Matt 19:9

Date: Wed Oct 13 1999 - 06:35:04 EDT

Dear Paul,
This is not a trap. Because we are dealing with a legal text here in the
framework of a Pharisaic debate, does it not deserve a legalistic reading?
The term Jesus uses for divorce
in the adulterous sense is APOLUW, lit. "send away." APOLUW, however, is only
half of the legal term for divorce the Pharisees used in their question. In
7, they define Mosaic divorce as GRAFW BIBLION APOSTASIOU + APOLUW. Moses,
Pharisees are saying, laid down a two-step divorce process. Step one is
filing for the requisite papers (a
certificate of divorce)" which then allows you to proceed to step two which
is the "sending
away" the wife (APOLUW).

Pursuing such a reading, we see that Jesus in 19:9 is not condemning those
have followed the official two-step divorce process, but simply those who
fail to
adhere to the Mosaic statute. This is not much different from the legal
today, by which a bigamist is defined as someone with 2 marriage certificates
no BIBLION APOSTASIOU. What is often read as a global condemnation of divorce
(and all divorcees) is, if we give the passage the halakic reading it is due,
appeal to follow proper procedures when the human tragedy of divorce becomes

To get out of the trap, all the person has to do is to complete the process
and give the divorce paperwork.

Tom Bivins
Orlando, Florida

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