89Re: [ematthew] SBL Gospel of Matthew Section
- Dec 11, 2002<<Jim,
Sorry for the belated response to your message here.
Could you give us an update on how your paper went,
nd other things at SBL? Between SBL, the holiday,
and end of the semester, everyone is so busy that for
those of us not at SBL, getting news is difficult.
At the SBL business meeting the estimated combined attendance (AAR and
SBL) was 8500. The meetings were spread out among three hotels and a
convention center. This made attending the meetings an athletic experience,
unless you took the shuttles. The PATH (Toronto's underground shopping
walkway) was interesting, but useless for getting around. It is a maze which
requires longer than a few days to figure out. If you want to get somewhere
you go outside.
My paper studied Jesus' teachings on divorce in Matthew 5 and 19. I
noticed that chapter 5 deals with remarriage of the divorced wife, and
chapter 19 with the remarriage of the divorcing husband. I dealt mostly with
chapter 19. As I understand it, Jesus denied the reality of divorce so that
remarriage for the man would be polygamy. So the argument of chapter 19
would be against polygamy. Genesis 1:27 and 2:24 were quoted against
multiple marriage. I read 1:27 as quoted here as, "a male and a female he
created them," translating with the indefinite article. I understood the
eunuch section as describing celibacy as the alternative to marriage, and the
disciples consternation indicates their loss of male privilege.
One objection to my paper claimed that the two divorce texts were not
related to each other. Too much text separates them and the language used is
different. They cite Deut 24 differently and phrase the porneia clause
differently. However, they neatly divide between the wife and the husband,
both do cite Deut 24 and have a porneia exception clause. Also, I find that
Matthew is constructed with sufficient care that I would expect the two texts
to be interactive, even if the language is distinct.
Another, strenuous objection was made against me reading polygamy into
the text. The same person also objected to my insertion of the indefinite
article into the translation of the Genesis 1:27 quote, claiming that I was
adding words to the text. But as the indefinite article is not part of Greek
(or Hebrew) grammar, its use, or non-use by the translator is strictly
according to sense and should not be considered an alteration of the text.
And if Jesus is indeed denying the reality of divorce in these texts, then
polygamy is indeed the topic of the second divorce text.
A couple of people gave me several references on the topic of eunuchs,
which were helpful for another chapter in my book (this paper is a chapter
out of a book in preparation), but do not seem relevant here. I do not see
Matthew 19:10-12 as an exposition of eunuchs as a topic, but rather an
exposition of the alternative to marriage. So, unless we assume that Jesus
is advising lifelong batchelors to emasculate themselves, I assume that
"eunuch" here is a code-word for celibacy, however inaccurate that may be
from the point of view of a sex researcher.
And Tuesday afternoon I was able to visit an art museum which was showing
a special exhibition from the Hermitage. A couple of friends from Ottawa
insisted that I go, and it was delightful. But that is a bit off topic.
Perhaps other Gospel of Matthew Section presenters could outline their
papers and responses here.
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