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Congratulations Brother Hill Anthony Pagtalunan. CPA! To God be the glory. MARRIAGE VI. Symbolism. A. Interpretations.

In analyzing the institution of marriage in the Bible, one f inds that figurative language is highly important. Marriage is a symbol for God' s covenant with His people (TDNT I, 654 ). The unity, sacrificial love, and inte rdependence usually associated with marriage enable the individual to comprehend , in part, the unity, love, and interdependent features of God's relationship wi th His people under the symbols of God's covenant with Israel and the Church as bride and body of Christ. The focus is on the individual's understanding of the relationship between God and His people. Spiritual realities are made clearer by comparison with earthly experiences. The NT "bride image," e.g., emphasizes cer tain basic truths: (1) the Church-bride is elected to God's purpose but is free to make a choice (Eph 4:1); (2) Christ in love gives Himself to establish a cove nant relationship with His one bride; (3) Christ's atonement is a "betrothal gif t" ; (4) Christ's love cleanses and makes the bride worthy of Him; (5) the bride looks to the future wedding day (Parousia) (Batey, pp. 29 f). See BRIDE OF CHRI ST . An equally important interpretative approach is viewing the intimate relationshi p between God and His people (God and Israel, Christ and His Church) as a paradi gm (Sampley, p. 152) or christological analogy of the husband-wife relationship in its earthly existence (Batey, pp. 31 f). (from International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, revised edition, Copyright 1979 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. All rights reserved.) BRIDE OF CHRIST BRIDE OF CHRIST [Gk. nmph 'bride'] (John 3:29; Rev 21:2,9; 22:17); [ gyn 'wife'] (Rev 19:7; 21:9); [ parthnos 'virgin] (2 Cor 11:2); [ kyra 'lady'] (2 John 1,5). An image for the Church which emphasizes the ideas of pur ity, subjection, faithfulness, and intimate communion with Christ her bridegroom -husband; one constituent feature of a larger complex of nuptial imagery symboli zing the relationship between Christ and the Church (see MARRIAGE ). While the O T is the primary source of this imagery, its application to the relationship bet ween Christ and His Church in the NT was facilitated by (1) the messianic interp retation of some features of OT nuptial imagery in Judaism, (2) the tendency in Judaism to depict the messianic age as a wedding feast, (3) early Christianity's functional substitution of Jesus for Yahweh, and (4) the Greco-Roman penchant f or personifying corporate bodies with feminine imagery. The OT occasionally used the image of a bride (Hebr. kall, kll ), together with other aspects of nuptial imagery, to depict Israel's relationsh ip to Yahweh (2 Sam 17:3 [var. adopted by RSV, NEB]; Isa 49:18; 61:10; 62:5; Jer 2:2,32). Other OT references of particular interest, in view of later Jewish an d early Christian allegorical interpretation, are found in Song 4:8-12; 5:1. Thi s bridal imagery primarily emphasizes devotion (Jer 2:2) and the joy of the brid e (Isa 61:10; 62:5); the voice of the bride-groom and the bride were proverbial for mirth and gladness (cf. Jer 7:34; 16:9; 25:10; 33:11). In view of Israel's r ecrudescent tendency to seek illegitimate foreign alliances and to participate i n the fertility rites of Canaanite religion, an even more frequent though pejora

tive image is that of the harlot or adulteress (Hos 2:2-3:5; 4:14; Jer 3:1; Ezek 16:6-63; 23). These prophets use this negative image to condemn Israel's behavi or as a heinous violation of the covenant relationship between Yahweh and Israel . In interpreting the giving of the covenant at Sinai, later Judaism used the imag ery of a marriage between Yahweh and Israel, with the Torah as the marriage cont ract, and Moses as the best man (TDNT, I, 654 ). Beginning with the 1 st cent. A.D., the rabbis had interpreted the nuptial imagery of Canticles in terms of th e love of God (=bride-groom) for Israel (=bride); cf. SB, I, 516 f, 844, 898, 96 9 f; III, 501, 822. While it is technically correct to claim that the allegory o f the bridegroom (=Yahweh) was never applied to the Messiah by Judaism (TDNT, IV , 1102 ), the messianic interpretation of the Royal Wedding Song preserved in Ps 45 (which contains a wealth of nuptial imagery) saw the Messiah in the figure o f the king-bridegroom (SB, III, 679 f, quoting the Targum on Ps 45). The Israeli te king is rather astonishingly addressed as "God" in Ps 45:6, and the NT applie s the statements made in Ps 45 to Christ in Heb 1:8 (cf. Justin, Dial. 56 , 63 , 86 ). Since Judaism also compared the Day of the Messiah to a wedding feast (SB , I, 517 f), these factors undoubtedly facilitated the application of the bridebridegroom imagery to Christ and the Church. In the NT, Jesus used the parables of the wedding feast (Matt 22:2-14; cf. Luke 12:35-38), and the wise and foolish virgins (Matt 25:1-13) to depict the coming kingdom of God; in neither parable does He refer to Himself as the bridegroom. J esus never refers to the redeemed community as bride, but rather as wedding gues ts, as in Matt 22:2-10,11-14; 25:1-13; Mark 2:19. Jesus does refer to Himself as the bridegroom in Mark 2:19 (par. Matt 9:15); Luke 5:34 In a closely related pa ssage, John the Baptist refers to Jesus as the bridegroom and to himself as the friend of the bridegroom (John 3:29). The earliest NT reference to the Church as the bride of Christ is 2 Cor 11:2, wh ere Paul consciously functions as the best man: "I betrothed you to Christ to pr esent you as a pure bride to her one husband." Since the context refers to the s erpent's deception of Eve as an analogy to the possibility that the Corinthians may stray after a deviant form of the gospel, it is clear that two aspects of th e OT background have influenced Paul: (1) the faithfulness/unfaithfulness aspect s of nuptial imagery emphasized by Hosea, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, and (2) the Ada m-Eve typology which involves the notion of Jesus as husband (=Adam) and the Chu rch as bride (=Eve); cf. Minear, p. 55. Paul further elaborates the Adam-Eve typ ology in Eph 5:22-31, and he interprets the "mystery" of Gen 2:24 ("the two shal l become one flesh") as a reference to Christ and His Church (Eph 5:32), thereby implying that the union of the first couple (as well as all subsequent monogamo us unions) fore-shadows the marriage of Christ and His Church (Chavasse, p. 75). This same typological interpretation is explicated in the early 2 nd cent. in 2 Clem. 14 :2. Gnostic Christianity evolved a sacrament of mystical marriage by t aking such ideas to their extreme (Grant, pp. 183-194). The central ideas convey ed through Paul's use of nuptial imagery in Eph 5:22-31 include the wife's (=Chu rch's) role of subjection and obedience, together with the husband's (=Christ's) role of self-sacrifice and authority (Minear, p. 55). Other marginal Pauline uses of the bride image reveal the vitality of the metaph or in his thought. In Rom 7:1-6 he observes that a married woman is bound by the law to her husband so long as he lives. The nuptial analogy is then applied by Paul to Christians who are now free to belong to another, i.e., to Christ who ha s been raised from the dead. In another allusion to Gen 2:24 Paul tells the Cori nthian congregation that he who joins himself to a prostitute becomes one body w ith her, "but he who is united to the Lord becomes one spirit with him" (1 Cor 6 :15-17). Throughout the rest of the NT letters, only in 2 John 1,5 (cf. 1 Peter 5:13) is feminine imagery applied to the Church, in the expression "elect lady." The most frequent reference in the NT to the Church as the bride of Christ occur s in Revelation. John applies the image not to the redeemed community directly, but rather to the heavenly Jerusalem which descends from heaven to a transformed earth. The heavenly Jerusalem is itself a symbol for the Church (Aune, pp. 14648). The appropriateness of the bridal imagery in the context of the eschatologi

cal consummation lies in the fact that Judaism compared the messianic age to a m arriage of God and Israel (SB, I, 500 ff), as well as to a wedding feast. The fi ne clothing of the bride symbolizes the righteous deeds of the saints (Rev 19:8) , and the comparison of the heavenly Jerusalem with a bride adorned for her husb and (alluding to Isa 61:10) emphasizes the readiness and anxious anticipation of the Church for Christ (Rev 21:2; 22:17). Bibliography. D. E. Aune, EQ, 38 (1966), 131-148; C. Chavasse, The Bride of Chri st: An Enquiry into the Nuptial Element in Early Christianity (1939); R. M. Gran t, After the NT (1967); P. Minear, Images of the Church in the NT (1960); SB; TD NT, I, s.v. <START GREEK>game/w ga/mo$ <END GREEK> (Stauffer); IV, s.v. <START GREEK>nu/mfh, numfi/o$ <END GREEK> (Jeremias). D. E. ALINE (from International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, revised edition, Copyright 1979 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. All rights reserved.)