[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: orion Divorce and poligamy in NT and DSS

Judith Romney Wegner wrote:

> So the issue is
>ONLY  this:  whether, like the  Hebrew Bible, the DSS, the NT, and other
>Jewish texts of that time  permit polygyny  (or at least take for granted
>its occurrence in their societie).
>To this, the answer sould seem to be yes, they know it's happening and no,
>they do not excoriate it in specific terms -- though the NT may do so by
>implication, especially in the Pauline discussions of marriage law.  (I
>would assume that once the church got organized,  canon law must have
>explicitlyu proscribed polygyny . -- but I'm not sure when and would like
>someone who knows to supply chapter and verse from some edict or other to
>that effect.   I have always assumed that this change in the rules was made
>because of the increasing association of Christianity with the Roman Empire
>-- we know that the Romans in practice were monogamous; again I'm not sure
>if/when Roman law first explicitly  proscribed polygyny.

The issue is discutable but I think the Christian idea of the parthenia is
going back to
the Jewish matrix of Christianity. 

Concerning polygyny (or, in more Christian terms, adultery or fornication):
all the canons are by the Fathers of 4th century. The earliest (to my
knowledge) Christian legal document mentioning the matrimony status of the
Christians, is so-called _Testamentum Domini Nostri Jesu Christi_ (Greek
original lost, only Syriac, Arabic, and Ethiopic versions preserved) going
back to the 3rd century while having edition layers up to 5th. Three status
are acknowledged: virginity as such, virginity keeped within the marriage,
marrage without virginity. In 2nd century we have several attitudes towards
the second marriage (third being canonically a kind of adultery up to 10th
c.). Athenagoras, well known apologist, considers the second marriage as a
pure adultery, pace apostle Paul. NB: "second" etc. marriages are, by
definition, contracted after the death of one of the married persons; the
"marriages" after divorce are considered always as "polygyny" in proper
sense, that is, adultery.

Moreover, the various Roman forms of marriage were not all suitable to the
Christianity. The most known exception is concubinate.

In sum, I don't know any discernible traces of the existence of the problem
of "polygyny" in the earliest Christianity.


Basil Lourie

St.Petersburg Society for
Byzantine and Slavic Studies


RUSSIA 194356
pr.Engelsa 135-132
Fax 7(812) 559 7777