This is a review of a booklet published in 1857 by Edward Badeley, who was a Barrister in London, England. He did a study to find out whether a divorce for the reason of adultery was or was not prohibited by New Testament scriptures.
My purpose of this review is to give you a short form of the main points this Barrister raises in his booklet. After you read this review, I would suggest you go ahead and read his booklet. While this review is mostly written in my own words, all the points brought out in this review are the points that Edward Badeley makes in his booklet.
To show the page in the booklet that contains what is being written out, I have put a (px) at the end of the paragraph. “p” is for page and “x” is the number of the page. This will enable you to easily find the page in the booklet that is being written about.
Badeley’s study convinced him that the New Testament forbids divorce, and he wrote to show the reasons why he came to this conclusion. (p1)
The differences in each of the Gospels are more than just differences of expression and they involve an exception clause for divorce. They also portray that it is no trifling matter. He notes that a rule that binds all persons in all circumstances is quite different from one that binds only particular classes leaving others with exemptions. I got the feeling that the writer really took very seriously this matter about which he was writing. (p5)
From a legal point of view, as the rule stands in Mar 10:2-12 and Luk 16:18, no court would venture to construe it to be otherwise than an absolute and universal prohibition against remarriage. If Matthew’s gospel was not in existence, no-one would have ever dreamed that divorce or remarriage for the reason of adultery was an excepted case.
If Matthew 5:31,32 and 19:3-12 introduced an exception, he has allowed what Mark and Luke have prohibited. If this is the case, what is being dealt with is of extreme importance. For whatever the rule really is, he who violates it is declared by all three Gospels to be guilty of the sin of adultery, which puts his eternal salvation at risk. (p6).
If there is an exception in Matthew, the result is that a sin which is forbidden by Mark and Luke is allowed by Matthew, and therefore not sin at all. If this is the case, the different Gospels are at variance with each other. For the Christian, this is impossible, as we are assured that the scriptures are the Word of God.
To admit that Matthew makes an allowance and Mark and Luke do not is notorious. Therefore, the question is, “How can all this be satisfactorily explained”? (p7)
There are two modes of reconciling the Gospels. Either blend the three gospels together and place Matthew’s exception into Mark and Luke’s account; or maintain that Matthew contains no exception. Of these two choices, the first is the one generally adopted. (p8)
Due to the Gospels being written by different authors, in different countries, at different times, and ready for the immediate use by congregations and convents, this position is rejected. It was not until some time after these three Gospels were written that they were collected and published in a single volume.
Therefore, the idea that the so-called ‘exception clause’ in Mat 19:9 is to be considered when reading Mar 10:11 and Luk 16:18, is a concept that works today when we have all the Gospels together, but was not one that would work when they were first written. (p9)
None of the Gospels reference each other, and it is clear they were written to be able to stand for themselves complete. If the three Gospels which are all equally trustworthy are inconsistent, it would be a more natural course to have one witness yielding to two, then to make two yield to the one witness, which is somewhat obscure and not as clear as the others. (p10)
If Matthew’s Gospel contains an exception, and the three Gospels are standing on their own and not referencing each other, it is hard to explain why this exception is not contained in Mark and Luke. (p11)
Those that are for blending all the three Gospels together and adding Matthew’s exception to Mark and Luke are not taking into consideration the circumstances they were written under, nor the position that leaves those who were not able to compare the Gospels with each other. (p12)
The bottom line is either Jesus did or did not give a rule prohibiting all divorce, even for adultery. If he did, Mark and Luke have reported correctly. If he did not, both their reports are incorrect. (p13)
To try to say Mark and Luke intended to report as if there was an exception where you could divorce and remarry, but you needed to read Matthew to know about it, makes no sense at all. (p14)
One thing we can be sure of is that when these three Gospels are correctly interpreted, there are no discrepancies between them. One Gospel may record one event, another may report another; one may report certain events and may leave others out.
In doctrine there will be there no variance when proper rules of criticism are applied to the texts. But when they are incorrectly interpreted, and you try to force two of them to say things they have not said, and apply an ambiguous passage to them, you will get a clumsy system that is dangerous. For these reasons, blending the three Gospels together is untenable and erroneous and must be discarded. (p15)
Having concluded that the so-called exception of Matthew is not an exception, and that there is no inconsistencies between all three Gospels, we need to look at the two passages in Matthew’s Gospel.
The two phrases that need to be examined are παρεκτὸς λόγου πορνείας which is found in Matt 5:32 and is translated in the KJV to “saving for the cause of fornication”, and εἰ μὴ ἐπὶ πορνείᾳ which occurs in Mat 19:9 and is translated in the KJV as “except it be for fornication”.
*Note 11:48 GMT-5: I will try to finish this review up Tuesday.