Naked Bible Podcast Episode 032: Word Study Techniques, Part 1

Posted By on January 19, 2013

The latest episode continues the series on Bible study at the word level. This episode focuses on why knowing how a word is used by a single author can be important. The nature of the example I use (“unmarried” / agameō in 1 Cor 7) requires saying something about a word’s distribution as well.

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4 Responses to “Naked Bible Podcast Episode 032: Word Study Techniques, Part 1”

  1. Robert Morris says:

    Dr. Heiser, I loved this pod cast (as I do all your work) but it did produce some questions for me. To get to the root of my problem I will refer back to Adam’s quote in genesis 2:23 “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” as I searched parts of this phrase I found that it’s a term in the old testament that refers to basically family relations (gen 29:14, 1sam 19:12, 13). So, I can easily see and understand the “one flesh” idea if it is referring to family. Eve was literally or biologically bone of Adam’s bones and Flesh of Adam’s flesh. If Adam would have divorced Eve she would have still biologically been family to him as his wife. God said that He would “join” them together and what God has “joined” together (for Adam and Eve) was LITERALLY IMPOSSIBLE for THEM to be “separated”! Now obviously I’m not biologically joined to my wife! But whatever God did to “join us” together He made us no longer two but one FLESH. Sin doesn’t break this bond only death!

    I think that because we as men are a “visual people” we can easily see the process of children coming into the world and understand our relationship to them because of the birth process BUT since we didn’t see the process that God performed in making us one with our spouses….the effect is somehow cheapened. But by faith you have to believe that God made you just as close to your spouse as He did your children. Dr. Heiser, as silly as this may sound, under the current laws I very well could “divorce” my children but would that change my relationship to them before GOD? No. It only changes my location and my responsibilities towards them as their legal father but doesn’t change the FACT that I am still their biological father! So, divorce if viewed in this sense would basically be a person who is opting out of his marital rights…..not wanting to continue to experience the joys that would come from it but this wouldn’t imply that he was somehow no longer one flesh with her and FREE to marry again while he has a living wife! Why would God reward the man for having a HARDEN HEART?

    Now as it relates to 1 cor 7:8. Paul defined what he meant by “unmarried” when he expressed his own condition… “Remain as I”. Paul was never married and didn’t have a desire to be married. He was as the ESV properly translates “single” and not because he had been “separated or divorced”. So the “unmarried” in that context would be anyone who had an active status of “single” either because they had NEVER been married or because The LAW of marriage was no longer binding upon them for cause that their spouse was currently DEAD. That would revert them to a “single” or “unmarried “status like Paul. Paul felt that this was the better situation because of all the problems they would face in the world but they could marry if they couldn’t exercise self-control.

    Next Paul adds a totally different category for he says “The Married” or as the ESV translates “To the Married”. Now Paul wouldn’t have fitted into this category of the “unmarried” because this woman had a husband and had “separated or divorced” him. And she was commanded by the Lord not to marry anyone else but her previous husband. This is the opposite example of Deut 24:4 where that woman remarries to a different man then tries to return to her first husband. Moses condemned this for the woman was “defiled” before Israel as an adulterer! The man was forbidden to take her back to be his wife. It appears to me that Paul was trying to stop this for being the same situation for the woman. Paul was against the remarriage to a person other that the former spouse. Rom 7:3.
    I have a wife and 5 kids if I were to marry a different woman while my first wife was alive and had children by that woman. What affect could that have? Can we say….Israelites and Muslims! Haha!

    P.S. before you beat me up (lol) remember that I’m only a neophyte as it relates to Hebrew and Greek. hahah! luv ya! :)

    • MSH says:


      Your first paragraph doesn’t take into account some things — namely the use of concubines and prostitutes. They had a “one flesh” (“biological”) union with a man but were not called nor considered wives. The sexual act did not make one a spouse. Consequently I think you are loading too much on this assumption. I’d have to start there with this comment.

      See my earlier post on (sort of) this topic:

  2. David says:

    Dr. Heiser,
    Does gender play a role in understanding these terms? I had always assumed “Unmarried” was strictly masculine, and “betrothed” and “widow” as specifically feminine.

    • MSH says:

      I don’t see any evidence for parsing it this way. Grammatical gender isn’t generally aimed at biology, and so basing any conclusion on that presumption would be tenuous. A woman who was divorced (not deserted or widowed) would be unmarried (“state of being spouse-less”).

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