From: Steven Craig Miller (
Date: Sun Oct 17 1999 - 07:38:22 EDT

To: Carl W. Conrad,

Michael Abernathy wrote: << 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. >>

CWC: << Ah ..., but that was because he was a DIKAIOS ANHR!  >>

My favorite translation for DIKAIOS is "civilized" (see LSJM); and I supposed if one translated DIKAIOS ANHR here as "civilized man," and anachronistically gave Joseph 20th century values, you would have a point. On the other hand, it would seem almost anti-Semitic to assume that every "righteous man" would be more lenient than what the Jewish law requires, while only one less than a "righteous man" would uphold the Jewish law. Surely you don't mean to suggest that, yes?

IMO, it would be a fallacy to assume that 1st century Torah observant Jews always followed the letter of their law, when there is evidence that 1st century Jewish jurisprudence held that one could fulfill the command to "purge the evil from your midst" (cf. Deut 22:20-21) through divorce.

-Steven Craig Miller
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