Middle or Passive? καὶ ὃς ἐὰν ἀπολελυμένην γαμήσῃ μοιχᾶται

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Jonathan Robie
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Middle or Passive? καὶ ὃς ἐὰν ἀπολελυμένην γαμήσῃ μοιχᾶται

Post by Jonathan Robie »

Matthew wrote:5:31 Ἐρρέθη δέ, ὃς ἂν ἀπολύσῃ τὴν γυναῖκα αὐτοῦ, δότω αὐτῇ ἀποστάσιον. 32 ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι πᾶς ὁ ἀπολύων τὴν γυναῖκα αὐτοῦ παρεκτὸς λόγου πορνείας ποιεῖ αὐτὴν μοιχευθῆναι, καὶ ὃς ἐὰν ἀπολελυμένην γαμήσῃ μοιχᾶται.
Luke wrote:16:18 Πᾶς ὁ ἀπολύων τὴν γυναῖκα αὐτοῦ καὶ γαμῶν ἑτέραν μοιχεύει, καὶ ὁ ἀπολελυμένην ἀπὸ ἀνδρὸς γαμῶν μοιχεύει.
Almost all translations assume passive force for ἀπολελυμένην. I wonder if this might better be understood with middle force - in which case, I assume it would mean "whoever marries a woman who divorces".

Would that be a legitimate way to understand these texts? I find this attractive because it makes Matthew and Luke more consonant with Mark, who says:
Mark wrote:10:11 καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς, Ὃς ἂν ἀπολύσῃ τὴν γυναῖκα αὐτοῦ καὶ γαμήσῃ ἄλλην μοιχᾶται ἐπ' αὐτήν, 12 καὶ ἐὰν αὐτὴ ἀπολύσασα τὸν ἄνδρα αὐτῆς γαμήσῃ ἄλλον μοιχᾶται.
But am I trying too hard to bend the Greek to my will?
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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Re: Middle or Passive? καὶ ὃς ἐὰν ἀπολελυμένην γαμήσῃ μοιχᾶτ

Post by cwconrad »

I think you probably are trying too hard to bend the Greek. I don't think we should assume that the different synoptic versions should be harmonized. I think that ἀπολελυμένην probably should be best understood as a passive: "a woman who has been divorced from (her) husband. The question may be asked, did women have the legal right in Jewish society to divorce their husbands (as Mark's version seems to indicate)? I rather suspect that Mark's formulation, perhaps written in and for an audience accustomed to Gentile legal practices, reflects a different understanding of the legal status of men and women.
οὔτοι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς πάντα θεοὶ θνητοῖς ὑπέδειξαν,
ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)
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