Jim Jordan comparing the modern wife to that of the OT

Barb has a great round-up post on Christians debating the proper teaching on divorce. Below is the quotation I’m stealing from her from Christian OT scholar, James Jordan.

The occasion for the master’s mistreatment of his slave-wife is his marriage to a second woman. Clearly, however, mistreatment of the woman for any reason would be grounds for divorce. And clearly this is a divorce, the grounds being maltreatment. Those who insist that the wife should remain with her husband, even if he beats her and otherwise abuses her, are completely out of line with Scripture at this point.

If a slave wife can get a divorce for maltreatment, how about a free wife? This is a hard question to answer. A free wife in Israel had certain privileges, particularly access to considerable monetary property (the bride money). Having this property gave her a position of power with her husband. Indeed, free women in patriarchal times had their own tents and servants. The wife in Canticles had her own quarters. Thus, perhaps a free woman could not sue for divorce on the grounds of maltreatment. On the other hand, maltreatment probably could not even arise in the case of a free woman.

To apply this law today we need to ask whether the modern American wife is more like the Israelite free wife (with lots of independent power and property), or more like the slave wife. Without intending any insult, I think the modern wife is more like the slave wife, having relatively little independent power. The proof of this, for me, is the fact that men so frequently beat their wives in this society, and get by with it. Thus, extending the equity of this law, by ethical analogy, I believe that women today should be permitted to sue for divorce on the grounds of serious maltreatment. (The Law Of The Covenant [Tyler, TX: ICE, 1984])

You can find more of Jim’s material here.

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