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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

1 Cor. 7: 8

Well there was such a rousing discussion about the first verse of chapter 7 that the rest of it was overlooked. Once more into the breach!

Since this chapter touches on the question of divorce, and remarriage after divorce, I want to mention this first before going on to the translation issue in this chapter. At the beginning of his lecture on 1 Cor. 7, Gordon Fee said that he was greatly disturbed at the high incidence of - and at this point I fully expected him to say "divorce" but he didn't - he said, "abuse", physical and emotional abuse, the extent to which one human being will inflict pain on another human being is incredible.

Then, he went on to explain that this chapter did not mean that people, either a man or woman, should not leave a marriage in which they were being abused. That was not the issue. He explained that this chapter is about what people should do when they become Christians, whether they should change their marital situation in those circumstances or not - Paul says no, stay as you are.

Just so I don't give the wrong impression, I will link to this book, endorsed by Fee, on remarriage after divorce. Fee did not continue on that topic but returned to a discussion of the chapter in detail, in particular verse 8.
    Now to the unmarried [a] and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. 9 But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
    1. 1 Corinthians 7:8 Or widower
Fee pointed out that all the instructions as the beginning of the chapter are explicitly to both the man and the woman equally, and that since Greek has no common word for widower, "unmarried" meant "widower". The instructions for those who are unmarried comes later.

He also brought attention to the way both husband and wife have equal authority and influence in terms of sanctification of the family, in terms of decisions about the relationship. Add to this the fact that there must have been some men and women who stayed unmarried. This provides the context for the later chapters. In chapter 11 and 14, Paul cannot possibly be implying that all women had husbands, under whose authority they lived, and to whom they could address their questions. Women are often mentioned without spouses. This provides context.

I especially want to continue working through my notes from Fee's class since he announced that this was the last class that he would teach. He does not expect to teach again.


At Thu Aug 02, 06:03:00 AM, Blogger Bryan L said...

Well there goes my hope for ever studying under him. oh well...

Bryan L

At Thu Aug 02, 08:00:00 AM, Blogger Brian F. said...

are you auditing or going through a masters course?

Yeah, it would be great to take a class from him - I had the benefit of hearing him speak at a chi alpha retreat in WA soon after he finihsed his commentary on Philippians - so I have a signed copy of the IVP version of the commentary - he was a great speaker and a great man (still is).

At Sat Aug 04, 06:35:00 AM, Blogger Jeremy Pierce said...

Keener's two volumes on divorce and remarriage are the best treatment of the subject.

At Sat Aug 04, 06:44:00 AM, Blogger Jeremy Pierce said...

Brian, Fee's IVP New Testament Commentary volume isn't really an IVP version of his much more in-depth New International Commentary volume. These are very different books. I don't know if you were under the impression that IVP was just offering a different printing of the same book, but the way you put it sounds like that. These are completely different works, one on the popular level intended for people with no scholarly background and the other intended for those with some scholarly training. Maybe you already knew this, but as a commentary buff I thought it was worth distinguishing the two commentaries as very different works intended for very different audiences.

I have to say that Fee's willingness to do both, thus spending most of his time on the smaller work repeating steps he'd already gone to great lengths to write about in a scholarly way, is a great service to the church that many scholars wouldn't care to do and probably wouldn't be very good at anyway. Fee stands out as someone who can write at both levels well (and who is willing to do so for the sake of the church even when it has little effect on his career as a scholar).

At Sun Aug 05, 04:46:00 AM, Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

I love Gordon Fee, one of my all time favorite NT scholars. I hope for a good many more productive years from him.


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