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Mark 10:2-12

10:2 Then some Pharisees 1  came, and to test him 2  they asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his 3  wife?” 4  10:3 He answered them, 5  “What did Moses command you?” 10:4 They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her.” 6  10:5 But Jesus said to them, “He wrote this commandment for you because of your hard hearts. 7  10:6 But from the beginning of creation he 8  made them male and female. 9  10:7 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother, 10  10:8 and the two will become one flesh. 11  So they are no longer two, but one flesh. 10:9 Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

10:10 In the house once again, the disciples asked him about this. 10:11 So 12  he told them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her. 10:12 And if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.” 13 

1 tc The Western text (D it) and a few others have only καί (kai) here, rather than καὶ προσελθόντες Φαρισαῖοι (kai proselqonte" Farisaioi, here translated as “then some Pharisees came”). The longer reading, a specific identification of the subject, may have been prompted by the parallel in Matt 19:3. The fact that the mss vary in how they express this subject lends credence to this judgment: οἱ δὲ Φαρισαῖοι προσελθόντες (Joi de Farisaioi proselqonte", “now the Pharisees came”) in W Θ 565 2542 pc; καὶ προσελθόντες οἱ Φαρισαῖοι (kai proselqonte" Joi Farisaioi, “then the Pharisees came”) in א C N (Ë1: καὶ προσελθόντες ἐπηρώτησαν αὐτὸν οἱ Φαρισαῖοι) 579 1241 1424 pm; and καὶ προσελθόντες Φαρισαῖοι in A B K L Γ Δ Ψ Ë13 28 700 892 2427 pm. Further, the use of an indefinite plural (a general “they”) is a Markan feature, occurring over twenty times. Thus, internally the evidence looks rather strong for the shorter reading, in spite of the minimal external support for it. However, if scribes assimilated this text to Matt 19:3, a more exact parallel might have been expected: Matthew has καὶ προσῆλθον αὐτῷ Φαρισαῖοι (kai proshlqon aujtw Farisaioi, “then Pharisees came to him”). Although the verb form needs to be different according to syntactical requirements of the respective sentences, the word order variety, as well as the presence or absence of the article and the alternation between δέ and καί as the introductory conjunction, all suggest that the variety of readings might not be due to scribal adjustments toward Matthew. At the same time, the article with Φαρισαῖοι is found in both Gospels in many of the same witnesses (א Ï in Matt; א pm in Mark), and the anarthrous Φαρισαῖοι is likewise parallel in many mss (B L Ë13 700 892). Another consideration is the possibility that very early in the transmissional history, scribes naturally inserted the most obvious subject (the Pharisees would be the obvious candidates as the ones to test Jesus). This may account for the reading with δέ, since Mark nowhere else uses this conjunction to introduce the Pharisees into the narrative. As solid as the internal arguments against the longer reading seem to be, the greatest weakness is the witnesses that support it. The Western mss are prone to alter the text by adding, deleting, substituting, or rearranging large amounts of material. There are times when the rationale for this seems inexplicable. In light of the much stronger evidence for “the Pharisees came,” even though it occurs in various permutations, it is probably wisest to retain the words. This judgment, however, is hardly certain.

sn See the note on Pharisees in 2:16.

2 tn In Greek this phrase occurs at the end of the sentence. It has been brought forward to conform to English style.

3 tn The personal pronoun “his” is not in the Greek text, but is certainly implied and has been supplied in the English translation to clarify the sense of the statement (cf. “his wife” in 10:7).

4 tn The particle εἰ (ei) is often used to introduce both indirect and direct questions. Thus, another possible translation is to take this as an indirect question: “They asked him if it were lawful for a man to divorce his wife.” See BDF §440.3.

sn The question of the Pharisees was anything but sincere; they were asking it to test him. Jesus was now in the jurisdiction of Herod Antipas (i.e., Judea and beyond the Jordan) and it is likely that the Pharisees were hoping he might answer the question of divorce in a way similar to John the Baptist and so suffer the same fate as John, i.e., death at the hands of Herod (cf. 6:17-19). Jesus answered the question not on the basis of rabbinic custom and the debate over Deut 24:1, but rather from the account of creation and God’s original design.

5 tn Grk “But answering, he said to them.”

6 tn Grk “to divorce.” The pronoun has been supplied in the translation for clarity.

sn An allusion to Deut 24:1. The Pharisees were all in agreement that the OT permitted a man to write a certificate of dismissal and divorce his wife (not vice-versa) and that remarriage was therefore sanctioned. But the two rabbinic schools of Shammai and Hillel differed on the grounds for divorce. Shammai was much stricter than Hillel and permitted divorce only in the case of sexual immorality. Hillel permitted divorce for almost any reason (cf. the Mishnah, m. Gittin 9.10).

7 tn Grk “heart” (a collective singular).

8 tc Most mss have ὁ θεός (Jo qeo", “God”) as the explicit subject of ἐποίησεν (epoihsen, “he made”; A D W Θ Ψ Ë1,13 Ï lat sy), while the most important witnesses, along with a few others, lack ὁ θεός (א B C L Δ 579 2427 co). On the one hand, it is possible that the shorter reading is an assimilation to the wording of the LXX of Gen 1:27b where ὁ θεός is lacking. However, since it is mentioned at the beginning of the verse (Gen 1:27a) with ἐποίησεν scribes may have been motivated to add it in Mark to make the subject clear. Further, confusion could easily arise in this dominical saying, because Moses was the previously mentioned subject (v. 5) and inattentive readers might regard him as the subject of ἐποίησεν in v. 6. Thus, both on internal and external grounds, the most probable wording of the original text here lacked ὁ θεός.

9 sn A quotation from Gen 1:27; 5:2.

10 tc ‡ The earliest witnesses, as well as a few other important mss (א B Ψ 892* 2427 sys), lack the rest of the quotation from Gen 2:24, “and will be united with his wife.” Most mss ([A C] D [L N] W [Δ] Θ Ë[1],13 [579] Ï lat co) have the clause. It could be argued that the shorter reading was an accidental omission, due to this clause and v. 8 both beginning with καί (kai, “and”). But if that were the case, one might expect to see corrections in א or B. This can be overstated, of course; both mss combine in their errors on several other occasions. However, the nature of the omission here (both its length and the fact that it is from the OT) argues that א and B reflect the original wording. Further, the form of the longer reading is identical with the LXX of Gen 2:24, but different from the quotation in Matt 19:5 (προσκολληθήσεται vs. κολληθήσεται [proskollhqhsetai vs. kollhqhsetai], πρὸς τὴν γυναῖκα vs. τῇ γυναικί [pro" thn gunaika vs. th gunaiki]). The significance of this is that Matthew’s quotations of the OT are often, if not usually, directly from the Hebrew – except when he is following Mark’s quotation of the OT. Matthew in fact only departs from Mark’s verbatim quotation of the LXX in 15:4 and 19:19, both texts quoting from Exod 20:12/Deut 5:6 (and in both places the only difference from Mark/LXX is the dropping of σου [sou, “your”]). This might suggest that the longer reading here was not part of what the first evangelist had in his copy of Mark. Further, the reading without this line is harder, for the wife is not explicitly mentioned in v. 7; the casual reader could read “the two” of v. 8 as referring to father and mother rather than husband and wife. (And Mark is known for having harder, shorter readings that scribes tried to soften by explanatory expansion: In this chapter alone, cf. the textual problems in v. 6 [the insertion of ὁ θεός]; in v. 13 [the replacement of αὐτοῖς with τοῖς προσφέρουσιν or τοῖς φέρουσιν]; in v. 24 [insertion of ἐστιν τοὺς πεποιθότας ἐπὶ χρήμασιν, πλούσιον, or τὰ χρήματα ἔχοντες; and perhaps in v. 2 [possible insertion of προσελθόντες Φαρισαῖοι or similar permutations].) Although a decision is difficult, the preferred reading lacks “and will be united with his wife.” NA27 has the longer reading in brackets, indicating doubts as to its authenticity.

11 sn A quotation from Gen 2:24. The “two” refers to husband and wife, not father and mother mentioned in the previous verse. See the tc note on “mother” in v. 7 for discussion.

12 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “So” to indicate that Jesus’ statement is in response to the disciples’ question (v. 10).

13 sn It was not uncommon in Jesus’ day for a Jewish man to divorce his wife, but it was extremely rare for a wife to initiate such an action against her husband, since among many things it would have probably left her destitute and without financial support. Mark’s inclusion of the statement And if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery (v. 12) reflects more the problem of the predominantly Gentile church in Rome to which he was writing. As such it may be an interpretive and parenthetical comment by the author rather than part of the saying by Jesus, which would stop at the end of v. 11. As such it should then be placed in parentheses. Further NT passages that deal with the issue of divorce and remarriage are Matt 5:31-32; 19:1-12; Luke 16:18; 1 Cor 7.

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