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Michael Satlow: Jewish Marriage in Antiquity


Michael L. Satlow, Jewish Marriage in Antiquity (Princeton University Press, 2001), 434 pages.

Without question, we can all agree that marriage between man and woman was established and ordained by God very early after the creation account. Throughout the Bible, men take wives, marriages are arranged, and men and women fall in love. But how much do we really understand about how betrothals and marriages were conducted? What were the cultural and historical elements that came into play as the “two became one flesh?” How did a wedding in the time of the Exodus differ from that of the time of the Gospel of Matthew?

Satlow has compiled a comprehensive look at marriage throughout the biblical ages that helps put this noble institution into an overall context and elucidates the biblical text. Using not only the Bible, but also extra biblical books from both the Jewish and Christian camps, he adds understanding which, until now, would have taken years of independent research. The subject index helps locate resource material quickly and easily.

For instance, the imagery of “take a wife,” is quite vivid, literally meaning to capture a woman and carry her away. This does not hold very many modern romantic scenes with it, but then, the period in which the Bible was written was not one of romance. This is only one example of many throughout the book’s pages. This book is an important read for any teacher that desires to better understand biblical marriage and the analogy of marriage between the heavenly Bridegroom and the body of Messiah, His Bride.

Reviewed by Kevin M. Williams

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Category: Church History, Summer 2005

About the Author: Kevin M. Williams, Litt.D., H.L.D. has served in Messianic ministries since 1987 and has written numerous articles and been a featured speaker at regional and international conferences on Messianic Judaism.

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