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Re: [ematthew] The Divorce Texts

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  • MillerJimE@AOL.COM
    I am currently researching the teachings of Jesus on divorce in Matthew. In Matthew there are two texts on divorce and remarriage, 5:31-32 and 19:3-12. The
    Message 1 of 9 , Jan 9, 2002
      I am currently researching the teachings of Jesus on divorce in Matthew.
      In Matthew there are two texts on divorce and remarriage, 5:31-32 and
      19:3-12. The first text defines the adultery of remarriage through the
      woman. The issue of the man remarrying is not touched. This follows the
      pattern of the law of Moses where a man can have multiple wives but a married
      woman is restricted to one husband.
      It is in chapter 19 where the remarriage of the man is discussed, and the
      approach is an attack on polygamy. Both Genesis 1:27 and 2:24 are marshalled
      as pre-Mosaic proof texts against multiple wives.
      In contrast to Matthew the parallel texts in Mark and Luke, one each,
      combines the two genders in a single prohibition on remarriage.
      My question is this. Who has discussed this, and where can their
      discussions be found? The major commentaries either give marginal notice to
      the gender distinction in Matthew or they ignore it altogether. Any help
      would be appreciated.
      Jim Miller
    • Ernest Munachi Ezeogu
      Hi Jim, You are into a very important research and the aim of every scholarly research is to read meaning out of the text (exegesis) and not into the text
      Message 2 of 9 , Jan 10, 2002
        Hi Jim,

        You are into a very important research and the aim of every scholarly research is to read meaning out of the text (exegesis) and not into the text (eisegesis). One might be putting the wrong foot forward by assuming as you do that "in chapter 19 ... the remarriage of the man is discussed, and the approach is an attack on polygamy." Where do you get that from? I do not see it. From what I see the question addressed in the pericope is expressly stated in 19:3 "And Pharisees came to him and tested him by asking, "Is it lawful to divorce one's wife for any cause?" (RSV). The question is clearly on divorce and not on polygamy. I am not aware of any passage in Mt or even in the NT in general (not to talk of the OT) that can be said to be "an attack on polygamy." I stand to be corrected.

        Yes, I agree with you that in Mt 19 the issue of polygamy is addressed from an exclusive male perspective. This could be the Jew in Matthew at work. Mark is more gender inclusive and so closer to modern Western sensitivities. But neither of them addresses, much less attacks, the institution of polygamy, I think.

        Ernest Munachi Ezeogu
        PhD (Cand) NT Sudies
        Toronto School of Theology

        ----- Original Message -----
        From: MillerJimE@...
        To: ematthew@yahoogroups.com
        Sent: Thursday, January 10, 2002 1:47 AM
        Subject: Re: [ematthew] The Divorce Texts



        I am currently researching the teachings of Jesus on divorce in Matthew.
        In Matthew there are two texts on divorce and remarriage, 5:31-32 and
        19:3-12. The first text defines the adultery of remarriage through the
        woman. The issue of the man remarrying is not touched. This follows the
        pattern of the law of Moses where a man can have multiple wives but a married
        woman is restricted to one husband.
        It is in chapter 19 where the remarriage of the man is discussed, and the
        approach is an attack on polygamy. Both Genesis 1:27 and 2:24 are marshalled
        as pre-Mosaic proof texts against multiple wives.
        In contrast to Matthew the parallel texts in Mark and Luke, one each,
        combines the two genders in a single prohibition on remarriage.
        My question is this. Who has discussed this, and where can their
        discussions be found? The major commentaries either give marginal notice to
        the gender distinction in Matthew or they ignore it altogether. Any help
        would be appreciated.
        Jim Miller

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      • Jacob Knee
        You may find David Instone-Brewer s web site interesting http://www.instone-brewer.com/ He has several pieces on divorce in the Bible including what looks to
        Message 3 of 9 , Jan 10, 2002
          You may find David Instone-Brewer's web site interesting

          http://www.instone-brewer.com/

          He has several pieces on divorce in the Bible including what looks to be
          full text of his monograph on divorce in the Bible soon to be published by
          Eerdmans.

          Best wishes,
          Jacob Knee
          (Cam, Gloucestershire)

          -----Original Message-----
          From: MillerJimE@... [mailto:MillerJimE@...]
          Sent: 10 January 2002 06:48
          To: ematthew@yahoogroups.com
          Subject: Re: [ematthew] The Divorce Texts



          I am currently researching the teachings of Jesus on divorce in Matthew.
          In Matthew there are two texts on divorce and remarriage, 5:31-32 and
          19:3-12. The first text defines the adultery of remarriage through the
          woman. The issue of the man remarrying is not touched. This follows the
          pattern of the law of Moses where a man can have multiple wives but a
          married
          woman is restricted to one husband.
          It is in chapter 19 where the remarriage of the man is discussed, and
          the
          approach is an attack on polygamy. Both Genesis 1:27 and 2:24 are
          marshalled
          as pre-Mosaic proof texts against multiple wives.
          In contrast to Matthew the parallel texts in Mark and Luke, one each,
          combines the two genders in a single prohibition on remarriage.
          My question is this. Who has discussed this, and where can their
          discussions be found? The major commentaries either give marginal notice to
          the gender distinction in Matthew or they ignore it altogether. Any help
          would be appreciated.
          Jim Miller
        • antony
          Although I think he probably pushes it too far, Warren Carter offers an interpretation of Matthew 19:3-12 which has a Œgender¹ agenda... Warren Carter,
          Message 4 of 9 , Jan 10, 2002
            Although I think he probably pushes it too far, Warren Carter offers an
            interpretation of Matthew 19:3-12 which has a Œgender¹ agenda...

            Warren Carter, Households and Discipleship: A Study of Matthew 19-20, JSNTS
            103 (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1994), esp. 56-89.

            The work as a whole seeks to argue two main points:

            1. Chapters 19-20 utilise the four standard subjects of household codes (the
            rule of husband over wife, of father over children, of master over slave,
            and the task of acquring wealth). However, according to Carter, the pattern
            is utilised only to be subverted: the hierarchical and patriarchal
            assumptions of the household code are called into question and rejected, in
            favour of a more egalitarian pattern of discipleship. He detects the
            elements of the code as follows:

            19:3-12 ­ Marriage, Divorce, Remarriage
            19:13-15 ­ Children
            19:16-30 ­ The Acquisition of Wealth
            20:1-16 ­ The Story of the Householder: A New Way of Doing Things
            20:17-28 ­ Being a Slave contrasted with ŒRuling Over¹
            20:29-34 ­ Conclusion: The Two Blind men

            2. This alternative pattern of household structure is an integral part of
            Matthew¹s understanding of discipleship. Matthean discipleship is marked by
            an Œanti-structure existence¹ which opposes hierarchical social structures,
            and by an existence on the margins of society with a different focus and
            lifestyle.

            On this basis, in 19:3-6, the Pharisees¹ question reflects the broad
            assumptions of patriarchal society, and the unrestricted power of a man to
            divorce his wife. Their question indicates a male focus: ŒCan a man divorce
            his wife?¹ There is no question here of the woman initiating divorce. The
            question is patriarchal, in that it concerns a man¹s power over a woman. It
            assumes that divorce is a legitimate action for a man, and asks about
            permissible grounds.

            But Jesus responds with a different understanding of marriage, which
            emphasises permanence and unity. The Pharisees ask a question from an
            androcentric perspective, and Jesus answers from a theocentric perspective;
            he refers them to Genesis: Œhave you not read¹, he asks, appealing to the
            will of God which was Œfrom the beginning¹. The Pharisees assume divorce is
            a legitimate action for a man, but Jesus responds by affirming the
            permanence of the marriage bond. The Pharisees speak of divorce brought
            about by the actions of a man, but Jesus speaks about the unity of the
            marriage bond brought about by God. The Pharisees understand a husband to be
            exercising power over his wife, but by appealing to Genesis, Jesus points to
            a different understanding of the relationship. The Pharisees are concerned
            about a man¹s power to divorce his wife and end the marriage, but Jesus says
            that in marriage a man and woman are joined in a unity which reflects the
            original purpose of God for a marriage of unity and permanence.

            Then, in 19:7-9, the Pharisees appeal to Moses¹ command. But Jesus says the
            Pharisees have made a command out of a concession. Only hard-hearted men
            would support such an action as the basis for living. So, Jesus¹ second
            response limits divorce to one situation ­ unfaithfulness.

            19:10-12 follows the sequence. The male disciples hear the word of Jesus
            demanding unity in the marriage bond; they hear the curtailment of male
            power in divorce and against easy remarriage. And they respond by concluding
            that it¹s better not to marry! Jesus responds that some may exclude
            themselves from marriage, just as those who have been eunuchs from birth, or
            who have been made eunuchs, accept that marriage is not possible for them.
            This passage is then crucial for our understanding of the Matthean
            community. Those who choose not to live the Œone flesh¹ way of life with a
            spouse are not viewed as outsiders or marginal. They too belong in the
            household of the community of faith.

            In summary, then, while the Pharisees have a hierarchical view of mariage
            and divorce, Jesus¹ views are anti-structure to the dominant pattern in
            first-century society. In the community of disciples, men and women live out
            an alternative marriage relationship ­ one of permanence, unity, and mutual
            loyalty.

            Please note that the above is largely a paraphrase from parts of Carter¹s
            discussion, which I use in a lecture on this passage in Matthew.

            Regards

            Antony (Billington)


            on 10/1/02 7:47 am, MillerJimE@... at MillerJimE@... wrote:

            >
            > I am currently researching the teachings of Jesus on divorce in Matthew.
            > In Matthew there are two texts on divorce and remarriage, 5:31-32 and
            > 19:3-12. The first text defines the adultery of remarriage through the
            > woman. The issue of the man remarrying is not touched. This follows the
            > pattern of the law of Moses where a man can have multiple wives but a married
            > woman is restricted to one husband.
            > It is in chapter 19 where the remarriage of the man is discussed, and the
            > approach is an attack on polygamy. Both Genesis 1:27 and 2:24 are marshalled
            > as pre-Mosaic proof texts against multiple wives.
            > In contrast to Matthew the parallel texts in Mark and Luke, one each,
            > combines the two genders in a single prohibition on remarriage.
            > My question is this. Who has discussed this, and where can their
            > discussions be found? The major commentaries either give marginal notice to
            > the gender distinction in Matthew or they ignore it altogether. Any help
            > would be appreciated.
            > Jim Miller
            >
            >
            > To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
            > ematthew-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
            >
            >
            >
            > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
            >
            >
            >
          • MillerJimE@AOL.COM
            In a message dated 01/10/2002 12:23:54 PM Central Standard Time, jknee@jsk00.fsnet.co.uk writes:
            Message 5 of 9 , Jan 10, 2002
              In a message dated 01/10/2002 12:23:54 PM Central Standard Time,
              jknee@... writes:
              << You may find David Instone-Brewer's web site interesting
              http://www.instone-brewer.com/ >>


              Been there, done that, no better than the standard commentaries. Sorry.
              Jim Miller
            • MillerJimE@AOL.COM
              Where do I get that (polygamy) from? I begin with the assumption that Matthew as we have it is a unified text. Thus I assume some relationship between any
              Message 6 of 9 , Jan 10, 2002
                Where do I get that (polygamy) from? I begin with the assumption that
                Matthew as we have it is a unified text. Thus I assume some relationship
                between any two or three texts within Matthew which discuss a common issue.
                So, I assume some relationship between the two divorce texts. I notice that
                the first divorce text in chapter 5 effectively denies the reality of
                divorce. If a woman is divorced she isn't really divorced, so remarriage for
                her is adultery. In the back of my mind, noticing the man's remarriage is
                not mentioned, I remember that polygamy is accepted in the law of Moses. So,
                even if a divorced man isn't really divorced, remarriage for him would be
                polygamy, not adultery.
                When I reach chapter 19 I notice that one of the two Genesis texts is
                male specific (2:24). I notice that the the line about the woman remarrying
                in Mt 19:9 is not in the best manuscripts, and without it this text does not
                deal with the woman remarrying, just the man -- which is a nice counterpoint
                to the text in chapter 5. And Genesis 2:24 sounds like an anti-polygamy text.
                And, Genesis 1:27 is used in the Damascus Covenant (Dead Sea Scrolls)
                against polygamy. Gaster translates it, "a male and a female" God created
                them, a reading followed by Athenagoras.
                If I do not read Matthew 19 as an attack on polygamy, I cannot make sense
                of the argument or the texts cited. Can you?
                Jim Miller

                eezeogu@... writes:
                << You are into a very important research and the aim of every scholarly
                research is to read meaning out of the text (exegesis) and not into the text
                (eisegesis). One might be putting the wrong foot forward by assuming as you
                do that "in chapter 19 ... the remarriage of the man is discussed, and the
                approach is an attack on polygamy." Where do you get that from? I do not see
                it. >>
              • MillerJimE@AOL.COM
                Thank you, this is very helpful. I will look this up tomorrow in the library. Jim Miller antony@ukonline.co.uk writes:
                Message 7 of 9 , Jan 10, 2002
                  Thank you, this is very helpful. I will look this up tomorrow in the
                  library.
                  Jim Miller

                  antony@... writes:
                  << Although I think he probably pushes it too far, Warren Carter offers an
                  interpretation of Matthew 19:3-12 which has a Œgender¹ agenda...
                  Warren Carter, Households and Discipleship: A Study of Matthew 19-20, JSNTS
                  103 (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1994), esp. 56-89. >>
                • Jim Bacon
                  In deconstructing the Gospel passion narratives, I had long operated under the assumption that the Gospel of Matthew was utterly worthless as a historical
                  Message 8 of 9 , Jan 26, 2002
                    In deconstructing the Gospel passion narratives, I had long operated under
                    the assumption that the Gospel of Matthew was utterly worthless as a
                    historical source. The author clearly patterned his narrative on Mark's. The
                    only material he added, it seemed, were passages that indicated fulfillment
                    of prophecy, were apologetic (the story of the guards at the tomb), or were
                    outright legendary (the angel meeting the women at the sepulcher).

                    But recently I stumbled across Helen Bond's observation in "Pontius Pilate"
                    that while Mark speaks of the "chief priest" and the "high priests," Matthew
                    mentions the high priest, Caiaphas, by name. In this instance, Matthew
                    indisputably demonstrates historical knowledge not found in Mark.

                    Secondly, I note that Mark and Matthew differ in naming the women who
                    observed Jesus dying on the cross. Mark mentions Mary Magdalene and Mary the
                    mother of Joses. Matthew mentions Mary Magdalene, Mary the bother of *James*
                    and Joses, plus *the mother of Zebedee's children.* Although this additional
                    information could represent legendary accretion, it's also possible that
                    Matthew had independent knowledge of which women stood by the cross.

                    I wondered if anyone on the eMatthew list could point out additional shards
                    of historically trustworthy information that might be contained in Matthew's
                    passion narrative.

                    Jim Bacon
                  • MillerJimE@AOL.COM
                    In a message dated 01/11/2002 8:26:29 AM Central Standard Time, MillerJimE@AOL.COM writes:
                    Message 9 of 9 , Feb 2, 2002
                      In a message dated 01/11/2002 8:26:29 AM Central Standard Time,
                      MillerJimE@... writes:
                      << Thank you, this is very helpful. I will look this up tomorrow in the
                      library.
                      Jim Miller

                      antony@... writes:
                      << Although I think he probably pushes it too far, Warren Carter offers an
                      interpretation of Matthew 19:3-12 which has a gender¹ agenda...
                      Warren Carter, Households and Discipleship: A Study of Matthew 19-20, JSNTS
                      103 (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1994), esp. 56-89. >> >>
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