Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Daniel Elazar Papers Index

The Idea of Covenant

Recovenanting the American Polity

Daniel J. Elazar

The Covenantal Origins of the American Experiment

The American experiment was born in federal liberty, birthed by covenant. In the first epoch of its existence, encompassing the roughly 300 years from the first British, Dutch, and Swedish settlements along the eastern seaboard prior to the mid-seventeenth century and until America's emergence as the predominant world power in the mid-twentieth, the American people formed themselves through and around covenants and compacts, their more secular derivative, as they founded their settlements from coast to coast, established their social and political institutions, and developed a comprehensive American civilization based on federal liberty; that is to say, the liberty to live up to the terms embodied in their covenants (as opposed to natural liberty of everyone doing what he or she wished). Elsewhere, this writer and others have described all of this in detail.1

It is a central contention of this paper that the covenantal tradition in both theory and practice presents a compelling framework for articulating the common good. Indeed, as Donald Lutz has shown, it is found at the roots of American constitutionalism. Covenantalism acknowledges equally the legitimacy of individual projects and associative loyalties. It does not rigidly subordinate the personal and the local either an hierarchical or a collective whole. The covenantal tradition as it has developed respects the private sphere and requires that persons be secure in their liberty to fulfill their chosen projects of life. But it also urges that one of the uses of liberty is for persons to bond together in mutual association. A fully private life is not worth living. Consequently, covenantal liberty is a bonded liberty. It is not the unconditional autonomy of the new morality, but a liberty of self-willed limits. The common good requires that a point of self-sacrifice is always reached. The wise individual, imbued with a covenantal ethos, knows that, in contrast to the ideal-typical ethos of Millsian liberty (an antecedent of the new morality) humans owe each other more than to stay out of one another's way. Covenantalism, which emphasizes relationships over structures, makes thematic our debt and obligation to one another, our expectation from one another. It constitutes the public realm not on an anthropology of discrete individuals and their rights, but on the equilibration of negative and positive liberty. It does not fetishize "freedom from" or valorize "freedom to." It sees both as requisite to human fulfillment and opens up a democratic conversation in which the balance is continuously negotiated. Thus, unlike the new morality's advocacy of diversity as an end in itself, a covenantal perspective both celebrates and orders difference. It celebrates diversity insofar as its ontology postulates a world of diverse beings with irreducibly concrete projects. But it orders this diversity in light of a common good, that is, it urges people to orient their projects toward mutual and public benefit.

This idea of covenant, of a lasting yet limited morally grounded agreement between free people, entered into freely by the parties concerned to achieve common ends or to protect common rights, has its roots in the Hebrew Bible. There the covenant principle stands at the very center of the relationship between man and God and also forms the basis for the establishment of the holy commonwealth. The covenant idea passed into early Christianity only after losing its political dimensions, which were restored during the Protestant Reformation, particularly by Reformed Protestantism (including Calvinism), the same groups that dominated the political revolutionary movements in Britain and America in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Much of the American reliance upon the covenant principle stems from the attempts of religiously inspired settlers on these shores to reproduce that kind of covenant in the New World and to build their commonwealths upon it, reflecting the intellectual continuity of the concept from ancient times via the great biblically based religions. The Yankees of New England, the Baptists, especially in the North, the Scotch-Irish of the mountains and piedmont from Pennsylvania to Georgia, the Dutch of New York, the Presbyterians, and to a lesser extent, the Quakers and German sectarians of Pennsylvania and the Middle States were all nurtured in churches constructed on the covenant principle and subscribing to the federal theology as the means for proper delineating the relationship between man and God (and by extension between man and man) as revealed by the Bible itself.

While later immigrant groups were on the whole less directly and overtly included in the covenantal tradition, virtually all of them had elements of at tradition embedded in the cultural baggage they brought with them, ranging from Jews, the first biblical covenantal people who had allowed many covenantal ideas to sink into latency in order to enter Western culture as it was manifested in early modern Europe, to Catholics who as Christians were heirs to that covenantal tradition which had been submerged through 1500 years of hierarchical thinking and acting in Europe but which reemerged under the American experience, to many east Asians who found their way to covenantal Christianity when proselytized in the old country based on either old cultural similarities or new social and political aspirations.

One might object that this characterization of the covenantal tradition of biblical religion is altogether too benign, that, after all, biblical religion mandates a certain more or less severe exclusivism. Boldly put, the Israelites had their liberty while the Canaanites met their deaths. Nor were black slaves or many aboriginal peoples subject to liberty under the terms of the initial national covenant. Are not these hypocrisies a cause of the discrediting of the older, biblical ethos by the partisans of the new morality? How can the covenantal perspective with its innate exclusivism serve as a basis for a common good in a multicultural society? There is no quick or easy answer to this question, but the outlines of an answer have at least been limned: covenantalism implies an ongoing endeavor by free people to work out their common life in an appropriate balance of the public and private, the mutual and solitary. In the nature of the case, the past is not ideal. The past is formative, not definitive. Covenantalism does not require that citizens subordinate themselves to the explicit terms of an ancient original contract, but rather that they understand themselves as bound to one another by covenant in a common endeavor.

A central issue in this discussion should be the covenant tradition in democratic republicanism at the present time. One pressing problem is how to allow the maximum amount of freedom while at the same time allowing communities to protect themselves. As a result of these conflicting issues and also in spite of them, there is a new recognition that humans need these ties of community as well as some degree of openness. Civil society needs to find ways and means to balance the two.

The very willingness to covenant and thereby to think in covenantal terms has a moderating influence on extremism, since any joining with other human beings in common purpose involves some willingness to compromise to overcome human differences. Thus, while covenanting may seem in some historical cases to promote exclusivity, as much as it may do so, it also promotes moderation and inclusion for it to happen at all. As such, it is a rejection of fanaticism, not necessarily by denying the truth of fanatics' claims, but by recognizing the necessity for prudence if humans are to live together.

There have been other efforts to balance freedom with the needs of the community. Liberal communitarianism's emphasis on the group has argued that this balance is achieved by emphasizing the needs of the group and those individual freedoms that make the community better. Conservative political ideas have argued that freedoms that are good for the individual will make for a healthier community. Freedoms that do not promote virtue in the individual do no good for the community either.

We have been exploring an old idea that has proven very useful in the past and shows sings of being useful again -- the idea of covenant. Covenant is an important foundation of both morality and community for public, civic, and communal purposes, and it is within this paradigm that we can find the balancing tools necessary for a healthy civil society. Covenant is an idea which defines political justice, shapes political behavior, and directs humans toward an appropriately civic synthesis of the two. As such, covenant is an idea whose importance is akin to natural law in defining justice, and to natural right in delineating the origins and proper constitution of political society.

Covenant and Federal Liberty

The essence of the covenant ideal and the system it established is the idea of federal liberty. John Winthrop, founding Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony defined federal liberty as follows:

There is a two fold liberty, natural (I mean as our nature is now corrupt) and civil or federal. The first is common to man with beasts and other creatures. By this, man, as he stands in relation to man simply, hath liberty to do what he lists; it is a liberty to evil as well as to good. This liberty is incompatible and inconsistent with authority and cannot endure the least restraint of the most just authority. The exercise and maintaining of this liberty makes men grow more evil and in time to be worse than brute beasts: omnes sumus licentia deteriores. This is that great enemy of truth and peace, that wild beast, which all of the ordinances of God are best against, to restrain and subdue it. The other kind of liberty I call civil or federal; it may also be termed moral, in reference to the covenant between God and man, in the moral law, and the politic covenants and constitutions between men themselves. This liberty is the proper end and object of authority and cannot subsist without it; and it is a liberty to that only which is good, just and honest. This liberty you are to stand for, with the hazard (not only of your goods, but) of the lives if need be.2

While the idea of covenant is often thought of in religious terms, it is more than a sectarian concept. Rather than merely "religious in the narrow sense," covenant is based on moral commitment. Thinkers from Hobbes onward recognized it as a political moral commitment necessary for people to live in a civil society. Indeed, the American founders recognized covenant as an important ingredient in building a balanced democratic society. Covenant depends on civic capital. Civic capital and community lead to commonwealth. Commonwealth promotes civil responsibilities and obligation. These values are important in conjunction with civil society. Civil society promotes liberal democracy and freedom while commonwealth promote responsibility. Covenant can bring back a balance between freedom and responsibility. Covenant creates bonds between individuals and one another, peoples and states, groups with other groups.

Covenantal societies tend to be both simultaneously closed and open. A closed covenant is one that limits interaction and inclusion of those outside of the relationship. An open covenant has an inclusive characteristic that emphasizes bringing outsiders into the relationship. In fact, the openness even limits the use of concepts like outside. In reality, there are degrees of openness and exclusivity and covenants can have both open and exclusive characteristics.

The evidence is overwhelming that the covenant principle translated into the larger political realm to produce modern popular government in the form of federal democracy. The history and meaning of the term itself reveal this. The word federal is derived from foedus, the Latin word for covenant which, in turn, is the Vulgate's translation of the Hebrew work brit, meaning covenant. According to the OED, it was first used, in English, in 1645 in the midst of the English civil war to describe covenantal relationships of both a political and a theological nature. Apparently, as its theological usage indicates, the term implied a closer or more permanent relationship than its slightly older companion confederal, a Middle English derivative of the same Latin root.3

Covenant (or federal) theory was widely appreciated and deeply rooted in the American tradition in 1787 because it was not the property of philosophers, theologians, or intellectuals alone. In its various adaptations, it was used for a variety of very public enterprises from the establishment of colonial self-government to the creation of the great trading corporations of the seventeenth century. Americans regularly made covenants or compacts to establish new civil societies. Witness the Mayflower Compact (1620):

In the name of God, Amen. We whose names are under written ... Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith, and the Honour of our King and Country, a Voyage to plant the first colony in the northern Parts of Virginia; Do by these Presents, solemnly and mutually in the Presence of God and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil Body Politick, for our better Ordering and Preservation, and Furtherance of the Ends aforesaid.

The Virginia Bill of Rights (written by George Mason in 1776):

[A]ll men are by nature equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights, of which, when they enter into a stet of society, they cannot by any compact deprive or divest their posterity, namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.

The Vermont Declaration of Independence (1777):

We, the inhabitants [of the New Hampshire grants], are at present without law or government, and may be truly said to be in a state of nature; consequently a right remains to the people of said Grants to form a government best suited to secure their property, well being and happiness.

The Constitution of Massachusetts (written by none other than John Adams in 1779):

The body politic is formed by a voluntary association of individuals. It is a social compact by which the whole people covenants with each citizen and each citizen with the whole people, that all shall be governed by certain laws for the common good. It is the duty of the people, therefore, in framing a Constitution of Government, to provide for an equitable mode of making laws, as well as for an impartial interpretation and a faithful execution of them, that every many may, at all times, find his security in them.

Covenant making remained a part of the settlement process throughout the days of the land frontier. Men gathered together in every one of the thirty-seven states admitted to the Union after the original thirteen to freely frame their constitutions of government in the manner of the first compacts establishing local self-government in the New World. Cities and towns were created by compact whenever bodies of men and their families joined together to establish communities devoted to common ends.

With the rise of modern organizations and associations, the covenant principle was given new purpose. Scientific and reform societies, labor unions, and professional associations as well as business corporations covenanted or compacted with one another to form larger organizations while preserving their own integrity. As a consequence, the American "instinct" for federalism was extended into most areas of human relations, shaping Americans' ideas of individualism, human rights and obligations, Divine expectations, business organization, civic association, and church structure as well as their notions of politics.

While there were differences in interpretation of the covenant principle among theologians, political leaders directly motivated by religious principles, and those with a secular political outlook; among New Englanders, residents of the Middle States, and Southerners; and from generation to generation, there was also a broad area of general agreement that unified all who subscribed to the principle and set them and their doctrine apart within the larger realm of political theory. All agreed on the importance of popular or republican government grounded on a moral base, the necessity to check and balance power to prevent tyranny, and the importance of individual rights and dignity as the foundation of any genuinely good political system. For them covenanting provided a means for free people to form political communities without sacrificing their essential freedom and without making energetic government impossible.

Federal Democracy and Its Rivals

The moral and political implications of the federal principle are brought home forcefully when it is contrasted with the other conceptions of popular government developed in the modern era. Other revolutionaries in the "age of revolutions" -- most prominent among them the Jacobins -- also sought solutions to some of the same problems of despotism that perturbed the Americans. But in their efforts to hurry the millennium, they rejected what they believed to be the highly perceptive assumptions of the American constitution makers that unlimited political power could corrupt even "the people" and considered only the problem of autocratic despotism. They looked upon federalism and its principles of checks and balances as subversive of the "general will," their way of expressing a commitment to the organic unity of society, which, like their premodern predecessors, they saw as superior to the interests of mere individuals. They argued that since their "new society" was to be based on "the general will" as a more democratic principle, any element subversive of its organic unity would be, ipso facto, antidemocratic.

By retaining notions of the organic society, the Jacobins and their revolutionary heirs were forced to rely upon transient majorities to establish consensus or to concentrate power in the hands of an elite that claimed to do the same thing. The first course invariably led to anarchy and the second to the kind of totalitarian democracy that has become the essence of modern dictatorship. Although the "general will" was undoubtedly a more democratic concept that the "will of the monarch," it has proved no less despotic and usually even more subversive of liberty since it is unrestrained by tradition as was the ancien regime.

The history of the extension of democratic government since the eighteenth century has been a history of the rivalry between these two conceptions of democracy. Because of the challenge of Jacobinism, the meaning of the American idea of federal democracy takes on increased importance, especially the moral dimension built-into federalism. Today these resonances have been made weaker because we have lost the awareness of the covenantal tradition. Yet the tradition itself persists in more ways than we often recognize.

Covenant, Compact, Contract

Covenant is tied in an ambiguous relationship to two related terms compact and contract. On one hand, both compacts and contracts are in a sense derived from covenant, and sometimes the terms are even used interchangeably. One the other hand, there are very real differences between the three that need clarification.

Both covenants and their derivative, compacts, differ from contracts in that the first two are constitutional or public in character and the last is private. As such, covenantal or compactual obligation is relationship-oriented and broadly reciprocal while the reciprocity of contracts only follows the letter of the law or the agreement because contracts are task-oriented. Those bound by covenant or compact, on the other hand, are obligated to respond to one another beyond the letter of the law rather than to limit their obligations to the narrowest contractual requirements. Hence covenants and compacts are inherently designed to be broad and flexible in certain respects as well as firm in others. As expressions of private law, contracts tend to be interpreted as narrowly as possible so as to limit the obligation of the contracting parties to what is explicitly mandated by the contract itself. It may be said that covenants imply a different moral psychology than contracts.

A covenant differs from a compact in that its morally binding dimension takes precedence over its legal dimension. In its hear of hearts, a covenant is an agreement in which a higher moral force -- traditionally God -- is a party, usually a direct party to or guarantor of a particular relationship, whereas when the term compact is used the moral force is internal to the past itself. A compact, based as it is on mutual pledges rather than the guarantees of a higher authority, rests more heavily on a legal though still ethical grounding for its politics. In other words, the compact is a secular phenomenon. This can be verified historically by examining the shift in terminology that took place in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. While those who saw the hand of God in political affairs in the United States continued to use the term covenant, those who sought a secular grounding for politics turned to the term compact. Though the distinction is not always used with strict clarity, it does appear consistently. The issue was further complicated by Rousseau and his followers, who talk about the social contract, a highly secularized concept that, even when applied for public purposes, never develops the same level of moral obligation as either covenant or compact.

Covenant is also related to constitutionalism. Normally a covenant precedes a constitution by establishing the people, public, or civil society that then proceeds to adopt a constitution of government for itself. Thus a constitution involves implementing a prior covenant -- effectuating or translating a prior covenant into an actual frame or structure of government.

America's first covenants were both religious and civil. This combination was perhaps best reflected in the historically most widely recognized of all seventeenth century America covenants, the Plymouth Combination, which after the American Revolution became known as the Mayflower Compact. This exemplary covenant, drawn up on the decks of the Mayflower off the coast of New England, bound all of the ships' householders together in a civil society based upon their consent, which included both the churched and the unchurched among them, though it was couched in religious terms with God included as an active guarantor, and New England where covenanting was most widespread and formal, had both church and civil covenants. Indeed, the two kinds were interdependent. Elsewhere, church covenants were widely used, formal civil covenants more sparsely, and the two kinds were usually kept quite separate.

Where actual covenants were made, they have followed a formula that has been passed down from generation to generation and epoch to epoch essentially unchanged (since earliest times in the Ancient Near East). This form has been described by students of ancient Near Easter history as containing the following elements:

  1. a preamble naming the parties to the covenant;
  2. a prologue, historical or ideological, establishing the setting or grounding of the covenant;
  3. the operative section of the covenant including stipulation or what is agreed;
  4. provisions for public reading (proclamation) and deposit of the text for safekeeping;
  5. the divine witness to the covenant; and
  6. the advantages of performance (blessings) and sanctions for nonperformance (curses).4

In place of formal covenanting, constitutions of governance were developed based upon covenantal principles; that is to say, based on the consent of those to be bound by them, delineating the republican institutions through which those so bound and their heirs would be organized, a sense that those constitutions of governance also served to constitute the peoples being governed, a definition implicit or explicit of the terms of federal liberty expected from those bound by those constitutions, all under Divine guarantee and/or protection, but for civil purposes alone.

The coming of the American Revolution transformed this original system and network of covenants in three ways.

  1. It became statewide and national in character, not merely local and state, and more civil in content with the Declaration of Independence, although a civil document, coming to serve as the national covenant, as Abraham Lincoln was to wisely observe four score years later.5

  2. Formal covenanting began to be expressed through secular civil compacts. The Declaration of Independence, although it uses neither word, is a good example of this. The form it follows is almost exactly the same form as covenants had taken since the days of the first vassal treaties in ancient Mesopotamia four millennia earlier, but while Divine guidance and support was invoked at the close of the document, it was clearly more of an obeisance than a stated reliance on active Divine partnership.6 The key element was the mutual pledge of lives, fortunes, and sacred honor. No doubt, more than half of the population supporting revolution, those who were associated with Reformed Protestant congregations, saw it as a further manifestation of covenantal assertions of human liberty, but the influence of the Enlightenment had been such that the formal grounding of the effort had to be in the more neutral compact mode to reach all segments of the newly emergent American society.

  3. At the same time, the idea of federal liberty was also transformed from a liberty to live by Divine law as defined by Divine grant to a liberty shaped by the mutual consent of humans. James Wilson of Pennsylvania, himself born into the Scottish covenantal tradition as reshaped by the Scottish Enlightenment, provided the redefinition, specifically to define the appropriate, compactual relationship between the states and the federal government, just as Winthrop had provided the original covenantal one defining the relationship between man and God.7

For Wilson, federal liberty was the means of sharing the attributes of sovereignty, with both the states and the federal government deriving their powers by delegation from the sovereign people through constitutional compacts in such a way that each remained an instrument of the people while at the same time checking the other. His argument was that just as individuals entering a political compact gained greater liberty by surrendering part of their natural rights in exchange for a limitation on the liberty of others to do them harm, so too did the constituent states gain more by surrendering part of their freedom of action to a general government in return for being partners in a larger whole. "Federal liberty then is the liberty to enter into a covenant or compact through which each party surrenders certain of its natural liberties in order to gain more from the new partnership created, to whose rules the parties are then obliged to follow.

The apogee of the impact of the formal use of compact theory in early American history came with the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 which included a specific compact of six articles to be accepted by each new state carved out of the territory as part of its admission to statehood.8

Articles of Compact

It is hereby ordained and declared, by the authority aforesaid, that the following articles shall be considered as articles of compact, between the original States and the people and States in the said territory, and forever remain unalterable, unless by common consent, to wit:

Article I: No person demeaning himself in a peaceable and orderly manner shall ever be molested on account of his mode of worship, or religious sentiments in the said territories.

Article II: The inhabitants of the said territory shall always be entitled to the benefits of the writs of habeas corpus, and of the trial by jury; of a proportionate representation of the people in the Legislature; and of judicial proceedings according to the course of the common law. All persons shall be bailable, unless for capital offenses, where the proof shall be evident or the presumption great. All fines shall be moderate, and no cruel or unusual punishments shall be inflicted. No man shall be deprived of his liberty or property, but by the judgment of his peers, or the law of the land, and should the public exigencies make it necessary, for the common preservation, to take any person's property, or to demand his particular services, full compensation shall be made for the same. And, in the just preservation of rights and property, it is understood and declared that no law ought ever to be made or have force in the said territory, that shall, in any manner whatever, interfere with or affect private contracts, or engagements bona fide and without fraud previously formed.

Article III: Religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged. The utmost good faith shall always be observed towards the Indians; their lands and property shall never be taken from them without their consent; and in their property, rights and liberty they never shall be invaded or disturbed unless in just and lawful wars authorized by Congress; but laws founded in justice and humanity shall, from time to time, be made, for preventing wrongs being done to them, and for preserving peace and friendship with them.

Article IV: The said territory, and the sates which may be formed therein, shall forever remain a part of this confederacy of the United States of America, subject to the Articles of Confederation, and to such alterations therein as shall be constitutionally make; and in all the acts and Ordinances of the United States in Congress assembled, conformable thereto. The inhabitants and settlers in the said territory shall be subject to pay a part of the federal debts, contracted, or to be contract, and a proportional part of the expenses of government, to be apportioned on them by Congress, according to the same common rule and measure by which apportionments thereof shall be made on the other States, and the taxes for paying their proportion shall be laid and levied by the authority and direction of the legislatures of the district, or districts, or new States, as in the original States, within the time agreed upon by the United states in Congress assembled, nor with any regulations Congress may find necessary for securing the title in such soil to the bona fide purchasers. No tax shall be imposed on lands the property of the United States; and in no case shall non-resident proprietors be taxed higher than residents. The navigable water leading in to the Mississippi and Saint Lawrence, and the carrying places between the same, shall be common highways, and forever free, as well to the inhabitants of the said territory as to the citizens of the United States, and those of any other States that may be admitted into the Confederacy, without any tax, impost, or duty therefor.

Article V: There shall be formed in the said territory not less than three nor more than five States; and the boundaries of the States, as soon as Virginia shall alter her Act of cession, and consent to the same, shall become fixed and established as follows to wit: The western State, in the said territory, shall be bounded by the Mississippi, the Ohio, and the Wabash and Post Vincents, due north, to the territorial line between the United States and Canada; and by the said territorial line to the Lake of the Woods and Mississippi. The middle States shall be bounded by the said direct line, the Wabash from Post Vincents to the Ohio, by the Ohio, by the direct line drawn due north from the mouth of the Great Miami to the said territorial line, and by the said territorial lien. The eastern State shall be bounded by the last mentioned direct line, the Ohio, Pennsylvania, and the said territorial line. Provided, however, and it is further understood and declared, that the boundaries of these three States, shall be subject so far to be altered that, if Congress shall hereafter find it expedient, they shall have authority to form one or two States in that part of the said territory which lies north of an east and west line drawn through the southerly bend or extreme of Lake Michigan. And whenever any of the said States shall have sixty thousand free inhabitants therein, such State shall be admitted, by its delegates, into the Congress of the United States, on an equal footing with the original States, in all respects whatever; and shall be at liberty to form a permanent Constitution and state government. Provided, the Constitution and government, so to be formed, shall be republican, and in conformity to the principles contained in these Articles, and so far as it can be consistent with the general interest of the Confederacy, such admission shall be allowed at an earlier period, and when there may be a less number of free inhabitants in the State than sixth thousand.

Article VI: There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the said territory, otherwise than in the punishment of crimes, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted. Provided always, that any person escaping into the same, from whom labor or service is lawfully claimed in any one of the original states, such fugitive may be lawfully reclaimed and conveyed to the person claiming his or her labor or service as aforesaid.

Be it ordained by the authority aforesaid, That the resolutions of the 23rd of April, 1784, relative to the subject of this Ordinance, be, and the same are hereby, repealed and declared null and void.

Done by the Untied States, in Congress assembled, the 13th day of July, in the year of our Lord 1787, and of their sovereignty and independence the 12th.

Covenantal Theory vs. Covenantal Practice

Subsequently, compact theory was transformed in the period between the War of 1812 and the Civil War to support the Southern argument that the Constitution was no more than a compact among the states from which any state or states could secede for cause; that is to say, if its people believed the compact to have been seriously violated. In the years immediately prior to the Civil War and during the war itself, Lincoln articulated a contrary position based on covenantal theory particularly as he saw it presented in the Declaration of Independence, on occasion defining the Union in his homely terms as "a regular marriage," i.e., a covenant that could only be dissolved by mutual consent.9 Unfortunately, in the public debate the Southern use of compact theory discredited the very idea of compact, while Lincoln's covenantal alternative, while successful in mobilizing the North to defend the Union, was abandoned as a theoretical construct in the face of other, presumably more "sophisticated," constructs derived from Jacobinism and Darwinism imported from Europe at the time.

After the Civil War these new intellectual doctrines replaced covenantal thinking almost completely among the American intellectual establishment. At the same time, covenantal behavior persisted in practice throughout the nineteenth century as part of American westward expansion. In the West community after community and state after state were organized on the basis of the same tradition that had served the colonists prior to the American Revolution. This did not cease until the opportunities for that kind of behavior diminished and then disappeared with the end of the rural-land frontier.

Actual Seventeenth century-style civil covenants became increasingly rare during the nineteenth century, since few local communities were founded as communal enterprises. Among the few exceptions were the Amana colonies in Iowa, Excelsior, Minnesota, and Greeley, Colorado. Town compacts were not so rare and indeed were routinized through the enactment by state legislatures of general laws of incorporation that both enabled and required residents of a particular locality to come together to establish municipal governments by writing local constitutions (charters) and adopting them by consent.

Although colonial forms of state organization, which combined religious and civil covenants, were replicated only in the case of the Mormon settlement of Utah and, indeed, had to be abandoned, at least formally, even in Utah in order for that territory to be admitted to the Union, no state could be admitted without going through a rather ritualized process of compacting among the residents of the particular territory and then with the federal government. Moreover, in many cases the initiatives for doing so were local rather than federal, initiated by settlers rather than by Congress.

Following the Revolutionary era disestablishment of the colonial churches, religion came to occupy the public square less in the form of formal denominational support than in the form of a generalized Protestant religious faith, what might be called an optimistic Calvinism formed out of the American experience, combined with a neo-Baconian approach to define the relationship between religious belief and the material world. This was the religion whose spirit Tocqueville observed all around him when he visited the United States in the 1830s.10 Like the earlier Protestantism it was short on ritual expressions of religion, and strongly emphasized the moral requirements of "true religion," which were defined as including everything from ethical behavior to abstinence from hard liquor, and which in doctrinal form often led to hair-splitting quarrels over the proper form of baptism or others of the few rituals which Protestants observed.

As this generalized Protestant belief system permeated the majority in American society, it lost its explicit covenantal edge in some quarter. Still it continued to rest on underlying principles of consent which were actively expressed through church affiliation or acceptance of some particular idea or practice stimulated by that generalized religious spirit. Individual congregation were still formed by covenanting and new religious sects such as the Latter Day Saints (Mormons) incorporated covenants and covenantal ideas.11

As the Catholic population of the United States began to grow from mid-century onward, a new and competing view of religion was introduced, one with a heavy emphasis on ritual and with foundations that did not rest on individual consent but on the idea of a religious community that originated in ancient times and continues organically from generation to generation. Moreover, this new competition to the Protestant spirit was, in its initial stages, far less civic in its orientation, coming as it did from an environment in which rendering unto Caesar was a fundamental church doctrine. The clash between the two traditions was rarely articulated as a theoretical one. Rather it took the form of conflict over different forms of human behavior, whether with regard to the consumption of alcoholic beverages or the nature of involvement in local politics.

The Decline of Religion in the Public Sphere

By World War I, the opportunities for civil covenants or compacts had almost entirely disappeared and even where possible, did not touch the lives or consciousness of the vast majority of Americans. New opportunities for establishing church covenants also diminished as organized religion came under assault in the twentieth century. Moreover, separation between the two forms became ever more pronounced, while each form became increasingly ritualized and emptied of meaning even for those engaging in it.

Thus, meaningful covenanting essentially disappeared from the American scene except for isolated cases. Intellectually, Americans were increasingly attracted by new organic theories of social organization and practically what survived of covenanting was highly ritualized and devoid of self meaning. As American morés and morals changed, religion came to be seen by many opinion-leaders as an atavistic and oppressive force in American society and believers as clinging to antiquated beliefs that required limits on personal freedom that were no longer deemed acceptable even in the name of appropriate religious or moral behavior. The impact of all this was limited as long as Americans could live off the cultural capital accumulated in the past. Marquis Childs pointed this out in a telling and prescient book published in the late 1930s.12

The heritage established by that cultural capital seemed to be still in place during the first two decades after World War II but collapsed quite suddenly in the mid-1960s, showing how much it had become a shell in those intervening years. The collapse took the form of an aggressive assault on the moral claims of the monotheistic faiths in the name of "New Age" beliefs that in many cases became a form of neo-paganism. The public square was radically transformed as the morality of the monotheistic religions was increasingly excluded from public expression either by constitutional decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court presumably responding to the demands of the Bill of Rights to guarantee individual liberty or through public expressions of the sociological transformations brought about by the demands of the "New Age."

While there are some exceptions, what has characterized paganism from the earliest times, especially as it is understood by monotheists, is that it is amoral religion, more concerned with magically manipulating the powers of nature than with doing justice and mercy, accepting one's obligations to one's neighbors, and generally seeking a more righteous world. One might argue that paganism or at least neopaganism has a different morality, one more attuned to preserving the harmonies of the universe as it is, a theme reflected in neopagan environmentalism (as distinct from monotheistic-based environmentalism) today, but the essence of traditional paganism is recognizing the singular power of natural forces, achieving harmony with the powers that be in the universe, and assuring fertility lie behind all neopagan adaptations which have been influenced in one way or another by monotheistic religion or the world which monotheistic religion has built. On the other hand, monotheistic religion, which may share some of the same practical goals with neopaganism, grows out of the first associations between religion and morality, those expressed in ancient Mesopotamian civilization, of which biblical religion was the apotheosis and which a thousand years before the birth of the latter, had already placed humanity on the road to the association of religion and righteousness by feeling its way towards the first dimensions of righteousness within its own pagan religion. As biblical scholar Yehezkiel Kaufman has pointed out, the differences between monotheism and paganism are not simply a matter of arithmetic but of worldviews, the first based upon righteousness as the principal divine promise and commandment and the second based upon the achievement of human survival through magical manipulation of the powers that be in the universe.

The Reassertation of Monotheistic Morality

The first immediate response to this was the politization of many Protestant fundamentalists. Until the 1960s, Protestant fundamentalists had, perhaps more than any other Protestants, separated religion from the public square, having responded to the assault on their beliefs of the earlier twentieth century by withdrawing into their own private realm where they had survived, protected by the larger framework of monotheistic morality that dominated the American scene. With that framework shattered, the fundamentalists regrouped under a new leadership who understood that only by attempting to regain control of the public square could they hope to protect their beliefs from further assault.

Like other movements, their forward progress has been uneven and even has involved retreat at various times, but this fundamentalist movement has had some startling successes. While it cannot muster a majority, perhaps not even in the Republican party, its chosen vehicle of political action for political engagement in the public square, it has come to represent a very large and vocal bloc both within the GOP and in the public square generally. Perhaps even more important, it has made religion, even fundamentalist religion, respectable again among Americans. Members of mainstream churches, who for years had been led by prevailing intellectual trends to conceal their religious convictions and actions, have in the past decade begun to reveal their true selves, thus making religious involvement and belief respectable again even in the highest circles.

Finally, the fundamentalist drive has led to the reemergence of covenanting in the private sphere as members of specific socio-demographic groups come together to promise that they will maintain certain forms of behavior, or refrain from others, relying upon one another for reinforcement. Two examples come to mind: one, the movement among Christian teenagers to commit themselves to sexual abstinence before marriage, and the other, the movement among Christian men, led by the Promise-Keepers, to commit themselves to maintaining certain religiously-based standards of moral behavior in their family, business, and professional lives. These are, by conventional definitions at least, all private actions rather than public ones. What is most significant about them, however, is that all are transdenominational. In this sense they are in the great spirit of American evangelism which sees itself as speaking to the whole people without reference to their denominational divisions, if any.

Second, they recognize that there first must be a network of private or sociological transformations if the public square is to be reshaped. In this they follow the teachings of ancient constitutionalism which begin with the individual and the familial before building up to the public and the political. Both the Bible and the ancient Greek laws concentrate more on the former than on the latter to reinforce the enduring importance of right living on the part of individuals and families in order to have right living in the public square through public activity.13 Throughout much of the modern age, this emphasis in the Bible led to the widespread view that Scripture had little if anything to say about politics, not recognizing that everything in Scripture deals with the political, but that the Bible is less interested in the specific institutions of different political regimes and more on the social environment in which those regimes function to see to it that the regimes do so in such a way as to maintain proper relationships between God and man and among humans.

Recovenanting in a Multi-Cultural World

In this writer's opinion, the experiences of the past thirty years have shown us the following:

  1. Despite the regnant modern view that the monotheistic religions had triumphed over paganism, at least in the West, and that the latter was merely an historic memory, we have come to learn that the biblical teaching that paganism and monotheism are constantly in conflict and lack of vigilance on the part of the monotheistic religions will inevitably lead to a resurgence of paganism in some form, is accurate.

  2. Nor as Kaufman has said, is this merely a matter of arithmetic -- of one God or many, but rather it is a clash of world views dealing with different moralities, understandings of what courses of action humanity should pursue, and definitions of good and evil.14 Thus, pagan and neo-pagan assaults on monotheism are primarily assaults upon the monotheistic understanding of the world and the morality that flows from it, and should be resisted.

  3. At the same time, the maintenance of monotheism cannot be simply of the traditional kind, common in the Western or larger monotheistic world until the present century. The world is now sufficiently one and the message of equality sufficiently persuasive that cultures as well as individuals now have some claim to equal treatment. Thus pluralism and multiculturalism are realities which, however problematic from a normative point of view, must be dealt with pragmatically. Thus the rebuilding of a moral consensus must be begin and proceed with a recognition of this multicultural and pluralistic reality and be prepared to come to grips with it appropriate ways.

  4. At least for the moment it seems that the most appropriate ways are through the uniting of people around specific goals and acts whereby people, usually as individuals who have different formal affiliations and loyalties come together to pledge or promise to behave in certain ways and to support one another in the pursuit of that behavior. That is covenanting. Those promises or covenants made may rest or be seen to rest on mutual promises or on Divine support. For the most part, at first they will be understood as private rather than public commitments. However, there are areas of agreement, for example, with regard to democracy and human rights, that go beyond the private. Here covenant must provide a basis for dialogue. In those areas we can bring publics together to accept certain standards of behavior in such a way that federal liberty is restored.

    Federal Versus Natural Liberty

    One of the most prominent dimensions of this struggle between "New Age" neo-paganism and monotheistic morality has been in the definition of what constitutes liberty and all that flows from it. From the very first, New Age thinking has embraced natural liberty as true liberty, the liberty of everyone to do as he or she pleases on the erroneous premise "as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else." This is a liberty of "doin' what comes naturally" stretched into "let it all hang out." It is a liberty limited only by nature. In the past, when most humans had to confront the raw elements of nature unprotected as it were, that kind of liberty may have had some merit since only the fittest could survive. (Obviously there are great problems regarding the humanness of such a situation.) That is the liberty of the North American "mountain men" encountering the great American West during the first half of the nineteenth century.

    However, the truth of human history is that humans have not accepted life under conditions of truly natural liberty precisely because for most individuals it was nasty, brutish, and short. Consequently, from earliest times, humans other than barbarians either accept tyranny for protection or have pursued federal liberty, whether understood as the liberty flowing from mutual covenants of the Hobbesian kind or liberty based upon covenants between God and humans of the biblical kind.15 In both cases liberty became the liberty to live up to one's promises, obligations, tasks, and traits which one freely accepted through covenants freely entered into for reasons of both idealism and self-interest and which then were and are binding and have to be maintained.

    Natural liberty still works today in some cases, as witness all the deaths from drug overdoses, alcoholism, and other substance abuse. But, since natural liberty is from nature, its consequences are inevitably random and unjust. Consequently it is impossible to build civilization on the basis of natural liberty.

    Only federal liberty offers the possibility of building civilization. Today humanity has in certain respects returned to the state of nature and again must begin to build its covenants from the beginning if we are to have a viable federal liberty. Much of what will have to be rebuilt will be very similar to the covenants which have bound us in earlier ages because they encompass enduring truths, but it seems that every so often humanity must rediscover those enduring truths by reverting to a state of nature and learning about them the hard way. This is one of those times. For these purposes, we may use Hobbes' articles of covenant as a modest but powerful starting point.

    Recovenanting for Civil Community

    To summarize, recovenanting is necessary so as to bring the moral teachings of monotheism back into the public square to define and shape the norms of civil society. That recovenanting must proceed from two directions simultaneously: in the public realm for those matters of widely understood to be of common interest by public governmental and nongovernmental bodies and for those involving individual moral behavior that is less easily visible to all on the basis of private undertakings, on an issue by issue basis, through the private sphere. Hopefully through rebuilding in both directions humanity will ultimately restore comprehensive federal liberty that will unite public and private without merging them into one, allowing each to retain its own integrity. Then we will not only have civil society but civil community as well.

    The challenge for our time is how to achieve community in an age in which freedom and individualism have become essential characteristics and are valued for their own sake. While the idea of community is important to the covenant principle, this community needs to also emphasize personal responsibility and voluntary decisions. Mutual responsibility based upon a commitment to deal with common concerns or possible problems leads to covenantal relationships. If community is to be achieved, it must be achieved within this environment. Freedom is a desirable and highly valued principle. Individualism, also desirable in many respects, is well imbedded into the American political culture.

    Where there are no strong organic ties, covenant can achieve community. To the extent that covenant is both a theological and political concept, it is informed by a moral or ethical perspective that treats political relationships in the classical manner, that is, it links power and justice -- the two faces of politics -- and preserves the classic and ancient linkages between ethics and politics. Again, the emphasis is on relationships rather than structures, per se, as the key to political justice. Structures are always important, but ultimately, no matter how finely tuned the structures, they come alive (or fail to) only through the human relationships that inform them.

    While there has been different interpretations of the covenant principle across various regions and from generation to generation, there also has been a broad area of agreement which has unified those who subscribed to the principle and which set them and their doctrine apart within the larger realm of political theory. For Americans, for example, covenant provided a means for a free people to form political communities without sacrificing their essential freedom and without making energetic government impossible. Federal liberty which is based on covenant, enhances pluralism and makes it workable. Federal liberty limits individual freedom. Those who live in a system of federal liberty live by rules that society has created. These rules limit both the individual and the government.

    In order to do all of this, partisans of monotheistic morality need to first, capture the conceptual and terminological high ground in the United States and, for that matter, the world. We are helped in this effort by the revival of the idea of civil society as a result of the Central and Eastern European revolts against Communism of the 1980s. In that sense, 1989 was the kind of watershed year that 1689 and 1789 were in their respective centuries.

    The revival of the idea of civil society brings us face to face with the ideational matrix from which it developed originally, itself derived from the covenant tradition in Western politics, an idea so well enunciated in the seventeenth century by Hobbes, Locke, and others. That ideal held that human beings ended the state of nature in which they found themselves trapped, to their great disadvantage, by coming together and covenanting with one another to establish civil society so that the stronger few could not dominate the weaker many, while the weaker many could band together to protect themselves without having to destroy the stronger few.

    More specifically, the original order of civil society also was covenantal in the way that it recognized that humans came together to form political societies by giving up only as much of their independence as they had to, retaining for themselves all the rest, and in connection with that in which they gave up exclusive control, retaining a share of the decision-making power with regard to it as well. Civil society was an idea that spread throughout Western Europe in the seventeenth century, but it took two forms based on the prior experiences of continental Europe and the British Isles.

    On the European continent where statism had already emerged as the most powerful political force by the mid-seventeenth century and the idea of the reified state had become dominant, civil society was viewed as that mediating set of associations between the reified state and the private sphere. Most of those intermediate associations were themselves corporations, not so much reflecting the fluidity inherent in human organization but the establishment of rather rigid corporate structures that were neither part of the state nor belonged to individuals, such as the church, the great trading corporations, and the universities.

    On the other hand, in the British Isles where kings reigned but were restricted by traditional constitutions and no state in the reified sense emerged, civil society was the term used to describe the entire political-social order, which consisted of three parts: the governmental, the private, and the public but nongovernmental sectors. The last consisted of voluntary associations voluntarily entered into by private individuals seeking to combine for public purposes without turning to invoke the powers of government.

    Covenant needs to be examined in three dimensions: as a form of political conceptualization and mode of political expression, as a source of political ideology, and as a factor shaping political culture and behavior. As a form of political conceptualization, covenant shapes the way in which people look at the world and understand the nature of civil society. As a source of political ideology, covenant shapes the world views or perspectives of whole societies, defining their civil character and political relationships, and serving as a touchstone for testing the legitimacy and even the efficiency of their political institutions and those who operate them.

    Perhaps most important is the role of covenant as a factor in shaping political culture and behavior. This factor is the most difficult to measure and yet is operationally the most significant dimension of covenant. All evidence points to the existence of certain covenantal peoples whose political cultures are informed by covenantal and related concepts, which in turn influence their political behavior. Adherence to the covenant maintains the health of these peoples.

    Any study of covenant as a phenomenon must focus on these dimensions. Indeed, the intellectual challenge of studying this phenomenon grows out of the possibility of using covenant as a seminal concept which has been given ideological expression and even more importantly, has shaped political culture and through it, political behavior. Studying the linkages between these and the way in which they occurred in various communities and societies is a major intellectual challenge of political science.

    The need exists to re-examine some of the characteristics of covenantal groups in order to regain an understanding of how covenant can be reinvigorated. The question needs to be asked, "Is a synthesis of openness and exclusivity possible?" An understanding of theoretical models of opened and closed covenants will lead to an improved basis upon which to both study and encourage covenantal relationships. Much of what we think regarding partnerships are based on the notion that they are closed. Covenantal relationships, by their very nature, are limiting. However, there are cases of openness in covenantal relationships, such as alliances with respect to nations and adoption with respect to families. Both of these examples show some degree of openness in an otherwise closed covenant.

    The question of openness and exclusivity in a particular polity is an important one. This aspect of a polity informs policy as well as perceptions from outside. Institutionalized racism, ideological extremism are just two examples of how the degree to which a given polity is closed impacts upon it. Further, a culturally or ethnically homogeneous society may not intend for their policies to create the reaction they do from the outside.

    Returning to covenantal roots reemphasizes civil society and the necessary balance between the private and public spheres. A reassessment of the covenantal idea would change the way contemporaries view important questions and contribute to citizenship. No doubt any resolution to the issue of religion in the public square will rest heavily on public nongovernmental action rather than governmental, but action sustained by governmental backing of a certain kind.

    To move into a recovenanting mode we need to reemphasize that second theory which is also the American theory, namely, that even government, although it has been granted coercive powers by its constituents, is basically no more than a comprehensive association in a world of associations established by agreement and responsible to those who establish them. This is the theory of federal democracy. Viewing the polity and public nongovernmental associations within it in this manner serves to promote the diffusion of conflicts, the understanding of constitutions as both tools of empowerment and tools of restraint.

    Federal democracy is a pluralistic means to deal with the problem of pluralism. Pluralism taken alone essentially rests on sociological foundations which are neither limited nor protected. In other words, the sociology of pluralism can permit an "anything goes" society because it has no way to judge from among the various pluralistic options. At the same time, pluralism will exist only as long as the society maintains it. There are no constitutional restraints on the elimination of pluralism if circumstances otherwise permit it.

    Federal democracy, on the other hand, because it involves organization by covenant and the establishment of covenants and constitutions that both empower and restrain, can make collective decisions as to what is legitimate and what is not, and can protect what it determines as legitimate. Federal democracy and federal liberty also enable humans to move from overemphasis on rights and rights language alone to a serious consideration of obligations as well. Covenantal obligations are not the obligations of a subordinate to a superior as in a hierarchical system, but rather the shared obligations of humans to a mutually accepted agreement.

    In the monotheistic religions such agreements rest upon a concept antecedent to and larger than both rights and obligations, namely the idea of human dignity, that all humans as God's creatures have a certain inherent dignity which is maintained by endowing them with obligations whose exercise confirms that they are human and turns their dignity into something meaningful. It is through the fulfillment of those obligations that humans gain rights. For example, if the Bible demands that we protect the widows and the orphans, that is our obligation to God. As a result of that obligation, the widows and the orphans gain certain rights to gleaning fields and to otherwise partake in the produce of the community in order to live. But the obligation is prior to the right.

    Covenants themselves must be based upon mutual trust. In the last analysis all political society requires some measure of trust, but covenantal societies rest on a minimum of coercion and a maximum of consent which means that they require more trust than others. Perhaps that is why Hobbes referred to the pacts which humans made to remove themselves from the state of nature as covenants, appreciating the amount of trust required to execute and maintain them. The cultivation of covenantal trust is in itself a major social and political good.

    Restoring Moderation by Abandoning the Extremes

    Robert Licht has made the extremely important point that the American founding was a success despite the incipient or actual conflicts in American society because both those Americans who derived their democratic republican views from the Enlightenment and those who derived them from one of the monotheistic faiths were able to find common ground.16 Licht goes on to suggest that they were able to do so because the moderates from both sides retained dominance. They successfully excluded the extremists from each side so that, rather than exaggerate their differences, they could find the necessary common ground that made it possible to achieve the syntheses of the American Revolutionary era culminating in the Constitution of the United States, and to launch nearly a century in which there was an equally healthy synthesis between religion and the public square.

    In the late nineteenth and throughout the twentieth century, those syntheses became unraveled as the extremists among both the contemporary products of the Enlightenment and contemporary supporters of biblical religion gained the upper hand in their respective camps. It is the task of all Americans to restore that synthesis by bringing moderation back into the saddle in both camps so that together they can explore useful ways for the religious spirit to express itself in the public square without bringing about the pernicious effects that organized religion sometimes has had on the body politic.


    1. See, e.g., Daniel J. Elazar, Covenant and Constitutionalism; Donald Lutz, The Origins of American Constitutionalism (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1988); Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America (New York: Colonial Press, 1989) Ellis Sandoz, ed.

    2. John Winthrop, A History of New England, 1630-1649, ed. James Savage (Boston: Little Brown & Co., 1853) 2:279-82.

    3. Oxford English Dictionary, "Federal" and "Confederal." At first the two words were so closely related that they were used synonymously until the American Civil War added an additional dimension to the theory of federalism by sharpening the distinction between them. Federal was not used in its present sense until 1777, during the American Revolution. Its modern usage, then, is an American invention. The invention of the term federalism to indicate the existence of a "federal principle or system of political organization" (quoting the Oxford English Dictionary) did not come until 1793, after the principle was already embodied in a great work of political theory and the constitution of a potentially great nation.

    4. George Mendenhall, Law and the Ancient Near East (Pittsburgh: Biblical Colloquium, 1957).

    5. Harry V. Jaffa, "Abraham Lincoln" in American Political Thought, eds. Morton Frisch and Richard G. Stevens (Itasca, IL: F. E. Peacock, 1983) pp. 195-215.

    6. Carl Becker, The Declaration of Independence (New York: Vintage, 1958); Gary Wills, Inventing America: Jefferson's Declaration of Independence (New York: Vintage Books, 1979); Daniel J. Elazar, The American Constitutional Tradition (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1984).

    7. James Wilson at the Pennsylvania ratifying conventon, as quoted in John Bach McMaster and Frederick B. Stone, Pennsylvania and the Federal Constitution, 1787-1788, (New York: Da Capo Press, 1970).

    8. Peter S. Onuf, Statehood and Union: A History of the Northwest Ordinance (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1987).

    9. Harry V. Jaffa, "Abraham Lincoln" in American Political Thought, eds. Morton Frisch and Richard G. Stevens (Itasca, IL: F. E. Peacok, 1983) pp. 195-215.

    10. Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, ed. J. P. Mayer, translation by George Lawrence (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1969).

    11. See, e.g., Paul M. Edwards, The Doctrines and Covenants (Independence, O: Herald Pub. House, 1988).

    12. Marquis W. Childs, Ethics In a Business Society (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1954); Daniel J. Elazar, "Deuteronomy as Israel's Ancient Constitution: Some Preliminary Reflections," in Jewish Political Studies Review, Vol. 4, No. 1 (Spring, 1992).

    13. Yehezkel Kaufman, A Religiao de Israel do inicino ao erilio Babilonico (The Religion of Israel) (Sao Paulo: Associacao Universtaria de Cultura Judaico, 1989); Timothy Fuller, "The Idea of Christianity in Hobbes's Leviathan," in Jewish Political Studies Review, Thomas Hobbes Confronts the Bible, Volume 4, Number 2 (Nos. 3-4), Fall 5753/1992; Robert Licht, "Communal Democracy, Modernity, and the Jewish Political Tradition," Jewish Political Studies Review, Communal Democracy and Liberal Democracy in the Jewish Political Tradition, Volume 5, Numbers 1 & 2 (Spring, 1993).

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