The Great Divorce Debate: Redux!
--Turkel Responds Again and Mr. Krueger Answers—
Submitted by Doug Krueger
Following is Part 2 of Mr. Krueger’s rebuttal to Turkel’s on-going rant over Mr. Krueger’s 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.
The roast of Turkel continues.
II. That Jesus' statements on divorce and remarriage in Mark and Matthew are different is itself a contradiction. Turkel tacitly admits this when he admits that the Mark and Matthew accounts are allegedly of the same event. No matter what Jesus listeners may have understood (if the event really happened, which is a big "if"), there are two different accounts of the same event. They can't each be true accounts of the event because they contradict, so this is a contradiction about the event in addition to a contradiction in doctrine. What did Jesus say when the Pharisees asked him about his views on divorce? If he said what is in Mark, the Matthew statement is not what he said and it's in error. If Jesus said what's in Matthew, then the Mark account is incorrect. If he said neither, or if it never happened, the both of them are in error. But the fact that the two sets of statements can't be true at the same time should be a clue to Turkel that there is a contradiction here. Turkel really needs to get a clue.
III. I have previously stated the latter points in other posts, but to no avail. What constitutes a contradiction seems too much for Turkel to comprehend. So I will show, in addition to the other evidence, why Jesus' listeners would NOT have assumed that the "adultery exception" was "behind" Jesus' words. I've already done this too, but Turkel has been unable to rebut these points and has simply repeated his futile assertions. If it can be shown that Jesus' listeners in these alleged accounts would not have assumed that Jesus had a mainstream view, then Turkel's whole defense fails.
Here I will mention that one Turkel distortion is that he pretends that I deny that divorce was commonly permitted in Jesus' day, and he wastes a lot of space rehashing this point over and over, calling me a "low-context reader" and other names. I have never denied that divorce was permitted by Jewish law in Jesus' day, so his repeated lies to the contrary are a waste of space. Let me make it clear that I am well aware that divorce was permitted according to Jewish law in Jesus' day. This is part of the reason that Turkel's appeal to "social data" fails. His own defense works against him, as we've seen.
So, to the refutation again. Turkels tries to make it seem that Jesus' views were so common that he could have left out important exception clauses in stating rules and no one would have misunderstood. Turkel has even stated that the missing fornication clause in Mark and Luke "as good as 'said.'"
Jesus placed himself in the same camp as the stricter Shammaites; his views, contrary to Krueger, were indeed mainstream and required no further elucidation.
So Turkel asserts that the only dispute in Jesus' day was under what conditions, in addition to adultery, divorce is permitted. However, Turkel should read this carefully, since he seems to have missed its importance before:
If there is reason to believe that Jesus' audience did not assume that his views were mainstream, then they would not have made the assumption that he agreed with the fornication clause in the divorce prohibition, and Turkel's proposed defense has no support.
Let's see several reasons why we should not think that Jesus' audience did not assume that his views were mainstream. There are seven points, (a)-(i).
a. Jesus expressly prohibits divorce in Mark 10. Since this is not mainstream at that time, listeners would not have assumed that Jesus' other views on divorce and marriage are mainstream, so Turkel's defense fails. Let's see Jesus prohibit divorce in Mark 10:2-12.
Mark 10:2 And the Pharisees came to him, and asked him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? tempting him.
So the question is whether divorce is allowed at all, not under what conditions it is allowed.
Mark 10:3 And he answered and said unto them, What did Moses command you? 4 And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away.
So the Pharisees explain that their tradition, going back to Moses, allows divorce. Now watch Jesus explain something in the pattern of "Moses said (or the law said, or "it has been said") that you should do x, but I tell you to do y."
Mark 10:5 And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. 6 But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. 7 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; 8 And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. 9 What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
So god joins people in marriage, and human divorce law cannot take a being ("one flesh," formerly considered separate identities) and separate what god put together as one.
Mark 10:10 And in the house his disciples asked him again of the same matter. 11 And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. 12 And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.
Incidentally, this interpretation of Mark 10 is mainstream. Scholars agree with me on interpreting Mark 10 as prohibiting divorce. For example, the Oxford Companion to the Bible states: "Matthew also includes an exception clause that apparently modifies Jesus' total rejection of divorce in Mark..." I could cite numerous mainstream sources on this regard, but perhaps Turkel would complain that I'm citing facts and not opinions.
Turkel has attempted to respond to this important point against his argument, but he only says:
Jesus' view differed only from that of Hillelite Pharisees, not Shammaite Pharisees, and his view was not "radical" or unusual. Krueger is lumping "Pharisees" into one big pot out of historical miseducation.
If I argue, and show, that Jesus' view is that divorce is prohibited, it is no rebuttal to merely assert that his view was identical to a group that allowed divorce. Turkel's attempt at rebuttal is nonresponsive. Turkel is just begging the question and assuming that Jesus agreed with a certain group.
Here I should also point out that there was a formulaic use of "Moses said (or the law said, or "it has been said") that you should do x, but I tell you to do y." Some examples are below.
Matthew 5:27"You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.' 28But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
Matthew 5:33"Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.' 34But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God's throne; 35or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
Matthew 5:38"You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' 39But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.
Matthew 5:43"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' 44But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.
Mark 7:18"Are you so dull?" he asked. "Don't you see that nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him 'unclean'? 19For it doesn't go into his heart but into his stomach, and then out of his body." (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods "clean.")
If Jesus declares all foods "clean" in front of a crowd, wouldn't word get out that his views are not mainstream for Judaism? Wouldn't people refrain from concluding that his views in other areas are mainstream because he is such a radical in some areas?
Here's another case where the Pharisees see that Jesus departs from the mainstream.
Mark 7:1 The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus and 2saw some of his disciples eating food with hands that were "unclean," that is, unwashed. 3(The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders. 4When they come from the marketplace they do not eat unless they wash. And they observe many other traditions, such as the washing of cups, pitchers and kettles.) 5So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, "Why don't your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with 'unclean' hands?"
Although the anonymous gospel of Mark has little chronology except for the very beginning and the end (the middle parts could be in any order), many inerrantists seem to think that it is arranged chronologically as a biography. If chapter 7's events precede those of chapter 10, then the Pharisees had seen that Jesus departed from the mainstream before his statements about divorce, and they would not have assumed that his views on divorce would be mainstream. So if Jesus has departed from the standard teachings of his day on other issues, too, people are unlikely to assume that his views are mainstream on divorce.