01 November 2016

Jesus and Marrieds

This afternoon, Amy-Jill Levine asked her audience which married couples Jesus had talked to. Her audience was filled with scholars, pastors and folks who generally know their Bible. We were generally stumped, even though she did give us the clue that there was only one couple, maybe two. Someone came up with the maybe fairly quick: it's the two folks on the road to Emmaus - Cleopas and his companion, who could have been his wife but it's not clear. But the only clear example of a married couple eluded us: the answer is Jairus and his wife.

I am intrigued by the significant lack of examples of married couples in the gospel. It seems to be almost the opposite of - or at least in discord with - the Christian subculture I am part of that seems rather slightly obsessed with (heterosexual) marriage. It puts Paul's words in 1 Corinthians 7 about how good it is to be single into new perspective.

As Amy-Jill Levin pointed out later in the afternoon, marriage and fertility is, for better or worse, more of an Old Testament thing. The miracle that God is constantly doing in the Old Testament is blessing the infertile woman with a child. The last barren woman in the Bible to bear a child is Elizabeth, mother of John, cousin of Jesus. Jesus, instead of blessing people with children, seems to want people to become children. As a strange example of this, Mark notes (also in Mark 5) that Jesus does not heal the woman who is bleeding but instead "dries her up." Levine talks about how she is completely dried up and can no longer bear children - a far different experience from a woman who is healed so that she can bear children.

It deserves further contemplation.

1 comment:

Theo said...

Interesting observation.It gives me a new perspective.