Re: porneia

Date: Sun Oct 17 1999 - 01:58:18 EDT

On Sat, 16 Oct 1999 21:15:58 -0700 "Michael Abernathy"
<> writes:

> Paul Dixon said porneia "cannot be adultery or prostitution, since
> the lawful punishment for such is death by stoning." You might want
> to reconsider this argument. There is substantial evidence that
> during the New Testament period divorce, not stoning, was the usual
> consequence of adultery (See. Markus Bockmuehl's article "Matthew
> 5.32; 19.9 in the Light of Pre-Rabinnic Halakhah" New Testament
> Studies vol. 35, 1989, pp. 291-295). Also consider Joseph's planned
> divorce of Mary upon finding that she was pregnant.

It may be the case that divorce, not stoning, was the usual consequence
of adultery during the NT period, but that is irrelevant. The question
by the Pharisees was, is it lawful (EI EZESTIN, Mt 19:3)? NT practice
has no bearing upon it.

Nor does Joseph's plan to put Mary away (APOLUSAI, Mt 1:19) have any
bearing upon this, even if he was a DIKAIOS ANHR. The fact that he
was a righteous man is better explained by his desire not to make
a public spectacle of her (MH QELWN ANTHN DEIGMATISAI), rather
than as a commentary that his behavior was lawful.

But, even if his behavior is lawful, we still have the case of a man who
is engaged to be married, and not yet lawfully married. There has
been no consummation. Is this not an altogether different ballgame?

Someone asks about Jn 7:53-8:11 and the woman taken in adultery.
This was another setup. The Pharisees wanted to trap Jesus. Their
thinking, of course, was that she should be stoned to death in line
with the OT law. They said, "Now Moses in the law commanded that
such should be stoned. But what do you say?" (8:5).

His answer is not to deny the law, but to show their failure to uphold
the law in the execution of it. "He who is without sin among you, let
him throw a stone at her first" (v. 7). This comes from Deut 13:9;

His forgiveness of the woman, of course, is exemplary. He, like Joseph,
was merciful, and we ought to be. If a man's wife commits adultery
he ought to be merciful and willing to forgive her. But, again, this is
not the
question. The question is not, should we be merciful. It is: according
the OT, is it lawful for a man to put away his wife because of adultery?

The answer, according to the law, is that she should be stoned to
death for adultery. There is no apparent provision for divorce for
adultery, and if there were there would appear to be contradiction
within the law.

Paul Dixon


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