The Great Divorce Debate

--Turkel Responds Again and Mr. Krueger Answers—

Part 3


Submitted by Doug Krueger


Following is Part 3 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.

J.J.

 


 

Turkel cont'd:

Krueger reaches for the tissues and blows his nose on the data, thusly:

 

"Again, explaining why the verses contradict each other may help readers understand the background scenarios that led to the writing of the New Testament, but WHY the verses contradict each other does not remove the fact that they DO contradict each other. So far [Holding] has done nothing to show that there is no contradiction."

 

And of rabbinic and Greco-Roman evidence Krueger says:

 

"More non sequitur from [Holding]. What nonbiblical sources say about divorce and remarriage may be interesting, but it is irrelevant to whether there is a contradiction in verses in the bible. It has already been shown that there is."

 

On the contrary, I have shown clearly why there is no contradiction, because I have shown that the "adultery exception" clearly and indisputably lies within the social background of any prohibition on divorce. It is as good as "said" in Mark and in Luke.

 

DOUG

On the contrary, Turkel has shot down his own defense, but because of all his own fluff, he seems oblivious to this fact.  He has self-fluffed himself into confusion.

 

1. Turkel argues that the Hillel and Shammai schools differed on the permissibility of divorce.  Since there was disagreement about this, the issues surrounding divorce and remarriage were not clear and indisputable.  Assuming that any given moral teacher would have standard views on divorce and remarriage would be absurd, since there were compteting views.  If the views were indiputable, why was there dispute among Hillel and Shammai?  Turkel's defense fails on these grounds.

 

2.    Jesus prohibits divorce in Mark 10, explaining that he differs in this respect from Moses.  Since he had such a radical view compared to the Pharisees, he should expect that others would be unlikely to assume that his view on remarriage would be similar to those of the Pharisees, and indeed in Mark 10 they are not.  Remarriage to someone else besides a former spouse is prohibited in Mark 10.  Assuming that a moral teacher with a radical view of divorce would have standard views on remarriage would be absurd.  So Turkel's defense fails on these grounds too.

 

3.    In Mark 10, Jesus states his view on divorce before the Pharisees.  However, later, his disciples ask him about his views on this again.  This suggests that they still did not understand his position on the matter.  If the issues were clear and indisputable, then the disciples would not have been in the dark about them.

 

Mark 10:10 And in the house his disciples asked him again of the same matter.

 

10:11 And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her.

 

10:12 And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.

 

4.    To say that an essential exception clause is "as good as 'said' in Mark and in Luke" is the height of absurdity.  Jesus has just prohibited divorce in Mark, showing that the has an extreme view on the matter.  Assumptions about his other views would be unwarranted.  So it is not as good as "said."

 

So Turkel's claim that views on divorce and remarriage were clear and not disputed is obviously false.  Jesus' views differed from that of Moses and from that of the Pharisees.  Since these were the prevailing sources of teachings on these subjects, Jesus could not have assumed that everyone would know under what conditions he thought remarriage is allowed.  So Turkel's "assumption" defense fails.

 

Turkel cont'd:

Krueger at last grasps this as our answer, and in response hauls up a variety of anachronistic and pointless replies, which we address in turn:

 

[Doug had written:]

"It is not stated explicitly in [Holding]'s 'solution' whether Jesus was talking to two groups on two separate occasions or whether he did so on one occasion, but it seems most likely that [Holding] intends for us to understand that Jesus was addressing two groups on two separate occasions, and that in one case Jesus omitted the exception because his audience was aware of it."

 

[Turkel writes:]

Krueger apparently needs more shazam to wow the skeptical readers, so he now erects his own "straw man" by creating an argument for me. I do not maintain that Jesus spoke to two groups on two separate occassions. I would maintain that this is one occassion and that the Synoptics do record the same chronological episode in this case. However, that does not in the least affect my answer. I maintain (and this is where the relevance of the issue of conflation, which Krueger merely flashes past like a cheap burger joint, comes into play)

 

DOUG

Cheap burger joints flash by?  Not in my neighborhood.

 

Turkel cont'd:

...that Jesus at another time, whether publicly or privately, did specify or agree with the "adultery exception," just as he did his contemporaries, and that Matthew, utilizing the editorial freedom of an ancient writer of a sort that was entirely normal and accepted for the period, and for the sake of his own readers, chronologically displaced the stated exception in order to produce a categorical unit on the subject of divorce; whereas Mark and Luke saw no need, in their view, to make the exception explicit, considering that the background data was enough.

 

DOUG

Recall my earlier boxing analogy.  Here Turkel is not only down for the count, but after being counted out he wakes up at the hospital and declares victory.  Jesus utters two contradictory statements which are given in Mark 10 and Matthew 19.  Turkel concedes that these are alleged reports of the same incident.  But since the reports have different statements of Jesus' answer, one or both of them are in error.  So Turkel has explicitly conceded an error in the bible.  (And we have already seen that it is not the case that "the background data was enough.")

 

Now, regarding the nature of the error.  Is it a contradiction?  As I've had to point out several times earlier, it does not explain away a contradiction to merely explain how it got there.  The question of whether two or more statements contradict each other is a statement about whether both statements can be true at the same time.  In this case, they cannot, as I have shown. 

 

Once again, for Turkel to try to comprehend:  In effect, Jesus is says in Mark 10 that all who divorce and remarry are adulterers.  So "All X are Y."  And in Matthew 19 we find him saying something that implies that "Not all X are Y."  This is a contradiction, regardless of what the listeners might have assumed.  Turkel's "assumption" defense has failed, and Turkel's speculation about what was going on in the minds of the anonymous gospel writers does nothing to make the contradiction go away.

 

So, since Turkel has conceded an error, what kind of error is it? Has he shown that "All X are Y" is compatible with "Not all X are Y"?  No.

 

Turkel cont'd:

To a certain extent Krueger grasps this point, but being something of a temporal provincialist, demands that if the text does not accord to his modern, Western sensibilities (as opposed to ancient, Near Eastern standards of literary practice, which would see no such "error" as he does), and offers the following replies:

 

[Doug had written:]

"First, whether Jesus or his listeners knew of an exception to the rule or not, to state a rule that has an exception as a universal, exceptionless rule is still an error. If the rule has an exception, then to state it without an exception is an error, plain and simple. If ~[(x)(Dx & Rx => Ax)], then you shouldn't state (x)(Dx & Rx => Ax). It's that simple."

 

[Turkel cont'd:]

Krueger operates fully time out of mind here in his effort to become "simple" -- ancient teachers and law codes never operated under a principle of "exceptionless rules" when they presented their material;

 

DOUG

How odd.  So if ANE cultures never operated under a principle of "exceptionless rules," then when they read "Thou shalt have none other gods before me" we should understand that there are some exceptions?  So the god of Moses allowed that sometimes you could have other gods before him, according to Turkel.  Perhaps since everyone knew them his god didn't need to mention them, Turkel would insist.  Is that what the ancient Israelites would have understood?  And "Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain" has some exceptions too, according to Turkel.  Sometimes you can take his name in vain.  Obviously this reduction to absurdity shows that Turkel's defense doesn't work.  The ancient Israelites were familiar with exceptionless rules, and certainly by Jesus' day they were familiar with such rules.

 

Turkel cont'd:

no one would have heard, "If a man..." and assumed a woman could get away with it; no one would have heard "no work on the sabbath" and assumed no tending to an animal fallen into a pit.

 

DOUG

1.As we shall see in a moment, Turkel is avoiding the issue by using disanalogous cases.  If there are exceptions, then when someone asks about the rule, the exceptions should be stated clearly.  If they are not, then the rule was incorrectly stated.

 

2. Even today, among Jews there is disagreement about what is permitted on the Sabbath.  One should not assume that everyone would have agreed on this so much that exceptions would not have to be stated.

 

3. The term "man" was used to denote both men and women even into the latter half of the 20th century.

 

Turkel cont'd:

In principle and effort Krueger is no more cognizant here than Michael Martin arguing that Jesus' commands to humility would keep a trained pilot from assuming the controls of a diving plane. Krueger further exposes his lack of knowledge of ancient legal methodology by "analogy" with OT laws:

 

[Doug had written:]

Exodus 22:14-15 tells us (NIV):"If a man borrows an animal from his neighbour and it is injured or dies while the owner is not present, he must make restitution. But if the owner is with the animal, the borrower will not have to pay. If the animal was hired, the money paid for the hire covers the loss."

 

So to state the rule as "Anyone who borrows an animal and it dies, must pay restitution" is to commit an error. That isn't true. The rule is: "Anyone who borrows an animal and it dies, must pay restitution unless the owner was present or the animal was hired."

 

Turkel cont'd:

The parallel is irrelevant, since to be effective Krueger must show that there was sufficient "background" (as I did with the rabbis, with Hillel and Shammai, etc) so that the "present owner" clause could be assumed without being stated.

 

Similarly:

[Doug had written:]

Ex. 21:28 "If a bull gores a man or a woman to death, the bull must be stoned to death, and its meat must not be eaten. But the owner of the bull will not be held responsible. If, however, the bull has had the habit of goring and the owner has been warned but has not kept it penned up and it kills a man or woman, the bull must be stoned and the owner also must be put to death.

So to say that "Anyone whose bull gores a man or woman to death is not held responsible" is to say something false, since the rule is: ""Anyone whose bull gores a man or woman to death is not held responsible unless the bull has had the habit of goring and the owner has been warned but has not kept it penned up."

 

Turkel cont'd:

The parallel is also irrelevant; to be effective Krueger must show that there was sufficient "background" (again, as I did with the rabbis, with Hillel and Shammai, etc) so that the "habit of goring" clause could be assumed without being stated. Here there are a couple of Mesopotamian parallels to this rule, but nothing like an extensive legal background as there is for the divorce rule. Krueger's first answer is a non-answer based on non-evidence.

 

DOUG

1. Turkel is again mistaken.  My analogies are accurate.  If the rule has an exception, and you state the rule without the exception, then you have misstated the rule.  If you can divorce and remarry without committing adultery, then for Jesus to state in Mark 10 in effect that "anyone who divorces and remarries commits adultery" is both false and contradicts the rule that has an exception. 

 

2. If we assume that Jesus' audience knows of an exception to a rule, the most you can make out of that is that the audience knows that Jesus made a mistake in stating the rule without the exception.

 

3. However, it already been shown that such an assumption would not be applicable.

 

For example, imagine that the following rule is true: "Anyone who divorces and remarries commits adultery--unless the divorce was for the cause of fornication." If that is true, then is it true that anyone who divorces and remarries commits adultery?  No.  So the statement is false.  The point is really quite simple.

 

We have already seen that Turkel's background data works against him rather than for him, but he repeats this same erroneous point again and again.  More fluff.

 

Turkel cont'd:

Krueger offers a second point based on the false idea, imposed upon me by his own carelessness and presumption, that I envision two different audiences being addressed in these parallel accounts. I specified no such thing, so Krueger's exertions here are beside the point, useless, and mere sparkle attached for the sake of dazzling a skeptical audience. We therefore skip over this point entirely and expect that Krueger should have no complaint, since it is a point answering an argument never made from our side.

 

DOUG

Again, if one report is that Jesus said "All X are Y," and another report is that Jesus said "Not all X are Y," then the reports are contradictory regardless of who wrote them or why the reports are stated the way they are.  A contradiction is there regardless of its history.

 

Consider: Which statement did Jesus say in the actual (alleged) incident?  (Not that this happened, but we'll play along with Turkel.)  If he said that anyone who divorces and remarries commits adultery, then Matthew 19 is wrong (and contradicts Mark 10).  If Jesus said that someone can divorce and remarry without committing adultery, then Mark 10 is wrong (and contradicts Matthew 19).  One of the reports, at least, is wrong, and the contradiction is still there untouched.

 

Turkel cont'd:

In point three Krueger states:"[Holding]'s solution also makes no sense because the Pharisees were specifically asking Jesus about his views on marriage and divorce. They were inquiring about what he thought about divorce, so we should expect Jesus to answer with more detail than if the subject had just been brought up in passing. Because his doctrine on divorce was the explicit subject at hand, Jesus should not leave out any important details. An exception to an otherwise universal rule is certainly an important detail. In brief, the Pharisees asked Jesus, "What do you think of divorce?" and Jesus answered "No one can divorce and remarry." Since divorce was the issue, he should not omit an important bit of information that is essential to his listeners' understanding of his views on divorce. On [Holding]'s view, that is what Jesus did, and this makes no sense."

 

[Turkel cont'd:]

Although he filled space and tired to dazzle the reader by restating it five different ways, the argument is the same each time, and remains answered above: Both Jesus and the Pharisees would have agreed on the "adultery exception."

 

DOUG

As I have already shown, they didn't agree on divorce, so there is no reason to think that anyone would assume that they would agree on remarriage exceptions.  Not even the disciples were clear on Jesus' views, which were not mainstream in Mark 10.  That's why the disciples asked for clarification of Jesus' views.  If they were unclear on Jesus' views, and they knew Jesus better than the Pharisees, we should not assume that the Pharisees would have known Jesus' views either.

 

Turkel cont'd:

It was in the background, as is clearly indicated by the evidence of the rabbis, the Greco-Roman world, Hillel and Shammai. This "important detail" is no new or startling teaching; omitting it would have confused no one and would have been in the mind of listeners from the very beginning. Matthew adds the exception as a redactional option for his own purposes -- whether because he was a scribe himself, and a tax collector, concerned to be explicit about such details; whether he wished to be more explicit than Mark or Luke; whether Mark or Luke did not wish to be more explicit, makes not a whit of difference.

 

DOUG

Whether the anonymous gospel writers wanted to be explicit or not, we are dealing with the text.  There is a contradiction.  Why the contradiction is there does not explain away the fact that it is there.

 

And, of course, Turkel's outdated speculation that Matthew was a tax collector and the author of Matthew is a claim that has been debunked long ago in New Testament scholarship and merely serves as an embarrassment to xians who now know better.

 

Turkel cont'd:

It remains that Krueger approaches this as one who acts as though the Pharisees had no idea about their own social background and thought in modern terms requiring that well-known and universally accepted exceptions be laid out in detail. This is not how ancient teachings or laws were presented, and it is therefore naught but Krueger imposing false expectations on the text.

 

DOUG

It is precisely because the Pharisees knew that people disagree on divorce and remarriage that Turkel's defense fails.  This has already been shown. Turkel's own evidence has him down for the count.

 

Turkel cont'd:

On the same reckoning is Krueger's 4th point (a suggestion that Jesus lied by omission of the exception) rendered irrelevant.

 

DOUG

If, as Turkel suggests, Jesus thought that there is an exception to the prohibition on remarriage after divorce, and he left this out in Mark 10, then he intentionally led someone to believe something he believed is false.  So he lied.  And as we have seen, Jesus could not have assumed that everyone knew his views already.

 

Turkel cont'd:

Krueger's 5th point makes the wheedling accusation that my article did not address the other verses, to which I say again, Krueger has reams of material he has yet to address…

 

DOUG

So far none of Turkel's material has even made a dent in my case.  If some of the other material is so good, Turkel should have included it instead of shoveling out more of the same low-level material he always has.

 

Turkel cont'd:

…and by the same absurd expectation we also expect him to drop everything and anticipate all objections in advance, by next week at the latest. Krueger's 6th and final point burns again the straw man of my supposed argument that these are two different teachings, which I nowhere argued and which Krueger merely assumed upon me for the sake of scoring points. Krueger beats the readership senseless laying out 65 points of correspondence between the pericopes to prove that, as we agree, they are the same episode. He could have saved himself a great deal of time by not being so presumptive; but then again, had he not had such padding to offer, what arguments he had would have been rather thin.

 

DOUG

OK, so we have two different (and contradictory) accounts of the very same alleged incident.  This is supposed to help his case that the bible has no contradictions?  Is Turkel serious?

 

Turkel cont'd:

In closing, Krueger tries to win one final point from the skeptical crowd by quoting the opinions of the Interpreter's Bible Encyclopedia and the Oxford Companion to the Bible, which says nothing at all about the social background context,

 

DOUG

There is a lot about the background context in ANE cultures in the Oxford Companion, even in the relatively short article on divorce.

 

Turkel cont'd:

zero about Hillel and Shammai,

 

DOUG

From the Oxford Companion to the Bible, under "Divorce":

 

"By the first century cE this Deuteronomic law was the center of debate among the Pharisees. Some (the Hillelites) said it warranted divorce for any reason for example bad cooking. Others (the Shammaites) held that it allowed divorce only for serious sexual misconduct. According to Matthew 19 and Mark lo Jesus was asked to comment on this controversy…"

 

DOUG

So we know Turkel is not above making up facts to suit his case.  He was either too lazy to look in the Oxford Companion, or he lied about it.  Either way, it seems that he has little respect for those reading his website if he thinks that such poor research is good enough for them.  Some of his readers apparently send in $70 or more per year to support his website, yet Turkel just makes up his own data when it suits him.  They should ask for a refund.

 

Turkel cont'd:

or about the Greco-Roman world, or about adultery as an honor challenge, but does say that Matthew added the words himself without Jesus' own words in mind, a matter which we addressed above and which Krueger called a non sequitur.

 

DOUG

So Turkel did look in the Oxford Companion after all?  Then either he is a liar, since it does mention Hillel and Shammai, or he is stupid or careless because he overlooked a whole paragraph.  Either way, his readers should ask for a refund.  Turkel is just misrepresenting what is in his source.

 

Turkel cont'd:

It also claims that Mark 10:12 "applies to a situation which might arise in Gentile society--the Roman wife could divorce her husband" -- apparently oblivious, like other critics, to the point that one of the Herodian queens did indeed divorce her husband, as Josephus points out, and that Jesus' words here therefore were more than relevant to just "Gentile society" in the shadow of the Herodian house which set the moral example for the nation.

 

DOUG

Well, Turkel is hardly an expert on his sources, is he?  In any case, if his source states that a Roman wife could divorce her husband, it is not a counterexample to point out that a Jewish queen divorced her husband.  Kings and queens often use different rules for themselves, so this does not show that such conduct was accepted elsewhere in the Jewish community.

 

Turkel cont'd:

In short, Krueger's answer is short on specifics, long on anachronism, and wastes a great deal of time and space addressing an argument never made. Krueger fails as a Bible critic, but works admirably as a wannabe imitator of Farrell Till.

 

DOUG

Turkel's rebuttal is a failure.  He not only fails to make his case that there is no contradiction, but his own social data, which he intended to be used to support his case, weakens his "assumption" defense that Jesus' listeners would have known his position on divorce and remarriage and thus would not have to be told what it was in detail.  There was disagreement on these issues, as Turkel explains, and Jesus' own disciples asked for clarification.  Turkel's admission that the Mark 10 and Matthew 19 scenarios are reports of the same incident sink his case, since it reinforces the contradictory nature of the statements; it cannot be claimed that Jesus changed his mind and spoke on different occasions. 

 

And regarding the waste of space, it has been seen that Turkel repeats many of his points over and over and still fails to make his case.  As an apologist, he has failed. 

 

Does anyone think that he'll really give his fundie funders a refund?

 


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