By Timothy Sparks
I have modified Roy Deaver’s diagram in his Harding Lecture, “Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage,” April 19, 1977. He used the Textus Receptus. I am using (in my own handwriting) the Robinson-Pierpont Byzantine Textform 2005 which is also the reading of the Majority Text:
Λέγω δὲ ὑμῖν ὅτι ὃς ἂν ἀπολύσῃ τὴν γυναῖκα αὐτοῦ, μὴ ἐπὶ πορνείᾳ, καὶ γαμήσῃ ἄλλην, μοιχᾶται· καὶ ὁ ἀπολελυμένην γαμήσας μοιχᾶται.
While I give a brief explanation below, for a technical or simplified answer, please send an email.
A brief explanation:
To dismiss not over fornication is to dismiss not for fornication; thus, a non-fornication cause. The English translation should not be “except for fornication.” The actual phrase, which is accurately translated “not over fornication,” makes Jesus’ address specific to nonsexual dismissal. Jesus does not address divorce for fornication. It was the death penalty for such (Deut. 22:13-22; Lev. 20:10), not the divorce penalty.
The exclusion clause μὴ ἐπὶ πορνείᾳ (“not over fornication”) modifies only the verb ἀπολύσῃ (“may have dismissed”). It does not modify either γαμήσῃ (“may have married”) or μοιχᾶται (“commits adultery”). In fact, μὴ ἐπὶ πορνείᾳ (“not over fornication”) does not affect anything else in the sentence. Therefore, μὴ ἐπὶ πορνείᾳ does not change the meaning of μοιχᾶται.