Re: Mt 19:9

From: Stephen C. Carlson (
Date: Thu May 13 1999 - 00:00:05 EDT

At 09:34 PM 5/12/99 EDT, Paul S. Dixon wrote:
>I couldn't help but notice the misuse of logic here. Ben,
>what you are affirming is the negative inference fallacy.
>No, we must not infer from Mt 19:9 that if a man divorces
>his wife because she commits adultery, then remarries,
>then he does not commit adultery himself. It is not valid
>to infer this, and the text does not say it.

Actually, the text does. One reason why we should accept
the conclusion from Mt 19:9 that "if a man divorces his
wife because she commits adultery, then remarries, then
he does not commit adultery himself" is the common sense
notion that people intend for every word they use to mean
something, especially when formulating rules. This principle
is so well established that it has been recognized as a
canon of statutory construction, that "every word, phrase,
and clause must be given effect."

Therefore, to decide that if a man divorces his wife then
remarries, he always commits adultery, is to assume that
the words MH EPI PORNEIAi have no meaning whatsoever in
Mt 19:9. Since this is absurd, the conclusion that Ben
Crick expressed should be upheld (but not, however, his
stated reasoning with the Ps and Qs).

As I wrote in previous post last year:

        What I reject is the apparent argument that an author
        never implies anything beyond what logically follows
        from his explicit statements.

Although this conclusion does not logically follow from only
the explicit words of Mt19:9 (it is not contradicted either), it
is a proper deduction from implicit premises about why people
bother to say anything at all: words are used to communicate.

Stephen Carlson

Stephen C. Carlson              
Synoptic Problem Home Page
"Poetry speaks of aspirations, and songs chant the words."  Shujing 2.35

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