Re: Matthew 19:9, mng of PORNEIA

From: Jeffrey B. Gibson (
Date: Fri Oct 15 1999 - 18:27:02 EDT

Steven Craig Miller wrote:

> To: Paul Dixon,
> << How do we get that PORNEIA here is adultery? A case can be made for its
> meaning being other than that. >>
> You are correct that many interpretations are here possible. But Davies and
> Allison [1988:531] state:
> << 'Adultery' is a well-attested meaning for PORNEIA ... >>
> And they cite BAGD, Lampe, and Lovestram. I don't have the last two, but
> BAGD cites Sirach 23:23 and Hermas Mandate 4.1.5.

The problem here, as I see it, is that, as Matt. 5:27 shows, Matthew was not only
quite aware of another word for adultery which was less ambiguous than PORNEIA, but
that he uses this other word when he wants to signify "adultery".

Furthermore, against the Deuteronomic background in which the challenge to Jesus in
Matt 19 is set, and as the roughly contemporary Rabbinic discussion of the
Deuteronomic material shows, the meaning of PORNEIA can hardly be limited to
"adultery", even if it does include that signification. It is "something unseemly"
which, most likely was sexual deviance, but not necessarily so. See M. Git. 9.10 (b.
Git 90a).



Jeffrey B. Gibson
7423 N. Sheridan Road #2A
Chicago, Illinois 60626

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