This is the body of tradition, thought and scripture, from Genesis to the present, which provides people of good will the tools to reflect on the world in light of revealed truth, and discern their way though it.
I've mentioned primary sources for studying the social teaching in an earlier post (December 7, 2007), and there are many interpretations of the social teaching, most developed to promote one political agenda or another, and most also feel the social teaching began with the encyclical of Pope Leo XIII, Rerum Novarum.
However, the social teaching began with Genesis, the creation, the expulsion from the garden, and Cain and Abel.
From the study of this history, in light of the Church’s teaching, we can discern the outlines of what God has been teaching us since the beginning.
The only scholar to approach the teaching from this perspective is the English Jesuit, Rodger Charles, and his two volume work, Christian Social Witness and Teaching is the definitive source.
There are not many copies on this side of the Atlantic but the link goes to Abe Books in the United Kingdom which offers many.
I will be spending several posts on this as it is one of the crucial elements for American Catholics, especially during the political season.