Original Research - Special Collection: A.G.van Aarde Festschrift

(The Markan and Matthean) Jesus’ appropriation and criticism of the Torah: The question of divorce

Eben Scheffler
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 67, No 1 | a1006 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v67i1.1006 | © 2011 Eben Scheffler | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 November 2010 | Published: 11 April 2011

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Eben Scheffler, Department of Old Testament and Ancient Near Eastern Studies, University of South Africa, South Africa

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According to the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus functions as a Moses figure who, in the Sermon on the Mount, gave the new law of the kingdom of God. In this article it is argued that Jesus drew his ethic from his Jewish tradition, as manifested particularly in the Pentateuch. However, although being an inspiring source, to Jesus the Pentateuch (or scripture) was not an authority that could not be challenged or criticised. This is illustrated by focusing on the question of divorce (Mk 10:2–12; Mt 5:27–32; 19:3–12). It is argued that Jesus’ use of the Pentateuch was guided by an ethic of compassion. In view of Jesus’ stance, an uncritical use of the Bible (as manifested for example in many Christian circles) ironically contradicts the Bible’s own message and nature.


Divorce; Jesus; Gospel of Mark; Gospel of Matthew; Torah


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