Chapter

Intermarriage in the Writings of Paul and the Early Church Fathers

Christine E. Hayes

in Gentile Impurities and Jewish Identities

Published in print December 2002 | ISBN: 9780195151206
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199834273 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0195151208.003.0005
                      Intermarriage in the Writings of Paul and the Early Church Fathers

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Pauline and early Christian attitudes towards the marriage of believers and nonbelievers owe much to the rhetoric and ideology introduced by Ezra and developed in related Second Temple sources (such as Jubilees and 4QMMT). Paul implies that mixed marriage is fornication, a sexual sin that generates a moral impurity that defiles the believer and, by extension, Christ. Paul also implies that mixed marriage is a joining of holy and impure bodies as one body. Through carnal (i.e., sexual) connection, the moral impurity of the morally defiled body of the unbeliever is communicated to the holy and pure body of the believer, resulting in a carnal (i.e., fleshly) defilement. This new “carnal impurity” which conflates the sinful nature of moral impurity with the physicality and communicability of ritual impurity, figures prominently in patristic literature.

Keywords: carnal; fornication; impurity; mixed marriage; moral; patristic literature; Paul; ritual

Chapter.  6757 words. 

Subjects: Biblical Studies

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