[B-Greek] Matthew 19:9 - Could "epi porneia" be adjectival?

dschm89 at netzero.com dschm89 at netzero.com
Tue Jul 29 01:17:16 EDT 2003

I'm not completely convinced that EPI PORNEIA refers to the verb for "dismisses" in Matthew 19:9, because EPI usually means "upon", "on", or "in". The definitions for the Strong's number for EPI doesn't even list "for" at all. Matthew uses EPI 95 other times and not once does it mean "for". Matthew uses a preposition meaning "for" 35 other times, usually EIS or DIA.

I'm thinking that EPI PORNEIA is an adjectival prepositional phrase referring to "wife" such as a "wife in fornication" meaning an unlawful wife. This would make the translation of Matthew 19:9 something like this: whosoever dismisses his wife, not an unlawful wife, and marries another commits adultery. In Matthew 19:9, Jesus could be giving those involved in illegimate marriages (ie. those married to a divorced person, those living with someone, or those in an incestual or homosexual marriage) the permission to divorce and remarry. I've often heard the argument that "fornication" refers to an unlawful marriage, but I've rarely seen this argument based on EPI PORNEIA being adjectival. Also, the prepositional phrase is much closer in the sentence to the word for "wife" than it is to the word for "dismisses". Perhaps I'm missing something?

Just how rare are adjectival PP's in Greek anyway? I know of an example in 2 Tim 3:15 translated "faith in Christ Jesus". I've also seen that EPI is used in adjectival PP's in Phil 3:6, Heb 9:10 and Heb 9:15. Is it possible that many translators go too far in trying to make EPI PORNEIA adverbial in Matthew 19:9? 

Thanks in advance for any responses,
-- Dan Schmude
Huntsville, Alabama (USA) 

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