What’s a single man blathering about? Jesus on marriage

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The church throughout its history has laid claim to Jesus’ teaching about marriage. It has dubbed the declared distillations to be the “dominical words on marriage.” The only problem is that historical criticism has left contemporary readers with no certainty about what Jesus actually said; literary critics have destabilised whether Jesus’ words on marriage were ever intended to be transtemporal; textual critics have demonstrated the impossibility of nailing down any fixed teaching and ideological critics have shown the vested interests of scribes in shaping the meaning of the text from the very beginning. Marriage, it seems, is a Rorschach test completely subject to the needs and interests of those who venture into looking at it. Consequently Jesus can relegate marriage to a practice not even worthy of the resurrection, prize it open to multiple spouses whether contemporaneous or sequential, enforce asymmetrical pairings based on gender, and generally fall in with whatever state or church decisions might be. “Dominical words on marriage” proves to be a house built on sand.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)148-162
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Religious History
Issue number2
Early online dateJun 2019
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jul 2019


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