Monday, August 27, 2007

Review of Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible: The Social and Literary Contex


ISSN 0045-0308

BOOK REVIEW Published in Volume 53, 2005

DAVID INSTONE-BREWER, Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible: The Social and Literary Context (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002). Pp. xi+355. $US26.00.
One of the strengths of this book is the close attention paid to primary sources, and the careful and considered approach to their interpretation. For readers who do not have Instone-Brewer’s expertise in either ancient near eastern texts or Rabbinics, this book is especially helpful. Instone-Brewer insists that, to properly understand the New Testament texts relating to divorce (and remarriage), it is essential that they be read “through the eyes of a first century believer.”


He concludes with the strong statement:
The message of the NT is that divorce is allowed but should be avoided whenever possible. Divorce is allowed only on the grounds of broken mar-riage vows, and the decision to divorce can be made only by the injured party … If divorce does happen, remarriage is permitted. All this would be obvious to a first-century believer, but the meaning of the text was obscured at a very early date due to ignorance about the Jewish background after 70 C.E. … The Church should now be humble and admit that a great mistake has been made. Too many generations of husbands and wives have been forced to remain with their abusing or neglectful partners and have not been allowed to divorce even after suffering repeated unfaithfulness.
Instone-Brewer’s book is a tour de force on this subject, and while it will inevitably raise serious questions and some disagreement, his treatment of the texts upon which debate must focus and the competent and judicious way in which he handles them de-serve the most serious attention......[more]

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