Chapter

Marriage And Divorce

Jonathan Burnside

in God, Justice, and Society

Published in print November 2010 | ISBN: 9780199759217
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199827084 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199759217.003.0010
Marriage And Divorce

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The lack of a systematic account of marriage and divorce in biblical law means drawing on a wide range of legal materials in order to reconstruct what the typical practice might have been in biblical Israel. This includes evidence of local custom, shared ancient Near Eastern conventions, formal rules, and rabbinic traditions. Nevertheless, the typical marriage seems to have followed a conventional procedure and problems arose when this was subverted (e.g., such cases as the “rape” of Dinah, and Tamar). This chapter argues that, in some cases, what we call “sexual offences” are really deviations from what the biblical texts regard as the normal sequence of marital relations. Biblical law regulates the practice of divorce and sets limits to its operation. It also shows concern for issues of consent, equality, protection, gender, and heterosexual ideology, although these are expressed differently from similar interests in modern law.

Keywords: ancient Near East; consent; Dinah; divorce; marriage; rape; sexual offences; Tamar

Chapter.  13603 words. 

Subjects: Public International Law

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