This thesis is an attempt to contribute a fresh perspective on marriage and related subjects, making use of public theology in dialogue with the Christ narrative. The phenomena of post secularism, postmodernism and film hermeneutics are explored. Critical hermeneutics are used as a point of departure. This study aims to bridge the gap between the Christ narrative and public theology as it surfaces in the cinema.
In Chapter 2 the terms of the concepts public theology and posttheism are investigated. Public theology is understood as the contribution of people in the public sphere participating in “God-talk”, as an exponent of post theism.
Chapter 3 investigates the historical development of marriage. This investigation shows that social-political and philosophical influences caused different forms and models of marriage to evolve. It becomes clear that it is practically impossible to define one specific form of marriage that dominated history. Chapter 4 is divided into two parts. The first part explores New Testament texts related to the themes of marriage and relationships. It is shown that these New Testament texts are part of a broader context and therefore cannot be applied directly to marriage in modern times. On the other hand the Christ narrative, seen as an ancient biography, does outline important values applicable to marriage, intimacy and sexuality. These values were identified and are used in following chapters to define intimate relationships.
The investigation of biblical models in the second part of this chapter shows that biblical models of marriage were also rooted within a historical situation. Certain values that are found within these models can still serve as guidelines for relationships, while others are influenced by an androcentric background.
Chapter 5 is a theoretical investigation using Gerhard Ebelings’ “new hermeneutics” as model, applied to the field of the public theology of film. From a hermeneutical perspective recent films with biblical themes are important to communicate the gospel and morals in our times as the postmodern generation is primarily influenced by visual media.
In Chapter 6 three films are discussed as examples of film hermeneutics and public theology: Roepman, As it is in heaven and Les misérables. Similarities with the Christ narrative surfaced, for instance: critique is expressed against destructive ideologies; selfless acts are commendable and unconditional love and acceptance, forgiveness, faith and hope are essential for an authentic existence. These films do not focus on ethical dogmas about marriage, intimacy and sexuality, although some ethical values can be derived.
In the concluding chapter a bifocal melting of horizons, based on the findings of the research, are described. Both the public theology of film hermeneutics and the Sache Jesu highlight the importance of the inner values that constitute a meaningful relationship. The study argues that the church should reconsider their traditional view on marriage and sexual relationships by emphasizing the values found in the Sache Jesu instead of concentrating on enforcing the outward form of wedlock. In doing so, the church will help postmodern and postsecular people to again understand the meaning of a loving relationship in the presence of God.