A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Malachi 2:16, ancient versions and English translations, and how they apply to domestic abuse — a paper by Barbara Roberts

The translation and application of Malachi 2:16 is very significant when dealing with domestic abuse. I have published a paper Malachi 2:16, ancient versions and English translations, and how they apply to domestic abuse.

The paper examines and compares the ancient textual witnesses to that verse, how the verse has been variously translated into English, and how the verse applies to situations where a husband abuses his wife. It weighs the evidence and concludes that Myles Coverdale’s translation of Malachi 2:16 (published in 1535 in the Coverdale Bible) best conveys the meaning of the Hebrew text and is most consistent with the heart and character of God.

The paper is published at Academia.edu. You may have to sign in to Academia to read the paper. It is free to sign in. You don’t need to have an academic qualification or be working in an academic institution to sign in. The sign in options are email address, Facebook, or Google.

Go here to read the paper: Malachi 2:16, ancient versions and English translations, and how they apply to domestic abuse.

I hope you will share the paper with church leaders, Christian counselors and seminary teachers.

18 Comments

  1. It’s interesting that no one has commented on this post since it was published four days ago. However, I have had some encouraging responses on Facebook, by email, and by private message on academia.edu. Almost all those responses have said thank-you, or words to that effect. One gave more specific praise — that one was on the Biblical Christian Egalitarians FB group which is a group you have to ask to join.

    I’m only putting this comment here because otherwise people who come to this blog might mistakenly think that the most recent comment by Ruth Magnusson Davis was made on THIS post. To clarify: Ruth’s comment was made at my previous post, the one where I re-published Appendix 7 of the first edition of Not Under Bondage.

    • Janice

      Barbara, I am a long time reader of this blog and now a first time responder.

      This site has been very helpful to me as I navigated through a legal separation after over 2 decades of marriage. Your research and study of biblical passages pertaining to divorce have been much appreciated as I sought wisdom and counsel in this area. The “God hates divorce” mantra was something my mom espoused even after she found out about my father’s sexual abuse of me. I am grateful for your commitment to this study as it has freed me from harmful beliefs.

      I see more clearly the harm to women the church (not all but many) has inflicted by claiming these doctrines based on faulty biblical translations / interpretations. God’s kindness and compassion provides for relief when a husband has repeatedly broken his vows to his wife. In my case it was his unwillingness to “leave parents (family of origin) and cleave to his wife”.

      Thanks again for all you do, it is much appreciated.

      [Length of marriage lightly airbrushed for protection. Paragraph breaks added to enhance readability. Editors.]

      • Thanks Janice! Bless you. 🙂

      • Linda

        I have perused your biographical information and, as a Christian woman, feel sick in hearing what you went through and the response or lack of support from some in the church. As an older woman, it does remind me of the struggles of a few other women I knew. I also know a young man who has been dealing with this form of betrayal and wounding from the church.

        I believe in the 3 A’s as grounds for divorce: Abuse (self-defense), Addiction (desertion / self defense), Adultery (including pornography), and Fraud (deception significant enough to void the contract).

        I am glad to see you find this problem to be genderless and that you include a definition of abuse, when often, that is vague, or a fill-in-the-blank. I would encourage you to do the following about these two things:

        1. Put more time and emphasis on abuse from women. (I know, like many things, it appears predominantly a male problem.) This would gain support from those abused by women. Sometimes you come across as only a man-hater, and your compelling story takes a backseat.
        2. Emphasize that labels (i.e. controlling) can be used inappropriately to control, for example. Jay Adams was right in advising hearing both sides, though it was unfortunate he didn’t have the man be the fictional abuse victim to get his point across.

        You are a gifted speaker and writer and many people listen to you. I would like to see the problem of what I call, ‘fraud’ addressed – i.e. people crying ‘abuse’ who are using this to control and manipulate. People who want to be believed no matter what with no fact-checking by neutral parties.

        Another thing I find helpful is to mention that sometimes people and their actions need to be viewed in the context of their time and place in ongoing history. What is rightly stunningly inappropriate by today’s standards, might have been widely accepted practices (like the use of cocaine) in another time and place, and not conscious attempts to do evil.

        I am no one significant, and I will not be offended if you do not reply.
        A fellow Christian – Linda

        [Paragraph breaks added to enhance readability. Editors.]

      • Hi Linda, thank you for taking the time to compose your comment.

        Your comment was submitted as reply to Janice, but I gather from what you said in your comment that you are probably responding to me, not to Janice. Misunderstanding can easily happen when replying to someone in cypberspace, so I don’t blame you Linda. 🙂

        I would agree with the way you phrased this: “The 3 A’s as grounds for divorce: Abuse (self-defense), Addiction (desertion / self defense), Adultery (including pornography), and Fraud (deception significant enough to void the contract).” Divorcing on grounds of abuse is indeed a form of self defence. And in my view, indulgence in pornography ought to be included in any ethical definition of adultery.

        Regarding your point 1 which was ——
        “Put more time and emphasis on abuse from women. (I know, like many things, it appears predominantly a male problem.) This would gain support from those abused by women. Sometimes you come across as only a man-hater, and your compelling story takes a backseat.

        I don’t know how much of this blog you have read. This item in our FAQs is especially for male survivors of intimate partner abuse: Do you have resources for male victims?

        We also have posts and comments written by individuals whose primary abuser was their mother. For example:
        A Story of Lifelong Abuse by a Narcissistic Parent — And the Path to Freedom

        Could you please explain how and why you have formed the impression that I sometimes come across as only a man-hater.

        Regarding your point 2 which was ——
        “Emphasize that labels (i.e. controlling) can be used inappropriately to control, for example. Jay Adams was right in advising hearing both sides, though it was unfortunate he didn’t have the man be the fictional abuse victim to get his point across.”

        I believe I do emphasise that labels (such as ‘controlling’) can be used inappropriately to control. For example, I do that here: Defining domestic abuse by a list of behaviours is never going to capture it

        Regarding fraud, where the fraud is falsely claiming to be the victim when in fact one is the perpetrator, I believe this is addressed in many places on this blog. For example:

        The language of abusers who portray themselves as victims — Vagueness & Contradictions

        How to Spot an Abuser Who Claims to be the Victim

        Does the victim recognize the abusive patterns? Yes, and no. And then, by degrees, YES!

        Also see this article (link takes you to another website):
        The myth of women’s false accusations of domestic violence and rape and misuse of protection orders [Internet Archive link]

        I believe Jay Adams demonstrated his lack of understanding of the dynamics of intimate partner abuse when he advised hearing both sides. His advice was dangerous to victims for several reasons.

        Jay Adams said “It is essential for both parties to be present when talking about the actions of one another.” In other words, the counselor ought to do COUPLE COUNSELING — both parties in the same room with the counselor. Click here to learn more: Couple counseling is dangerous for the victim.

        Furthermore, Jay Adams gave little to no advice to counselors about how to recognise when a male intimate abuser is portraying himself as a victim of abuse by his wife.

        If you want to learn more about how to recognise a male intimate abuser who is portraying himself as the victim, I recommend Don Hennessy‘s work.

        By the way, I have two good male friends and several good female friends. By no means am I a man-hater. I like all people who are willing to show respect for others and are interested in similar topics to what I am interested in, and / or can enjoy a laugh with me.

  2. Sister

    Barb, I just completed reading your paper. Well done! I cannot imagine the number of hours of research it took to know what to write and how to present it. Thank you for all you do to free those oppressed by the church. You have the heart of God to set the captive free. How sad it is, that all too often it is professing Christians that enforce bondage, rather than setting the captives free.

  3. Linda

    I joined Academia.edu and downloaded your academic paper on this subject. Well done. I had done a deep dive on this verse and found there was a different translation for it, not well-known, until now. I know it has been used to keep the victim in the relationship. So, this thorough investigation was welcomed. Thank you. -Linda

  4. Sharon Roberts Radic

    Barbara’s paper is excellent!! I thoroughly recommend following the link and reading it in its entirety. It would be wonderful if all the work that has been put into researching and writing it could do more than tickle the ears of the ‘converted’ as it were, and would ‘go viral’ amongst the church at large! Let those of us who are converted, about what God really thinks about abuse and divorce, get the truth before the ears of those who need to know another perspective than the relatively recent traditions of men. If we are to truly honour God, we must be sure we have an accurate understanding of what “says the Lord God of Israel…says the Lord of Hosts” in Malachi 2:16.

    • Thank you Sharon Roberts Radic 🙂

      Welcome to the blog since this appears to be your first comment. If you haven’t looked at them already, you might like to check out our FAQs

      • Sharon Roberts Radic

        Only my first comment with my own name ☺. I have more than one email.
        Thank you

  5. Sharon Roberts Radic

    I had a question that I raised with a friend, and through the conversation came to somewhat of a conclusion. I add it here in case anyone else has had the same question, or may benefit from the discussion of it.

    The question went like this:
    How do you get your head around the fact that though we say someone who is divorced without grounds is treated treacherously, Malachi 2:16 is saying the ‘right thing’ is for a treacherous husband to let the wife go? An abused wife who doesn’t want a divorce is still going to feel pain from being treacherously divorced, and a treacherous husband could say, “I’m obeying Malachi 2:16 – see ya!” (obviously not obeying all of Malachi 2:16)?

    The conclusion for me was:
    As the treachery isn’t stopping through lack of repentance, the ‘right thing’ for the husband to do is to bring an end to the treachery by letting the wife go (whether he or she divorces in modern times) even if that end is a final act of treachery by divorcing her without grounds. It isn’t un-treacherous, but at least that final treachery ends the treachery…if he also gives her ‘a clothing for the scorn’* and doesn’t ‘take it back’ by slandering and reviling her later.

    *keeping these quotes in mind from Barbara’s paper, regarding the meaning of ‘a clothing for the scorn’:

    “As well as setting her free, he must “give her a clothing for the scorn”. He must compensate her for the stigma she will suffer from being divorced, rejected, cast off. This understanding is confirmed by Gesenius.”

    “He must not slander her to the community – that would be the opposite of “giving her a clothing”. He must do what is required to enable her to live safely and honourably in the community as a freewoman.”

    (As I read those quotes I’m blessed to hear:
    1. God’s way is kindness to the abused!
    2. There is no place for hiding the abuser’s treachery; it behoves him to be honest that his own behaviour has led to the end of the marriage, not his wife’s, if he is to enable her to live safely and honourably in the community, providing her ‘a clothing for the scorn’.

    Christians who follow any other way, and refuse to heed the nagging concern that ‘church traditions’ are unkind to the abused, are not following God on this.

    If we say we follow God, we have a responsibility to check into those nagging concerns, and to treat people as God decreed, back before mere men messed around with translating his word.

    Thank you, Barbara Roberts, for making this plain to anyone who has ears to hear, and concern enough to spread this good news (!!) amongst other believers.)

    • Reaching Out

      Hi Sharon Roberts Radic,

      For unknown reasons, some of your recent comments have ended up in the Spam folder. This occasionally happens, and sometimes causes delays in Approving comments.

      Our apologies if this delay has already happened to you.

  6. Finding Answers

    Sharon Roberts Radic,

    You commented (15TH DECEMBER 2020 – 4:25 PM) “….comment with my own name….” AND “….I have more than one email.”

    I, too, have more than one email address, although I am unable to use my real name when I write publicly (comments, notes, email, etc.). Very big sigh. (Omitting details for my safety and protection.)

    ^That, when combined with a plethora of very recent computer issues (including email issues) and the never-ending spiritual warfare, has left me unable to keep up with what I need / “need” / want / “want” / like / “like” / etc. / “etc.” . (Which includes food, rest, peace, sleep, etc.. Omitting details for my safety and protection.)

    The one thing that never seems to change is how long it takes me to write (comments, notes, emails, etc.). VERY big sigh.

    • Sharon Roberts Radic

      You are to be commended for your persistence, despite how long it takes you to write (myself also) as I believe I have seen your pseudonym many times, contributing comments at ACFJ, and no doubt encouraging others by taking the time to write.

      • Finding Answers

        Sharon Roberts Radic,

        You commented (15TH DECEMBER 2020 – 7:40 PM) “You are to be commended for your persistence, despite how long it takes you to write….”

        Thank you for ^That.

        In the same comment, you commented “….I believe I have seen your pseudonym many times, contributing comments at ACFJ….”

        ^That might / might not be confirmed if I include the fact that I decided to change the gravatar for my screen name (Finding Answers) from a question mark to a picture of crocuses.

        There are, however, so many questions yet to be answered…..Very big sigh.

      • I like your new gravatar, Finding Answers 🙂 I’m sorry there are so many questions you are still seeking answers for. 😦

Leave a comment. It's ok to use a made up name (e.g Anon37). For safety tips read 'New Users Info' (top menu). Tick the box if you want to be notified of new comments.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: