The moments in Christ's human life noted in the creeds (his conception, birth, suffering, death, and burial) are events which would likely appear in a syllabus for a course in social anthropology, for they are of special interest and concern in human life, and also sites of contention and controversy, where what it is to be human is discovered, constructed, and contested. In other words, these are the occasions for profound and continuing questioning regarding the meaning of human life, as controversies to do with IVF, abortion, euthanasia, and the use of bodies or body parts post mortem plainly indicate.
Thus the following questions arise, how do the instances in Christ's life represent human life, and how do these representations relate to present day cultural norms, expectations, and newly emerging modes of relationship, themselves shaping and framing human life? How does the Christian imagination of human life, which dwells on and draws from the life of Christ, not only articulate its own, but also come into conversation with and engage other moral imaginaries of the human?
Michael Banner argues that consideration of these questions requires study of moral theology, therefore, he reconceives its nature and tasks, and in particular, its engagement with social anthropology. Drawing from social anthropology and Christian thought and practice from many periods, and influenced especially by his engagement in public policy matters including as a member of the UK's Human Tissue Authority, Banner aims to develop the outlines of an everyday ethics, stretching from before the cradle to after the grave.