Water Is Thicker Than Blood: An Augustinian Theology of Marriage and Singlehood

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This book considers how homes, households, and domestic life are related to the Church. Early theologies glorified the monastic lifestyle as a way to transcend earthly attachments in favor of supernatural goods. Contemporary thinkers have seen that functioning marriages and families themselves can lead us toward a more righteous society.

Jana Bennett insists that both marriage and singleness must be placed in the context of the Christian story of redemption for the questions and problems at stake to be fully understood. She finds that Augustine of Hippo, maligned by modern theologians, is the source of very fruitful reflection on these topics. Most scholars today would agree that Augustine's works have exerted great influence on Western views of marriage, family, and sex. But many would argue that this influence has been detrimental to a healthy understanding of these topics. However, using Augustine's writing, Bennett shows that marriage and singleness cannot be considered separately, that gender issues are important to considering these states correctly and, most important, that the marriage between Christ and the Church is the first consideration in understanding and living these states of life. The water of baptism, Christians' first birth and initiation into the life of Christ, is the primary standard for relationships, rather than familial ties.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"An incisive first book... Bennett provides the first thorough-going and theological account of singleness (in all its varieties) as a Christian vocation. Clearly and engagingly written, Bennett's book will be of interest to serious lay persons as well as scholars. Going forward, all engagements in a theology of marriage and sexuality must necessarily reckon with Water Is Thicker Than Blood." —M. Therese Lysaught, co-editor of Gathered for the Journey: Moral Theology in Catholic Perspective and of the forthcoming On Moral Medicine: Theological Perspectives in Medical Ethics, Third Edition

"Bennett offers a renewed understanding of marriage and singleness, and she challenges the contemporary focus, in theology, on the nuclear family. As surprising as it seem, she retrieves this challenged through a study of Augustine. She sets Augustine's oft-cited (and misunderstood) statements on marriage, sex, and sin within a broad and incisive account of his theology and his hope for holiness in the Christian life." —David Matzko McCarthy, author of Sex and Love in the Home: A Theology of the Household

"Jana Bennett's new book speaks to all Christians who want their daily lives to reflect their faith in Christ. By addressing the many varieties of households in which Christians live, she is able to offer an ethic that is equally relevant both for those who are single and for those who are married. Bennett is one of a new generation of moral theologians who bring to the table rigorous analysis of the Christian tradition and serious attention to contemporary problems. Her book deserves a large audience of academics, students, and lay people." —Julie Rubio, author of A Christian Theology of Marriage and Family

"A welcomed contribution to the growing body of theological literature on marriage and family...[Bennet's] adept engagement with St. Augustine as a principal conversation partner is timely and pertinent." —Modern Theology

"Thought-provoking. . ."—Religious Studies Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195315431
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 3/4/2008
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 9.20 (w) x 6.40 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Jana Marguerite Bennett is Assistant Professor of Religion at Hampden-Sydney College in Hampden Sydney, Virginia.

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