The Great Divorce Debate

--Turkel Responds Again and Mr. Krueger Answers—

Part 2

Submitted by Doug Krueger

Following is Part 2 of Mr. Krueger’s rebuttal to Turkel’s initial response to the original divorce article. The format here is what Mr. Krueger used. I have not edited any of the material he sent to me. Recall that whenever Turkel quotes from critics that use his real name, he replaces it with his pseudonym, “Holding,” in brackets.




Turkel cont'd:

In the ancient world adultery was no mere matter of a hop in a sack between consenting partners; adultery was looked upon as a matter in which one man dishonored another man by sleeping with his wife, and this in an agonistic culture in which honor was given the sort of regard we give to paying the bills. Adultery crossed the boundaries of family in an era when familial

lines were clearly and sharply drawn. It was an offense that demanded satisfaction from a human point of view, and since it involved familial boundaries, easily led to "family feuds" of the variety best know not from Richard Dawson, but from Hatfields and McCoys.



Turkel's information here does nothing to make the contradiction disappear.  He is going a long way to set up a later point that ultimately fails.


Turkel writes:

Ancient Israelite law nipped the feud in the bud by requiring both the adulterous wife and the man to be killed (Deut. 22:22) and stop the feud in its tracks.



Of course, when David lay with Bathsheba, another man's wife, the punishment was that god killed their son, but we can't expect consistency from the bible.


Turkel cont'd:

Given these conceptions of honor and vengeance, the "adultery exception" was the means of heading off dispute that Jews of Jesus' time used. Divorce excluded the offending parties from the kinship group and therefore gave the families no one to feud with. The punishment was social ostracization.



Turkel had just stated that the punishment was that they were stoned to death.  Now he says that the punishment is "social ostracization."  Turkel should address this contradiction too.  If his own examples contradict themselves, he has a problem.  But he continues, unaware of the problems he is ignoring.  If the punishment is no longer stoning, is Turkel trying to say that the OT law no longer applies?  He is not clear at all.  He is attempting to give some background information about how adultery was viewed in biblical times, but even here he contradicts himself.  This doesn't speak well regarding Turkel's attempt to provide background information about "the nature and construction of ancient legal codes."  He can't discuss the issue without contradiction.


Furthermore, this throws a wrench in the workings of one of his proposed defenses.  Turkel had claimed that Jesus' listeners would be aware of any exceptions to the universal prohibition on remarriage after divorce expressed in Mark 10.  But if Mosaic law says one thing and the social practices in Jesus' time said another, then we could expect that some people might wonder about what a particular person's view is on the subject of remarriage after divorce.  In fact, when Jesus answers the Pharisees, he explains that he is disagreeing with the laws of Moses on the subject.


Mark 10:

10:2 And the Pharisees came to him, and asked him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? tempting him.



Here the Pharisees, who were the local experts on the law, were testing Jesus to find out what he knew about the law.  They were asking him what is "lawful" in this case.  Jesus mentions Moses.


10:3 And he answered and said unto them, What did Moses command you?


10:4 And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away.


10:5 And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept.


10:6 But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.


10:7 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife;


10:8 And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.


10:9 What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.



So the Pharisees ask Jesus about the law regarding divorce, and he answers that although Moses allowed for divorce because of the "hardness of your heart," Jesus says that it is not allowed.  So Jesus is contradicting Moses on this issue.  Because of this, one may reasonably conclude that opinions differed regarding divorce.  In fact, Turkel himself insists that there were two schools of thought on the matter, the Hillel and the Shammai teachings.  And they differed on the circumstances under which divorce is permitted.  Turkel himself admits this.  So, if there were differing views on the circumstances under which divorce is permitted, it is reasonable to expect that the Pharisees would ask someone who purported to give moral advice, such as Jesus, what his views were, since experts disagreed.


So it would seem to be well established that opinions differed on the circumstances under which divorce is permitted.  Since this is the case, it is also reasonable to conclude that opinions differed on the circumstances under which remarriage after divorce is permitted.  If this is so, then Turkel's claim that everyone would understand the exceptions to the rule about divorce and remarriage is incorrect.  In fact, since Jesus expressly prohibits divorce in Mark 10, and he states that he differs from Moses in this, it is also clear that he differs from the Pharisees, since (a) they ask him why Moses allows divorce, and (b) Turkel has insisted that the Shammai and Hillel schools had differing views on when divorce was permitted.  But those schools, and Moses, permitted divorce.  Jesus, on the other hand, does not permit a bill of divorcement in Mark 10.  So since he is differing from each of the prevailing schools on the subject of divorce, there would be no reason to think that everyone would assume that Jesus would conform to prevailing views on remarriage.  In other words, if there were exceptions to the remarriage prohibition that Jesus states, since Jesus did not have the prevailing view on divorce, we should not assume that his listeners would simply assume that Jesus' views on remarriage were the prevailing view.  So Turkel's claim that everyone knew the exception to the prohibition on remarriage after divorce, so that Jesus wouldn't have to state it, is false.  It is not clear at all that everyone would agree on an exception to the prohibition, and since Jesus had just proven that his views on divorce were not mainstream, his listeners would not assume that of his views of remarriage.  Turkel's "assumption" defense fails.



Turkel cont'd:

With these points in mind, we now return to Krueger's commentary, and his continued effort to divorce matters from their social contexts (in which he is fundamentally and sadly undereducated). After restating his case, the cites, and the mathematical formulae (a rather transparent tactic of attempting to make his argument look more impressive than it is)...



As I've stated, the notation is for clarity.  That Turkel finds this impressive is irrelevant.


Turkel cont'd:

we are given this, which was not in the material originally passed to me:


[Doug had written]

Deuteronomy 24:1-2: When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house. And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man's wife.


[Doug had written]

In the Deuteronomy verses, there is no waiting period until the husband dies, and it allows the woman to remarry, contra Jesus' statements that this would be adultery.



The latter material was in the post I sent directly to Turkel.


Turkel cont'd:

Krueger has a little problem here: Deut. 24:1-2 is not a "law" at all! The whole "law" as such is Deut. 24:1-4. Verses 1-3 are a protasis; they describe a given situation that is expected to happen. Verse 4 is the apodasis, the actual "law" as we understand it.



OK, let's look at the verses under discussion and see whether Turkel has a point.


Deuteronomy 24:

24:1 When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favor in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house.


24:2 And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man's wife.



This is the verse to which the Pharisees referred when they questioned Jesus about divorce.  Whether this is a "law" or a "precept" (as Jesus calls it), it is a rule that had influence in Jesus' day, since they asked about it.  Deuteronomy 24:1-2 allows divorce, and Jesus in Mark 10 does not.  Turkel's claim that only verse 4 is the "law" is unlikely.  Let's see:


24:3 And if the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement, and giveth it in her hand, and sendeth her out of his

house; or if the latter husband die, which took her to be his wife;


24:4 Her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before the LORD: and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.



So Deuteronomy 24:1-4 has a series of do's and don't's.  A woman may divorce and go and become another man's wife.  Law or not, this contradicts what Jesus says and what Paul says, as we have seen.  There is no distiction given between the verses as to which are laws and which are not.  Turkel's claim has no support.


Turkel cont'd:

In fact there is no "law" for or against divorce in the OT law. It was assumed to be a reality, as Deut. 24:1-4 recognizes, and was neither forbidden nor endorsed. So even by modern "formal" standards there is nothing to put against the NT passages.



Not forbidden or endorsed?  What about "permitted"?  Turkel's dichotomy is a false one.  Anyway, Deuteronomy 24:1 permits divorce.  Jesus did not, in Mark 10.  Deuteronomy 24:2 allows remarriage.  In Mark 10, Jesus did not.  So there is a clear contradiction.


Regarding Turkel's claim that Deuteronomy 24:1-3 are not "law," there is no evidence that verse 4 is to be understood to have a different status than the previous three verses.  If there is such evidence, Turkel has not seen fit to provide it.  His claim is a mere assertion.  If he had evidence with which to back up his claim, he should have given it.  Since he did not, and there is

no apparent difference between the four verses regarding their status, we can only conclude that he is making an ad hoc mere assertion to try to save his position. 


If ancient laws were primarily didactic in nature (for moral instruction), and scholars say that this is the case, then instruction of the sort given in the first few verses of Deuteronomy 24 don't seem to be any different than that given in verse 4, contra Turkel's attempt to say that one is a "law" and the others are not.  There is no reason to think that this is so.  Incidentally, the Oxford Companion to the Bible, under "Divorce," discusses Deuteronomy 24:1-4 as a "law" while stating that verse 4 gives the reason for the law against remarrying one's former spouse.


Interestingly, the Matthew 5 and 19, Mark 10, and Luke 19 versions of Jesus' statements on divorce and remarriage only prohibit remarriage to someone else.  None of these statements prohibit remarriage to the same spouse.  Since it is known that Jesus disagreed with the statements in Deuteronomy 24, Turkel cannot argue that his listeners would have already known that

remarriage to the same spouse is prohibited.  So again we see evidence of disagreement on these issues, further damaging Turkel's assumption defense.


So Deuteronomy 24:1-4 disagrees with what Jesus says in Mark 10, and Turkel's claim that Deuteronomy 24:2 is not a law is unsupported.  In any case, Jesus' statements in Mark 10 are not law either.  The issue is whether the rules, laws or not, contradict, and they do.


Turkel cont'd:

Now let us see what Krueger has to say about our article answering Sam Gibson (he uses my real name, which I replace with my writing name). After citing the Marcan and Matthean passages, Krueger writes:


"Unfortunately, [Holding] does not inform his readers that the contradiction is evident in other verses, not just these two from Matthew 19 and Mark 10. [Holding] is misrepresenting the position to make it easier to refute. This is the Straw Man fallacy. Perhaps [Holding] is citing a bible skeptic who did not fully flesh out the scope of the contradiction, but even if this is so,

[Holding], who passes himself off as a biblical authority of some sort, should be aware if the difficulty of this biblical problem. "


We see to begin that Krueger has clearly mastered the art of scoring brownie points to support a weak case, though he has yet to achieve the subtlely to a Farrell Till in this regard. Indeed: I WAS citing another skeptic (Sam Gibson) who used these particular verses only -- he did not use Luke's version (which is the same as Mark's anyway) nor did he bring in Paul or




I am not interested in brownie points.   I am interested in showing that the bible contradicts, and I did show it.  That I was able to correctly guess what was going on in Turkel's article shows nothing against my case.  It is also hypocritical of Turkel to include such irrelevant comments and then say a paragraph later that I "pad [my] response with further verbiage."


Turkel cont'd:

However, we would say in reply that this is more likely because Sam is rather more intelligent than Krueger and knows better than to use the cites from Paul. And I would add as well that as an "authority of some sort" I am aware of why there is no difficulty at all: I am aware of the social data which Krueger does not know, and waves away when he learns of it.



As we have just seen, the "social data" does not show that there is no contradiction.  In fact, it reinforces my case.  The "social data" is that there was disagreement about divorce and remarriage issues.  Turkel admits this when he mentions the Hillel and Shammal schools.  So Turkel is incorrect to assume that Jesus' listeners would have already known of Jesus' views on the exceptions to the prohibition on remarriage.  The "social data" works against Turkel, but he is too blind to see it.


Turkel cont'd:

But first, Krueger sees the need to pad his response with further verbiage, just to ensure that the skeptical readership is dazed and befuddled enough not to see that the Emperor has no clothes:


"[Holding]'s website is not presenting the problem in a way that gives his readers an adequate appreciation of the severity of the problem. Now that [Holding] has seen a better developed presentation of the problem, we should expect him to modify his own exposition of the contradiction in order to be fair to readers of his website and to avoid the Straw Man fallacy."


Of course, if we wish to play this game, one may also note that Krueger has never addressed or refuted countless arguments from the Christian side; he has never touched the works of Evangelical scholars such as N. T. Wright, Ben Witherington, or Craig Blomberg. Of course that may be because his time is limited, he has specific concerns, and/or has never come across their work. But if we wished to use this to our polemical advantage, we might also say, "Krueger's work is not presenting Christian arguments in a way that gives his readers an adequate appreciation of the richness of the evidnece. Now that

Krueger knows of better developed presentations of the case for Christianity, we should expect him to modify his own works in order to be fair to readers of his material and to avoid the Straw Man fallacy." Of course, we are not desperate to score debate points with fluff -- so we will not say such a thing. ;-)



Well, Turkel has more "fluff"--to use a euphemism--than most bibliolaters.  In fact, roughly 13% of his recent reply to Farrell Till was the reptition of the very same lengthy, irrelevant sentence.  Turkel has no room to criticize on the issue of wasted space.


And, of course, I was correct to point out that Turkel was distorting the issue when he discussed the divorce and remarriage issue on his website.  And he still distorts it, as we are seeing.


Turkel cont'd:

I said:

Some critics say that the phrase was added to reflect the needs of the early church; and maybe it was, but that by no means requires that Jesus never added that qualification on His own at some point, perhaps in a different context or teaching. Matthew could simply have conflated two of Jesus' separate teachings, which is no crime.


Krueger replies:

"1. The latter comment commits the fallacy of non sequitur. The issue is not whether it is a crime to conflate teachings, but whether the teachings contradict each other.


[Turkel writes:]

Krueger is to be commended for not engaging in the foolish proposition that conflation of teachings is a crime, but this is hardly a non sequitur in context, because there are skeptics who do argue that conflation is a "crime," and there are also those who say the phrase is a later redaction not offered by Jesus, and I have not said here that Krueger is one of those who says such things."



OK, I didn't say it.  It's a good thing that Turkel avoids fluff, isn't it?


Turkel cont'd:

I hardly could, since this is not addressed to him. Therefore Krueger is once again cheaply trying to score points with his readers. A respondent with integrity would have simply noted this point and stated that this was not their approach, and been done with it, and moved on to the next point.



Since Turkel is belaboring the point that I didn't say something and he is not just moving on to the next point, I suppose he must meet his own criteria for failing to be a "respondent with integrity."  That was easy to show.


Turkel cont'd:

[Doug had written:]

"2. [Holding] commits the fallacy of non sequitur in another way also. Whether the "critics" are correct about their speculation regarding why the verses contradict each other is not relevant to the problem. It may be interesting to find out how biblical contradictions arise, but the issue at hand is that the contradiction is there, not why it is there."


[Turkel cont'd:]

Once again: This is hardly a non sequitur in context, because there are skeptics and critics who do argue from this point of view, and I have not said here or anywhere that Krueger is one of those who says such things. Therefore Krueger is, once again, cheaply trying to score points with his readers. A respondent with integrity would have simply noted this point and stated that this was not their approach, and been done with it, and moved on to the next point.



I was pointing out that Turkel is attacking a straw man.  That is not cheaply winning points, that's my way of supporting my claim that Turkel has misrepresented the severity of the contradiction in question.  More fluff from Turkel.  Where's the integrity?


Turkel cont'd:

It is at this point that Krueger reaches, after having struck skeptical readers senseless with the club of fluff, my points about the background data re the implicit exception within the social context, as illustrated by Shammai and Hillel.



More of the pot trying to call the kettle black.  If I have the club of fluff, Turkel must have the battle axe of fluff.



Please click here to return to Divorce Debate Index