Re: Porneia

From: Maurice A. O'Sullivan (
Date: Thu Apr 11 1996 - 06:35:01 EDT

Granted that this is a _Greek_ list, I am nevertheless surprised that the
discussion on PORNEIA in Mt. 19:9 has been so narrowly confined.

The occasion, in Mt 19, is a confrontation/debate with the Pharisees, and so
the first-century Palestinian background together with evidence from two
Qumran scrolls [ 11QTemple and the Damascus Document ] were the basis for
J.A.Fitzmyer's article "The Matthean Divorce Texts and Some New Palestinian
Evidence" in _Theological Studies_ 37 (1976) 197-226, subsequently
reprinted in his " To Advance the Gospel: New Testament Studies" (Crossroad,
N.Y; 1981)

On p.97 of the book is:

"Now if the interpretation of these two Qumran passages just discussed is
correct, two further important conclusions may be drawn from them.
First, there is clear first-century Palestinian support for an
interpretation of
_porneia_ in Mt. 5:32 and 19:9 in the specific sense of _zanut_ as an
illicit marital union between persons of close kinship. Matthew, therefore,
would be making an exception for such marital situations for Gentile
Christians who were living in a mixed community with Jewish Christians still
observing Mosaic regulations.
As we have already noted, this interpretation of _porneia_ is not new, but
the evidence that was often used in the past to support it came from
rabbinic literature of a considerably later period. The fact that such a
meaning of
_zanut_ is also found in that literature merely strengthens the data
presented here because it would show that the understanding was not confined
to the Essene type of Judaism."

I hope this helps to put the question in its proper perspective, but anyone
with access to the book should read ALL of the article ( pp. 79-113)



Maurice A. O'Sullivan [ Bray, Ireland ]

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