Re: b-greek-digest V1 #1035

From: David L. Moore (
Date: Sat Oct 18 1997 - 18:06:53 EDT

Ward Powers <> wrote:

>Fellow b-greekers:
>Have David Moore and I reached the point in our conversation about Mt 5:32
>where we have each made our points, and further discussion on list is
>becoming tedious and repetitive for others?
>I think perhaps we have.
>Therefore (unless something new or different comes up), I will summarize my
>case here, and withdraw from this thread.
>David and I share a large area of agreement, in particular about the point
>of Jesus's comment in this verse being a condemnation of the hardhearted
>husband who repudiates his wife in the circumstances outlined.
>If I understand David's position correctly (and part of the point and
>purpose of these discussions is to increase our understanding of the views
>of others), it is:
>(a) that in the society of the times, the woman who was divorced would be
>forced into a second marriage,

        I believe there were many pressures, both social and economic, in
that time, for a woman to remarry after a divorce and that divorce
constituted her legal right to remarry. I also think it is probable that
remarriage was the norm rather than the exception for a divorced woman.
While I don't agree with Ward's interpretation of Mat. 5:32, I don't think,
either, that Jesus statement there necessarily presupposes that in all cases
a divorced woman will remarry. I do think we should take into account
Jesus' usual manner of addressing problems of sin which was to target sin as
a budding thought and to recognize it as sin to be repented of at that
stage. Since to divorce a woman was to acknowledge and grant her the right
to remarry, and since it was the man's prerogative whether or not to
divorce, Jesus calls the act of divorcing sin because it cannot be done
without acceding to her being adulterously joined to another man.

>(b) that such a second marriage after divorce is being called by Jesus (in
>Mt 5:32), "adultery".

        The interpretation I have given is in keeping with Jesus' teaching
that divorcing one's spouse and marrying another is adulterous as He says in
Mat. 19:9; Mk. 10:11-12 and Lk. 16:18. But more importantly, it is the
plain meaning of the Greek in Mat. 5:32 that whoever divorces his wife,
except for a matter of sexual sin, causes her to be made party to adultery.
If Ward were proposing a poorly translated Aramaic original, I'd call his
proposal a conjecture and leave it at that. But he is saying that the text
says something that, in my best estimation, it is not saying.
>David, you are welcome to have the last word on this thread if you wish,
>but I now withdraw from the discussion of Mt 5:32. My thanks to those who
>have participated on-list, and written to me privately off-list, for an
>interesting discussion.

        I also think this discussion has about run its course and would not
yield more useful information unless it were widened into a discussion of
the theme of divorce and remarriage in its full biblical scope. Since I
believe that such a discussion would be inappropriate for b-greek, I'll let
the thread drop, too.

Regards to all,

David L. Moore
Miami, Florida, USA
Southeastern Spanish District of the A/G Dept. of Education
Home Page:


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