When they were indoors, the disciples asked him again about this,
was to have settled
under this roof
it need be said again
where honor is
has room to breathe
so here is again
however many times
all can say it together
a fence built against doubt
Again, palin, we are going through the pattern of public notice and private explanation. Again, we are stuck with trying to nail everything down, to be sure we understand before we can act.
What we learned in the public setting was that the priestly class has settled to be lawyers, parsers of rules. They have lost track of the mystery and wisdom of partnership that leaves a trail through time. To the question of the Pharisees Jesus gave a prophetic response that went back to creation.
Now, in private, the disciples are playing this same game of “give us an answer we can apply easily and universally”. This question brings a shift from the Jewish culture to the Roman. This is not something for which there is only a prophetic response because there is an additional context. We need to be ready to hear a response oriented to being a “fisher” in an occupied setting.
After looking at both historic, anthropologic, and satirical sources, LaVerdiere-279 notes, “…to be effective Jesus’ response to the Pharisees was not enough. It had to be supplemented with further teaching that took the Roman Empire into consideration.”
There is not room here to review the documentation that points to the development of multiple marriages and multiple divorces within the higher reaches of Roman society [Note: There is much less information about those outside the ruling class.] It may be summed up with an insight from the satirist Martial in reference to a Telesilla who was marrying her tenth husband—“This was no longer marriage, but legal adultery; an honest prostitute was less offensive.”
Without this shift in reference from Jewish to Roman life, readers will easily mistake Jesus’ comments about divorce and make him into a new Mosaic lawgiver rather than one who stimulates thought about moral and ethical living which moves toward changed behavior.