Biblical Theology of Marriage and Family: Old Testament

Biblical Theology of Marriage and Family: Old Testament

JPI 532/707
3 Credits

The purpose of this course is to help the student discover the biblical vision of the person, marriage, and family as presented in the Old Testament. Consequently, this is a text-oriented course which will examine key biblical texts which provide the foundation for these fundamental human realities. The course begins by providing the student with an adequate understanding of the nature of God’s Word and of the process of appropriate exegesis.

This is accomplished by an examination of the key magisterial documents which deal with hermeneutics. In the extended examination of the creation narrative of Gen 1-3, we will uncover the ground for all biblical anthropology. For the Hebrew mind, the narrative and legal texts are also critically important because they give a concrete vision of the value and purpose of marriage and family. Thus, we will study the patriarchal narratives, the legal texts, and the familial rituals in the cult of Israel to understand how the person (imago Dei) and family (carrier of the covenant) functioned in the Old Testament. Within the Prophetic period there is an intensification of marital imagery for the covenant, and in the Wisdom Literature we find the ideal vision of marriage which re-establishes the divine vision. The final part of the course is a brief survey of the theological understanding of marriage in the Intertestamental period. We will conclude by an examination of how the trajectory of the Old Testament reaches its conclusion in Jesus’ teaching on marriage (Mt 19). This study will take an integrative approach which will situate the texts within the Jewish context but also allude to their appropriation in the Christian community. We will see how a balanced theological perspective developed based on the legal / cultic prescriptions along with the ‘lived theology’ found in the patriarchal and prophetic experiences.

Selected Texts


Joseph Atkinson portrait

Joseph C. Atkinson

Associate Professor of Sacred Scripture
S.T.L. and S.T.D. Program Advisor

Dr. Atkinson’s work has included foundational research in developing the biblical and theological foundation of the family. He is a primary authority on the concept of the Domestic Church, which explores the ecclesial structure and meaning of the family. He teaches on the biblical structure and meaning of marriage and the family, on the Jewish background of the family, and on the nature and role of covenant.

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