Author Philip Reynolds examines how marriage acquired a specifically Christian identity in the Latin West during the first millennium after Christ. Beginning with Jesus, everything the Christians did, including getting married, began a process of differentiation. Christians did not invent marriage, but they did redefine it, thereby hoping to solve the inherent problem of reconciling secular, carnal sexual relations with a holy and sanctified state of being, one that would ultimately become a sacrament. This twofold aspect of the Christian marriage was a formative principle throughout the Middle Ages and beyond. Reynolds offers three themes for theological reflection and interpretation: Jesus’ teaching, Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians, and Paul’s justification of marriage as a solution to the problem of sexual desire. This book begins with the examination of Roman and Germanic law, followed by the turning from civil to ecclesiastical law. Then Reynolds presents Augustine’s theology of marriage, and finally, the nuptial process. Reynolds’ insights into the Christainization of marriage makes this a valuable book at both the scholarly and the practical level.
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