Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Instone-Brewer III

I just received David Instone-Brewer's book "Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible" in the mail. I've started in on it and should have it read by the New Year's. I realize in glancing over it that Instone-Brewer offers a synopsis of this book in a link I provided earlier. In reading that article I found that Instone-Brewer mentions a William Heth in the endnotes:

  • "See Gordon J. Wenham and William E. Heth, Jesus and Divorce, updated edition (Carlisle, Cumbria: Paternoster Press, 2002), though it is significant that Heth now supports the position presented in this article."

I looked up William Heth. He was a strong proponent of no remarriage under any circumstances after divorce until the death of the (former) spouse. See his book from 1985. So for what its worth, here is a convert from that doctrine.

Heth's mostly favorable review of Instone-Brewer's book is reprinted here.

Quickly, Instone-Brewer's exegesis of the NT on divorce and remarriage is based on the historical and rabbinical writings of the 1st century AD. From that he gained insights into the questions being pressed upon Jesus by the Pharisees on the question of divorce. His publication from Baylor University mentioned above concludes with this:

  • If we understand the New Testament through the eyes of a first-century Jewish reader, we find Jesus and Paul in perfect agreement, while addressing different audiences. Both forbid divorce unless it is based on biblical grounds. Both affirm the biblical grounds which they were asked about—Jesus, the ground of adultery, and Paul, the grounds of neglect. Jesus took the opportunity to criticize many aspects of the Jewish theology of marriage that he disagreed with—including infertility as a ground for divorce, allowing polygamy, and compulsory divorce for adultery. Jesus taught forgiveness rather than hasty divorce, though he agreed that a hard-hearted partner who repeatedly broke marriage vows unrepentantly could be divorced. Paul’s emphasis was that marriages to unbelievers were sacred in God’s eyes and that no believer should cause a divorce by neglecting their obligations or by abandoning their spouse.
I'll comment on the book sometime after the New Year. In the meanwhile I'll try to answer any comments on any of the previous blogs.

If you find a good coherent argument against biblical remarriage on the web please post the links in the comments section below. By coherent I mean something other than saying Mark 10:11-12 is a blanket statement against all divorce and remarriage. What does Mark say about remarriage for the innocent spouse? Nothing. I commented on this before.

Merry Christmas to all.

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