Research – Upcoming and Recent:
REMARRIAGE IN EARLY CHRISTIANITY (forthcoming from Wm. B. Eerdmans, tentative May 2024 release)
This work, the first of its kind, will offer a comprehensive examination of remarriage in the early Christian movement. An introduction will briefly survey the cultural acceptability of divorce and remarriage in the Jewish, Greco-Roman, and modern worlds. Even as historical Jesus researchers have lamented finding images of themselves at the bottom of the well, any study of remarriage must begin cognizant of the modern researcher’s social location.
Taking into account the full range of recent methodological critiques of Jesus research, the first chapter will apply a variety of criteria—traditional and refined—to offer a surer reconstruction of a “historical Jesus,” who taught very strictly against both divorce and remarriage. The Gospels of Mark and Luke convey to their audiences the same rigorous (and counter-cultural) teaching.
The second chapter will examine in detail the divorce and remarriage passages in Matthew’s Gospel, especially their exception clauses (Matt. 5:32; 19:9). Although scholars regularly consider the exceptions modifications of Jesus’ teaching on both divorce and remarriage, they likely modify only Jesus’ prohibition of divorce.
The Apostle Paul tackles divorce and remarriage in 1 Corinthians 7, the topic of the third chapter. He allows both a divorce between a Christ-believer and a non-Christ-believer and, most would contend, remarriage after divorce. Although several verses in the chapter may be construed as permitting remarriage, ultimately 1 Cor. 7 restricts remarriage to those whose spouses have died.
The final chapter traces early Christian teaching on remarriage through the Council of Nicea in the first half of the fourth century. The conclusion will summarize the book, reflect on how the early Christians navigated remarriages already in place, and track the trend in recent scholarship to expand the biblical exceptions for divorce and remarriage. The finalized manuscript is in the hands of Eerdmans, and the book is to be released in 2024.
Scripture, Texts and Tracings in Galatians and 1 Thessalonians. Co-editor, with B. J. Oropeza (and contributor). Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, fall 2023.
This collection of essays advances the interpretation of Galatians and 1 Thessalonians by exploring how the Apostle Paul quoted, alluded to, or “echoed” the Jewish Scriptures. Identification of allusions is at the forefront, as are questions of methodology, the texture of Paul’s theology, his understanding of Scripture, and implications for other areas of Pauline studies. The contributors also include: B. J. Oropeza, Matthew Harmon, Nicolai Techow, Craig Keener, Roy Ciampa, Mark Seifrid, Ernest Clark, Channing Crisler, Christoph Heilig, Jeffrey Weima, and Nijay Gupta. The final manuscript was submitted to the publisher in May 2023.
Scripture, Texts and Tracings in 2 Corinthians and Philippians. Co-editor, with B. J. Oropeza (and contributor). Lanham, MD: Lexington Books / Fortress Academic, spring 2022.
This collection of essays advances the interpretation of Romans by exploring how the Apostle Paul quoted, alluded to, or “echoed” the Jewish Scriptures. Identification of allusions is at the forefront, as are questions of methodology, the texture of Paul’s theology, his understanding of Scripture, and implications for other areas of Pauline studies
Presentations – Upcoming and Recent:
November 2023 Disputed Paulines Section of the Society of Biblical Literature
The Faithful Univira and Remarriage in the Pastorals
With innovative language, the author of the Pastorals requires the overseer, the deacon, and the elder to be μιᾶς γυναικὸς ἀνήρ (1 Tim 3:2, 12; Tit 1:6). Correspondingly, those in the office of widow are to be wives of one husband (ἑνὸς ἀνδρὸς γυνή; 1 Tim 5:8). Since Sidney Page’s 1993 essay contending that the first phrase should be translated with the NEB as “faithful to his one wife,” scholarship has reached a near consensus: The phrase refers to the quality of the candidate’s marital relationship and not to marital status per se. The criteria for officeholders are traits that are to be practiced by all Christ-believers and were likewise praiseworthy in the larger society.
This paper will therefore begin with the larger society and the Roman tradition of the univira. Literary references (e.g., the Aeneid) supplement the inscriptional evidence in understanding the tradition. Several elements are noteworthy: 1) The univira traditions are not limited to wives’ fidelity to their one husband but also include, correspondingly, husbands faithful to their one wife; 2) The univira traditions, while Roman, influenced the eastern part of the empire; 3) The univira traditions lasted into the period well after the birth of the Christ movement; 4) The univira traditions entailed a wife or husband’s lifelong faithfulness and devotion to the spouse; 5) Jews and members of the Christ-movement continued the univira tradition. The likely influence of the univira ideal on the two Pastoral phrases would point to both marital status and the marital relationship.
The primary objection lodged against this approach has been the acceptability of remarriage among early Christians. In fact, the Pastorals commend marriage and even remarriage in the case of younger widows. The acceptance of remarriage for the widow, however, is one matter. The early Christ movement’s acceptance of remarriage for the divorced is unlikely. Remarriage after divorce is repeatedly labeled adulterous, even to the point that historical Jesus researchers consider such censure one of the surest results of the enterprise. The Apostle Paul likewise sanctions remarriage for widows but not for the divorced.
Influenced by the Greco-Roman ideal and by Paul’s perspective, the Pastorals would thus be requiring the male officeholder to be the husband of one wife, that is, faithful and devoted to a single woman in the course of her lifetime. Likewise, those in the office of widow are to have been faithful and devoted to the one man in the course of his lifetime.
Evangelical Theological Society November 2022
“What Does 14:1–15:13 Tell Us about Jewish Christianity in Rome?” Evangelical Theological Society, Romans Consultation, a multi-year, invited seminar; papers to be published in 2023.
Wichita, Kansas April 2022
Remarriage in Early Christianity
Society of Biblical Literature November 2021
“Galatians 6:16’s Riddles and Isaiah 54:10’s Contribution: Gentiles Joining the Israel of God?” at the Scripture and Paul Seminar of the Society of Biblical Literature (San Antonio).