Biblical Theology of Marriage and Family: Synoptics, Paul

JPI 659/860

The purpose of this course will be to examine the New Testament to discover how marriage, family and the person are transformed in Christ. At the heart of the New Testament is the person of Jesus Christ who is the ‘new principle’ inserted into historical reality to effect the reconciliation of man to God. Initially, we will look briefly at the Intertestamental period which preceeded the NT era to examine the immediate context for the gospel.  Then we will examine the gospel to discern the anthropology that emerges there. We will carefully study the teachings of Jesus on marriage, celibacy, divorce, the family and the human person and His use of marital and familial imagery. We will also investigate these teachings in the context of the idea of the Messianic family, i.e., the Church becoming the family of God with its specific and unique call to discipleship.  The second part of the course centers on the experience of baptism and how this fundamentally affects anthropology. We will examine: a.) how this new creation in Christ is effected, b.) the relationship between the nature of flesh (sarx) and the life in the spirit (pneumatikoi), and c.) how baptism fundamentally affects marriage and the family, bestowing on them greater iconic value.  Here, the structure and meaning of baptism will be investigated along with the early Church’s practice of household baptisms. Because of the new creation in Christ (i.e., a Christo-centric anthropology), marriage and sexual ethics now are re-ordered in light of Christ and the eschaton, and this calls for a greater degree of purity and indissolubility. In this section we will examine the Pauline teachings on the understanding of the body, the structure and value of marriage and celibacy for the kingdom, and on sexual moral ethics. We will examine the NT’s teaching on the nature of the person (body, soul and spirit), the role of gender, and the teleological purpose of the person. As well, the family in the NT is transformed from being the carrier of the covenant in the Old Testament to becoming the sphere of eschatological activity (i.e., the domestic church).  To understand this more adequately, the various household codes will be examined along with the structure and meaning of household baptisms. Finally, we will examine the scriptural origins of the domestic church and its theological ground.


Course Texts for Fall 2020

  • Holy Scriptures.
  • Joseph Atkinson. Biblical and Theological Foundation of the Family. Washington, DC: CUA Press, 2014.
  • Jean-Baptiste Edart (with Himbaza and Schenker). The Bible on the Question of Homosexuality. CUA Press, 2012.

Associated Faculty

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