Re: Matthew 5:31-32 (Divorce)

From: Steven Craig Miller (scmiller@www.plantnet.com)
Date: Wed Feb 23 2000 - 18:21:43 EST


<x-flowed>To: Jason Hare,

{31} ERREQH DE: hOS AN APOLUSHi THN GUNAIKA AUTOU, DOTW AUTHi APOSTASION.
{32} EGW DE LEGW hUMIN hOTI PAS hO APOLUWN THN GUNAIKA AUTOU PAREKTOS LOGOU
PORNEIAS POIEI AUTHN MOICEUQHNAI, KAI hOS EAN APOLELUMENHN GAMHSHi, MOICATAI.

I would translate this passage as:

"31 And it was said: Whoever divorces his woman, let him give her a written
notice. 32 But I say to you that anyone who divorces his woman, except for
the reason of prostitution, forces her to live in adultery; and whoever
marries a divorced woman lives in adultery" (Mt 5:31-32 MOT).

<< Does this mean that the divorcee has been noted as committing adultery
or the one divorcing her/him? Does it mean that if a man commits adultery,
he has the right to divorce his wife (for her sake) or that if she commits
adultery, he is free to divorce her. >>

The passage means that if the woman commits "prostitution" -- literally
PORNEIA refers to prostitution, but it is possible that PORNEIA is here
being used as a derogatory term of abuse for some activity other than
prostitution -- the man will not cause her to live in adultery, presumably
because she is perceived to be already in a worse (or perhaps merely
equivalent) state.

Matthew 5:31-32 should be compared to Mt 19:9, which I would translate as:

"And I say to you that whoever divorces his woman, except for prostitution,
and marries another lives in adultery" (Mt 19:9 MOT).

A number of participants would strongly disagree with various aspects of my
translation. If you will search the B-Greek archives you will find lively
debates on this and related passages presenting a number of different
interpretations.

-Steven Craig Miller
Alton, Illinois (USA)
scmiller@www.plantnet.com
FWIW: I'm neither a clergy-person, nor an academic (and I have no post-grad
degrees).

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