What We’re Reading: If You Can Keep It
This review was submitted for The Christian Chronicle's series 'What…
In “Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage: Seen Through the Character of God and the Mind of Jesus” Jerry Jones — a longtime minister for Churches of Christ and cofounder with his wife, Lynn, of Marriage Matters — carefully works through the relevant biblical texts with an obvious commitment to objectivity and shows us his research.
He points out the problems of some of the traditional ways of reading the texts. He also suggests an alternative paradigm through which to view the subject — reading the New Testament through the eyes and heart of God and Christ.
The book has three principal sections: the study of 1 Corinthians 7, a study of the Gospel passages and a conclusion. The in-depth academic study of 1 Corinthians is understandable, even for those who have not studied the text so deeply. Jones considers the occasional and situational nature of the Corinthian teaching as Paul’s response to a question from the Corinthians.
The comparative study of the Gospel texts is thorough — at times exhaustive — with multiple references to Old Testament backgrounds. Jones takes into account historical, cultural, linguistic and grammatical factors.
One could wish for more detail in the brief conclusion, but Jones has cast enough doubt on the traditional understandings of 1 Corinthians 7 and the Gospel texts to cause the reader to want to seek an alternative.
That alternative, calling us to God’s nature, character, desire and purpose, gives a fresh perspective — not only to the texts related to the study, but to many other texts where we struggle with literal readings when God is trying to show us something more profound, something with more impact and more hope for changing lives.
Bob Young has preached for Churches of Christ for 50 years, including the Main and Oklahoma Church of Christ in McAlester, Okla. He works with congregations in Latin America and Hispanic churches in the U.S. He also preaches and teaches in English-speaking churches.
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