Divorce and Remarriage

Justin Taylor has noted that David Instone-Brewer has a helpful summary article here on divorce and remarriage. I have posted my comments in a Word document:  outline-analysis-i-corinthians-7.doc.

 I have great respect for the research of Instone-Brewer. I read his academic texts in full when I was re-examining the issues of marriage, divorce and remarriage for our church. However, I still find disagreement with his conclusions. Similarly, I have great respect for the research of Andreas Kostenberger while remaining in disagreement with his conclusions. 

My post draws from a much larger, non-technical document written for my congregation on these issues. I have removed discussion of Greek terms. In the post, I do not address all of the concerns raised by Instone-Brewer. However, I attempt to address the issue of marriage, divorce and remarriage from Paul’s argument in I Corinthians 7 based on the Literary Design. As in the post, The Very Right of God, on the I-35 Bridge Collapse (below), I attempt to follow the theory of Hirsch in making interpretive judgments. 

Unfortunately, having pastoral duties and other writing projects, I cannot now give more time to the exegetical discussion. However, based on previous research, I am fairly certain that the exegetical and historical considerations would agree with the conclusions drawn. I am thankful for men with the research abilities and scholastic discipline of Instone-Brewer and Kostenberger who write for the cause of the Truth. May their tribe increase to the glory of God in Jesus Christ. 

Finally, it is worth noting that I am particularly burdened to call people to the Biblical standards on marriage, divorce and remarriage as an African American believer. Many, if not all, of the social ills affecting our community from within can be traced to a failure of marriage and family in our community. The African American community needs many preachers who will call people in our churches to do marriage according to the Lord’s standards. I am attempting to do this were I serve; but not I, but grace. When I stand before the Lord of glory, I hope I will find that the meaning of the texts has fueled my burden for my people and not vice-versa. 

UPDATE – 10/22/07

Since the original post above, John Piper has posted a response to David Instone-Brewer here. Andreas Kostenberger has posted a reply to questions posed to his responses to Instone-Brewer and Piper here Instone-Brewer posted a response to Piper here.

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One response to “Divorce and Remarriage

  1. Thanks for your analysis Pastor Redmond.

    I also take issue with Instone-Brewer’s conclusions. I think the biggest problem with his article (which is essentially an abstract of his published works) is his central thesis, namely that a correct understanding of the Bible’s teaching can only be attained through a doctorate level study of ancient rabbinic writings (though he does not say this is his central thesis, it does control the entire article and his conclusion). He does not argue based on hermeneutical, lexical, exegetical, or literary grounds, but on historical background alone. I do not doubt the importance of historical background for it certainly sheds light on certain aspects of the scriptures that are difficult for us to understand being so far removed culturally. However it is an entirely different thing to say that a passage of scripture is impossible to understand without a certain expertise in historical background. This presupposes that the Scriptures are constrained by historical background rather than being clarified by such. Would God communicate his truth to all people for all time by inspiring a passage that could only be widely understood by one culture or by a select group of scholars centuries later?

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