The History of Divorce and Re-marriage (1910) - Wilkins
THE HISTORY OF DIVORCE AND
BY THE SAME AUTHOR.
THE DISAGREEMENT BETWEEN THE DEAN AND CHAPTER
OF WESTBURY AND THE VICAR OF HENBURY, WITH
TERMS OF SETTLEMENT, IN A.D. 14.6.1 . B.y the Right
Reverend JOHNC ARPENTERD, .D., Lord Bishop of Worcester and
Westbury. ALSO NOTES ON THE EARLIEST EFFORTS TO
FOUND A BISHOPRIC FOR BRI~TOL.
MENTS, TO SIR RALPH SADLEIR.
COPY OF THE DEED OF THE SALE OF THE NEXT PRE.
SENTATION BUT ONE TO HENBURY VICARAGE, IN
SOME CHAPTERS IN THE ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY OF
DESECRATIOONB BISHOPC ARPENTERT'SO MB.
2. DECAY OF TBE COLLEGE BUILDLNGS.
3. D~SPERSIOONX. CHURCHL ANDS.
4. ALIENATIONO F TITHES.
5. SALE OF LIVING.
TO WHlCH IS APPENDED
A LIST OF ABBOTS, DEANS. AND VICARS SINCE A.D. 725.
THE "POOR BOOK" FROM A.D. 1656-1698 OF THE TITHINGS
OF WESTBURY, STOKE BISHOP, AND SHIREHAMPTON,
WITH INTRODUCTION AND NOTES.
FAITH HEALING. A PLEA FOR GREATER RECOGNITION
IN THE CHURCH AND BY THE MEDICAL PROFESSION.
DIVORCE AND. .. R:. E-MARRIAGE .a.a.. . . . '.. :.
FOR ENGLIS~::E$~~&C~HMEN ::. .:::: ..:: :: . ' . . ..' .. ::-::: '
COMPILED FROM H0.L.Y: SC..F +.If .~ .~. B B. JC H.. .U p~fi.COUNCZLS . . . . . .
AND AU%~&ITAZYV~. w&IY& :.'
H. J. WILKINS, D.D.
YICAN UP WESl'BURY-ON-TIIYM, AND RBADER Or BIDLAND CBAPLL, n11sTOL
LONGMANS, G R E E N AND CO.
39 PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON
NEW YORK, BOMBAY AND CALCUTTA
THESE pages are the outcome of a study,
reluctantly undertaken, but forced upon me by
the conditions of wok in which I am engaged.
They are printed in the hope that they may
be of some help to Churchmen and others, when
much that is contrary to the teaching of Christ
atld His Church is being circulated.
The question for members of the Church
of England (and for other Christians) is not
"What do well-known novelists,lawyers, highly-placed
Churchmen, and others consider ought
to be the terms of marriage and divorce?"
but "What is the teaching of our Lord and
Saviour Jesus Christ, Who, we believe, well
knew what was best for the highest and
eternal welfare of mankind amidst all "the
changing scenes of life ?"I and so, "What is
'In some quarters it sought to push the kenosis (emptying) of
Christ to such a. poaition that His knowledge would be vary little
above that of the average Jew of His time, a. position very far diiier-ant
to the conception of the Christian Church.
the teaching and discipline of the Church of
England, as given in her Prayer Book and
Canons ? "
In the compilation of these pages I have
endeavoured to acknowledge gratefully the
many and various authorities and works used ;
but if from inadvertence any have been cited
without such acknowledgment, sincere thanks
is here offered.
H. J. WILKINS.
I. Divorce and Re-Marriage among the Greeks,
Romans, and Jews at the time of Christ and
His Disciples . . . . . . . 1
11. The Tcaohing of Christ . . . . . . 6
111. The Gospels of St. Mnrk and St. Luke . . . 16
IV. The Prohlem in the Gospel of Matthew . . . 28
V. Criticism of the Gospel of Metthew . . . 30
VI. The Teaching of St. Paul . . . . . 47
VII. Historical Evidence till A.D. 314 . . . . 51
VIII. A.D. 314-527. Prom Constantino to Justinian . 08
IX. The Eastern Church after Justinian, A.D. 692.
The Council in Trullo . . . . . 97
X. The Anglican Church . . . . . . 112
XI. From the Norman Oouquest . . . . 127
XII. After the Reformation . . . . . . 146
XIII. The Divorce Act, 1857 . . . . . . 157
XIV. The Lambeth Couferenoe of 1908 . . . 164
XV. Conclusions . . , . . . . . 171
Index . . . . . ,181
DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE AMONG THE GREEKS.
ROMANS, AND JEWS AT THE TIME OF CHRIST AND
OUR Lord Jesus Christ and His earliest disciples
would, for the most part, have to encounter the mar-riage
laws and customs of three nations-the Greek,
Roman, and Jewish.
The Roman Empire was at this time supreme over
the whole world-as then known-and communica-tion
had been made easy by the magnificent roads
and caravan routes ; while the Greek language was
the general medium for interchange of thought and
The policy of the Roman Empire was (unless im-perial
interests demanded otherwise) one of tolera-tion
and non-interference with the marriage as well
as other laws and customs of the nations who had
"By the Athenian Law," writes Dr. Howard,=
"which probably was not entirely supplanted by the
Roman until A.D. 212,3 divorce was freely granted to
either spouse. The benefit inured, however, mainly
' Cf. p. 550 of Oohu's " Gospsls and Modern Researoh".
'(History of Ni~atrimonial Institutions," 701. 11, p. 12.
Geffeken, op, cit. p. 15.
2 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
to the husband, since to begin proceedings for a
divorce the wife was required to present in person to
the archon a written statement of her desire; and
this, in a society where popular sentiment relegated
woman to a seclusion truly Oriental, it was in practice
exceedingly hard to d0.l
Among the Romans, and some time before Christ
commenced His earthly ministry, the stricter forms of
marriage; with their right of divorce to the husband
alone, had passed away, and free contract both for
husband and wife had taken their place, the marriage
form-excepting for the fiamimes-being "a simple
private agreement," and divorce "a formless private
transaction" open equally to both parties.
About 18 B.G., according to the Lax Julia de add-teriis,
the declaration of divorce must be made before
seven witnesses-Roman citizens of full age : but
this enactment was only in order to secure publicity
of what was hitherto a simple private transaction,
and not to restrain divorce.
It will not be necessary, for the purposes of these
pages, to consider the resulting depravity and vice
1 Thus Aloibiades collected a. bsnd of men and dragged his wife
Hipparets from the arohon, when she attempted to get a divaroe on
socount of his 1iosntiousness.-Wolsey, "Divorce and Legislation.''
aCf. notein Howard's lLMe*trimoniailn stitutions," Vol. 11, p. 14,
whioh states: ',By eo?%fa?reatio and coemptio the man acquired the
mams et the nuptials; but the usus, ar the form through whioh
transition was made from the striot to the free merrisge, he seems
to have gained it only bg a. year's prescripiion, when the women
neglected her privilege of trinoctium. In the meantime, before the
manus wan aoquired, it is 8 question whether the woman was
lagallg usor or merely vroris loco". Here fallow eight authorities.
GREEKS, ROMANS, AND JEWS S
from such conditions of marriage and divorce which
degraded Roman society, and which so many writers
of those times satirized. Seneca (c. 3 ~.c.-65A .D.)
denounced this evil with special vehemence, declaring
that divorce in Rome no longer brought with it any
shame, and that there were women who reckoned
their years rather by their husbands than by the
Among the Jews, at the time of Christ, divorce was
the privilege of the msn alone.2
The position among the Jews at this time is very
clearly given by Edersl~eim.~" To begin with, divorce
(in the legal sense) was regarded as a privilege ac-corded
only to Israel, not to the Gentiles. On the
question what constituted lawful grounds of divorce,
the schools were divided. Taking their departure
from the sole ground of divorce mentioned in Deuter-onomy
xx~v1. , ' a matter of shame' (literally naked-ness),
the School of Shammai applied the expression
to moral transgressions only, and, indeed, exclusively
to unchastity. It was declared that if a woman were
as mischievous as the wife of Abab, or (according to
tradition) the wife of Korah, it were well that .her
husband should not divorce her, except it be on the
ground of adultery. At the same time, this must not
' Cf. Lecky, "History of European Marsls," Vof. 11, p. 307;
"Ssn." Ds Bsnof. 111. 16.
At most there was only a faint trsce of thewoman's later right,
ssnotioncd by the Talmud, of demanding a separation; of. Exod.
xxr. 7-11, as interpreted by Amram, "The Jowish Law of Divorce,"
p. 55 ff.; Howard, Yo1.11, p. 13, and note.
a "Life and Times of Jesus the Mesuiah," Vol. 11, pp. 532,
4 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
be regarded as a fixed legal principle, but rather as
an opinion and good counsel for conduct. The very
passages from which the above quotations are made
also afford only too painful evidence of the laxity of
views and practices current. And the Jewish Law
unquestionably allowed divorce on almost any ground,
the difference being, not as to what was lawful, but
on what grounds a man should set the law in motion,
and make use of the absolute liberty which it accorded
"But the School of Hillel proceeded on different
principles. It took the words 'matter of shame ' in
the widest possible sense, and declared it sufficient
ground for divorce if a woman spoiled her husband's
dinner. Rabbi Akiba thought that the words 'if
she find no favour in his eyes' implied that it was
sufficient if a man found another woman more attrac-tive
than his wife. All agreed moral blame made
divorce a duty, and that in such cases a woman
should not be taken back. According to the Mishnah,
women could not only be divorced, but with the loss
of their dowry, if they transgressed against the Law
of Moses and of Israel. The former is explained as
implying a breach of the law of tithing, of setting
apart the first of the dough, and of purification. The
latter is explained as referring to such offences as that
of going in public with uncovered head, of spinning
in the public streets, or entering into tall< with men;
to which others add that of brawling, or of disrespect-fully
speaking of her husband's parents in his presence.
A troublesome or quarrelsome wife might certainly
be sent away; and ill-repute or childlessness (dur-
GREEKS, ROMANS, AND 3EWS 5
ing ten years) were also regarded as valid grounds of
Such then were the conditions of divorce obtain-ing
among the Greeks, Romans, and Jews, and
carrying with it the right of re-marriage.
THE TEACHING OF CHRIST
WHATw as the attitude of Christ towards the depraved
conditions of life mentioned in the preceding pages ?
What were His commands?
Turning to the New Testament we find the follow-ing
statements attributed to Christ: (but the phrase
"except for fornication," as given in the Gospel
according to Matthew, is disputed, modern Biblical
criticism proving that these words did not form part
of the teaching of Christ. The subject will be ex-amined
in the course of these pages).
Verse 31.-It hath been said, Whosoever shall put
away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorce-ment
: 32. But I say unto you, That whosoever shall
put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication,
causeth her to commit adultery : and whosoever shall
marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.
31. It was said also, whosoever shall put away his
wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement : 32.
But I say unto you, that every one that putteth away
THE TEACHING OF CHRIST 7
his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, maketh
her an adulteress: and whosoever shall marry her
when she is put away committeth adultery.
Westcott and Hort's Greek Testament.
32. 'EYh 62 heyw hPiv ~TTL& F 6 b~ohdwuT T)U
yuvaka bv~o6T ~PEICT~XF ~~OrrUop vela~T OL& ahqv
po~xeu0ljua~[ ml $7 f'dv ~~oheh~~71~apv4cqn uPO L-x~
3. The Pharisees also came unto Him, tempting
Him, and saying unto Him, Is it lawful for a man to
put away his wife for every cause?
4. And He answered and said unto them, Have ye
not read, that He which made them at the beginning
made them male and female,
5. And said, For this cause shall aman leave father
and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they
twain shall be one flesh?
6. Wherefore they are no more twain, but one
flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let
not man put asunder.
7. They say unto Him, Why did Moses then com-mand
to give a writing of divorcement, and to put
8. He saith unto them, Moses because of the hard-ness
of your hearts suffered you to put away your
wives : but from the beginning it was not so.
9. And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away
his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry
8 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth
her which is put away doth commit adultery.
10. His disciples say unto Him, if the case of the
man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry.
11. But He said unto them, All 171.07~ cannot receive
this saying, save they to whom it is given.
9. And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away
his wife, except for fornication,' and shall marry an-other,
committeth adultery: "nd he that merrieth
her when she is put away committeth adultery.
Westoott avid Hart's Greek Testament.
9. [Xhyw Bi Cpiu ZTL 8~ 11u C;aohhuq T+U ywuai~a
ah06 p+ Qai aopueiq ~ayia pdun IIXXTV ~OLXZTUL.]
Alternative reading given hiyo SB +lv, 87 Bv ci~ohl;ug
r+v yuuail~aa h~oirr apercrh~X 6you vopuela~r,o cei a$-
T+V po~~~~B+~jua6a ir~l v,o Xehvpf'v~u~ apljuaq~ OLX~TUL.
2. And the Pharisees came to Him, and asked Him,
Is it lawful for a, man to put away his wife ? tempting
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.
1 Some ancient authorities read saving fo? the cause of fornication
lnaksth her an adultpress: ss in oh. v. 32.
%The following words, to the end of the verse, are omitted by
some anoient authorities. hlarginsl notes.
TBE TEACHING OX CHRIST 9
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.
10. And in the house His disciples asked Him again
of the same matter.
11. And He said 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.
11. And He saith unto them, Whosoever shall put
away his wife, and marry another, committeth
adultery against her : 12. And if she herself shall put
away her husband, and marry another, she committeth
Westcott and Hort's Greek Testament.
11. ~aXl& ~ELa i~oiv'0&~u &~oh6agT ~Uyu uat~a
a6~oCn ai yap~ugdX hqu ~OLX~TZUT L'a i~ljux,a i <Au
ci.rioXuuaua T~Uil ~6~a3a71 jr yapjug li'hXou po~xi?~a~.
18. Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth
another, committeth adultery: and whosoever mar-
10 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
rieth her that is put away from her husband com-mitteth
18. Everyone that putteth away his wife, and
marrieth another, comlnitteth adultery: and he that
marrieth one that is put away from a husband com-rnitteth
Westcott and Hort's Greek Testantent.
18. Il& 6 rl~oh6ouT ~Uyu uaina ahoG nal yaPGu
Edpau p~X~hen~a,i 6 a'~oXeXu~f'ur~l~v 6a' v8pb yapGu
The earliest Greek manuscript extant is probably
the Codex Vaticanus (B) and is generally assigned to
the fourth century. I t is possibly a few years older
than the Codex Sinaiticus (N), which is assigned to
the middle of the fourth century. Before entering
upon the study of the actual words, attributed to
Christ, a few preliminary considerations will be neces-sary
in order to enter into the points to be raised in
the course of these pages in reference to the trust-worthiness
of the Gospel narratives.
Admittedly the Gospels are not an exhaustive ac-count
of the life of Christ, for "on the very shortest
estimate the length of the ministry must have ex-tended
to about 400 days, and I doubt if our Gospels
contain stories from forty separate days. So that nine-tenths
at least of the public life of Jesus remains to
us a blank, even if we were to take every recorded
incident as historical and accurately reported. And
all the recorded sayings of Christ, how long would
they take to pronounce? With due gravity and
THE TEACHING OF CJXRIST 11
emphasis they might take six hours-hardly perhaps
But nevertheless the Gospels give us the character
of Jesus and the fundamentals of His teaching?
The Gospels, in the form in which we have them,
were not written till probably from twenty to sixty
years after Christ's work on earth was finished. Yet
doubtless there were sayings committed to writing
and notes made by persons interested in the teaching
of Christ, for " the common use of writing among the
lower classes in Roman times, and also the presence
of a professional scribe among the Apostles, make it
probable that early notes end docu~nentso f Christian
teaching were in use ".3
Still it must be remembered that the usual Jewish
methods of teeohing were oral and that they plaoed
the highest value on oral tradition. Christ Rimself
committed nothing to writing, and doubtless the
Apostles-thorough Jews-followed for the most part
His method of teaching: nor would they feel any
necessity to commit His teaching to writing, since
they looked for the speedy return of Christ.
1 " Gospel History and its Trausmission," p. 20, by I?. C. Burkitt,
D.D., Norrisisn Protossor of Divinity in the Universityof Cambridge.
a c'Curiously enough Dr. Salmon uses almost the same expres-sion
as Sir Wm. Ramsay :-
"'The moreIstudy the Gospels the more convinced I am that we
have in them oontemporsueous history; that is to say, thst we
havs in them the stories told of Jesus immediately after His death,
and which hed been oiroulated, and ss I am disposed to believe, put
in writing while He was yet alive' '' (LL The Human Element in the
Gospels," p. 274).-Prof. Sanday, c%ife of Christ in Recent Re-so~
roh," p. 172.
Dr. Blinders Petrie'su Growth of the Gospels," p. 52.
12 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
But with the non-fulfilment of that hope and the
extension of the area of teaching, the necessity for
written documents arose: partly on the ground that
the new catechists, who would teach for the Apostles,
would need an authoritative statement both for their
guidance and to avoid heretical teaching, and partly
because the number of the Apostles and early disciples
mas being rapidly diminished by death. Dr. Petrie
writes : "The need of a written record for the Churches,
which were springing up in distant regions before
A.D. 50, would make some formal collection of docu-ments
requisite by them. Some form of Gospels was
thus both probable and necessary at an early date."
So then from about A.D. 50 and onwards many
Gospels were composed. Luke (I. 1) wrote : " For
as much as many have taken in hand to set forth in orde~
a declaration of those thi~zgsw hich aremost surely believed
among us," etc.; but these written Gospels did not
entirely supersede oral tradition till about A.D. 120.
I t will be readily understood that in these records,
based on oral tradition, many variations, interpola-tions,
and interpretations, according to the point of
view of the writer, would appear. The ground for
surprise is not that they are so many, but that they
are not very many more.
The sources used by our Evangelists were " altered
freely. They changed, added, omittied." 2
But the process of sifting these records was at work,
and it went on from the middle of the second century
till the fourth century. "In Athanasius' Canon
1 " Growth of the Gospels," pp. 52, 53.
2 Prof. Burltitt, p. 21.
THE TEACHING OF CHRIST 13
(A.D. 365-370) we meet for the first time with a list
of New Testament books identically the same as our
own. This Athanasian Canon was confirmed by the
Third Council of Carthage (A.D. 397), though the
Eastern Church still refused to accept it. In A.D.
692 East and West combined and confirmed the
decision of the Council of Carthage."'
How difficult the task of deciding the text of the
New Testament must be will be gathered from the
following passage : " The New Testament consists
of 7959 verses. In 1892 there were said to be more
than 150,000 various readings, or an average of twenty
variations for each verse."
This statement will prove alarming to many devout
Christians, and especially to those who cling to the
theory of verbal inspiration; but it need not be so,
for most variations are unimportant as regards the
teaching or meaning, although many as regards
number. " The last verse of the Bible will illustrate
"(a) The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you all.
" (b) The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you all.
" (c) The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with
you all. Amen.
"(d) The grace of Christ be with you all. Amen.
" (8) The grace of Christ be with you all. Amen
"(f) The grace of Christ be with us all. Amen.
' Oohu's " Gospels in the Light of Modern Resewoh," p. 155.
a Cohu, p. 157.
14 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
" (g) The grace of Christ be with all. Amen.
" (h) The grace of Christ be with all men. Amen.
" (i) The grace of Christ be with the saints. Amen.
"(j) The grace of Christ be with all t7ze saints.
Further, there are some passages in the Authorized
Version of theNew Testament which are now generally
admitted to beinterpolations. This is borneout by the
marginal notes in the Revised Version : compare :-
1. Against Matthew VI. 13, where "For thine
is the kingdom and the power and the glory for ever,
Amen," is omitted, and a marginal note inserted :
"Many authorities, some ancient, but with variations
add, 'For thine is the kingdom and the power, and
the glory, for ever. Amen.' "
2. Against Matthew XVI. 2-4 is placed the note :
"The following words to the end of verse 3 are
omitted by some of the most ancient authorities and
other important authorities ".
3 . Matthew XVI. 21 is altogether omitted, and the
note runs : " Many authorities, some ancient, insert
verse 21. But this kind goeth not oat save by prayer
and fasting." See Mark IX. 29.
4. Against Mark XVI. verses 9-20, the following
marginal note is placed: "The two oldest Greek
manuscripts, and some other authorities, omit from
verse 9 to the end. Some other authorities have
a different ending to the Gospel."
5. Against John VIII. 1-11 appears : " Most ancient
authorities omit John VIL 53-VIII. 11. Those which
contain it vary very much from each other."
' Cohu, pp. 151,158.
THE TEACHING OF CHRIST 16
It will not be necessary to pursue this further, as
cases can easily be multiplied : enough has been pro-duced
to show that variations and interpolations are
frequently met with in the Gospels.
But there are some variations the importance of
which cannot be over-estimated or minimized, e.g.
the " exception " in the Gospel according to Matthew
in reference to the subject under discussion, and to-wards
which modern Biblical criticism has more and
more directed attention : and it must be remembered
that true criticism, reverently and carefully pursued
" hringeth men about to religion," while no good can
possibly ensue to "true religion and sound learning "
by refusing to "verify conclusions ".
At the same time it will be helpful to remember
that, "whatever doubt there may be as to the actual
words of Christ in some oases, the existence of the
Church is an impregnable witness to the historical
Christ, whose living voice was the 'Gospel' of the
etbrly Christians ".
THE GOSPELS OF ST. MARK AND ST. LUKE.
BEBORE examining the disagreement in the words at-tributed
to Christ, it will be as well to dispose in the
first place of the ground which is common in them.
From the statement in Matthew and Mark we
learn that the Pharisees came to Christ and sought
to embroil Him in a dispute with either the stricter
School of Shammai (p. 3) or the laxer School of Hillel
(p. 4) by putting to Him the question, "Is it lawful
for a man to put away his wife" (Mark X. 1) for
every cause? (Matt. XIX. 3). The answer of Christ
satisfied neither party, for He raised marriage to
a plane vastly higher than that upon which either
school placed it, and convicted them of going beyond
the law of Moses, which they professed themselves to
be zealous of guarding.
That which Moses had sz~ffered (Matt. XIX. 8)
-not commanded as the Pharisees said (ibid. XIX. 7) -
because of the "hardness of their hearts " (Mark
x. 5), the School of Shammai had converted into the
normal standard: while the School of Hillel, by its
lax interpretation had "made the law of none effect ".
Christ recalls them to the record of the first mar-riage
in the Bible, as given in the first chapter of
THE GOSPELS OF ST. MARK AND ST. LUKE 17
The form of the story, in which that truth is en-shrined,
does not concern our present purpose : that
would be a separate study in itself.' What is im-portant
to notice is that Christ takes the truth
therein embodied and makes it His own. "But
from the beginning of creation, male and female
made He them. For this cause shall a man leave
his father and mother and shall cleave to his wife;
and the twain shall become one flesh: so that they
are no mow twain, but one flesh. What therefore
God hath joined together, let not man put asunder "
(Mark x. 5-10). This union of man and woman,
living in harmony with the Will of God and in
Spiritual Communion with God, is pronounced by
Christ to be indissoluble.
The disciples of Christ were much perplexed at the
teaching of their Master as to the indissolz~bilitg of
marriage (for otherwise it would not have appeared
to them so great a hardship if Christ had but en-dorsed
the teaching of the School of Shammai in its
strictest form), as based upon the teaching in con-nexion
with the first marriage recorded in the Old
Testament. Typical Palestinian Jews, with a pro-found
reverence for the law of Moses, they were
amazed that Christ had treated the Mosaic privilege
as a concession to human weakness and had gone
behind that privilege. So we are told by Mark
(x. 10-12) that they returned to the question again
when they were alone with Christ: "And in the
house the disciples asked Him again of this matter.
And He saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away
'Of. Prof. Driver's " Genesis ".
18 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery
against her : and if she herself shall put away
her husband and marry another, she committeth
adultery ". The prohibition is absolute : there is no
such concession as that, "except for fornication,"
given by Matthew: marriage, as described by Christ,
is indissoluble : a husband and wife, if they separate,
may not contract a second marriage, because the first
To consider Mark's Gospel in relation to Matthew
and Luke more closely. In doing so, attention must
be restricted to some only of the synoptic problems,
and to those which bear upon our present subject.
From a harmony of the three Gospels, Matthew,
Mark, and Luke, it will be seen that there is such an
agreement in language and material, which renders
the conclusion almost beyond a doubt that they are
not three original and independent accounts, but that
there is a "common gospel running through the
three Gospels, and that it is almost identical with
our Mark, which is now, it is generally agreed, the
earliest Gospel ". " Opinion, however, has gone more
and more in the other direction. The independence
and priority of Mark have been accepted by some
(e.g. Ritschl) who originally held the other view ; and
scholars of different tendencies (Weisse, Wilke, Lach-mann,
Reuso, Thiersch, Ewald, Volkmar, Holtzmann,
Schenkel, Weizsacker, Weiss, Meyer, etc., and most
English authorities) have been led, though not always
1 It will not be neoesssrg, for the purposes of these pages, to dis-cuss
the question as to what use Mark made of documents, etc.,
usually designsted " Q ".
THE GOSPELS OF ST. MARK AND ST. LUKE 19
in the same way, to the common conclusion that
Mark is the most primitive of the Gospels. I t is
also very generally held that our second Gospel, or
a source corresponding substantially to it, forms the
basis of the 6rst and third Gospels."
" Thus it has been shown that if Mark is divided
into 106 sections or paragraphs, Matthew borrows 93
of these, Luke 81. There are only five which one
or the other of these two Evangelists has not bodily
incorporated in his narrative. Or if we take Mark
674 (R.V.) verses, only 50 remain when Matthew
and Luke have made their loans. A glance at Rush-brooka's
' Synoptioon ' and Sir John Hawkins' 'Horze
Synoptica?' will prove convincingly that this extra-ordinary
coincidence between the three Gospels is
not limited to their matter, it extends even to words
and phrases and turns of expression."
Note.-Schwitzer states : " Weiss made this
discovery for himself in March, 1837, and his argu-ments
for the priority of Mark rest mainly on the
following propositions :-
" 1. In the first and third Gospels traces of a
common plan are found only in those parts which
they have in common with Mark, not in those which
are common to them but not to Mark also.
" 2. In those parts which the three Gospels have in
'Cf. Hastings' "Diotionary of the Bible," Vol. 111, p. 259, where
this qnestion is very ole~~alrygu ed.
a Cohu, p. 204.
"'The Queat of the Historicel Christ," pp. 122.4, English trans.
20 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
common to them, the 'agreement' of the other two
is mediated through Mark.
"3. In those sections which the first and third
Gospels have, but Mark has not, the agreement con-sists
in the language and incidents, not in order.
Their common source, therefore, the 'Logia' of
Matthew "-which will be dealt with later on-" did
not contain any type of tradition which gave an order
of narrative different from that of Mark.
" 4. The divergencies of wording between the two
other synoptists is in general greater in part where
both have drawn on the Logia document than where
Mark 1s their source.
" 5. The first Evangelist reproduces this Logia
document more faithfully than Luke does: but this
Gospel seems to have been of a later origin.
" Wilke came to agree in his work of the same year,
' The Earliest Evangelist, a Critical and Exegetical
Inquiry into the Relationships of the First and Third
Gospels '. Reuso defended in 1842 the priority of
Mark in his ' History of the Sacred Writings of the
New Testament,' as did El-uald in 1850, Ritsohl
('Origin of the Ancient Catholic Church ') in 1850,
Rdville in 1862. In 1863 the foundations of the
Marcian hypothesis wgre relaid more firmly than be-fore
by Holtzmann's work."
Prof. Burkitt states : " Until Lachmann's time
the prevailing opinion had been that Matthew's
Gospel was the earliest, or at least that it offered
the most primitive arrangement. The priority of
Matthew was upheld by critics of such different
opinions as St. Auguetine and Ferdinand Christian
Bauer, the founder of the Tiibingen School. I am
not going to give t,he history of the ebb and flow of
modern criticism; it will be enough to say that the
relative priority of Mark is now accepted almost
as an axiom by the great majority of scholars who
occupy themselves with Gospel problems."
So, then, it is accepted that Mark's Gospel is the
earliest Gospel we have, and that it embodies the
teaching of Peter and was written in Greek. Papias,
A.D. 140, writes of Mark as the interpreter of Peter.%
This is accepted by Irenmus, Justin, Clement of
Alexandria, Tertullian, Origen, Eusebius, and Jerome.
As to the date of colnposition of Mark's Gospel :
"The period which seems to be most probable, both
by historioal testimony and by internal considerations,
is that between Irenzus' date "-after the death of
Peter and Paul-" and the year A.D. 70. Weiss pro-poses
the close of the seventh decade, or about A.D.
67. A date only a little before the destruction of
Jeruselem, perhaps early in A.D. 70, is as near as we
can get."$ Plummer gives A.D. 65-15 as the prob-able
So, then, the earliest of the Gospels gives the
teaching of Christ in reference to marriage and which
was that it was indissoluble : "Whosoever shall put
away his wife and marry another, committeth adultery
'"The Gospol History s*na its Transmission," p. 38.
aMdprar ipwveu.i$r ni7poyve uopivor, aoa 6#vnpducurrv, bnp~Bwr
Fypa+ru, ob +$Y 70' T~$GL~b Srb mi) X~LVTD3~ )X CXBIYT~Y ) =p=xB(~~a.
-Euseb. 'I Hist. Eoo." 111. 39.
3Haatings' " Dictionary of the Bible," Val. 111, p. 261 sgg.
22 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
against her: and if she herself shall put away her
husband andmarry another, she committethadultery".
THE TEACHINGOF ST. LUKE.
Luke's testimony is to the same effect and is given in
ch. XVI. 18. As to the authorship of Luke's Gospel,
"it is manifest that in all parts of the Christian
world the third Gospel . . . was universally believed
to be the work of Luke. No one speaks doubtfully
on this point."
As to the date, "we may accept, perhaps, some
date about the year 80, that is, the beginning rather
than the end of theperiod (A.D. 78-93), within which
it is placed by Harnack" (" Chronologie," pp. 246
ff.).2 Plummer gives the probable dates as A.D. 79-89.
As regards the sources of Luke's Gospel, the fol-lowing
results are obtained from a critical analysis :-
1. Luke " follows, over a large part of his narrative,
the Gospel of Mark, and that probably in the form
in which we have it, and not merely some under-lying
document," although there are omissions and
additions. Haruack *states : "It is unnecessary to
prove anew that Luke used Mark". Peine5 states :
"The use of Mark as one of Luke's sources is a
generally established fact of Gospel criticism ".
2. In Luke and in Matthew there is much material
in common over and above Mark's Gospel and which
1 Plummor, "St. Luke," p. 16; snd for esrly authorities see Hast-ings'
"Diot~on&ryof the Bible," Vol. 111, p. 162.
2 See Hastings' "Dictionsry of the Bible," Val. 111, pp. 162-4.
SHastings' "Dictionary of the Bible," Vol. 111, p. 167.
4 (' Chronologie," p. 652.
5 " Eins voroanniachs Ueberlieferung."
THE GOSPELS OF ST. MARK AND ST. LUKE 23
may be called narrative and discourse material.
This "implies a common written source, and that
requirement is to be satisfied by the hypothesis, not
of a direct use of Matthew by Luke, but by the
supposition that both have used some one collection
or more of our Lord's discourses." '
This common written source other than Mark and
now completely lost, is for the most part considered
to have been the " Logia " or sayings of Christ, col-lected
by Matthew, the Apostle, about A.D. 50. Weiss
states : "Luke's acquaintance with and the use of the
Apostolic source of the first Gospel is just as certain as
his want of acquaintance with the Gospel itself ".
3. "Besides these L~tke seems to have access to
oral tradition, by which he corrects or supplements
the narratives common to him and others."
4. Luke " used especially for chs. I. and 11. and the
section beginning with rx. 51, some special written
sources, which do not supply much information as
to Galilee, and may have been connected in origin
with Jerusalem ".4
Sources 2, 3, and 4 are often spoken of by Com-mentators
under the title of " Q," from the German
quellem, sources, springs, etc.
Such then very briefly were the sources of lznow-ledge
open to Luke, and with the knowledge of these
he tells us, using what is obviously part of a longer
discourse, that Christ taught that marriage was in-
' Hsstings' "Dictionary of the Bible," Vol. 111, pp. 167.8.
s" Introduction to tho Nev Testament," Vol. 11, p. 249.
3 Cf. St. Luke 1. 1-3 ; Hastings' " Diotionaq of the Bible," Vol.
111, pp. 166.8, and Cohu, oh. xv11.
4Hostings' "Dictionary of the Bible," Vol. 111, p. 168.
24 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
dissoluble, and that a second marriage, during the
lifetime of either of the separated partners, could not
be anything but adultery. "Every one tht putteth
away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth
adultery: and he that marrieth one that is put away
from her husband committeth adult,ery " (Luke xv~.
18 (R.V.) ).
THE PROBLEM IN THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW.
WE now pass to the teaching of Christ as given in
the Gospel according to Matthew (see pp. 7-8).
Before we deal with the "exception " therein con-tained,
afew points must be considered. In Matthew's
Gospel it will be noticed that the case of the man is
alone considered: with the Jews it was intolerable
that a woman should divorce her husband: it was the
privilege of man alone. The same applies to Luke.
Yet one very marked feature of Christ's undoubted
teaching was equality of treatment for man and
woman. I t will be noticed that the latter part of chs.
v. 32 and XIX. 9 is not, according to Westcott and
Hort, contained in some manuscripts. This in itself
throws a clear light upon the way, in which early
writers felt at liberty to deal with the manuscripts,
which they used in the compilation of their own
works. Prof. Burkitt thus comments: "This con-demnation
of the womm is not found in Matthew and
Luke, and it is pretty generally assumed to be a
secondary addition, 'based on Roman Law,' says
Dr. Schmiedel in 'Encyclopadia Biblica,' col. 1851.
I venture to think such a view mistaken, and that so
far from being a secondary addition it is one of the
really primitive features of the Gospel of Mark, a
26 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
feature which was dropped out or altered where its
historical meaning had been forgotten. It was no
doubt monstrous to imagine that a Jewess should
desert her husband to marry another man, but it was
not quite unheard of. We know the woman and her
history. Herodias had left her husband-the man
whom Mark calls 'Philip,' but Josephus only knew
as ' Herod '-in order to live with Antipas. Antipas
also was guilty: he had put away the daughter of the
Arabian King Aretas to marry Herodias, his half-brother's
wife, she herself being his half-niece.
"We need scarcely pause to inquire whether Hero-dias
merely deserted her first husband, or whether,
like her great-aunt Salome,' she availed herself of the
methods of Goman procedure and divorced him.
Our Lord's previous words show that He did not re-gard
an immoral act as being any the less immoral
for being carried out according to law: in either case
I ventnre to think the saying as reported in Mark
clearly implies a reference to Herodias, a reference
which is singularly appropriate in the time and place.""
The " exception,'' contained in chs. v. and XIX. of
the Gospel according to Matthew, demands the most
We have seen that Mark and Luke state that Christ
taught that marriage was absolutely indissoluble, and
that another marriage could not be entered into dur-ing
the lifetime of the partners of the first marriage.
But the Gospel according to Matthew is opposed to
that of Mark and Luke, for it tells us that Christ
Josephus, "Ant." xv. 7, 10.
Z'' The Gospel History and its Trmsmission." pp. 100-1.
THE PROBLEM IN THE GOSPEL OB MATTHEW 27
taught that divorce (which with the Jews carried the
right of re-marriage), was allowable on the ground of
fornication-practically the teaching of the School of
Shammai at its best.
It is, as already stated, impossible to over-estimate
the importance of this exoeption with all the conse-quences
that logically ensue.
If that exception formed part of the teaching of
Christ, then the Church of the iirst three centuries
was in error in regard to its teaching, and also the
Anglican Church from its earliest days till now, and
the marriage service of the Church of England goes
beyond the teaching of Christ, and binds burdens
about the necks of its members, which for many men
and women are beyond their u?zoided human strength
If the "exception" formed part of the teaching
of Christ, then it is logically possible to justify the
claim for the extension of the grounds of divorce, and
thus create a position in absolute contrast to the
rest of the teaching of Christ.
Granted the Church has (with some exceptions)
considered ~opveia (fornication) to be the equivalcnt
of /LOLX&~ (adultery), yet to a vast number of Chris-tians
the all-important point is, not what the Church
has taught or deduced from the words of Christ,
but "Is it in the Bible ? " In other words, if the
"exception " forms part of Christ's teaching, what
is to be understood by these words? How would the
Jews, to whom they were spoken, understand them?
1 We believe that God's grace is sufficient for whatever Ho de-mands
of His servants.
28 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
There is the further difticulty in attributing the
" exception " to Christ, because of the inaccuracy of
the language employed and the confusion of thought
ensuing by making rropvela identical with po~x~ia.
It does not appear that "fornication " would in the
Jewish mind be limited to prznuptial unchastity, as
Bengel and Liddon limited it. That would mean,
it has been argued, that the woman would be liable
to punishment for her actions before she entered into
any agreement with her husband, while a breach of
the actual agreement could not be punished if divorce
could only be for rropuia : for, although the penalty
for adultery was already laid down in the Jewish
Law, the exaction of that penalty was not permitted
by the Roman Government.
So to the Jewish mind (and it was to this mind
Christ spolie) it would seem that fornication would
be equivalent to that which destroyed the spiritual
unity with God. Cf. Lev. XVII. 7, XX. 5; 2 Chron.
XXI. 11 and 13; Is. XXIII. 17; Ezek. XVI. 15 and 29,
If so, then the "modern " developments (in reality
a ~artiarle turn to non-Christian systems), if the " ex-
'But Dr. Plummer in his "Oommentary an Matthew," relying
on Hosea, Ir. 5 and Amos vrr. 17, thinks it is olesr thst ~apvda
would convey the meaning of Prof. Tyson in his "Indis-
~olubility of Msrrisgs" states: "In the time of Christ it was uni-versally
held to inolude illicit sexual intercourse on the pmt of the
~ifew, hile the School of Shammai limited it to that sin. Had
this fact been always remembered, many wearisome controversies
as to the meaning of tiopvs:e in St. Matthew would have been
avoided: for it is there used in its Shammsio sense of unlawful
intercourse on the part of the wife." But there are early Ch~istian
writers, down to St. Augustine, agsinst Prof. Tysan's oanolusions.
ception " does form part of Christ's teaching, cannot
be said to be unscriptural if looked at from this
If this "exception " is Christ's, and so the way of
forgiveness and restoration can be absolutely closed
by re-marriage, what becomes of the injunction to
forgive? Cf. Matt. XVIII. 21, 22, and Luke XVII. 4.
The various suggestions of reading the " excep-tion"
into Mark and Luke are too strained to be
aucepted, and especially having regard to the very
definite statement of the returning to the question
by the disciples, and also because it stultifies the
objection of the disciples, who could not have con-sidered
it an intolerable hardship to be required to
live on the same plane as the disciples of the School
If, then, this "exoeption"-of which Mark and
Luke know nothing-which is opposed to the general
tenor of Christ's teaching, does not form part of the
*ords and teaching of Christ, how is its presence in
the Gospel according to Matthew to be accounted
CRITICISM 08 TEE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW.
To answer the question raised at the close of the
last chapter, a consideration of the authorship and
purpose of the Gospel according to Matthew will be
In this Gospel according to Matthew, Mark's
Gospel is largely drawn upon, as has been already
shown. In addition the writer (who, it is held,
was not Matthew the Apostle) had other sources of
information,l and principally the " Logia " of the
Apostle Matthew, which were in existence A.D. 50
and were written in Aramaic (Hebrew), the language
spoken by Christ : but our Gospel is not a translation of
those sayings into Greek, but was itself written origin-ally
in Greek. For (1) " it may be taken as proved
that our Matthew is not a translation from Hebrew
'Prof. Sanday, in his "Life of Christ in Recent Research,"
p. 172, dealing with Sir W. M. Ramsay's review af Earnaok's two
books, writes: "There is one startling obiter dictum in the last
article: viz. that 'the lost common source of Luke and Matthew
(i.e. L'Q") . , . was writton while Christ was still living. It gives
us the view whioh one of His disoiples entertained of Him and His
te.ohing during His lifetime, and may be regarded as authoritative
from the view of the disciples generally' (p. 424). I am afraid this
is rather too optimistic. I do not doubt myself that 'Q' was
sometime before L.D. 70. The more exsot date will de-pend
upon the relabion in whioh it stands to Mark and Paul.
Under both these heads there is much to be said on both sides."
CRITICISM OF THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW 31
or Aramaic ; (2) it is improbable that tho ' Logia ' or
' Oracles ' of the Lord, giving all due latitude to the
term logion, included anythmg like so much nar-rative
as does our Matthew."'
Tradition from the second century named Matthew
the Apostle as the author of our Gospel according to
Matthew; but all scholars are now agreed that too
much has been placed upon the words of Paphias,
end that our Gospel was not written by the Apostle,
although his teaching, as embodied in his " Logia "
or sayings, is incorporated in it. "The Matthaan
' Logia ' have as their nucleus the common Apostolic
didactic tradition, which took shape in the early
Jerusalem days under the lead of Peter-a tradition
which passed into Mark in its later Petrine form. At
some stage which we cannot now trace they took on
the special impress of the Apostle Matthew, prob-ably
in a ministry of which Galilee, rather than
Judaa, was the scene. In this form they passed, as
Jewish unrest became more acute, to the neighboux-ing
parts of Syria, in the person of our Evangelist
among others, still receiving fresh elements in the
course of oral teaching. Cf. Matt. XIII. 52, and
XXIII. 34. And it was st this stage that they took
written shape, as the main constituent in the mixed
Gospel composed with the aid of the Marcan memoirs
Historical students will not need to be reminded
'Hsstings' "Dictionsry of the Bible," Vol. 111, p 296; see also
Oohu, pp. 357 spy.
a Of. Prof. Bartlett in Hastings' "Dictionary of the Bible," Vol.
111, pp. 296, 297, 298,
Ib~dp. . 303.
32 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
how whole speeches have been placed in the mouths
of orators by writers (cf. Thucydides) when they were
not spoken at all, and how respect for a person often
led to the use of his name and the ascribing of opinions
to him by admiring writers, and how easy it had been
for "indirect authorship " to become " direct author-ship".
In other words, the ideas and canons of
writing and criticism of to-day must not be read into
those of ancient times.
From internal evidence the date of the Gospel
according to Matthew is about A.D. 70. Hastings'
" Dictionary of the Bible " gives 68-70, Plnmmer 67-
80, as probable dates.
What was the purpose of our Gospel? and in
answering this question we shall get much Iight upon
the disagreement of Matthew with Mark and Luke,
particularly in reference to the subject under dis-cussion.
The writer of the Gospel according to Matthew is
a Jew and writes for Jews-the Gospel is "at once
apologetic and polemical. . . . Jesus is God's Mes-siah,
in spite of all superficial appearances, and that
by realizing the essence of Moses and the Prophets." '
To the Jew the Old Testament was "the repository
of all wisdom? and therefore Matthew must show,
if his fellow-countrymen are to accept the teaching
of Christ, that He was a Jew, and that " He came not
to destroy the law but to fulfil the law ".
In doing this Matthew has that common character-istic
of the early Christians of seeing type and prophecy
1 Prof. Bartlett in Hastings' "Diotionary of the Bible," p. 304.
ZCohu, p. 360.
CRITICISM OF THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW 33
everywhere in the Old Testament and their fulfil-ment
in Christ. To secure this, texts fro111 the Old
Testament are quoted with different wording.' For
instance, Zechariah (rx. 9) had said, "Behold, thy
King cometh unto thee sitting upon an ass, and a
colt the foal of an ass ". This, of course, is the poeti-cal
Hebrew way of spealiing of one animal, and Luke
and Mark so interpret it. Matthew, however, in his
eagerness to keep close to the wording or prophecy,
turns the one animal into two ! " They brought the
ass, and the colt, and set Him on them." So, again,
we read in Matthew 11. 23: "He dwelt in Nazareth,
that it rnight be fulfilled which was spoken by the
prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene," a prophecy
which cannot be traced in the Old Testament. In
spite of several ingenious but unconvincing attempts
to find some parallel for it in Scripture, it is merely
a play on words based on the accidental resemblance
of the word Nazareth and the Hebrew word for
Similarly, it is only by wrenching the original words
from the true original setting and intention that the
passage "when Israel was a child, I loved him and
called My Son out of Egypt "can he construed into a
prophecy referring to the return of the Child Jesus
from Egypt : " Out of Egypt have I called My Son "
(Matt. 11. 15).
These strained and artificial interpretations of
Scripture were universal among the Jews of that day,
and therefore perfectly legitimate and convincing in
Df. Cohu, p. 361.
34 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
When the Jews became Christians they still re-mained
Jews. " Salvation was of the Jews," of that
they were certain; and if the Gentiles are to be
brought in, it must be as "proselytes of the Jewish
Christian Church " ; ' and so it was only by Christ
fulfilling the law and the prophets that in their eyes
there could be any possibility of acceptance. This
Matthew thoroughly realizes (cf. ch. v. 17) : "Think
not that I am come to destroy the law, or the
prophets : I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18.
For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth
pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from
the law, till all be fulfilled. 19. Whosoever therefore
shall break one of these least commandments, and
shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the
kingdom of heaven : but whosoever shall do and
teach them, the same shall be called great in the
kingdom of heaven." To Matthow, Christ fulfilled
the law, and nothing can be allowed to stand which
militates against that conception. " Indeed,z so eager
is Matthew to remove .Jewish prejudice against
Christ in this matter of the law, that he re-writes
Mark's passage on divorce, clean and unclean meats,
etc., and makes them assume a different complexion.
" Thus, as regards divorce, Mark and Luke represent
Christ as making the marriage tie absolutely in-
'Dontrsst Matthew s. 5, 6: " These twelve Jeszcs snzt forth, and
ooncmanded them, sayimg, Go not isto the way of the Garrtiles, and
irrto any city of tlw Samaritans enter ye not; But go rather to the
lost sheep ofthe house of Israel" with Mark vr. 10: "A?zdHesaidunto
then%I,r r whatplaca soaver ye e%ter into a+%h ouse, thsre abide," eto.
where no limits of place %re given to the Apostles.
aCohu, p. 366.
CRITICISM OF THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW 35
dissoluble. Matthew, by adding words, ' except for
fornication,' brings our Lord's verdict on Deuter-onomy
xx~v.i nto perfect harmony with the best
Jewish views of His day."
To consider the words "except for fornication,"
giving the opinions of certain authorities :-
In " The International Critical Commentary'
on the Gospel According to Matthew,"' ch. v. 32, it is
stated: "It is, however, open to question whether
this exception is not an addition of the editor, re-presenting
no doubt two influences, viz. Jewish
custom and tradition, and the exigencies of ethical
necessity in the early Christian Church. A similar
exception is made in XIX. 9, and it will there be seen
that the clause is clearly an interpolation. There is,
therefore, a presumption that it has also been inter-polated
here. Moreover, the teaching of Christ as
recorded by Mark (x, 11) seems to preclude any such
exception. And Luke represents His teaching as
a simple prohibition of divorce without reservation
(XVI. 18). The same may be said of Paul's account
of Christ's teaching, 1 Cor. VII. 10, 11-~orei &VT;)U
po~~~~OijTuhai~s .c la~lsei mplies the circumstance
that after divorce the woman will be likely to
marry again. In that case the divorce will have been
the means of leading her to marry again; and so
from Christ's standpoint, though not legally, oom-mitting
adultery, because according to His teaching
1 Editors 0. R. Driver, D.D., A. Plummer, D.D., 0. A. Briggs,
aBy Willoughby 0. Allen, M.A., Chaplain, Fellow, and Lecturer
in Theology and Hebrew, Exeter College, Oxford.
36 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
the divorce was ideally wrong, and the first marriage
was ideally still valid-a$ El&, cf. Moulton, 42 ff.
~o~~ibercaaus~e ,sh e is ideally still the wife of the
first husband. Christ's teaching here therefore seems
to admit of no exceptions. If a man divorces his
wife he causes her to commit adultery (it being pre-supposed
that she will re-marry), because ideally her
first marriage still holds good. If a man marries
such a divorced woman, he not only causes her to
commit adultery, but himself does so, since he
marries one who ideally is still the wife of her first
husband. The interpolated clause confuses the is-sues.
If a man divorced his wife for ~opuela, he
would not then cause her to commit adultery, because
she would already be guilty of this crime."
" Instead of explaining away the exception, Bleeli,
Keim, and others have denied the genuineness of the
clause specifying it, and this on the ground that the
original unqualified statement of Jesus was felt to be
a stumbling-block, and that the exception ('saving
for the cause of fornication ') crept into the tradi-tional
report as a concession to the realities of social
Dr. Plummer comments %n Matthew v. thus :
" The third illustration of the superiority of the
Christian ideal to the Jewish is taken from the
question of divorce (31, 32). As being a subject con-nected
with the preceding illustration it comes not
1 Hastings' " Dictiansry of the Bible," Vol. 111, p. 215.
aLs An Exegetical Commentary an the Gospol Aooording to St.
Matthew," by Rev. Alfred Plummer, Dl.A., D.D., formerly Mastor
of University College, Durhanl, and sometime Follow and Tutor of
Trinity College, Oxford.
CRITICISM OF THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW 37
inappropriately here, but we may doubt whether it
was part of the original Sermon. The substance of
it, partly in the same words, is found again XIX. 3-9 ;
but inneither place does it, according to existing texts,
show that Christ's teaching about divorce was
superior to that of the stricter Jewish teachers.
There is grave reason for doubting whether Christ,
either in the Sermon or elsewhere, ever taught that
divorce is allowable when the wife has coinmitted
adultery. That rropucia here nnd XIX. 9 ineans adul-tery
(Hos. 1.1. 5 ; Amos VII. 17) is clear from the
context. According to the earliest evidence (Mark x.
1-12), which is confirmed by Luke XVI. 18, Christ
declared that Moses allowed divorce as a concession
to a low condition of society. But there was an
earlier marriage law, of Divine authority, according
to which the marriage tie was indissoluble. To this
Divine law men oughtto return. Teaching such as
this is entirely in harmony with the teaching about
murder (21-24) and about adultery (27, 28), and is
above the level of the best Jewish teaching. But
what is given here (31, 32) and in xrx. 9 is lzot above
that level. The stricter Rabbis taught that the
'unseemly thing ' (ilu~~po~vp iypai mpudicum ne-gotium,
Tertullian) which justified divorce (Deut.
XXIV. 1) was adultery: and, according to Matthew,
Christ said the same thing. Nothing short of adultery
justified divorce, but adultery did justify it. It is
very improbable that Christ did teach this. If we
want His true teaching we must go to Mark and
Luke, according to whom He declared the indissolu-bility
of the marriage bond. He told His disciples
38 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
that the re-marriage of either partner, while the other
is living, is adultery.' But it is a violent hypothesis
to assume (in the face of all external evidence) that
' except on account of fornication ' is a later interpola-tion
by early scribes (Wright, 'Synopsis of the
Gospels in Greek,' p. 99). If the interpolation had
not already been made in the Jewish Christian au-thority
which Matthew used, then we must attribute
the interpolation to the Evangelist himself. It is
clear from other cases that he treated his authorities
with freedom, and he may have felt confident that
Christ, while forbidding divorce on any other ground,
did not mean to forbid it in the case of adultery.
Yet, even on the Evangelist's authority, we can
hardly believe that our Lord, after setting aside the
Mosaic enactment as an accommodation to low moral-ity,
should Himself have sanctioned what it allowed.
Mark would have no motive for omitting the excep-tion
if Christ had made i t ; but there would be an
obvious motive for a Jewish Christian to insert it, as
meont, though not reported."
Dr. Plummer, commenting on Matthew XIX. 3-12,
writes : " . . . We must study Mark x. 2-12 if we wish
for a clear and consistent account of Christ's teaching
respecting divorce. . . . According to Mark and Luke
Christ forbade divorce altogether. The permission to
'Augustine's view is this: "Solius fornicationis oaus& lioet
uxorem adulteram dimittere, sed ill& vivente non licst alteram du-oere";
but he is not satisfied with sny solution o£ the difficult
question. Yet he would uso Milrli and Luke to explain Matthew.
"Quod subobscure apud Matthieurn positum est, ex~ositu~eno t
spud alios, siout legitur apud Maroum et spud Lucum." Tertnllisn
is very decided for this view (" Adv. Marc." 17. 34).
CRITICISM OF THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW 39
divorce a wife for grave misconduct was conceded by
Moses because of the low condition of society in his
time ; but now men ought to return to the primeval
principle that marriage is indissoluble, According to
Matthew, both here and in v. 31, 32, Christ agreed
with the stricter Jews; an unchaste wife might be
divorced, and the husband marry again. I t has been
shown in the comments on v. 31, 32 that it is improb-able
that Jesus taught this; and we may suspect
that both 'for every cause ' (3) and 'except for
fornication' (9) are insertions made either by the
Evangelist or in the authority which he is using in
addition to Mark. Whoever inserted the words would
think that they must have been meant, and that
therefore it was right to make the meaning perfectly
clear. The remark of the disciples (10) confirms the
view that Christ forbade divorce, even in the case of
the wife'sunchastity. If that was His decision, their
remark is intelligible. I t would then mean that
marriage is a dangerous condition, if a man cannot
free himself from an adulterous wife. But, if He
taught that the divorce of an adulterous wife was
allowable, then their remark would mean that mar-riage
is a hard lot, if a man may not get rid of a wife
whom he dislikes; and it is hardly likely that they
can have meant this. After being Christ's disciples
so long, they would not hold that what even Jews of
the stricter School of Shammai maintained respecting
the marriage tie was an intolerable obligation."
In " The Human Element in the Gospels " 1 it is
'A oomlnentsry on the Synoptic Nmrativo by George Salmon,
D.D., F.R.S., late Provost of Trinity College, Dublin; edited by
40 DIVORCE AND 1 RE-MARRIAGE
stated : " Certainly our best guide to the true inter-pretation
of the sayings of our Lord is the manner in
which they were understood by the disciples who
heard them, and by the Church which He founded,
and this is our best safeguard against the numerous
heresies which have had their origin in the private
interpretation of isolated texts " (p. 127).
Commenting on Matthew v. 31, 32, Dr. Salmon
wrote : "If notice be taken of another variation be-tween
Matthew's version (in ch. XIX.) and Mark's, no
fair-minded critic can doubt that the limitations in
Matthew were made with the express purpose of re-moving
any prohibition against divorcing an adulter-ous
wife. The question with which the Pharisees
tempted our Lord is according to Mark's version, Is
it lazoful for a naan to put awag his toij~? but according
to Matthew, Is it lawful for a malL to pt~t atuag his wij%
jo~or every cause P In fact, the question touches on a
dispute which then went on between rival schools
of expounders of the Law. . . . The question then
arises, If there be a discordance, which report are we
to follow? Which is more likely to ropresent the
record first made of our Lord's words? A question
of criticism must be decided on critical grounds with-out
regard to doctrinal consequences ; and it seems
to me that Mark's version, which appears to disallow
divorce without any exception, is rnore likely to re-present
the common source than Matthew's, which
excepts the adulterous wife. For it is innch easier
to account for Matthew's insertion of the words than
Newport J. D. White, D.D., Professor of Riblioal Greek in the
University of Dublin.
CRITICISM OF TH'E GOSPEL OF MATTHEW 41
for Mark's omission of them, if they had been in his
original " (pp. 130-1).
Later on (pp. 390-1), commenting on Mark x. 2 and
Matthew xrx. 3, Dr. Salmon states : " The dependence
of Mattl~ewo n Mark in this passage is unmistakable. . . . Omitting the words rapenror Xdyou ~o~ueiainr
Matthew v. 32 appears to forbid absolutely the putting
away a wife, no matter how unfaithful; and this,in con-fessed
opposition to the ordinance of Moses. . . . I am
inclined to the belief that we ought to accept Mark's
account here as the most literal report of what our
Lord said, viz. that He uttered His precept against
dissolution of marriage in the most general terms,
and without allowance for possible exceptions. . . .
I t seems (p. 394) now to me plain that the disciples
understood our Lord to say, that it was not lawful
to put away one's wife, even in the case of adultery.
Surely it would be unreasonable for them to say that
it was not good for a man to marry, unless he had
the power of unlimited divorce."
Prof. Tyson writes : 1 "Looking at the matter from
every point of view, I cannot regard the twice-re-peated
exception, both on account of its relation to
its own context and because of its total divergence
from the independent witness of the three Apostolic
writers of the New Testament, to be a genuine saying
of Christ, although, on the other hand, the witness of
antiquity compels me to confess that it formed an
integral portion of the First Gospel."
'"The Teaching of Our Lard &s to the Indissolubility of
Marriage," by S. L. Tyson, 1I.A. (Oaon.), Professor of New Testament
Language and Interpretation in the University of the South, p. 51.
42 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
"The Rev. William Pattison Paterson, D.D., a
minister of the Church of Scotland, and Professor of
Divinity in the University of Edinburgh, entered at
length into Biblical data bearing on divorce. He had
come to the belief that our Lord did not allow any
qualification of the indissolubility of marriage. The
general tenor of our Lord's teaching was against
divorce for adultery. He taught the duty of forgiving
those who wronged us unto seventy times seven, and
witness was therefore of opinion that He would not
have said in a particular case that a man's relation
to his wife ought to cease. Further, the method of
Jesus, as seen in the Sermon on the Mount, was to
lay down ethical principles in the most absolutc forin,
and to ignore qualifying considerations. Accordingly,
witness was inclined to thin11 that when Christ came
to deal with the question of divorce, He said that
marriage was indissoluble. . . . Again, researches
into the sources and relations of the Gospels repre-sented
Matthew as an inferior authority. They had
three authorities for the absolute rule, as against
one for the exception. But further, the general
result of critical analysis was that the Gospel ac-cording
to Matthew was based on two principal
sources, viz. Mark, or an earlier forin of the canonical
booli, and an older document usually described as the
' Logia,' which was also one of the sources of Luke.
Since, now, the exception was not found in Mark,
and since Luke XVI. 18, which was probably drawn
from the same source as Matthew v., 31, 32, was
also ignorant of it, it seemed probable that in both
CRITICISM OB' THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW 43
passages Matthew had modified the original tradi-tion."
The Lord Bishop of Birmingham (Dr. Gore) said,2
in reference to our subject and the interpolation of
the writer of the Gospel according to Matthew:
"The only evidence that he was able to offer was
concerning the view which the Christian Church
as a whole, and the English Church in particular,
had taken of divorce. It had been commonly held
in the Christian Church that Christ forbade divorce
in such sense, as admitted of re-marriage, altogether.
Modern Biblical criticism confirmed the view. The
earliest texts, according to the modern view were :-
" 'And in the house the disciples asked Him again
of this matter. And He saith unto them, Whosoever
shall put away his wife, and marry another, com-mitteth
adultery against her, and if she herself shall
put away her husband, and marry another, she com-mitteth
"'Any one that putteth away his wife, and marrieth
another, committeth adultery: and he that marrieth
one that is put away from s husband committeth
"A11 the evidence pointed to this prohibition of
divorce, without exception, being the original teaching
of Christ, and modern critical commentators tended
to regard the exception in Matthew's Gospel as a
later gloss upon the original teaching, due to the
'Royal Comlnissian on Divoroe, " Daily Telegraph," 29 June,
ZEvidenoe before the Royal Commission on Divorce and Moitri-monial
Causes, ils reported in "The Times" of 22 June, 1910.
44 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
Jewish traditions still at work in the Christian com-munity.'
The Christian Church apparently took no
notice of the exception and maintained the absolute
indissolubility of Christian marriage." This evidence
of Bishop Gore is all the more notable, because he
had some time previously held and written opinions
of quite an opposite character.
The Lord Bishop of Ely (Dr. Chase, sometime Lady
Margaret Professor and subsequently Norrisian Pro-fessor
of Divinity at Cambridge)2 dealt with the
Christian view of divorce, as derived from Christ's
sayings. When they considered the mode in which
Christ's sayings were transmitted through the memory
of many men, through oral tradition, and when,
further, they took into account the fact that His
words, having been spoken in Aramaic, had reached
them in a Greek dress, they were precluded from
supposing that they had an exact or verbatim report
of what Christ said. Witness entered at length into
the evidence as to Christ's teaching on divorce, show-ing
that according to Marli, our Lord asserted the
absolute indissolubility of marriage.
'Cohu, p. 366: " WB do not always sufllciently grssp the fact
that Jewish Christisns wore essentially Jaws as well as Christians. . . . In the constant feud between Judaieers and Pauliniuts;
in the shoclr Peter received when he was told of God to go to
the Gentile centurion (Acts x.): in the agenda of the Council of
Jerusalem (Acts xv.); in the rebuke adlninisterod by Paul to Potiir
at Antiach (Gal. rl.), we oloady soe that Jewish Christians still
continued to regard the obligations of the hlasaio Law as binding
Wee evidence before the Royal Commission as reported in 'c The
Daily Telogrilph," 29 June, 1910.
CRITICISM OF THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW 45
The late Dean Lefroy wrote : 1 "And accordingly
the Christian Church has ever held that the mind of
Christ is that marriage is indissoluble. Life-long
monogamy is the condition supposed and enjoined by
Holy Scripture. . . . So far, then, we claim that the
teaching of Holy Scripture is the indissolubility of
the marriage bond: the union is essential, its dura-tion
Wats~n,a~fte r careful exaiuination of texts and
manuscripts, comes to the following conclusion : " I t
thus appears that a fairly strong case can be rnade
out to show that the original reading from which all
existing readings were derived was a reading which
may not contemplate re-marriage after divorce ; it is
certain that some manuscripts of high authority have
readings which do not contemplate any such re-mar-riage
; and it is further certain that the text is so vari-ously
read as to makeit in the highest degree inexpedi-ent
to base any argument of important bearing upon
any of its readings. The proper course appears to be to
put aside Matthew XIX. 9 and to direct the inquiry
to (1) other passages of Holy Scripture, (2) the testi-mony
of the Church in history, and (3) the necessary
conclusions of Reason."
Luckock states: " The evidence of early patristic
authority is distinctly against the Authorized Version.
In the Revised Version the amended reading has been
recognized as suficiently authoritative to find its
place in the margin.
1 Pp. 42, 43 in "The Churoh and Life of To-day," 'I Divoroe,"
by the late Very Rev. W. Lofroy, D.D., Dsen of Norwioh.
Holy Matrimony," p. 161.
'' Ths H'i~lOry of Marri&ge," p. 70.
46 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
"No one can deny, then, that the text is extremely
uncertain, and it seems most unsafe to base any per-mission
of such tremendous consequence upon such
uncertainty " . . .
"We submit, however, thai: the real question at
issue is not so much whether or for what our Lord
sanctioned divorce, but whether, if granted, it carried
with it the right to re-marry or not. . . . The West-ern
Church has held that the ground upon which
such a right is said to rest, viz. a simple text of long-disputed
integrity, is too precarious to be trusted; and
to this course the Anglican branch of it has hitherto
yielded a constant assent."
THE TEACHING OF ST. PAUL
ST. PAULin his Epistle to the Romans' wrote in
ch. VII. 1-4 (R.V.): "Or are ye ignorant, brethren (for
I speak to men that know the law), how that the law
hath dominion over a man so long time as he liveth ?
For the woman that hath a husband is bound by
the law to the husband while he liveth : but if the
husband die, she is discharged from the law of the
husband. So then if, while the husband liveth, she
be joined to another man, she shall be called an
adulteress: but if the husband die, she is free from
the law, so that she is no adulteress, though she be
joined to another man. Wherefore, my brethren, ye
also were made dead to the law through the body of
Christ; that ye should be joined to another, even to
Him who was raised from the dead that we might
bring forth fruit unto God."
Some writers have held this passage to teach the
indissolubility of marriage, because St. Paul does not
recognize that under Jewish law divorce, which carried
with it the right of marrying again, existed, and that
he has in his mind the teaching of Christ. The
Romans at this time considered marriage simply a
1 Date-Hsstings' "Dictionary of the Bible," A.D. 55-66 ; Dr.
Plummer, A.D. 54-57.
48 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
question of contract, depending only on the will of the
It does not seem fair criticism to make this passage
apply to the indissolubility of marriage. St. Paul is
not discussing that question at all : he is dealing with
the Judaizing tendencies of some Christians mentioned
above. They considered the Christian still bound by
the law. So it seems this passage cannot reasonably
be divorced from the subject St. Paul was discussing
and made to apply in detail to the subject now under
Upon the subject of marriage we get St. Paul's
teaching in 1 Corinthians ' ~II1.0 , 11 (B.V.) : " But
unto the married I give charge, yeanot I, but the Lord,
that the wife depart not from her husband (but and if
she depart, let her remain unmarried, or else be recon-ciled
to her husband) : and that the husband leave not
his wife : " " Toir 62 ye"jalL~6uW~uC L~U~O~CKQ XX~,
&AX& 6 K~~LyuOuaFin,a &v;lA u6phr pi ~opruO~va~-;&u
62 K~L~O~pL~uU&&ro& ~ya,p or 6 VI,& u6pln a~aXha"/rj~m,
-gal tl~6~yauu aixa A+L~U~L."-Westcotta nd
The Corinthian Christians would be well acquainted
with the Roman Law and its terms of divorce. They
are not to take advantage of it-~o~~uO?juaeif: a
separation taltes place then the wife is to remain un-married
or be reconciled. The man is charged not
to leave his wife. Again in verse 30 (R.V.) : "A wife
is bound for so long time as her husband liveth; but
if the husband be dead, (margin fallepz asleep), she is
1 Date-Hsstings' "Dictionary of the Bible," A.D. 55 ; Dr.
Plurnrnsr. A.D. 52-50.
THE TEACHING OF ST. PAUL 49
free to be married to whom she will; only in the
It will be noticed that in the R.V. and in Westcott
and Hort's Greek Testament " by the law " (u&o) is
omitted in verse 39, although it appears in the
Authorized Version. It is not found in the best
manuscripts. So then St. Paul's instructions to the
converts-Jews as well as Gentiles-is that Christian
marriage is soluble only by death. Also he advised if
a second marriage, which in his personal judgment is
a matter for deprecation, is to take place, it is to be
olzlyin, the Lord and not with unbelievers. This would
be a very real restriction, as there were in the early
Church more female converts than male, and so the
difficulty of securing husbands was felt. But St. Paul
is concerned with the spiritual life of the converts
and wishes to avoid danger to it by marriage with
This concludes the teaching concerning our subject
to be found in the New Testament. It is clear that
according to St,. Marlr, St. Luke, and St. Paul, Chris-tian
marriage is indissoluble, while the " exception " in
the Gospel according to Matthew cannot be regarded
as the words of Christ, modern Biblical criticism con-sidering
it to be an interpolation by the compiler of
1 ruvh8 i8r.ioi iQiro ov ~pdvov 6 &vhp bu~iir. i2iv 81 ~orpq85d bv<p
ihrv8ipa ili~lv+3 8dh.i yaliv8iivaa. P~YDYb ~~~i~.-Westcaontdt Hart.
The following verse (40) throws light upon the opinion Paul had of
mmriage : "But she is happier if she abide as she is, after my
judgment : and I think thst I also have the Spirit, of Gad ".
the doctrine concerning re-marriage of oonverts end mixed
marriages, see Watson's " Boly Matrimony,"pp. 438-590.
50 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
that Gospel or even of a later date than that. So then
it cannot be used to modify the teaching of Christ as
given by the three other writers in the New Testa-ment,
who are in agreement as to the i~ldissolubility
of the marriage bond.
HISTORICAL EVIDENCE TILL A.D. 314.
WE must now consider the evidence, outside Holy
Scripture, as to what was the belief of the early
Christians and the teaching of the Church.
I t will be convenient to consider first the period
down to the conversion of the Emperor Constantine,
A.D. 314, and the consequent union of Church and
State, which union of necessity would mean then,
as now, that the State assumed some control over
c. A.D. 75. HERMAS.
The first reference to our subject by any Christian
writer is found in " The Pastor of Hermas," which
was "one of the most popular books, if not the
most popular, in the Christian Church during the
second olld third centuries. . . . The most probable
date assigned to its composition is the reign of Hadrian
or of Antoninus Pius."' Hermas lived at Rome, but
it is now agreed that he was not the Hennas men-tioned
by St. Paul in Romans XVI. 14. This book was
so popular that it was placed almost on a level with
Holy Writ, and it was even read as such during the
first centuries in the Churches. Irenaus speaks of it
'Cf. "The Apostolic Fathers,' p. 319, in T. & T. Clarlt's "Ante-
Nioene Christian Library ".
51 4 *
52 DIVORCE, AND RE-MARRIAGE
as " Scripture " in these words : " Truly, then, the
scriptures declared, which say," and here follows a
quotation from the shepherd of Hermas.l Clement
of Alexandria : " Divinely, therefore, the power which
spake to Hermas by revelation said ".2
The opinion of Hermas IS clear from the statement
on Commandment IV: "I say to him, sir, permit
me to ask you a question. Say on, he said. Sir,
I said, if anyone has a wife who believes in the Lord,
and if the husband has found her in certain adultery,
does he, living with her, commit sin ? As long as he
remains in ignorance, he said, the husband does
not sin. But if the husband knows the sin of his
wife and if the wife does not repent, but remains in
her fornication and the husband lives with her, he
becomes partaker of her crime, and a participator in
her adultery. What then, sir, I said, is the hus-band
to do, if his wife abide in this state? Let the
husband, he said, put ,her away and remain by
himself. But if he put his wife away and marry
another, he also commits adultery. What, sir, I
said, if after the woman is put away she should re-pent,
and wish to return to her husband, shall she
not be taken back? Verily, he said, if the husband
do not take her back, he sins, and brings a great sin
upon himself; for he ought to take back the sinner
who has repented. But not repeatedly. For there
is but one repentance to the servants of God. There-fore,
because of the possible repentance, the husband
ought not to marry another. The course of action is
the same for the woman and the man. Not only,
' " Adv. Her." iv. 20, 2. ' " Stramate," Blr. I, oh. xxrx.
HISTORICAL EVIDENCE TILL A.D. 314 63
he said, is it adnltery if anyone defile his flesh but
he also commits adultery who does things similar to
the heathen." '
It will be noticed that separation is enjoined for
linown adultery, but the marriage bond still remains
unbroken, so that on repentance conjugal intercourse
can be resumed. Further, that whatsoever endangers
the spiritual union with God is on the same level as
adultery and is a cause of separation.
A.D. 139. JUSTIMNA RTYR.
In his First Apology for the Christians, addressed
to the Emperor Antoninus Pius, his sons, the Sen-ate,
and the whole people of Rome, Justin Martyr
states : "But that we should not seem to be reason-ing
sophistically, we consider it right, before proceed-ing
to proof, to call to mind a few precepts given by
Christ Himself. And let it be your part, as powerful
Icings, to seek whether we have been taught and do
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1867, p. 392.
54 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGK
teach these matters truly. Brief and concise words
were spolien by Him, for He was not a sophist, but
His word was the power of God." " Iva 62 ~4 uo+d
@uBa~6p Ciy S~&U~EdVhl,y wu TLU&rUDj u rap' ah05 roc
Xp~uroi8, ~8a~pLrwEul~ ~puvutJljnuaah~oi v ZX~LVr pb re7
&r08e~&w?j wukpefIa, nal 6p4repou h'urw, i~8~ uarDjv
,C?au~X~dEv'(,~ rkuac€ 1 LXqtlDj~ raFra 6~6~6L~periBala
8~8ku~opeu/. 3pa~8~2 in~ai UUUTO~OLr ap' ahoi, X~YOL
y~y6uau~u0.6 y hp UO~LUT&~Tnj pxfu,&XhaG dvap~vB coc
6X6./oa~t roi, 3u."-" Apol." I . § 14. The challenge of
inquiry shows that the statements were not a matter
of Justin Martyr's private opinion, but of the known
teaching of the Church.
He continues : " Whosoever loolted on a woman to
lust after her, hath already committed adultery in
his heart in the sight of God. . . . He who marries
a woman put away from another man, commits
adultery. . . . So then both those who commit
bigamy under the sanction of the law of man, are
sinners in the eye of our Master, and those who look
on a woman to lust after her." "'OF tlu E'p,C?hg+j
YUU~LKr~p6 9 76 f)r16up.iuaL adrljv, 487 f)poI~e~rv1je
nap81? rapd T$ Be$ . . . 'OF yap& &roheXuph~~~
24' f)~Qpo(iuv 8ph~~, OLX~T~L. . . . "Our~pria l oi v6p0
&uBpwrluy G~~apla~yo ~oLpeudoP~a,p rwXol rap& T$
Ijpmipy As8aunkhy ~1~n1ai, o E rpou/3k~rouryeu~u a~lcl
rp6v ri) dr~Bvp7jua(~i~ rlj~."-Ibid.
In his Second Apology Justin Martyr gives the case
of a woman, who, leaving her former evil life, became
a Christian, but her husband continued his evil course.
Over persuaded by her friends she continued to live
with him for a time in hope of amendment : but the
HISTORICAL EVSDENOE TILL A.D. 514 55
husband eventually departed to Alexandria and there
conducted himself worse than formerly : therefore
she " in order that by abiding in conjugal intercourse
and by sharing his table and bed, may not become a
participator of his wickedness and impiety wes separ-ated
from him, having given whet is called among
you, a bill of repudiation".'
c. A.D. 177. ATHENAGORAS.
Athenagoras was an Athenian philosopher, who
became a convert to Christianity, and one of the
ablest Christian apologists. In his Plea (.rrpeu,&la or
Legatio), which is addressed "to the Emperors,
Marcus Aurelius Antoninus and Lucius Aurelius Com-modus,
conquerors of Armenia and Sarmatia, and
more than all philosophers," he wrote : "For our
business consists not in the study of words, but in
the practice and teaching of deeds-that a person
remain as he was born or (contented) in one mar-riage,
for a second is only specious adultery. For
whosoever shall put away his wife and shall marry
another, commits adultery ''.Z Athenagoras is one of
the three writers (Origen and Clement of Alexandria
being the other two) of the first three centuries
who refer to the disputed passage in the Gospel ac-cording
to Matthew: the reference is not by name
'#nor 'OLYWY~Y7 ;" CL~LII~K~T~Wn.Y1 b<r6qpdi~y~h q7at, E(&~~~c7a
6"' T< <mCuyie, aal d~o6iairorx ai ~~KOITYOLY~O ~~YVT,& A~Ydpe~e~,
sap' tp?v prriod8iov GoCaa i~wpI~t?q.A-~p~ol . " 2, a. 2.
$0; y=p pchirg hdywv, bhh' i~16ei(rr xal 8i8armahlq ipywv d
+phrp~.ij oldr ~rir7 &~8qp,d vsv, 8 ?.P1 ivl ydp9. '0 ydp 6867ep09
clsprlrljr 81171 po~~ci=".0 s yhp 8" &~oh6qm,n d, .rhv yuva7~aa ka;, KG!
Lthhqv, ~OLX~~LLI.L-"e g~itiop ro Ohristianis," 5 33,
56 DIVORCE AND RE-I'IARRIAGE
-for the earliest references to the Gospels do not
give the name-but it will be noticed that Athena-goras
does not employ the exception: on the con-trary
he uses the passage against the repetition of
To the indissolubility of Christian marriage the
testimony of Athenagoras is absolute and is endorsed
by the Church, but the teaching in reference to second
marriages was repudiated.
Saving the three books written to his friend Auto-lycus,
who in conversation with Theophilus had
probably disparaged Christianity, no other writings
of Theophilus have come down to us : but Eusebius
and Jerome speak of other works of Theophilus
against the prevailing heresies. To Autolycus he
wrote: "And the voice of the Gospel teaches still
more urgently concerning chastity, saying, every-one,
who looks upon a strange wornan to long after her,
hath already committed adultery with her in his heart.
And he who marries, it says, her that is put away
from her husband, committeth adultery: and who-soever
puts away his wife, saving for the cause of
fornication, canseth her to commit adultery ".'
Theophilus is true to Christian teaching as regards
1'E 6i E8ayy~Aio.s movh irri~a~i~&~GtcFd~oonun w epi byvelar Aiyovoa.
nb d isliv yvvai~ab hho~plavs pbs vb ist8upijsa~a hhv ~poi,y~~btu
abrhv ivT $ ~apsaiL~ro i. mi d yagv, q701v, ~~OA~AU~~dvsVpo~r V
pocXe6a~. nai 8s Baoh6rr yuvaixa sapcit~br Adyou ~opvciar, no'ci a$~hv
palxcuRijva~.-'8 Ad Autolgoum," lib. iii. o. 13.
HISTORICAL EVIDENCE TILL A.D. 314 57
c. A.D. 192. ST. CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA.
Clement was the famous head of the Catechetical
school at Alexandria, and was a man of very great
learning and extensive travel. He wrote: "But
that the Scripture counsels marriage, nor at any time
allows separation from that union, the law straightly
enjoins, ' Thou shalt not put away thy wife, except
for the cause of fornication,' and it considers as forni-cation
the marriage of those separated while the other
still lives ".'
St. Clement is evidently quoting from memory, and
it is ~lmoscte rtain that he refers to Matthew XIX. 9.
He is the second of three writers during the first three
centuries to do so.
c. A.D. 193-220. TBRTULLIAN.
The witness of Tertullian is not certain, so much
so that it has been claimed to prove that marriage
after divorce is permissible, and also that marriage
is indissoluble. Tertullian is to be treated as a witness
to historic facts, rather than an authority, and particu-larly
after his secession to Montanism.
In his treatise "Ad Uxorem," written between A.D.
197 and 199 and before he became a Montanist, he
wrote : "Now let our attention be turned to the next
best councils in respect to human infirmity, the exam-ples
of certain women urging us thereto, who through
divorce, or by thc death of the husband, when an
opportunity of continence was offered, ilot only threw
'"Ori Fi yapriv il rpc@~'lruPSouAa6er0 36s A@imarB~11T Y~CTB S ruCuY1as
ir<.rpdsr2,K YIIKPYS OAR AroAl<eis ~uYG?T~A+~Y, t ip+ id adYy
aapvsiar. yorxeiavFifyci~ai ~b 2myGp.i CGijy~o~Biiii~~~~i)v~(ex~p~rp&~v.
-" Stromsta," lib. ii. osp. 29.
58 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
away the opportunity of so great a benefit, but not
even in marrying again chose to remember the rule
that above all they should marry in the Lord,."' Also in
the second chapter: "I will reply, if the Spirit give
(me power), alleging that before all things the Lord
considers it more approved for marriage not to be
contracted than to be at all dissolved ; in fine, he
prohibits divorce, except for the cause of fornication,
but he commends continence ".'
Again, Tertullian wrote in his work "against
Marcion " : "For he is an adulterer who marries a
woman unlawfully put away as much as if he married
one who is undivorced. For the marriage, which is
not rightly dissolved, stands. To marry while matri-mony
exists, is adultery."
Also, " and so divorce, when justly deserved, has
even Christ as a defender ".4
Also, "But even Christ, when He commanded a
wife not to depart from her husband, or she hasdeparted,
' "Nunc ad seounda. conailia. oonvertamur, respect" human= in-firmitotis,
quarumdam enemplis admoventibus qua divortia "el
mariti excess", ablbta continentia oocesiono, nan mado abjecerunt
opportunitatem tnnti boni, sed ne in nubsndo quidem rursum dis-ciplinae
meininisse voluerunt, ut in Donimo potissimum muberent."
-<'Ad Uxorem," lib. ii. cap. I.
a "Rsspondebo: si spiritus dsderit, ante omnia, allegans Domi-num
magis riltum haberr matrimonium non oontrahi, quam omnino
disjungi: denique divortium prohibet, nisi stupri oaussa, contin-entiam
vsro commendat."-Bk. 11, c. 11.
" Illioita snim dimisearn pro indimissa. duoens, adulter est.
Manet enim metrimonium quod non rite diremptum est. Manente
matrimonio nubere, adulterium est."-" Adversus Marcionem,"
lib. iv. cap. 34.
* "Habot ilaque ct Christum assertorem justitia divortii."-
HISTORICAL EVIDENCE TILL A.D. 314 59
to remain tcninarried or to be reconciled to her husband,
both permitted divorce which He did not entirely
prohibit, and ratified marriage, because in the first
place He forbade separation, and if by chance separa-tion
had taken place, He wish it to be renewed.' It
has been sought to discredit this later testimony on the
ground that the work against Marcion, as we have it,
was revised by Tertullian-and undoubtedly it bears
distinct marks of revision-after he had adopted Mon-tanist
opinions: and then holding that all second
marriages were unlawful, he was of necessity obliged
to revise his former opinions.
But " whateverperverting effects Tertullian's seces-sion
to the sect of Montanus may have had on his
judgment in his latest writings, it did not vitiate the
work against Marcion. With a few trivial exceptions,
this treatise may be read by the strictest Catholic
without any feelings of annoyance." a
This discrediting can only be done at the expense
of the consistency of Tertullian. Further as Xeble
points out "hat, "if the orthodox enemies of Tertul-lian
the unorthodox and heretical, had allowed mar-riage
after divorce, it is almost inconceivable, that
being the man he was, that he would not have held
his opponents up to scorn and contempt ".
'"A tquin ot Ohristus, cum preoipit ?,~ulierema vim nolzdiscede~.e
cut si discessevit, mancre innuptam, aut reconcilimi l'iiro, et re-pudium
permisit quo6 non in totum prohibuit, et matrirnoniurn
oonfirmavit, quod primo vetuit dispingi, et si forte disjunotuln
voluit reformeri."-Lib. v. o. 7.
8 Dr. Holmes' "TertulliadAgainst M&roion," in T. & T. Clarke's
Librwy, etc., pp. 16 spq.
Seqnel to the Argument," p. 13.
60 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
But Dr. Pusey in his celebrated "Note 0 " 1 on
"The Second Book to His Wife," wrote : " Tertullian
here, no less explicitly because incidentally, allows of
marriage after divorce. Only, here, from the context,
it appears that it is marriage of a woman who has
divorced her husband, not been divorced by him.
The same is implied in the ' Adv. Marc.' IT. 34 : ' The
marriage abideth which is not duly severed. To
marry, while a marriage abideth, is adultery. Thus,
if He conditionally prohibited to put away a wife,
He did not wholly prohibit it ; and what He did not
wholly prohibit, He permitted in other cases, in which
the cause for which He prohibited it no longer
exists,' i.e. marriage was not to bc severed by man,
he was not to 'put away his wife, for the sake of
marrying another' (ibid.) ; but if the marriage was
severed by God, through death, or ips0 facto broken
through adultery, so that they ceased to be one, in
either case alike it ceased. A new marriage was
adultery only while the former endured ; and it en-dured
until it was duly severed; but since adultery
of the divorced was such a severance, a new marriage,
according to Tertullian's argument ceased to be adul-tery.
It is remarkable that Pamelius and others ex-plain
away this testimony of Tertullian, being opposed
tothe Roman practice, by reference to the treatise 'De
Monog.' c. 9, 10, written against the Church, and,
because he there does not allow of the marriage of
the divorcing party, infer that neither does he here;
forgetting, that he there rejects stl~ouC7 u~arriages
altogether, even of the widowed, which he here
' "Oxford Library of the Fathers," " Tertullian," Vol. I, p. 431.
HISTORICAL EVIDENCE TILL A.D. 314 61.
admits." It ought to be added most reluctantly and
c. A.D. 185-254. ORIREN.
Origen was head of the Catechetical School at Alex-andria,
having been appointed, while still a layman,
by Bishop Demetrius. .Origen's teaching on our
subject is to be found in his commentary on Matthew's
Gospel, ch. XIX. Therein he deals with the questions
raised by those who put the question to Christ,
Who replied "what God hath joined together let
not man put asunder". He deals allegorically-a
mode of thought which had the greatest fascination
for him-with Christ's connexion with the Law and
the Church. He is not quite sure of himself, and so
it would be more than unfair to press the details of
this allegory to prove a, point: any more than it
would be right to press every detail in the parables
Origen is troubled about the conduct of certain
leaders of the Church, who have suffered a divorced
woman to marry again. Nothing is known as to
who she was : or whether she was the repudiator or
repudiated: or whether the divorce was for the cause
stated in Matthew's Gospel, or whether it was for one
of the many reasons sanctioned by the Roman Law.
Most commentators consider it was a lawful
1 rl xal d8oEapcv 81B08ur&pwv~,xarGai apiu$@Rair ir~obr~6raurapoy
pL~~v.-Cammentary on Matthew xrx.
a Of. Posoy's" Note 0," supra; Bmghem, xxrr. ch. 11,s 12, p. 300 ;
but Watkins in his " Holy hlstrimouy,"pp. 213,214, mskes the follow-ing
suggestion: "Itis possible, however, and indeed, as regards
62 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
At any rate to Origen the Mosaic concession was a
condescension to hardness of heart and human weak-ness
(6~b ~;lv &u8euerav), so the ,marriage of the
woman in the lifetime of her husband was acting
"contrary to Scripture and contrary to that com-manded
and written from the beginning ".I
Origen is the third of the three writers who during
the first three centuries quotes Matthew XIX. 9 ;
"and shall marry again " is not quoted by him, and
he draws no help from the text concerning the ques-tion
c. 200-258. ST. CYPRIAN, BISHOP OF CARTHAGE.
St. Cyprian wrote to his son, Quirinns, three books,
called " Testimones," against the Jews, containing
" those Divine teachings wherewith the Lord has
condescended to teach and instruct us by the Holy
Scriptures". He states that "a wife ought not to
depart from her husband, or if she should depart, to
remain unmarried ".
In the first Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians :
that age, exceeding probable, that the divorced wives spokan of
were the whes of non-Christian husbands, who had put them
away. If this was done bofaro or at the baptism of the wives, the
divorce would be regarded by the Church tls sffarding no bar to re-marriage.
. . . The marriage, so sovercd, oould never have been
Ohristisn m&rri&ge at all."
"H67j 6e 7zapb yrypczPp(va xu> liver .iiu ~youpdvwv icr 'EKKAVC~G~
ishpcjrdv .r,va, Dvvr <Gv,or 7.0; duXpbr, yape:raa, yuva:,ta, ,,ap& 7b
YeYPawivovpiunoio6urer iv $ AiAcna~. "ruvil 6i iq' 8sov ~pdvov Cp
d dvhp ah$r," nal 70. '("Apa 08" po'xahl~~ pnpa~icriir y ilvil ycvopiuq
6~6i~7i1pw (srjv70rT OG bv6pbr," 03 pilv dhdywr. cixbr ybp 71" cup
nep2qnpbv ~od~qovuy rrpbri ~ci~dvwinvip racrerri rapb 18 dr' cip~jr
vrvopoa.7Vfi:va ~aylry pawCva.-Commentary on Matthew xrx.