Marital Imagery in the Bible
An Exploration of the Cross-Domain Mapping of Genesis 2:24 and its Significance for the Understanding of New Testament Divorce and Remarriage Teaching.
Genesis 2:23 speaks of a miraculous couple in a literal one-flesh union formed by God without a volitional or covenantal basis. Genesis 2:24 outlines a metaphoric restatement of that union whereby a naturally born couple, by means of a covenant, choose to become what they were not in a metaphoric one-flesh family union—such forms the aetiology of mundane marriage in both the Hebrew Bible and the NT.
It is this Gen 2:24 marriage that is understood in the Hebrew Bible as the basis of the volitional, conditional, covenantal relationship of Yahweh and Israel, and in the NT of the volitional, conditional, covenantal relationship of Christ and the church—that is, Gen 2:24 is the source domain which is cross-mapped to the target domain (God ‘married’ to his people) in the marital imagery of both the Jewish and Christian Scriptures. It is an imagery that embraced the concept of divorce and remarriage.
The NT affirms that the pattern for mundane marriage is to be found in Gen 2:24 (Matt 19:3-9; Mark 10:2-12). But NT scholars and the church have conflated the aetiology of the Gen 2:24 marriage with that of Adam and Eve’s marriage described in Gen 2:23, and thus see that the NT teaches that mundane marriage is to be modelled on the primal couple—a model that imposes restrictions on divorce and remarriage that are not found in the Hebrew Bible.
In contrast, this study suggests that the NT writers would not employ an imagery they repudiated in their own mundane marriage teaching, and that an exegesis of that teaching can be found, focusing on divorce and remarriage, which is congruent with its own imagery.
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