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Marriage and Family in the Biblical World by…
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Marriage and Family in the Biblical World (edition 2003)

by Ken M. Campbell (Editor)

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Member:tbncolumbia
Title:Marriage and Family in the Biblical World
Authors:Ken M. Campbell (Editor)
Info:IVP Academic (2003), 302 pages
Collections:AIM College of Theological Studies
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Tags:AIM-51

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Marriage and Family in the Biblical World by Ken M. Campbell (Editor)

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This book is an excellent introduction to marriage and family within the worlds of Greek, Roman, and Middle Eastern paganism as well as those of the Old Testament and Second Temple Judaism. The contributors consistently get right to it and do a good job of covering all the facts and some of the implications and applications, recommending many more resources for further reading along the way. I learned a lot while reading this book. The only complaints I have pertain to the final chapter of the book. The section on the New Testament departs from the scholarship found in the rest of the book and seems instead to delve into evangelical apologetics, even including the mandatory swipes at Roman Catholicism. A real New Testament scholar doing real New Testament scholarship would have been a much better choice. I think it also would have been helpful to include an additional chapter focusing on early Christian attitudes toward marriage and the family. ( )
  davidpwithun | Sep 16, 2011 |
Ken M. Campbell, editor for this work received his PhD from the University of Manchester. He previously served as associate professor of biblical studies at Bellhaven College. Six different authors write a chapter in their own area of expertise regarding a particular culture and time frame.

There is no explicit stated purpose for the book by the editor. The editor indicates in the preface that “the essays presented in the volume represent a comparative and theological survey of six cultural settings in which the human family existed in biblical times.” The intent of these essays is to present an understanding of various cultures during biblical times and the influences on marriage and family during their times without forcing a modern view on one’s interpretation of those times. This book covers several thousand years of biblical history in different time periods and geographical locations. The authors do a tremendous job in assimilating some general and some specific facts regarding marriage and family issues.

Victor H. Matthews summarizes the marriage and family perspectives in Ancient Near East. He specifically addresses patriarchy, clan and kinship, corporate identity, class, marriage, children, widows, divorce, adultery, and homosexuality. The information on the Ancient Near East comprises a period of over 2000 years and differing geographical locations making it challenging to be too specific. This culture was essentially a patriarchal society which sought to preserve family unity, inheritance, and property. Matthew deals extensively with marriage discussing betrothal, dowry, and polygamy.

Daniel I. Block covers marriage and family issues in Ancient Israel through “general questions concerning the basic structure of the family” by emphasizing the “responsibilities each member bears in the effective functioning of the family unit.” He looks at the role of husband/father, wife/mother, and child. Block prefers to use the term patricentrism as compared to patriarchy in describing the role men in Ancient Israel. He believes the term patriarch connotes more of the authority and ruling aspect of the man whereas patricentrism is more in line with “the overall tenor of the Old Testament, which views leadership in general to be a privilege granted to an individual in order to serve the interests of those who are led.”
S.M. Baugh brings together information about marriage and family in Greek Society. The Greek family was very functional with few frills and served as the foundation of all Greek institutions. Marriage legally began with betrothal and wedding ceremonies were a three day process involved a variety of rituals celebrating the union of a couple.

Susan M. Treggiari addresses influences of marriage and family in Roman Society. The paterfamilias, the household-head, was a male and the main power broker in the family. Families consented to marriage and brides brought a dowry into their marriage relationship. Weddings were not performed by any priest or official and they were just as easily dissolved although it wasn’t a frequent occurrence. Children maintained a fairly low status in Greek society.

David W. Chapman examines marriage and family in Second Temple Judaism. Family in this society also formed the basis for the community. Marriage involved a betrothal, marriage contract, an exchange of monies and then couples were able to marry. “Jewish families in antiquity often lived in close proximity to their parents, making for extended family networks. Patriarchal leadership was assumed, and authority over family affairs was vested in the father or eldest son.” Religious instruction occurred in families and was the responsibility of parents according to Deuteronomy 6.

Andreas Kostenberger writes concerning marriage and family topics in the New Testament era. He discusses homosexuality and how any homosexual relationship was in conflict with God’s commands in Genesis 1-2 and also other New Testament writings. Kostenberger discusses marriage and divorce as well as the roles of women. He believes the New Testament presents a complementarian approach to gender roles. Regarding children, he discusses the household codes in Ephesians and Colossians and stresses balance in love and discipline. He places a strong emphasis on the Pastoral Epistle texts regarding spiritual leaders in the church being a husband of one wife and managing their household well. He concludes with a discussion of spiritual warfare in the family in Ephesians 5-6.

Each of the cultures and times covered in this work has some similarities and differences. One commonly sees men as the primary leaders in their household. One does not see polygamy or homosexual relationships as a common theme in the different societies. There are varying degrees of commitment on the man’s part to one wife but marriage seemed to be the norm. Children are at the mercy of their parents and experience varying degrees of freedom and responsibility throughout their life.

The topic index is limited making one’s ability to easily access information in the different chapters difficult. It would have been helpful to have a chapter that did summarize, compare, and contrast the differences in the specific cultures. It would also have been helpful for all the authors to draw some conclusions regarding implications for today’s culture.

Campbell’s work will be a valuable asset to those in the academic arena wanting to gain an overall feel for marriage and family in biblical times. Pastors and staff can also gain some insightful historical background in understanding the issues facing families in biblical times that will better inform their teaching and preaching concerning the family.
  benphillips | Feb 7, 2009 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Campbell, Ken M.Editorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Baugh, S. M.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Block, Daniel I.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Chapman, David W.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Köstenberger, AndreasContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Matthews, Victor H.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Treggiari, SusanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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