Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible: The Social and Literary Context

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Take the discussion with you using tablet and mobile apps. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive research tools are in one place, so you get the most out of your study. Check out more Eerdmans Biblical Studies 10 vols. Format: Digital. Like Jesus, Paul emphasized ways to stay married, rather than ways to divorce. Chapter eight deals with the marriage vows in Judaism and Christianity and concludes that the Christian marriage service can be regarded as a version of the biblical marriage contract, largely because the wording "cherish, honor and love" can be traced back to the Bible and Old Testament marriage contracts.

This reviewer regards chapter nine as the most important chapter in the book because it traces the history of interpretation of these difficult texts and the reason for the wrong assumptions that were regularly made from early on.

Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible : The Social and Literary Context

Because virtually all non-Hillelite teaching was lost during the late first century, the question of divorce on the grounds of the "any matter" interpretation was understood as a question about "any divorce". Similarly, when Jesus condemned divorces for "any matter", he appeared to condemn all divorces. When he affirmed the interpretation "a matter of indecency" he appeared to have made an exception for adultery only. Instone-Brewer brings new insights because of his reading of the text in a culturally sensitive way through the eyes of a Christian living at the time when the texts were written.

He shows convincingly that the traditional view most churches hold, is based on reading the text through the eyes of someone from the second century or beyond, when specific details of the first-century culture have been forgotten.

This is why most churches regard divorce per se as a sin, which is not the case in the New Testament where sin lies in the breaking of the marriage vows. This does not mean that divorce should be encouraged.

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Because of his research Instone-Brewer has a more pastoral view of divorce and remarriage, while at the same time concluding that according to the New Testament divorce should be avoided whenever possible. A believer should never break the marriage vows and should try to forgive a repentant partner who has done so.

Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible | Cokesbury

By taking into account the social and literary context to an extent never seen before, this book offers new insights into the original meaning of Jesus' and Paul's teaching about divorce and remarriage, Instone-Brewer succeeds both in simplifying the original meaning of the texts and in complicating matters for the modern church which for centuries has based its teaching on wrong assumptions. It challenges the church to review its teaching and makes an exemplary contribution to this field of enquiry.


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