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

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
Tue Jul 29 08:05:02 EDT 2003


At 5:17 AM +0000 7/29/03, Dan Schmude <dschm89 at netzero.com> wrote:
>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.

Are you depending on Strong's # information for understanding the Greek
text here? If you're basing your conception of whether EPI can mean "for"
on that sort of correspondence as is indicated in the Strong's definitions,
you're not very likely to grasp the nuances of the Greek prepositions. In
this instance, a very common usage of EPI is involved: "on the basis of" or
"because of"--which in some instances might be most simply Englished as
"for". BDAG glosses it in sense #6 (6. marker of basis for a state of
being, action, or result, on, w. dat. (Hom. et al.) in sub-sense (a) lists:
	a. EP' ARTWi ZHN live on bread Mt 4:4; Lk 4:4 (both Dt 8:3. cp.
Ps.-Pla., Alcib. 1, 105c; Plut., Mor. 526d; Alciphron 3, 7, 5; SibOr 4,
154). EPI TWi hRHMATI SOU depending on your word Lk 5:5. OU SUNHKAN EPI
TOIS ARTOIS they did not arrive at an understanding (of it) (by reflecting)
on (the miracle of) the loaves Mk 6:52 (cp. Demosth. 18, 121 TI SAUTON OUK
ELLEBORIZEIS EPI TOUTOIS [sc. LOGOIS];=why do you not come to an
understanding concerning these words?). EPI THi PISTEI on the basis of
faith Ac 3:16; Phil 3:9. EP' ELPIDI on the basis of hope, supporting itself
on hope Ac 2:26 (? s. ELPIS 1ba); Ro 4:18; 8:20; 1 Cor 9:10; Tit 1:2.-Ac
26:6 EP' ELPIDI gives the basis of the trial at law, as does EPI
EUERGESIAi– 4:9. APOLUEIN THN GUNAIKA EPI PORNEIAi Mt 19:9 (cp. Dio Chrys.
26 [43], 10 APOLUEIN EP' ARGURIAi; Ath. 2, 3 KRINESQAI ... MH EPI TWi
ONOMATI, EPI TWi ADIKHMATI). GUNAIKOS EPI POLLAIS hAMARTIAIS DIABLHQEISHS
Papias (2:17). On the basis of the testimony of two witnesses (cp. Appian,
Iber. 79 §343 HLEGCON EPI MARTUSI) Hb 10:28 (Dt 17:6); sim. use of EPI TINI
on the basis of someth.: 8:6; 9:10, 15 (here it may also be taken in the
temporal sense; s. 18 below), 17. hAMARTANEIN EPI TWi hOMOIWMATI THS
PARABASEWS ADAM Ro 5:14 (hOMOIWMA 1). DAPANAN EPI TINI pay the expenses for
someone Ac 21:24. ARKEISQAI EPI TINI be content w. someth. 3J 10.

>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?

Phil 3:6 KATA ZHLOS DIWKWN THN EKKLHSIAN, KATA DIKAIOSUNHN THN EN NOMWi
GENOMENOS AMEMPTOS. Here KATA ZHLOS is adverbial with DIWKWN, and KATA
DIKAIOSUNHN is adverbial with GENOMENOS AMEMPTOS; EN NOMWi is adjectival,
but it is marked as such by the article THN showing that it belongs with
DIKAIOSUNHN.

2 Tim 3:15 KAI hOTI APO BREFOUS [TA] hIERA GRAMMATA OIDAS, TA DUNAMENA SE
SOFISAI EIS SWTHRIAN DIA PISTEWS EN CRISTWi IHSOU. Here APO BREFOUS is
adverbial with OIDAS, EIS SWTHRIAN is adverbial with SOFISAI, DIA PISTEWS
could be understood as adjectival in relationship to SWTHRIAN, but in fact
I would be more inclined to say that it's adverbial in that it qualifies
the verbal notion in SWTHRIAN. Finally there's EN CRISTWi IHSOU, the
example you cite above: this is very much like DIA PISTEWS: you could call
it adjectival as qualifying PISTEWS, but I think it would be more
appropriate to call it adverbial qualifying the verbal notion in PISTEWS.

Heb 9:9-10 ... KAQ' hHN DWRA TE KAI QUSIAI PROSFERONTAI MH DUNAMENAI KATA
SUNEIDHSIN TELEIWSAI TON LATREUONTA, 10 MONON EPI BRWMASIN KAI POMASIN KAI
DIAFOROIS BAPTISMOIS, DIKAIWMATA SARKOS MECRI KAIROU DIORQWSEWS EPIKEIMENA.
I suppose you want to consider EPI BRWMASIN KAI POMASIN KAI DIAFOROIS
BAPTISMOIS adjectival here and claim that they construe with DWRA TE KAI
QUSIAI; I would prefer, however, to understand them with PROSFERONTAI and
call them adverbial.

Heb 9:15 ... QANATOU GENOMENOU EIS APOLUTRWSIN TWN EPI THi PRWTHi DIAQHKHi
PARABASEWN ... Here indeed EPI THi PRWTHi DIAQHKHi functions adjectivally
with APOLUTRWSIN, but as in Phil 3:6 its adjectival usage is indicated by
the article TWN showing that it belongs within the group TWN ... PARABASEWn.

One notorious passage is sometimes cited as an instance of an adjectival PP
qualifying a noun, the text cited from Hab 2:4 in Rom 1:17: it is said that
EK PISTEWS in the cited verse, hO DE DIKAIOS EK PISTEWS ZHSETAI, is
adjectival and qualifies hO DIKAIOS, as "the one who through faith is
righteous." However, it would be much clearer that that is what paul
intended if he had written hO EK PISTEWS DIKAIOS so that EK PISTEWS is
included within the article governing DIKAIOS. As the text stands, it is
better to understand EK PISTEWS as construing with the verb ZHSETAI: "will
live on the basis of faith/believing." So, while I would not want to assert
that PP's are invariably adverbial, I'd say that they are most commonly so
and that when they are used adjectivally to qualify nouns, they generally
are indicated as doing so by being marked with an article in agreement with
the noun in question.

If it is not clear from what I've already said, I think that the phrase MH
EPI PORNEIAi in Mt 19:9 is indeed adverbial as it is usually
understood--and that it does indeed qualify APOLUSHi.
-- 

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Emeritus)
1989 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
WWW: http://www.ioa.com/~cwconrad/



More information about the B-Greek mailing list