precepts
are sometimes included together under ‘judgments’, as in
Deuteronomy 5:1 (“Hear, O Israel, the ceremonies and
judgments ..... “), while at other times it is the
judicial and ceremonial precepts that are included
together under ‘judgments’, as in Leviticus 18:4, “You
shall do my judgments, and shall observe my
precepts”—where ‘precepts’ refers to the moral precepts
and ‘judgments’ refers to the judicial and ceremonial
Reply to objection 3:
An act of justice, taken in general, has to do with the
moral precepts, whereas the specification of that act as a
particular has to do with the judicial precepts.