Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary


Religion, New Testament PhD

First Advisor

Robert M. Johnston

Second Advisor

Richard M. Davidson

Third Advisor

W. Larry Richards



The purpose of this dissertation is an attempt to make a contextual assessment of Jesus' teaching on "divorce" according to Mark in order to define its basic thrust within a Gentile community (in relation to Matthew's Jewish community) and to ellucidate a clearer picture of what the NT Jesus may have taught on the subject.


This study is divided into six major chapters and an appendix. Chapter 1 gives a bird's-eye view into some of the modem scholarship regarding the "divorce" sayings in both Gospels. Chapter 2 focuses its attention on the locale of the Gentile audience of Mark, analyzing whether the purported Gentile-Roman audience could actually fit a Palestinian milieu. Chapter 3 considers the divorce practices among the Romans and analyzes whether those practices may have reached Palestinians via Roman influence. Chapter 4 considers a grammatical-syntactical structure and connectors that may identify the Markan pericope (Mark 10: 1-12) as a unit, In this chapter I also analyze the crux word translated "to divorce" in the Gospels and show that Greek writers two centuries prior to the NT as well as a century after do not consistently use the term apoluo to mean to divorce, and neither do modem translators. In chapter 5 I conduct an exegesis in which I analyze Jesus' statement based on the Mosaic legislation (Deut 24: 1-4) and the traditional Jewish interpretation of such legislation. I discuss unresolved issues in chapter 6; and present the plausible interpretation of the Markan "divorce" saying. The appendix contains a historical analysis on the use of the crux word translated "to divorce": apoluo and its derivatives.


The unity of the Markan peri cope (Mark 10: 1-12), the historical context in which Mark places Jesus' "divorce" saying, the traditional Jewish interpretation of Deut 24: 1-4, and the generally known term used for divorce during NT times, all point to the probability that Jesus may have not been referring to the practice of divorce, but rather condemning the practice of desertion, specifically pointing to the house of Herod 'where Herodias left her husband and whose letter of divorce did not give her the right to divorce him, according to Jewish views, and an indirect attack to Herod's own expulsion of his Nabatean wife. If this study is to be of any value, it should point us to the importance of doing independent analysis of all texts/pericopes in which this subject may be found before making generalized statements or taking theological sides.

Subject Area

Bible. Mark--Criticism, interpretation, etc.; Divorce--Religious aspects


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