The Word of God and the Words of Man





Richard Hooker’s Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity is one of the great landmarks of Protestant theological literature, and indeed of English literature generally. However, on account of its difficult and archaic style, it is scarcely read today. The time has come to translate it into modern English so that Hooker may teach a new generation of churchmen and Christian leaders about law, reason, Scripture, church, and politics.

In this third volume of an ongoing translation project by the Davenant Institute, we present Books II-III of Hooker’s Laws, comprising Hooker’s treatment of Scripture’s authority in relation to the authority of reason and human law. Hooker contends that although Scripture does not change, human affairs do, and so our application of Scripture to changing human societies (including the Church) requires the use of reason, prudence, and historical awareness. Scripture is our highest authority, but not the only authority that regulates human life. Perhaps more than any other part of the Laws, Hooker’s careful analysis of the relationship between the Word of God and the words of man remains intensely relevant to Christians today struggling to uphold the authority of the Bible without distorting it.

About the Author

Richard Hooker (1553/4-1600) was the pre-eminent theological writer of the Elizabethan church, and many would say in the entire history of the Church of England.


Bradford Littlejohn (Ph.D, University of Edinburgh), is the President of the Davenant Trust and a leading scholar of Richard Hooker’s thought, having authored Richard Hooker: A Companion to His Life and Work (Cascade, 2015), and The Promise and Peril of Christian Liberty: Richard Hooker, the Puritans, and Protestant Political Theology (Eerdmans, 2017).

Brian Marr is an editor and researcher at Canon Press, an alumnus of New Saint Andrews College, and a devoted servant of the liberal arts.

Bradley Belschner is a systems analyst at EMSI, a determined generalist, and an enthusiast of Reformation theology.