Re: Mt 19:9

Date: Wed May 12 1999 - 23:58:55 EDT

In a message dated 5/12/99 4:48:11 PM, writes:

<< Zerwick, Biblical Greek, ¤442 (pp. 148-49) has an interesting note on this
passage. "In this passage, however, MH not only may but should mean
"exccept," not that MH = "except" is of itself admissible, but because MH is
here dependent upon the introductory hOS AN which is equivalent to EAN TIS
("whoever = if anyone dismiss his wife MH EPI PORNEIA·") and thus we have
(EAN) MH ="unless,"i.e., "except." Both expressions therefore, lay down the
same true exception; as for the interpretation of the exception cf. Verb.
Dom. 38 (1960), 193-212."

This understanding would essentially make the statement a complex conditional
with perhaps the following understanding: if anyone divorces his wife, if he
does not divorce her because of immorality, and marries another, he commits
adultery. Thus the MH EPI PORNEIA clause would simply modify APOLUSHi. This
does not really resolve the exegetical issue. The question is does it invite
the inference "if he divorces his wife because of immorality, and then
marries another, does he commit adultery. >>

I would like to make a qualification on this discussion I made earlier. It
may be that the MH EPI PORNEIA clause does not simply modify APOLUSHi. The
reason I think this that it does not make sense with the APOLUSHi clause
alone. Therefore, it is more likely that it modifies the entire sentence as a
whole. It stands closest to APOLUSHi because that is the verb that is implied
in the clause. A rearrangement of the clauses might make the syntax clearer
and retain the same sense: if anyone (whoever) divorces his wife and marries
another, he commits adultery, if he does not divorce her because of
immorality. With this arrangement the syntax is clearer; the "exception
clause modifies the entire statement. You have this type of phenomena where a
conditional clause modifies a conditional statement as a whole in Mark 9:42;
Luke 16:31; John 3:12; 13:17; Rom 11:15; 2 Cor 2:2; Heb 2:2-3, although the
syntax is not as complicated in those examples as in this one. If this is the
sense of the syntax, then it seems that it does invite the inference "if he
does divorce because of immorality and marries another, he does not commit
adultery. There seems to be no reason for Matthew to add the exception clause
unless he wanted to invite this inference. Also the logical equivalent would
seem to be:

If he does not commit immorality, then he divorced his wife because of
immorality, if he divorce his wife and married another.
Any comments are welcomed.

Charles Powell

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