Date of Award


Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Arts & Theology

First Advisor

Dr. Steve Thompson

Second Advisor

Dr. Sigve Tonstad


220401 Christian Studies (incl. Biblical Studies and Church History)


This thesis reports the results of a linguistic and theological investigation of the “one flesh” marriage union concept introduced in Genesis 2:24, and the history of its reception throughout the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament Scriptures, with special focus on its New Testament echoes in Mat. 19, Mar. 10, 1Co. 6 and Eph. 5. The aim was to discover whether this concept provides a fundamental, harmonious foundation for a biblical theology of marriage, and whether the “one flesh” union is, at least subliminally, present in the major marriage (and divorce) passages of the Scriptures.

Methods employed include, initially, detailed exegesis of Gen. 2:24, giving attention to linguistic and literary features of the passage in context. Reception history was then used to identify the primary passages in both the Hebrew Bible and New Testament impacted by the Gen. 2:24 “one flesh” marriage concept. These in turn were also subjected to detailed exegesis. The combined data emerging from the study of these passages was then examined from the perspective of biblical theology to determine whether a somewhat unified and harmonious biblical theology of the “one flesh” union can be reasonably constructed.

The thesis found that the “one flesh” union concept serves as the foundation for the biblical pattern of an ideal marriage. In addition, the “one flesh” union concept serves as a major foundation for several Hebrew Bible and New Testament passages outlining the ideal relationship between Yahweh and his people. Finally, the thesis concludes by presenting a new biblical framework for marriage, divorce and remarriage which deals in a fresh way with theological implications of concubinage, and issues of possible “biblical” grounds for permissible divorce and remarriage.


Used by permission: the author

A print copy of this thesis is held in the Avondale College Library (SC Theses 234.165 G27)

The final, revised and updated version of this thesis is published as: Gehring, R. (2013). The Biblical „One Flesh“ Theology of Marriage as Constituted in Genesis 2:24. An Exegetical Study of this Human-Divine Covenant Pattern, Its New Testament Echoes, and Its Reception History throughout Scripture Focusing on the Spiritual Impact of Sexuality. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock. It is available for purchase from the publisher here