Date of Award

Spring 1997

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Hagen, Kenneth G.

Second Advisor

Hinze, Christine F.

Third Advisor

Donnelly, John P.


Saint Thomas More was born in England in 1478. He developed a love for the classics as a youth and after considering a religious vocation entered the practice of law. As a lawyer he served in several offices until finally being appointed Lord Chancellor by Henry VIII in 1529. His vocation took him beyond the law into humanist studies and Christian apologetics. His defense of the Church's teaching on the sanctity of conscience was the occasion of his resignation as chancellor in 1532 and subsequent martyrdom in 1535. The commitment to virtue that More demonstrated in his life and death are reflected in his Christian humanist writings. This study as a result is in furtherance of the thesis that: the works of More, though ad hoc in that they address diverse subjects, present a coherent moral theology. Chapter 1 is an introduction to the dissertation, methodology, and thesis. Chapter 2 explores the sources of More which are important for two principal reasons: to understand his thoughts in history and because he argues that sin tends to blind one making reliable sources necessary. Chapter 3 looks at the dependence of moral theology upon dogmatic theology and the need for authoritative sources and experiences. Chapter 4 examines More's understanding of the human need for virtue: including a look at the two principal settings in which the need is met: society and the Church. Chapter 5 surveys the obstacles and helps for a virtuous life. The practical concern of More for the human person illustrates his humanist foundation for morals. Chapter 6 concludes discussing More's interest in pastoral ministry which further reveals and expresses his humanist model for moral theology. As a whole, the dissertation seeks to offer evidence that the works of More are united by their common concern for human morality.



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