Colloquia Theologica Ottoniana (Jan 2017)

The role of genesis account of creation in the development of monogamy in the Old Testament and its reception in the early Church

  • Marcin Krycki

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 2


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The analysis of biblical scholars’ teaching on polygamy in The Old Testament leads to the conclusion that it was practiced in the ancient Israel. Experts in this field give two possibilities: either polygamy was a part of the Semitic culture from the dawn of history, or it was later effect of the influences of the culture of neighboring peoples. However, as the author of the article claims, there are irrefutable proofs that polygamy was never tolerated as normal, intended by God form of family life. The main thesis of the article is the conviction that the account of creation from the Book of Genesis substantially influenced the evolution of monogamy in the culture of the ancient Israel. Described relation of the couple of the first people had to be an archetypical form of marriage presented by God and proposed for people as a paradigm of the monogamous marriage. The article shows that it is probable the hypothesis of the biblical scholars expressing the conviction that the process of redaction of the Book of Genesis (finished around 5th century BC) integrated in its content elements of the monogamous tradition that was present in the consciousness of the Israelites from centuries; what is more, it became the paradigm for the marital life for later generations and it helped to get rid of the traces of the polygamous mindset. The article also describes the controversial debate concerning divorce between rabbinical schools of Hillel the Elder and Shammai the Elder; as the Gospel presents Jesus Christ refers to this quoting the passage on creation from the Book of Genesis. Presented in the article selected excerpts from the Church Fathers on monogamy also pointed to the importance of the Genesis account of creation in forming the Christian vison of marriage.