[b-greek] Re: 1 Cor. 7: 10-11

From: Harold R. Holmyard III (hholmyard@ont.com)
Date: Sun Apr 22 2001 - 14:44:48 EDT

Dear David,

You wrote:


> I have been looking at this passage and would like to propose that one
>translate this passage ( or at least look at it ) from a more restrictive
>position than is generally implied. CWRISQHNAI and AFIENAI are two key
>words in this passage and should be translated as separate herself ( taking
>the form as middle instead of passive) and depart from (active)
>respectively, instead of divorce for both terms. I don't think there is any
>big significance in the aorist versus present infinitive (??). The
>infinitive use instead of the imperative ( like verses 12 and 13) must be
>intentional, an indirect command contrasted with a direct command.

> I think Paul is speaking in a confined sense particular to the context
>of this passage. From verse one and following the context is that the
>Corinthians have asked Paul some questions which he is prepared to answer.
>The implied first question is whether one should marry - answer yes, marriage
>is good, but celibacy is best. The next question is should married couples
>abstain from sexual intercourse. Apparently they were already engaged in
>such a practice, since Paul says to stop doing that, for some good reasons.
>The context seems to imply that they were trying to apply their new faith in
>Christ in some unwise and unbiblical ways. Verse 10 -11 seems to imply that
>women were thinking of leaving their husbands to devote themselves to the
>work of God and that some husbands were doing the same with their wives.
>This possibility is denied by Paul.

> He does not seem to be making a general statement about divorce: "Wives
>must never separate from their husbands and Husbands must never leave their
>wives." That rule may be shown in other NT passages, but it seems out of
>place in this context. He is responding to a practice that seems specific to
>this group of people. Paul then deals with the issue of whether mates should
>leave their mate if the other is an unbeliever. This continues in the same
>vein of thinking in a sort of ascetic purity ( Paul makes it clear that purity
> can obtain in a mixed marriage). He then continues to give further
>directions in which the context seems to indicate that the Corinthians needed
>some help in understanding what to do in their marriage relationships ( i.e.
>the odd passage later in this chapter (v.36) where we have so much trouble
>understanding what virgin means).

HH: You may have considerable truth in assuming ascetic motivations for
some of these practices, but I do not think we need translate CWRISQHNAI
and AFIENAI differently than we have done. The first word has a regular
usage with respect to divorce, and that is what the context suggests. The
woman is not to leave her husband, but if she does, she is to remain
unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. The context perfectly suits
divorce. The second word also can have the technical meaning of divorce.
See BAG for both.

                                Harold Holmyard
                                Dallas, TX

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