Jesus the bridegroom: a metaphor of fidelity in the New Covenant

Freiberg, Diane (2016) Jesus the bridegroom: a metaphor of fidelity in the New Covenant. Masters thesis, Middlesex University. [Thesis]

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The New Testament sets up the metaphor of Jesus the Bridegroom and the Church his Bride, but the contemporary interpretations are varied and extreme. Single women proclaim Jesus is their Boyfriend while they wait for their real husbands. Authors advocate dressing up and going out on romantic dates with their divine Lover. But these affective portrayals of the Bridegroom are incongruent with Jesus who the New Testament writers witness to as Lord and Saviour. So who is Jesus the Bridegroom?

Looking at the metaphor in its biblical context, we find that the Prophets employed this imagery to promise a New Covenant in betrothal terms, and underscore the need for covenantal faithfulness. Networks of association corresponding with patriarchal marriage and covenant informed the prophetic metaphor. The New Testament writers adapted the prophetic usage of this metaphor to announce the New Covenant, the arrival of Jesus the ‘eschatological Bridegroom’. They further utilized this imagery to express the fidelity required of the Church, as the Bride of Christ. The romance of Song of Songs did not play a role in the New Testament authors’ presentation of Jesus the Bridegroom.

But the Early Church ascetics sought to sublimate the carnal or natural interpretation of the Song of Songs for a spiritual, allegorical interpretation. The Lover in the Song of Songs became understood as Jesus the Bridegroom and the Beloved, his Church. The Song became the means of mystically encountering Jesus the Bridegroom.

Throughout its reception history, the metaphor has drifted from its New Testament context and been reinterpreted through the lens of Song of Songs or contemporary bridegrooms. However, we advocate suspending the romantic framework of the Song of Songs, even briefly, in order to rediscover the New Testament metaphor of Jesus the Bridegroom. It is a matter of utter fidelity to Jesus

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Research Areas: B. > Theses
C. Collaborative Partners > London School of Theology
Item ID: 22174
Depositing User: Jennifer Basford
Date Deposited: 28 Jun 2017 15:03
Last Modified: 21 Jun 2021 16:48

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