Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Review of Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible IV

In his book "Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible" David Instone-Brewer states that Paul essentially reiterates the rights of a slave wife in Exodus 21:10-11 in 1 Corinthians 7. He also mentions that several other biblical scholars have noted that on page 194 of this text.
  • Exodus 21: 10-11 (NAS) 10 "If he takes to himself another woman, he may not reduce her food, her clothing, or her conjugal rights. 11 "If he will not do these three things for her, then she shall go out for nothing, without payment of money.
It is clear that Paul makes a statement for conjugal love in verses 2-5. Instone-Brewer thinks that verses 33-34 make the statement for material needs, i.e. food and clothing. He has a good case here.

Where things deviate between the OT and NT is that the Exodus passage was grounds for divorce in Jewish law, i.e. what is good for the slave wife is good for the free wife, hence good for the husband. Rabbis discouraged divorced by increasing the dowry for the offending husband or decreasing it for the offending wife until it was exhausted.

Instone-Brewer thinks that the Corinthians were familiar with this Jewish law based on verse 15.
  • 1 Co 7 (NAS) 15: Yet if the unbelieving one leaves, let him leave; the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called us to peace. 16: For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?
Verse 15 could imply this as this apostasy was grounds for divorce in Jewish Law. From the Jewish Encyclopedia:

  • The following causes are recognized as entitling the wife to demand a bill of divorce from her husband: refusal of conjugal rights (Ket. v. 6); impotence (Ned. xi. 12); when the husband has some loathsome disease, or leprosy, or is engaged in some malodorous business (Ket. vii. 9); the husband's refusal to support her (Ket. 77a); cruel treatment anddeprivation of her lawful liberty of person (Ket. vii. 2-5, v. 5); wife-beating (Eben ha-'Ezer, 154, 3, gloss); the husband's apostasy (Maimonides, "Yad," Ishut, iv. 15)—in the last-named case the Jewish courts, having lost their authority over him, could appeal to the courts of the Gentiles to carry out their mandate ("Bet Joseph," 134); the husband's licentiousness (Eben ha-'Ezer, 154, 1, gloss).
Indeed Paul deviates from Jewish law by advising the Christian to stay with the non-believer in verses 12-14.

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