Re: Mt 19:9

From: Paul S. Dixon (
Date: Thu May 13 1999 - 01:25:27 EDT

On Thu, 13 May 1999 00:00:05 -0400 "Stephen C. Carlson"
<> writes:
>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.

No, the words MH EPI PORNEIAi can mean simply that
this case is being excluded from consideration at this point.
In other words, all Christ is addressing in verse 9 is the case
of the man who divorces his wife for non-adulterous reasons,
without saying anything about the case of adultery.

The translation might better be, "not for immorality," instead
of the usual "except for the cause of immorality" (which seems
to suggest the negation). It is interesting to note that this is
the only place MH without an accompanying EI or EAN is
translated "except."

The question then becomes, why would He exclude that
case from consideration at this point? Possibly because He
had just discussed it in the immediately preceding verses
(assuming the sexual offense in Deut 24 is PORNEIA). If so,
then He thoroughly covers all cases. Divorce for PORNEIA
and remarriage was suffered by Moses, but from the beginning
it has not been so (OU GEGONEN OUTWS), v. 8. Then in
verse 9, divorce for any other reason and remarriage constitutes

Paul Dixon

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