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  • Moses, Allowing Divorce, and Christ Prohibiting It, Explained. John Baptist and Herod. Marcion's Attempt to Discover an Antithesis in the Parable of the Rich Man and the Poor Man in Hades Confuted. The Creator's Appointment Manifested in Both States.

    Chapter XXXIV.—Moses, Allowing Divorce, and Christ Prohibiting It, Explained. John Baptist and Herod. Marcion’s Attempt to Discover an Antithesis in the Parable of the Rich Man and the Poor Man in Hades Confuted. The Creator’s Appointment Manifested in Both States.

    But Christ prohibits divorce, saying, “Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery; and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband, also committeth adultery.”4803

    4803 Luke xvi. 18.

    In order to forbid divorce, He makes it unlawful to marry a woman that has been put away. Moses, however, permitted repudiation in Deuteronomy: “When a man hath taken a wife, and hath lived with her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found unchastity in her; then let him write her a bill of divorcement and give it in her hand, and send her away out of his house.”4804

    4804 Deut. xxiv. 1.

    You see, therefore, that there is a difference between the law and the gospel—between Moses and Christ?4805

    4805 A Marcionite challenge.

    To be sure there is!4806

    4806 Plane.

    But then you have rejected that other gospel which witnesses to the same verity and the same Christ.4807

    4807 St. Matthew’s Gospel.

    There, while prohibiting divorce, He has given us a solution of this special question respecting it: “Moses,” says He, “because of the hardness of your hearts, suffered you to give a bill of divorcement; but from the beginning it was not so”4808

    4808 Matt. xix. 8.

    —for this reason, indeed, because He who had “made them male and female” had likewise said, “They twain shall become one flesh; what therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”4809

    4809 Matt. xix. 4; 6.

    Now, by this answer of His (to the Pharisees), He both sanctioned the provision of Moses, who was His own (servant), and restored to its primitive purpose4810

    4810 Direxit.

    the institution of the Creator, whose Christ He was. Since, however, you are to be refuted out of the Scriptures which you have received, I will meet you on your own ground, as if your Christ were mine. When, therefore, He prohibited divorce, and yet at the same time represented4811

    4811 Gestans.

    the Father, even Him who united male and female, must He not have rather exculpated4812

    4812 Excusaverit.

    than abolished the enactment of Moses?  But, observe, if this Christ be yours when he teaches contrary to Moses and the Creator, on the same principle must He be mine if I can show that His teaching is not contrary to them. I maintain, then, that there was a condition in the prohibition which He now made of divorce; the case supposed being, that a man put away his wife for the express purpose of4813

    4813 Ideo ut.

    marrying another. His words are: “Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery; and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband, also committeth adultery,”4814

    4814 Luke xvi. 18.

    —“put away,” that is, for the reason wherefore a woman ought not to be dismissed, that another wife may be obtained. For he who marries a woman who is unlawfully put away is as much of an adulterer as the man who marries one who is un-divorced.  Permanent is the marriage which is not rightly dissolved; to marry,4815

    4815 Nubere. This verb is here used of both sexes, in a general sense.

    therefore, whilst matrimony is undissolved, is to commit adultery. Since, therefore, His prohibition of divorce was a conditional one, He did not prohibit absolutely; and what He did not absolutely forbid, that He permitted on some occasions,4816

    4816 Alias.

    when there is an absence of the cause why He gave His prohibition. In very deed4817

    4817 Etiam: first word of the sentence.

    His teaching is not contrary to Moses, whose precept He partially4818

    4818 Alicubi.

    defends, I will not4819

    4819 Nondum.

    say confirms. If, however, you deny that divorce is in any way permitted by Christ, how is it that you on your side4820

    4820 Tu.

    destroy marriage, not uniting man and woman, nor admitting to the sacrament of baptism and of the eucharist those who have been united in marriage anywhere else,4821

    4821 Alibi: i.e., than in the Marcionite connection.

    unless they should agree together to repudiate the fruit of their marriage, and so the very Creator Himself? Well, then, what is a husband to do in your sect,4822

    4822 Apud te.

    if his wife commit adultery? Shall he keep her? But your own apostle, you know,4823

    4823 Scilicet.

    does not permit “the members of Christ to be joined to a harlot.”4824

    4824 1 Cor. vi. 15.

    Divorce, therefore, when justly deserved,4825

    4825 Justitia divortii.

    has even in Christ a defender. So that Moses for the future must be considered as being confirmed by Him, since he prohibits divorce in the same sense as Christ does, if any unchastity should occur in the wife. For in the Gospel of Matthew he says, “Whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery.”4826

    4826 Matt. v. 32.

    He also is deemed equally guilty of adultery, who marries a woman put away by her husband.  The Creator, however, except on account of adultery, does not put asunder what He Himself joined together, the same Moses in another passage enacting that he who had married after violence to a damsel, should thenceforth not have it in his power to put away his wife.4827

    4827 Deut. xxii. 28, 29.

    Now, if a compulsory marriage contracted after violence shall be permanent, how much rather shall a voluntary one, the result of agreement! This has the sanction of the prophet: “Thou shalt not forsake the wife of thy youth.”4828

    4828 Mal. ii. 15.

    Thus you have Christ following spontaneously the tracks of the Creator everywhere, both in permitting divorce and in forbidding it. You find Him also protecting marriage, in whatever direction you try to escape. He prohibits divorce when He will have the marriage inviolable; He permits divorce when the marriage is spotted with unfaithfulness. You should blush when you refuse to unite those whom even your Christ has united; and repeat the blush when you disunite them without the good reason why your Christ would have them separated. I have4829

    4829 Debeo.

    now to show whence the Lord derived this decision4830

    4830 Sententiam.

    of His, and to what end He directed it.  It will thus become more fully evident that His object was not the abolition of the Mosaic ordinance4831

    4831 Literally, “Moses.”

    by any suddenly devised proposal of divorce; because it was not suddenly proposed, but had its root in the previously mentioned John. For John reproved Herod, because he had illegally married the wife of his deceased brother, who had a daughter by her (a union which the law permitted only on the one occasion of the brother dying childless,4832

    4832 Illiberis. [N.B.  He supposes Philip to have been dead.]

    when it even prescribed such a marriage, in order that by his own brother, and from his own wife,4833

    4833 Costa: literally, “rib” or “side.”

    seed might be reckoned to the deceased husband),4834

    4834 Deut. xxv. 5, 6.

    and was in consequence cast into prison, and finally, by the same Herod, was even put to death. The Lord having therefore made mention of John, and of course of the occurrence of his death, hurled His censure4835

    4835 Jaculatus est.

    against Herod in the form of unlawful marriages and of adultery, pronouncing as an adulterer even the man who married a woman that had been put away from her husband. This he said in order the more severely to load Herod with guilt, who had taken his brother’s wife, after she had been loosed from her husband not less by death than by divorce; who had been impelled thereto by his lust, not by the prescription of the (Levirate) law—for, as his brother had left a daughter, the marriage with the widow could not be lawful on that very account;4836

    4836 The condition being that the deceased brother should have left “no child” see (Deut. xxv. 5).

    and who, when the prophet asserted against him the law, had therefore put him to death. The remarks I have advanced on this case will be also of use to me in illustrating the subsequent parable of the rich man4837

    4837 Ad subsequens argumentum divitis.

    tormented in hell, and the poor man resting in Abraham’s bosom.4838

    4838 Luke xvi. 19–31.

    For this passage, so far as its letter goes, comes before us abruptly; but if we regard its sense and purport, it naturally4839

    4839 Ipsum.

    fits in with the mention of John wickedly slain, and of Herod, who had been condemned by him for his impious marriage.4840

    4840 Suggillati Herodis male maritati.

    It sets forth in bold outline4841

    4841 Deformans.

    the end of both of them, the “torments” of Herod and the “comfort” of John, that even now Herod might hear that warning:  “They have there Moses and the prophets, let them hear them.”4842

    4842 Luke xvi. 29.

    Marcion, however, violently turns the passage to another end, and decides that both the torment and the comfort are retributions of the Creator reserved in the next life4843

    4843 Apud inferos. [Note the origin of this doctrine.]

    for those who have obeyed the law and the prophets; whilst he defines the heavenly bosom and harbour to belong to Christ and his own god. Our answer to this is, that the Scripture itself which dazzles4844

    4844 Revincente: perhaps “reproves his eyesight,” in the sense of refutation.

    his sight expressly distinguishes between Abraham’s bosom, where the poor man dwells, and the infernal place of torment.  “Hell” (I take it) means one thing, and “Abraham’s bosom” another. “A great gulf” is said to separate those regions, and to hinder a passage from one to the other. Besides, the rich man could not have “lifted up his eyes,”4845

    4845 Luke xvi. 23.

    and from a distance too, except to a superior height, and from the said distance all up through the vast immensity of height and depth. It must therefore be evident to every man of intelligence who has ever heard of the Elysian fields, that there is some determinate place called Abraham’s bosom, and that it is designed for the reception of the souls of Abraham’s children, even from among the Gentiles (since he is “the father of many nations,” which must be classed amongst his family), and of the same faith as that wherewithal he himself believed God, without the yoke of the law and the sign of circumcision. This region, therefore, I call Abraham’s bosom. Although it is not in heaven, it is yet higher than hell,4846

    4846 Sublimiorem inferis. [Elucidation VIII.]

    and is appointed to afford an interval of rest to the souls of the righteous, until the consummation of all things shall complete the resurrection of all men with the “full recompense of their reward.”4847

    4847 Compare Heb. ii. 2 with x. 35 and xi. 26.

    This consummation will then be manifested in heavenly promises, which Marcion, however, claims for his own god, just as if the Creator had never announced them.  Amos, however, tells us of “those stories towards heaven4848

    4848 Ascensum in cœlum: Sept. ἀνάβασιν εἰς τὸν οὐρανόν, Amos ix. 6. See on this passage the article Heaven in Kitto’s Cyclopædia (3d edit.), vol. ii. p. 245, where the present writer has discussed the probable meaning of the verse.

    which Christ “builds”—of course for His people.  There also is that everlasting abode of which Isaiah asks, “Who shall declare unto you the eternal place, but He (that is, of course, Christ) who walketh in righteousness, speaketh of the straight path, hateth injustice and iniquity?”4849

    4849 Isa. xxxiii. 14–16, according to the Septuagint, which has but slight resemblance to the Hebrew.

    Now, although this everlasting abode is promised, and the ascending stories (or steps) to heaven are built by the Creator, who further promises that the seed of Abraham shall be even as the stars of heaven, by virtue certainly of the heavenly promise, why may it not be possible,4850

    4850 Cur non capiat.

    without any injury to that promise, that by Abraham’s bosom is meant some temporary receptacle of faithful souls, wherein is even now delineated an image of the future, and where is given some foresight of the glory4851

    4851 Candida quædam prospiciatur: where candida is a noun substantive (see above, chap. vii. p. 353).

    of both judgments? If so, you have here, O heretics, during your present lifetime, a warning that Moses and the prophets declare one only God, the Creator, and His only Christ, and how that both awards of everlasting punishment and eternal salvation rest with Him, the one only God, who kills and who makes alive.  Well, but the admonition, says Marcion, of our God from heaven has commanded us not to hear Moses and the prophets, but Christ; Hear Him is the command.4852

    4852 There seems to be here an allusion to Luke ix. 35.

    This is true enough. For the apostles had by that time sufficiently heard Moses and the prophets, for they had followed Christ, being persuaded by Moses and the prophets. For even Peter would not have been able4853

    4853 Nec accepisset.

    to say, “Thou art the Christ,”4854

    4854 Luke ix. 20.

    unless he had beforehand heard and believed Moses and the prophets, by whom alone Christ had been hitherto announced.  Their faith, indeed, had deserved this confirmation by such a voice from heaven as should bid them hear Him, whom they had recognized as preaching peace, announcing glad tidings, promising an everlasting abode, building for them steps upwards into heaven.4855

    4855 See Isa. lii. 7, xxxiii. 14 (Sept.), and Amos ix. 6.

    Down in hell, however, it was said concerning them: “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them!”—even those who did not believe them or at least did not sincerely4856

    4856 Omnino.

    believe that after death there were punishments for the arrogance of wealth and the glory of luxury, announced indeed by Moses and the prophets, but decreed by that God, who deposes princes from their thrones, and raiseth up the poor from dunghills.4857

    4857 See 1 Sam. ii. 6–8, Ps. cxiii. 7, and Luke i. 52.

    Since, therefore, it is quite consistent in the Creator to pronounce different sentences in the two directions of reward and punishment, we shall have to conclude that there is here no diversity of gods,4858

    4858 Divinitatum; “divine powers.”

    but only a difference in the actual matters4859

    4859 Ipsarum materiarum.

    before us.


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