Re: Matthew 19:9

Date: Fri Oct 15 1999 - 01:16:04 EDT

On Thu, 14 Oct 1999 20:56:19 -0700 "Michael Abernathy"
<> writes:
> While I am interested in the discussion of how to interpret the
> Matthean passage on divorce, I feel that the recent discussions
> have overlooked some possibilities. Most of us are acquainted with
> the two most common interpretations:
> 1. Jesus forbids remarriage after divorce for any reason.
> 2. Jesus forbids remarriage after divorce for any reason except
> porneia with porneia being equated either with adultery or some form
> of marriage that would be illegal according to Jewish law.
> A less common interpretation was suggested by Tom Bivins in a recent
> posting.
> 3. Jesus was not forbidding divorce and remarriage but the
> abominable practise of sending away a wife without benefit of
> divorce.
> (While this interpretation has some problems, it does harmonize with
> the Aramaic translation of Mt. 5:32 & Lk. 16:18 where the woman is
> not divorced but merely sent away. [For those who don't know
> Aramaic, see Lamsa's translation of the Four Gospels.] It would also
> harmonize with the Caesarean and Western variants of Mark 10:12
> which describes the woman as one who has left but not divorced her
> husband.)
> 4. Jesus was forbidding divorce for the purpose of remarriage.
> Brad Young argues that the force of the Hebrew would have linked the
> divorce and remarriage together in one continuous motion thus,
> translating, "Everyone who divorces his wife [in order] to marry
> another commits adultery." ( See Jesus the Jewish Theologian p.
> 115).
> 5. Jesus was that divorce and remarriage were not a part of God's
> ideal plan for mankind. Therefore, all divorce and remarriage falls
> short of perfection, but God because of His love and grace
> recognized man's fallen condition and allowed for both divorce and
> remarriage. Thus, divorce and remarriage are allowed but they are
> not encouraged. (See David Daube, "Concessions to Sinfulness in
> Jewish Law," The Journal of Jewish Studies vol 10, no 1-2 (1959).
> Let me know if I have missed any major interpetations. Personally,
> I lean to a combination of 4 and 5. 4 fits the context of the Jewish
> leaders testing Jesus in the same area where John the Baptist was
> arrested for denouncing the illegal divorce and marriage of
> Herodias.

A significant view already discussed here, but omitted in your listing
of major views, is the preterition position. It is the view that sees
MH EPI PORNEIA as merely excluding the case of the wife's
PORNEIA from consideration.

Under this view Christ is saying nothing about that case. He is
addressing only the case of the man who divorces his wife for
any other reason and remarries. The one who does this commits

Going for the view are the following considerations:
1. The case of the man who divorces his wife for PORNEIA is
considered in the preceding verses; hence, no need to say anything
more about that here. Verse 9 is covering all other cases.

2. There is no conflict with Mk 10:11. The Markan passage, of
course, is universal and knows no exception. If Matthew's account
is preteritive, then Mark's account can stand unchallenged.

3. The fact that the type of construction as found in Mt 19:9
(A+B=C) has never been shown to imply or mean the negation
(nA+B=nC, in this case). In other words, there is no basis for
concluding form Mt 19:9 that if a man divorces his wife because
of PORNEIA and he remarries, then he does not commit adultery.

Paul Dixon


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