Selections from Introduction: (Click here for full text)
Divorce and Remarriage in the Church
Biblical Solutions for Pastoral Realities
by David Instone-Brewer
To many people, the Bible appears to have nothing sensible or relevant to say about divorce and remarriage. Its teaching often seems harsh and in saying that the only ground for divorce is adultery, it appears to condemn the victims of marital abuse to a lifetime sentence with their partner.
New research into the background literature of the Bible, the ancient Near East and ancient Judaism shows that the original hearers of these teachings would have understood them very differently. It has revealed that:
Introduction: What’s new?
"So, what do you do for a living?" the young man asked me with a barely stifled yawn. He was trying to sell me a time-share apartment and I was trying to get a free holiday without buying anything. I had to pretend to be interested in his product and he had to pretend to be interested in me.
"I study the Bible at a research institute in Cambridge."
He looked up suspiciously, as though he had caught me lying: "I thought they’d have finished studying the Bible by now. What else is left for you to find out?"
I’d like to say that I took the opportunity to present the Gospel to him, but I think I merely assured him that this was indeed what I did for a living and that there was lots of Biblical research left to be done.
It’s an unfortunate fact that there are still significant gaps in our knowledge of the language, culture and archaeology of the Bible. The 1st century especially has been less well understood because fewer non-Biblical documents have survived than from surrounding centuries. At present, however, our knowledge of the 1st century is expanding rapidly because we are beginning to properly understand the Dead Sea Scrolls and early rabbinic traditions as well as new scraps of ancient texts which are still being published.
The findings in this book are based on a multitude of new discoveries and academic publications by myself and others. The most important of these are as follows:
This wealth of new information gives us a much greater understanding of how people spoke and lived in the 1st century and, as a result, we can read the New Testament with fresh insight. We are closer than ever before to understanding what it meant to its very first hearers and readers – and to understanding what God says to us today.
Chapter 1 Confessions of a Confused Minister