In beginning the in depth study on the idea of marriage and wedding from a Christian view point, I have made some very interesting initial discoveries. Have you ever tried to define the term 'wedding'? What I have come to realize is that this term is among the most culturally conditioned terms in human language. Interestingly no specific Hebrew word in the OT precisely means 'wedding.' Yet one cannot read much of the OT without realizing that a wedding ceremony was the essential beginning point for a marriage. But inside even the OT such a ceremony varied from one period of Hebrew history to another, and by the beginning of the Christian era it tended to be significantly different from most of those alluded to inside the OT.
Add to that the modern traditional wedding ceremony has almost no connection historically or conceptually to what was practiced by Christians in the apostolic era of the first century. And I use the term 'modern traditional Christian wedding ceremony' extremely loosely. Having lived now both in Europe and Central America for many years, I have realized the vast differences among Christians. This has been highlighted even more by working in international Baptist churches of wide multi-cultural backgrounds of the members.
One of the early insights has been that throughout the biblical era both Jews and Christians celebrated a wedding, but it is a party rather than a religious service. Most of the time, the bride to be was not even present. The closest thing to a set ritual would be when the fathers or guardians of the bride and groom formerly reaffirmed the marriage contract agreement negotiated out some time earlier. No religious leader presided over even this ritual. But among Christians this all changed with the emergence of sacramentalism in patristic Christianity. Most modern Christian practices have far more in common with emerging RC sacramentalism, than with anything found inside the Bible.
This is going to be an interesting study!
- Grew up in farm and ranch life about 70 miles west of Fort Worth, Texas near the small community of Perrin. Did undergraduate degree at Wayland Baptist University in Plainview, Texas (BA, 1964) and masters (MDiv, 1968) / doctorate (ThD, 1975) at Southwestern Baptist Seminary in Ft. Worth. Taught Koine Greek and New Testament at SWBTS 1974-1997. Then taught at Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs, NC (1998-2008). Pastored the IBC Baptist Church in Cologne Germany (2008-2010) before retiring and moving to Santa Ana, Costa Rica, where Claire and I now live.