Re: Matthew 19:9, mng of PORNEIA

From: Steven Craig Miller (
Date: Sat Oct 16 1999 - 08:28:19 EDT

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

SCM: << I've suggested the following translation: "I say to you: whoever
divorces his woman (except for divorcing whores) and marries another lives
in adultery." >>

JBG: << But the problem here is that "prostitution" is not what the
Deuteronomic and/or the more contemporary Rabbinic discussion (which seems
to inform the debate behind Matt 19) envisages, nor does it seem a common
enough situation (a man's wife engaging in "prostitution") in 1st cent CE
Palestine to be the issue at stake. >>

I'm not suggesting that "prostitution" was a real problem, only that the
term PORNEIA was used as an abusive metaphor. This to me, if I may be
allowed to speak so bold, is a point which I believe most scholars have missed!

JBG: << I am still inclined to see that what Jesus is saying here is that
even the reason that ordinarily, and according to the Mosaic Law, was
recognized as grounds for divorce, is not to be considered so, i.e., that
there is no cause for which a man may divorce his wife PORNEIA included. >>

So, how would you translate Mt 19:9?

 From my point of view, I would concede that MH EPI PORNEIi (of Mt 19:9) is
a problem. I don't claim to personally have any new solution to this
problem. But I do believe that my translation (quoted above) is consistent
with mainstream scholarship, especially the interpretation argued for in
Davies and Allison's commentary on Matthew.

-Steven Craig Miller
Alton, Illinois (USA)

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