Professors of Religion and their Strange Wives: Diluvian Discord in the Eyes of Matthew Henry
AuthorsCollins, Matthew A.
AffiliationUniversity of Chester
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AbstractThe summer of 2014 marked the tercentenary of the death of Matthew Henry (1662–1714), a leading figure among early eighteenth-century Dissenters and author of the six-volume Exposition of the Old and New Testaments (1707–1714/25). This monumental work, which by 1855 had already been published in twenty-five different editions, attempted a peculiarly practical approach to the biblical text and continues to be widely used and readily accessible even today in both print and online versions. The theme of foreign (or ‘strange’) wives and Israelite intermarriage is one which occurs throughout the Hebrew Bible and, accordingly, throughout Matthew Henry’s commentary upon it. Where it appears, the practice of intermarriage is characterized by Henry as (at best) unwise and (at worst) a very real threat to both social and religious cohesion. This essay explores how Henry deals with the issue of ‘strange wives’, why he believes they continue to pose a threat, and (in view of the overall intention of his commentary) what ‘practical observations’ he offers to his reader as a result. In doing so it is argued that Henry’s commentary traces a thematic thread from the ante-diluvian age to the post-exilic period of calamities resulting from mixed marriages between ‘professors of religion’ and their ‘strange wives’.
CitationCollins, M.A. (2019). Professors of Religion and their Strange Wives: Diluvian Discord in the Eyes of Matthew Henry. In M.A. Collins & P. Middleton (Eds.), Matthew Henry: The Bible, Prayer, and Piety– A Tercentenary Celebration (pp. 97-113). London, United Kingdom: T&T Clark.
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