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

accuratebibles at ozemail.com.au accuratebibles at ozemail.com.au
Tue Jul 29 08:20:09 EDT 2003

Hi Dan,

I don't have the Greek text in front of me as I am at someone else's computer. 

You have got the noun mixed up with the verb here, as I am not sure what you mean about connecting PORNEIA (noun usually translated as "fornication" in Bible versions)with the verb APOLUW which you give as "dismiss".

EPI commonly means "on the grounds of" which in English is often simply translated as "for" - thus (using your vocab.)"...dismisses his wife not on the grounds of PORNEIA" = "dismisses his wife not for PORNEIA". EPI governs 3 cases - here with the dative it's very common for on the ground of an accusation/charge, emotion or action. EPI is often used as "for" as a legal term. I wouldn't reply on Strongs so much - better to pick up a basic book on Greek grammar if you are going to take into consideration what books/concordances say about Greek.

To point out an anachronism - living with someone was just as legal as written marriage - there was no difference, unlike today - written and unwritten (that is, a couple living together) marriages were completely equally valid, and most certainly morally so, the only difference was that people had a written marriage if there was a dowry or property concerns with heirs. However, polygamy was regularly practiced by Jews in Palestine in the first century.

Hope that helps,

Ann Nyland

> From: dschm89 at netzero.com
> Subject: [B-Greek] Matthew 19:9 - Could "epi porneia" be adjectival?
> Date: 29/07/2003 15:17:16
> To: b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org
> 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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