Publication Date



School of Religion


Religion: Biblical Studies

Primary Subject Area

Religion, Biblical Studies


Divorce, remarriage, Exodus, Exodus 21, Instone-Brewer, Old Testament


Biblical Studies


With the publication of his 2002 Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible, David Instone-Brewer seemed to have ignited a firestorm—within Christian circles and without—over a millennia-old issue: the biblical grounds for divorce. Given the Christian church’s pressing need to provide hope and healing for victims of divorce, Christian academia must provide an assessment of Instone-Brewer’s controversial work. One aspect of this assessment involves Instone-Brewer’s treatment of Exodus 21:10-11, the text from which he derives two grounds for divorce: emotional and material neglect. Taking as its research pool exegetical commentaries published since Keil and Delitzsch’s 1891 Commentary of the Old Testament, this study develops seven distinctive features for comparing commentaries on Exodus 21:10-11 in relation to Instone-Brewer’s work. The study serves three purposes: 1) to chart 20th century exegesis of the passage; 2) to locate Instone-Brewer within that landscape of commentary; and, 3) using that newfound data, to provide a few guidelines for assessing the quality of Instone-Brewer’s research. Therefore, this study provides the necessary research and framework for developing a scholarly critique of Instone-Brewer’s exegesis of Exodus 21:10-11.