Campus Location

Abilene Campus (Residential)

Date of Award


Document Type



Graduate School of Theology

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Committee Chair or Primary Advisor

Jeff Childers

Second Committee Member or Secondary Advisor

Mark Hamilton

Third Committee Member or Committee Reader

Jesse Long


Sometime around the turn of the sixth century, the Syriac speaking Jacob of Serug preached a sermon (memra) to his congregation on "Hosea and the Two Wives He Took." Since God's strange command to marry a prostitute does not fit well into proper theology, the book Hosea has not been traditionally popular preaching material, and there are almost no other sermons on the book of Hosea from the first five centuries. Though we have a handful of ancient commentaries on Hosea, they do not go much deeper into the story of Hosea than discussing the problem of whether Hosea married one woman or two and seeking to justify God's command to Hosea. Jacob's sermon or memra provides a rare perspective of how a preacher from a late antiquity made this troubling story into a sermon with relevance for the spiritual lives of his congregation. Jacob blends the Alexandrian and Antiochene styles of interpretation of his day, influenced by the theological and poetic style of his predecessor Ephrem the Syrian. Emphasizing obedience over all other virtues, Jacob vividly recounts the story of God commanding Hosea to marry a prostitute and an adulteress. Hosea obeys without hesitation, marrying the unrepentantly sinful women and caring for them. Jacob argues that God paints Hosea and his wives as a living parable of how Israel and Samaria have treated God from the beginning. Jacob weaves the story of Hosea with the account of the golden calf in Exodus 32 to demonstrate the relationship of God and Israel, as well as the relationships of God and the Jews in Jesus's day and God and the Christians of Jacob's day. This thesis provides a full annotated English translation of Jacob's memra on Hosea as well as background on his methods of interpreting the Old Testament and the memra's implications for spiritual relevance.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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