What did early Christians actually believe about remarriage after divorce?  
 


The New Testament sends mixed messages about divorce. Jesus forbids it in Mark’s and Luke’s Gospels, but he seems to make an exception for victims of infidelity in Matthew’s Gospel. Paul permits divorce in 1 Corinthians when an unbeliever initiates it. Yet other Pauline passages imply that remarriage after divorce constitutes adultery.  
 

A. Andrew Das confronts this dissonance in Remarriage in Early Christianity. Challenging scholarly consensus, Das argues that early Christians did not approve of remarriage after divorce. His argument—covering contemporary Jewish and Greco-Roman contexts, the Gospels, Paul’s epistles, and ante-Nicene interpretation—reveals greater consistency in early Christianity than is often assumed. Das pays special attention to the Greek words used in contemporary bills of divorce and in the New Testament, offering much-needed clarity on hotly contested concepts like porneia

At once sensitive and objective, Das finds an exegetically sound answer to the question of remarriage among early Christians. This bold study will challenge scholars and enlighten any Christian concerned with what Scripture has to say on this perennially relevant topic.

Endorsements:

Professor Das has produced a remarkable and definitive discussion of remarriage in early Christianity. His detailed examination of the NT material has the virtue of being placed in the context of a comprehensive review of remarriage in Judaism, the Greco-Roman world, and the church of the first four centuries. The result is a fascinating exploration of the influence of evolving cultures upon the interpretation of scripture. Das presents a brilliant defense of a controversial and disconcerting conclusion that will have to be reckoned with in all future discussion of the subject.

Donald A. Hagner, Fuller Theological Seminary

An expert, in-depth analysis of the New Testament material related to remarriage after divorce by comparison with biblical, Jewish, and Greco-Roman sources. Das’s conclusion that there is no clear exception for remarriage after divorce anywhere in the New Testament, by contrast to the well-accepted assumption of remarriage after divorce in the comparative materials examined, is sure to provoke debate and warrants serious consideration. A discussion of the ante-Nicene authors’ rejection of remarriage after divorce is included, and numerous subtopics are explored, such as the meaning of porneia and the ancient practice of the sexual use of slaves. Highly recommended for specialists.

Judith Gundry, Yale Divinity School

Book Details:

Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.:

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-8028-8374-2
  • Ebook ISBN: 978-1-4674-6751-3
  • Publication Date: June 27, 2024

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