Re: Married Only Once

From: Ben Crick (
Date: Wed Feb 24 1999 - 14:57:17 EST

On Wed 24 Feb 99 (06:44:24), wrote:
> This past weekend I was looking at the NRSV and
> noticed that MIAS GUNAIKOS ANDRA in 1 Tim 3:2
> was translated "married only once", which suggests
> the meaning "one marriage for a life time" instead of
> "one marriage at a time".

 Dear Danny,

 What is sauce for the goose GUNH is sauce for the gander ANHR. <g>
 In 1 Timothy 5:9 we have a widow who is (was) hENOS ANDROS GUNH. In the
 case of a widow, it clearly means "with no husband still living": else
 she is by definition not a widow. The number of previous husbands would
 not be material, because they are all deceased. Most commentators seem
 to urge consistency, and not make special pleadings to suit denominational
 emphases. From the 4th century until the Reformation, clergy had to be
 husbands of no wife at all!

 So IMHO, MIAS GUNAIKOS ANDRA means a "one-wife man" and hENOS ANDROS GUNH
 means a "one-husband woman". The crunch then comes over whether this is
 "absolute monogamy" (one wife/husband per lifetime), or is it "serial
 monogamy" (one wife/husband at a time)? Tertullian argued for the
 former; but the consensus seems to be for the latter. It is not immoral
 to be married, or to be remarried (Hebrews 13:4).

 In the case of a bishop EPISKOPOS or a deacon DIAKONOS (1 Timothy 3:12),
 the requirement of MIAS GUNAIKOS seems to be a matter of family solidarity
 or the integrity of the nuclear family unit. Likewise for Presbyterers
 (Titus 1:5-6) the requirement is MIAS GUNAIKOS ANHR, again with the rider
 concerning the integrity of the family unit.

 So what is meant is faithfulness within the marriage vow, not lifelong or
 serial monogamy. Clearly divorce by reason of adultery would indicate not
 a healthy family unit. Remarriage after a bereavement would OTOH be a
 positive development especially if there are children in the family
 needing a step-mother.

 BTW, Elder PRESBUTEROS and Bishop EPISKOPOS seem to be synonymous in
 Titus 1:5-7. The semantic distinction between the two terms seems to
 date from Ignatius' Epistles (all except his /Romans/).


 Revd Ben Crick, BA CF
 232 Canterbury Road, Birchington, Kent, CT7 9TD (UK)

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