Divorce & Remarriage in the Bible

The social and literary context

Dr. David Instone-Brewer (Eerdmans, 2002)

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Ch. 1: The Ancient Near East:
Marriage is a contract
The Marriage Covenant
Marriage covenants in the ancient Near East
Payment and penalties in marriage covenants
Stipulations in marriage covenants
Legal records of marriage covenants
Marriage is a 'contract'

Ch. 2: The Pentateuch:
The divorce certificate allows remarriage
Distinctiveness of the Pentateuch
The monogamist ideal
The Practice of Divorce
Rights of women to divorce
The Rights of women to remain married
The right of women to a divorce certificate, and to remarry
The Rights of women to remain remarried
The primary distinctiveness of the Pentateuch

Ch. 3: The Later Prophets:
Breaking marriage vows is condemned
The Marriage metaphor before Hosea
Hosea's portrayal of Yahweh's marriage problems
Jeremiah's development of Hosea
Ezekiel on Judah's breaking of the marriage contract
Isaiah on Yahweh's divorce certificate
A consistent picture of God's divorce
Malachi on God's hatred of divorce

Ch. 4: Intertestamental Period:
Increasing rights for women
Polygamy in Israel
Qumran exegetes prohibited polygamy
Qumran exegetes did not criticise divorce or remarriage
Ginzberg's Explanation of "during their lives"
Divorce by Jewish women becomes easier outside Israel
Divorces by Jewish men and women at Elephantine
Development of the Jewish marriage contract
Discouragement of divorce by Simeon ben Shetah

Ch. 5: Rabbinic Teaching:
Increasing grounds for divorce
Divorces by women
Infertility as a ground for divorce
Unfaithfulness as a ground for divorce
Grounds for divorce in Exodus 21.10f
Material neglect as a ground for divorce
Emotional neglect as a ground for divorce
The no-fault 'Any Matter' divorce
The normal rabbinic divorce
Remarriage of widows and divorcees
Remarriage was Adulterous after an invalid divorce

Ch. 6: Jesus' Teaching:
Divorce on Biblical grounds only
The Question
Digression on Monogamy and lifelong marriage
Moses' Teaching
Answering the Question
The Exception
The Short Versions
Abbreviating the Answer
Marriage and children are not compulsory
Which version came first?
Putting it all together
The Practical Consequences of Jesus' Teaching
Other grounds for divorce

Ch. 7: Paul's Teaching:
Biblical grounds include neglect
Divorce in the Graeco-Roman world
The Emotional Obligations in Marriage
The Material Obligations in Marriage
Desertion is not a valid means of divorce
"Not bound"
"for God has called us to peace"
Marriage is good, and lifelong, but difficult at present
Remarriage after widowhood (or divorce)
Romans 7.1-4: married to the Law or Christ

Ch. 8: Marriage Vows:
Vows inherited from the Bible and Judaism
Jewish marriage vows
- Early Judaism (1st to 4th CE)
- Traditional Judaism (Talmud to Geniza)
- Karaite Judaism
- Samaritan Judaism
- Development of Jewish marriage vows
Christian Marriage Vows
- Faithfulness
- "Husband of one wife"
- Feed and clothe
- Vows in modern marriage services
- Obey is not a NT marriage vow


Ch. 9: History of Divorce:
Interpretations in church history
The loss of Jewish teaching at 70 CE
Interpretations by the Church Fathers
- Hermas
- Justin Martyr
- Athenagoras
- Theophilus
- Clement of Alexandria
- Tertullian
- Origen
- Irenaeus and Ptolemaeus
- Ambrosiaster
- Jerome and Chrysostom
- Epiphanius
- Augustine
- Aquinas and subsequent canon law
- Summarising the Fathers
Interpretations after the Reformation
- Erasmus
- Luther
- Zurich and Geneva Reformers
- English Reformers
- Modern England
- The Growth in Divorces

Ch. 10: Modern Re-interpretations:
Different ways to understand the biblical text
How many grounds for divorce apply today?
What does Porneia mean today?
What does Paul's exception mean today?
When is Remarriage allowed?
How much does the NT agree with the OT and 1st century Judaism?
What is the main message of the NT about divorce?

Ch. 11: Pastoral Conclusions:
Reversing institutionalised misunderstandings
An Overview
How should we read Scripture?
Modern Church Practice
The NT's message to the modern world
Christian Grounds for Divorce
What the church should do

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