Re: Matthew 19:9, mng of PORNEIA

From: Steven Craig Miller (
Date: Fri Oct 15 1999 - 20:55:51 EDT

<x-flowed>To: Jeffrey B. Gibson,

<< 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). >>

I would concur with you, that is why I think the primary referent for
PORNEIA at Mt 19:9 should be seen to be prostitution, and it is being used
as such by the Matthean Jesus as an abusive metaphor. Thus I've suggested
the following translation:

"I say to you: whoever divorces his woman (except for divorcing whores) and
marries another lives in adultery."

This translation leaves it unclear what a wife might have done to justify
being called a "whore."

-Steven Craig Miller
Alton, Illinois (USA)

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