Did Erasmus von Rotterdam deliberately add εἰ to Matthew 19:9?

Page 1 of 2 (28 items) 1 2 Next >
This post has 27 Replies | 2 Followers

Posts 102
J. Erik | Forum Activity | Posted: Mon, Apr 30 2018 2:28 PM

I read somewhere that E.v.R. was against the Roman "no divorce no matter what" standing, and so added the word εἰ to Matthew 19:9? Are there any one here who can tell me if this is true?

Posts 102
J. Erik | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Apr 30 2018 2:58 PM

And why has the word "except" been chosen, when μὴ seems to best be translated not? (While except is εἰ μή)

And which then leaves me with the question: does that mean "not even on the basis of adultery", or "not on the basis of adultery" as portrayed in the word except?

(I am very basic in Greek. Barely started on the 101 course).

Posts 419
Liam Maguire | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Apr 30 2018 3:04 PM

Great question J. Erik and a very interesting point of conversation. It may be tricky getting an answer here as the Forum rules are very tight on these kinds of topics. However, I don't doubt you'll get an answer over at https://hermeneutics.stackexchange.com. Make sure you read a couple of questions before posting, they have a bit of a 'set style' that they like questions to come in. Even so, I have found them an extremely useful community for exactly these kinds of questions. 

I hope that helps. Blessings, Liam

Check out my blog 'For Fathers'

Posts 26138
Forum MVP
MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Apr 30 2018 3:24 PM

This is a question answered best by critical apparatus:


  19:9 οτι cum אCEFGHIKLMNSUVΓΔΠ al omnvid f ff2. g1. m q vg syromn sah cop arm aeth Baseth 308 Chr Dampar 640 … Ln Ti om cum BDZ a b c e ff1. g2. h :: cf ad 5:32
  ος αν: CM ος εαν
  απολυση: H al -σει
  μη επι πορνεια (אI -ια cum אCINZ unc13 al150 fere g2. vg (nisi ob fornicationem) syrutr arm aeth Dampar; item ϛ (= Gb Sz) praemisso ει cum minusc pauc Baseth (Clem - libere, et quaeritur quorsum spectet -532 χωρις λογου πορν. et506 πλην ει μη επι λογω πορν.) … Ln παρεκτος λογου πορνειας (: : ex 5:32) cum BD 1. 33. al6 itpler (c d ff1. m excepta causa adulterii; e praeter causam fornicationis; a b f ff2. g1. h q nisi ob causam fornic. Item Aug excepta causa fornicat., nisi ex causa forn., nisi ob causam forn.; Tertbis libere om μη επ.πορν., item Athenagleg 33) syrcu sah cop Or3,647 sqq (Clem533 χωρις λογου πορν.) Baseth Chr (et.mo 6G)


Constantin von Tischendorf, Caspar René Gregory, and Ezra Abbot, eds., Novum Testamentum Graece., vol. 1 (Lipsiae: Giesecke & Devrient, 1869–1894), 114.

Or, if you prefer:


9 ⸂ p) ος αν B D Z it
  ¦ οστις 1424
⸄ μη επι πορνεια και γαμηση αλλην (om. και γαμηση αλλην N) ποιει αυτην μοιχευθηναι C* N
  ¦ (5,32) παρεκτος λογου πορνειας ποιει αυτην μοιχευθηναι B ƒ1 ff1 bo
  ¦ παρεκτος λογου πορνειας και γαμηση αλλην μοιχαται D ƒ13 33 it (syc) sa mae
  ¦ txt א C3 K L (− και W) Z Γ Δ Θ 078. 565. 579. 700. 892. 1241. 1424 𝔪 1 vg sys.p.h


Eberhard Nestle and Erwin Nestle, Nestle-Aland: NTG Apparatus Criticus, ed. Barbara Aland et al., 28. revidierte Auflage (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2012), 60.

That Erasmus "added" it is urban legend; his beliefs, however, may have influenced his choice of text.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

Posts 924
Deacon Steve | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Apr 30 2018 4:28 PM

Erasmas in Greek?  What?

Posts 26138
Forum MVP
MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Apr 30 2018 6:14 PM

Steve:

Erasmas in Greek?  What?

Sure ... Erasmus of Corfu Wink ... the question was on the Greek; therefore, I provided the apparatus of the Greek. Erasmus of Rotterdam, the better known Erasmus, provided the New Testament in both Latin and Greek, IIRC.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

Posts 102
J. Erik | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, May 1 2018 3:10 AM

Thanks Liam! That's a good suggestion.

MJ. Smith. I'm a 101, not 10300 Tongue Tied

Posts 9913
Forum MVP
NB.Mick | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, May 1 2018 4:33 AM

J. Erik:
MJ. Smith. I'm a 101, not 10300

Hi Erik,

while what MJ posted may look scary to you, it's the right answer. Going to a forum will give you opinions - going to the critical apparatus will give you data. 

Let me try to explain a bit - from one 101 learner to the other.

The Greek NT has come to us in a number of manuscripts. Today we have them collected in museums, digitized and to some extent even available in our bible software. This hasn't always been the case. The first printed Greek NT was published by Erasmus from Rotterdam. Even in his time, scholars knew that there were small differences between the Greek manuscript texts. He tried to use the best manuscripts available, and tried to find out what the best (i.e. original) reading was, if he had several manuscripts available for a passage (in some case he didn't). What Erasmus had printed would be named "textus receptus". As far as I know, Erasmus did not invented any Greek readings - except for some verses in the last part of Revelation where he could not obtain even one Greek manuscript - but relied on the manuscripts that were obtainable. Those mostly belonged to a "family" of manuscripts called Byzantine, since they had been copied -by hand! - in the Eastern part of the Mediterranean, in the Byzantine Empire (a Christian state governed from modern-day Istambul), which was overrun by muslim invaders back in the day and Christian scholars fled the area into more Northern and Western areas of Europe, bringing some of those manuscripts with them when they could.    

Editors of Greek NTs to this day decide over variant readings in the manuscripts. Nowadays, there are lots of manuscripts - most of which had not been discovered at Erasmus' times. So when scholarly edition of the Greek NT are published, they include a so-called apparatus. This is basically a listing of those manuscripts that support the reading taken by the publishers and it contains variants that are found in other manuscripts, which makes the publishers' decisions transparent.

Since the mid-20th century scholars have reached a near-stable consensus on what the most probable text of the original might have been (taking into account age of the available manuscripts, the way ancient scribal errors would influence the text and some heuristic rules that would help to explain how variants might have come into being) - this text is what you find in the Nestle-Aland editions and is the basis of most modern bible translations (a minority view exists that favors a text more in line with what Erasmus published and what had been the basis of Luther's original German bible and the KJV). Regardless of such publishers' decisions and transmission theories: the critical apparatus will give you the data which tells you, which manuscript supports which reading.

A good technical commentary on your verse would have a section on the Greek text and explain the apparatus information in more readable language.   

Running Logos 8 latest beta version on Win 10

Posts 17877
Forum MVP
Keep Smiling 4 Jesus :) | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, May 2 2018 7:41 AM

J. Erik:
I read somewhere that E.v.R. was against the Roman "no divorce no matter what" standing, and so added the word εἰ to Matthew 19:9?

Search idea is:

(Erasmus,εἰ) WITHIN {Milestone <Mt19.9>}

Keep Smiling Smile

Posts 151
Dave L | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, May 2 2018 9:48 AM

Regardless, Jesus taught the innocent woman divorced from an adulterous husband would commit adultery along with the man she marries. Proving the except clause is better translated "if".

Posts 418
Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, May 3 2018 7:53 AM

Dave L:

......Jesus taught the innocent woman divorced from an adulterous husband would commit adultery along with the man she marries....

That's not my understanding of Matthew 19:9 - "And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery." (Matthew 19:9)

In your example the adulterous husband has engaged in fornication and his wife is innocent. Arguably, she gains the benefit of the exception in that verse and so can divorce him. When she marries she is therefore not guilty of adultery nor is her new husband. Keep well  Paul 

Posts 151
Dave L | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, May 3 2018 8:20 AM

This is probably not the place. But please note: Jesus says the innocent woman divorced from her adulterous husband, also commits adultery if she remarries, along with her second husband. No way around it.

“And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except [IF] it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.” (Matthew 19:9) (KJV 1900)

Posts 102
J. Erik | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, May 3 2018 1:18 PM

NB.Mick Thanks for the effort in laying it out in sensible terms :D

So, that still leaves me still with the question: Why has the word except been chosen in most translations when the consensus do not include εἰ? And is it clear what direction the word μή takes the meaning of this verse, as I questioned in my second post?

God bless you guys!

Posts 26138
Forum MVP
MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, May 3 2018 1:55 PM

To answer this question you need to check reception history and technical commentaries. I know of no reception history commentaries within Logos but there are several technical commentaries.

e.      ἐπί with dative (LN 89.27) (BAGD II.1.b.γ. p. 287): because of’ [LN], ‘on the basis of’ [BAGD, LN]. The phrase μὴ ἐπί ‘except for’ [BECNT, BNTC, NICNT, NIGTC, PNTC, WBC; ESV, NASB, NET, NIV, NRSV] is also translated ‘except it be for’ [KJV], ‘except on the ground of’ [NTC], ‘not on the basis of’ [CC], ‘for any reason/cause other than’ [GW, REB, TEV], ‘if (your wife) has not … you must not’ [CEV], ‘unless (his wife has been unfaithful)’ [NLT], ‘the only reason is if’ [NCV]. This preposition indicates cause or reason as the basis for a subsequent event or state [LN].

David Abernathy, An Exegetical Summary of Matthew 17–28, Exegetical Summaries (Dallas, TX: SIL International, 2015), 59.

-----

except for unchastity. This same exception is found at 5:32, but is not found elsewhere in the NT. Commentators have generally taken the position that these words are not part of the saying as originally uttered, but are a community regulation later inserted into the text. It certainly appears to be inconsistent with vs. 6. The precise meaning of unchastity is uncertain.
[and he who marries her …]. These words are not to be found in all the best manuscripts, and may have been added in the light of Mark 10:12.


W. F. Albright and C. S. Mann, Matthew: Introduction, Translation, and Notes, vol. 26, Anchor Yale Bible (New Haven;  London: Yale University Press, 2008), 226.

-----


9. The main point of the passage is given in an apodictic statement which resembles 5:32.
λέγω δὲ ὑμῖν ὅτι. This is more solemn than Mk 10:11 (‘and he says to them’) and recalls 5:32 (‘But I say to you that’).
ὅς ἂν ἀπολύσῃ τὴν γυναῖκα αὐτοῦ μὴ ἐπὶ πορνείᾳ καὶ γαμήσῃ ἄλλην μοιχᾶται.67 So Mk 10:11, without μὴ ἐπὶ πορνείᾳ and with ἐπʼ αὐτήν68 at the end. Mt 5:32 begins with πᾶς ὁ (cf. 5:32, 28; Lk 16:18) and so employs the participle. It also differs in having παρεκτὸς λόγου πορνείας (cf. MT Deut 24:1), in referring to the divorced wife being made to commit adultery (through remarriage), and in not saying that a divorced man commits adultery by marrying ἄλλην, ‘another’. The last difference is the most interesting. ἄλλην seems to refer to any woman, whether married or not. But in Jewish law adultery traditionally involved another man’s wife (Deut 22:22; Lev 18:20). So here the definition has been expanded.69
μὴ ἐπὶ πορνείᾳ is the equivalent of παρεκτὸς λόγου πορνείας. For discussion see on 5:32; also Allison, ‘Divorce’ (v), and Bockmuehl (v). The clause is redactional, its meaning probably not ‘except in the case of incest’ but ‘except for adultery’70—an interpretation which justifies the envisaged action of the ‘just’ Joseph in 1:18–25. Compare Sigal (v), pp. 94–102, who notes that in Jer 3:1–10 God gives Israel a bill of divorce for adultery and that Matthew’s interpretation of Deut 24:1 nicely harmonizes with this.71 In our Gospel divorce is not adultery only when the marriage bond has already been broken by unfaithfulness.

Nineham, Mark, pp. 261–2, raises the possibility that in Mark and Luke ‘cases of adultery are entirely excluded from the argument on the grounds that they were already dealt with in Deut 22:22 … [so that] the exceptive clauses in Matthew … correctly interpret Jesus’ meaning. It is true that, according to Abrahams’ careful study (in Studies in Pharisaism and the Gospels, 1 Chapter 9), “the death penalty was neither pronounced nor inflicted for adultery in the time of Christ,” but we know that soon after the time of Christ Jewish husbands were compelled to divorce their wives in cases of unchastity, and so the possibility cannot be altogether ruled out that already in Christ’s day divorce on this ground would have seemed so obviously right as to be beyond discussion altogether. Jesus may even have held that in such circumstances the adulterous wife had already sundered the unity and so no question of “putting asunder” (v. 9) arose.’ However matters may have been with Jesus, the same reflections may help us with Matthew. Perhaps in the author’s Jewish community divorce for adultery was imperative, so that the exception clause was a concession to this fact.72 Bockmuehl shows that many in first-century Judaism would have thought divorce for adultery unavoidable.73

μοιχᾶται harks back to the seventh commandment: ‘You shall not commit adultery’ (LXX Exod 20:14: οὐ μοιχεύσεις). It is presupposed that the decalogue must not be broken.
The problem of whether 19:9 allows remarriage for the innocent party (so traditionally most Protestants74) cannot, as Augustine conceded (De fide et op. 19), finally be answered.75 See 1, p. 529, and Carter (v), who returns a negative answer. Does μὴ ἐπὶ πορνείᾳ qualify only the first verb (ἀπολύσῃ; so Heth (v) and Wenham (v)) or both verbs (also γαμήσῃ)? Grammatical reflections cannot decide. Patristic opinion,76 burdened by a less than enthusiastic view of marriage, disallowed remarriage and so understood our text accordingly (cf. Pope Innocent 1, Ep. 6:12). The link with vv. 10–12, which have to do with sexual abstinence, has recently been thought to uphold this interpretation: the eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven are those who have separated from their spouses because of πορνεία and do not remarry. But the saying about eunuchs is not a command but a qualified recommendation: not all are given the gift (see on 5:12). So if 19:10–12 is closely associated with v. 9, it might appear that some are free to remarry. There is also the issue of whether something like the later distinction between separation (divorce a mensa et thoro) and divorce (a vinculo) would have made much sense in Matthew’s Jewish environment.77 The Jewish divorce bill contained the clause, ‘You are free to marry again.’ To obtain a divorce was to obtain permission to remarry. In line with this, 5:32 simply assumes that divorce leads to remarriage (to divorce a wife is to make her commit adultery—because she will take another spouse).78
καὶ ὁ ἀπολελυμένην γαμήσας μοιχᾶται.79 If this be the correct text, Matthew now leaves Mark in favour of something very close to 5:32b (cf. Lk 16:18). This saves space and enhances the parallelism between 5:32 and 19:9 as well as between 19:9a and 9b. Furthermore, Matthew’s version, in harmony with those Jewish sources which forbid a woman to divorce her husband, does not take up Mark’s condemnation of such a one: such action is not envisaged (cf. 1, p. 527).

19:9 indirectly condemns polygyny. If it were permitted to have two wives at once, then it would not matter whether a first wife had been lawfully divorced or not before taking a second wife. But how controversial Jesus’ dismissal of polygyny would have been is unknown. While the OT does not condemn the practices80 and while rabbinic legislation covers it (SB 3, pp. 647–50), by the first century monogamy appears to have been the widespread norm, polygyny the very rare exception.81 It seems that the Essenes, despite Scripture, even prohibited it altogether (CD 4:20; Fitzmyer (v)). It should in any case be remarked that support for monogamy and the idea of conjugal fidelity was, before and after Matthew’s time, on the increase in the upper classes of the Graeco-Roman world.82
There are five different early versions of Jesus’ prohibition of divorce: 1 Cor 7:10–11; Lk 16:18 (Q); Mk 10:11–12; Mt 5:31–2; 19:9. According to Jeremias, Theology, p. 225, the stages of development through which the logion passed were these: ‘from Mt 5:32, without the qualification παρεκτὸς λόγου πορνείας (prohibition of the discharge of the wife and the wife’s remarriage), via 1 Cor 7:10f. (prohibition of divorce by the wife added in view of the Hellenistic legal situation) and vv. 12–16 (exception made for mixed marriages), Luke 16:18 and Mark 10:11f. (prohibition of remarriage for both parties) to Matt. 5:32 and 19:9 (the exception πορνεία).’ Mt 5:32 is not, however, the place to start because it is Matthew’s combination of Mark and Q (1, pp. 528–30). The origin of the tradition must instead lie in Mt 5:32a (if it reproduces Q) or in the agreement between Lk 16:18 and Mk 10:11: everyone/whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery (cf. 1 Cor 7:11). The teaching was then modified in two ways, by the prohibition of a wife divorcing her husband and marrying another on the one hand83 (1 Cor 7:10; Mk 10:12; contrast Lk 16:18; Mt 5:32; 19:9) and by the prohibition of marrying a divorced person on the other (Lk 16:18; Mt 5:32b; contrast 1 Cor 7:10–11; Mk 10:11–12).84 Finally, two exceptions were added to the rule: it does not cover mixed marriages (1 Cor 7:10–11) and it does not cover adultery (Mt 5:32; 19:9).85
The ruling against divorce should be assigned to Jesus. It has multiple attestation (Mark, Q, Paul), its radicality is characteristic, and, as the history of the tradition shows, the church constantly found the ruling in need of clarification and qualification. For what Jesus probably meant see 1, p. 532, and Harvey, ‘Genesis’ (v).


W. D. Davies and Dale C. Allison Jr., A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel according to Saint Matthew, vol. 3, International Critical Commentary (London; New York: T&T Clark International, 2004), 15–19.

-----


Whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity is almost word-for-word identical with the equivalent part of 5:32. The only difference is that whoever divorces translates a subjunctive, while “if a man divorces” of 5:32 translates a participle. For important comments concerning the exegesis and translation of this part of the verse see 5:32.

There are several ways translators have found to render this verse; for example, “If a man divorces his wife, unless she had been unfaithful to him (or, unless the marriage was unlawful), if he gets married again (to someone else) he is committing adultery,” “Anyone who divorces his wife and then marries someone else commits adultery, unless the reason for the divorce was that his wife had been unfaithful (or, unless the reason for the divorce was that the marriage was illegal),” or “If someone gets a divorce from his wife for some reason other than that she had committed adultery (or, other than that the marriage was illegal), if he then marries someone else, he is committing adultery.”

Unchastity or “unfaithful,” if that is the interpretation chosen, will be expressed in some languages as “slept with another man.”

There are two textual problems in this verse which need some attention: (1) After the word unchastity (TEV “unfaithfulness”) some manuscripts add “makes her commit adultery” (see the RSV footnote). If this is an original part of the text, it means “makes her commit adultery when she marries again.” However, it is the opinion of TC-GNT that this is a later addition, introduced on the basis of 5:32. Apparently none of the modern translations include this wording. (2) At the end of the verse, some manuscripts add “and he who marries a divorced woman commits adultery” (see the RSV footnote). Although it is possible that this statement was accidentally omitted by copyists, TC-GNT believes it more probable that the wording represents a later attempt to make the text similar to 5:32. Of the modern translations this clause is found only in Mft and NAB.


Barclay Moon Newman and Philip C. Stine, A Handbook on the Gospel of Matthew, UBS Handbook Series (New York: United Bible Societies, 1992), 593.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

Posts 102
J. Erik | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, May 3 2018 2:40 PM

I'm searching Logos store for "technical commentary matthew", but that did't give the right resources. Any suggestions?

Posts 102
J. Erik | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, May 3 2018 2:44 PM

Didn't see your post before after I posted mine MJ. Smith. Thanks. Will look more tomorrow or Saturday (getting close to midnight here in Norway).

Posts 89
David Staveley | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, May 3 2018 5:25 PM

J. Erik:

And why has the word "except" been chosen, when μὴ seems to best be translated not? (While except is εἰ μή)

And which then leaves me with the question: does that mean "not even on the basis of adultery", or "not on the basis of adultery" as portrayed in the word except?

(I am very basic in Greek. Barely started on the 101 course).

There are a couple of things going on here that need clarifying:

Firstly, to answer your question why μή has been translated "except" on this occasion, you need to understand how a Greek particle of negation works (μή is a particle of negation). Sometimes the clause it negates becomes an exception to the primary clauses, setting it over against it  - as in this case. It's use here in Mt 19.9 is to mark out the only exception to absolute rule of no divorcing and re-marrying. Literally, it reads "not for sexual immorality", but idiomatically it reads "except for immorality". Another way of translating it would be "excluding [the case of] sexual immorality". Or, yet another would be "notwithstanding sexual immorality". So, it is perfectly in keeping with the meaning of μή to translate it as "except".

Secondly, εἰ μή does not actually change the meaning of verse at all. εἰ used in conjunction with μή simply reinforces it as a marker of negation: "if not for this"; "excepting this only"; "notwithstanding this only"; etc. As such, it is difficult to work out why some scribal copyists have inserted it in the handful of manuscripts that have it, since putting it in or leaving it out, the meaning of the exception remains exactly the same: the only exception to rule of "no divorce whatsoever" is the one exception - the case of sexual immorality. As such, we will just have to give this one over to the "we don't know" folder of history. Some stuff we know; Some we don't.

Thirdly, in the Catholic theology of marriage, one of the grounds (there are 19 in all) for the annulment of a marriage (divorce is absolutely ruled out in Catholic thought, on the grounds that the sacrament of marriage has ontologically turned two people into one flesh. This is a state which cannot be reversed) is "wilful exclusion of marital fidelity" (Canon 1101, 12). It is here that Mt 19.9 comes into the argument: Catholics take the Greek word πορνείᾳ typically translated as "sexual immorality" to mean "prostitution": that is, that going into a marriage, the female never had any intention of giving up her profession as a prostitute. Or, once married, the female becomes a prostitute by trade. Both of these examples would be grounds for an annulment of the marriage by the Pope.

So, we can see that even in the case of Catholic theology, Mt 19.9 is a very real exception to Jesus' absolute rule that divorce is ruled out under all circumstances. As such, to translate Mt 19.9 as "not even on the basis of sexual immorality" would do violence to how the verse is universally understood.

Dr David Staveley Professor of New Testament. Specializing in the Pauline Epistles, Apocalyptic Judaism, and the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Posts 418
Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, May 3 2018 5:28 PM

Dave L:

This is probably not the place. But please note: Jesus says the innocent woman divorced from her adulterous husband, also commits adultery if she remarries, along with her second husband. No way around it.

“And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except [IF] it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.” (Matthew 19:9) (KJV 1900)

Thanks for your explanation Dave L - as I'd obviously missed the original point. The issue illustrates how even the small words of our Bibles are important.  Nevertheless, I will stay with my tried and trusted King James Bible for this one.  This would proclaim the woman innocent.  Keep well Paul 

Posts 89
David Staveley | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, May 3 2018 6:00 PM

Paul:

Dave L:

......Jesus taught the innocent woman divorced from an adulterous husband would commit adultery along with the man she marries....

That's not my understanding of Matthew 19:9 - "And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery." (Matthew 19:9)

In your example the adulterous husband has engaged in fornication and his wife is innocent. Arguably, she gains the benefit of the exception in that verse and so can divorce him. When she marries she is therefore not guilty of adultery nor is her new husband. Keep well  Paul 

Technically speaking, it was impossible for a man to commit adultery in biblical times. Adultery is a crime against the man according to the Hebrew scriptures.

Also, in the Second Temple period, if a women committed adultery, the man did not seek a writ of divorce from her. He reported her to the chief of the Bet Din, and she would have been sentenced to be stoned to death. No divorce necessary, since she would be dead after the stoning, and as such the man was then free to re-marry whoever he liked. Death ends/terminates a marriage.

Later Rabbinic law surrounding adultery, where the husband is duty bound to divorce the adulterer, was not in force during the Second Temple period. It only came about at a time when stoning a women to death for adultery was no longer acceptable to do in society. As such, divorce became the only way to deal with it. 

The only exception to stoning, and where divorce was then applied, was the case of the women who was raped. Rape was not understood then as it is today, where the women is a victim. Back then, she was still defiled because of her union with the raper. But because it was not consensual, divorce then became a possible means of remedy to the husbands good name. But the women was to be sent far away, out of the community, so that the husband did not have to see her anymore and be reminded of what had happened. 

All of this means that the Greek word πορνείᾳ typically translated as "sexual immorality" in Mt 19.9 cannot realistically be translated "adultery". Adultery was not grounds for divorce in Pharisaic halakhah. Rather, stoning to death was the legal response to adultery. As such, we must seek a different translation to the Greek word πορνείᾳ. 

Dr David Staveley Professor of New Testament. Specializing in the Pauline Epistles, Apocalyptic Judaism, and the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Posts 418
Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, May 3 2018 8:30 PM

David Staveley:

Paul:

Dave L:

......Jesus taught the innocent woman divorced from an adulterous husband would commit adultery along with the man she marries....

That's not my understanding of Matthew 19:9 - "And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery." (Matthew 19:9)

In your example the adulterous husband has engaged in fornication and his wife is innocent. Arguably, she gains the benefit of the exception in that verse and so can divorce him. When she marries she is therefore not guilty of adultery nor is her new husband. Keep well  Paul 

Technically speaking, it was impossible for a man to commit adultery in biblical times. Adultery is a crime against the man according to the Hebrew scriptures.

Also, in the Second Temple period, if a women committed adultery, the man did not seek a writ of divorce from her. He reported her to the chief of the Bet Din, and she would have been sentenced to be stoned to death. No divorce necessary, since she would be dead after the stoning, and as such the man was then free to re-marry whoever he liked. Death ends/terminates a marriage.

Latter Rabbinic law surrounding adultery, where the husband is duty bound to divorce the adulterer, was not in force during the Second Temple period. It only came about at a time when stoning a women to death for adultery was no longer an acceptable to do in society. As such, divorce became the only way to deal with it. 

The only exception to stoning, and where divorce was then applied, was the case of the women who was raped. Rape was not understood then as it is today, where the women is a victim. She was still defiled because of her union with the raper, but because it was not consensual, divorce then became a possible means of remedy to the husbands good name. But the women was to be sent far away, out of the community, so that the husband did not have to see her anymore and be reminded of what had happened. 

This means that the Greek word πορνείᾳ typically translated as "sexual immorality" in Mt 19.9 cannot realistically be translated "adultery". Adultery was not grounds for divorce in Pharisaic halakhah, but rather stoning the adulterer to death was.

Thanks David - That's a very interesting explanation and one which I was not fully aware of - so I'm learning something here.  I suppose if we applied today the principle from Hebrew Scriptures (or the Second Temple period) that a man could not really be guilty of adultery, many male "adulterers" sitting in our pews would be very relieved to hear that preached. Not so many relieved women though - who if we also applied those principles - really ought to be stoned to death.  On that view, there are no innocent women in this area. 

We are fortunate not to live in times when texts like Matthew 19:9 would be interpreted to the (adulterous) advantage of men, or am I wrong?

Keep well Paul     

   

Page 1 of 2 (28 items) 1 2 Next > | RSS