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Title: The theology of the corporation : sources and history of the corporate relation in Christian tradition
Author: Black, Michael Thomas
ISNI:       0000 0004 2690 9925
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2010
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This essay presents evidence that the institution of the corporation has its origins and its main developmental 'epochs' in Judaeo-Christian theology. The notion of the nahala as the institutional symbol of the Covenant between YHWH and Israel is a primal example of the corporate relationship in its creation of an identity independent of its members, its demand for radical accountability on the part of its members, and in its provision of immunity for those who act in its name. On the basis of the same Covenant, St. Paul transforms an ancillary aspect of Roman Law, the peculium, into the central relationship of the Christian world through its implicit use as the institutional background to the concept of the Body of Christ. The exceptional nature of this relationship allows the medieval Franciscans and the papal curia to create what had been lacking in Roman Law, an institution which can own property but which cannot be owned. This relationship is subsequently theorized as the Eternal Covenant by Reformed theologians and successfully tested in one of the greatest theological/social experiments ever recorded, the 17th century settlement of North America. The alternative 'secular' explanation of the corporation provided by 19th century legal philosophy relies implicitly on the theological foundations of the corporation and remains incoherent without these foundations. The theological history of the corporation was recovered in the findings of 20th century social scientists, who also identified corporate finance as the central corporate activity in line with its Levitical origins. Although the law of the corporation is secular, the way in which this law was made a central component of modern life is theological. Without a recovery of this theological context, the corporation is likely to continue as a serious social problem in need of severe constraint.
Supervisor: Wannenwetsch, Bernd Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Covenant theology ; Corporation law (Roman law) ; Corporations ; Religious aspects ; Christianity ; Covenants ; Puritans ; Social responsibility of business