Some verses I am glad are not in my Bible...
Sin began with a woman, and we must all die because of her. Don't let a bad wife have her way, any more than you would allow water to leak from your cistern. If she won't do as you tell her, divorce her.Where does that come from? Believe it or not, these words are in the Good News Translation of the Bible, recently reviewed by Rick Mansfield. But they are in a book which I do not accept as authoritative. I don't think I could accept a Christian faith which required me to accept the above as authoritative teaching.
Now before you hold up your hands in horror, let me explain! These verses are from the book of Sirach, or Ecclesiasticus, 25:24-26. This is one of the "deuterocanonical" books in the so-called Apocrypha, which are not accepted as authoritative by most Protestant Christians. The following extract from Article VI of the Thirty-Nine Articles of my Anglican church explains the matter well:
And the other Books (as Hierome [= Jerome] saith) the Church doth read for example of life and instruction of manners; but yet doth it not apply them to establish any doctrine; such are these following:(The list is of course of the books of the so-called Apocrypha.)
The Third Book of Esdras, The rest of the Book of Esther,
The Fourth Book of Esdras, The Book of Wisdom,
The Book of Tobias, Jesus the Son of Sirach,
The Book of Judith, Baruch the Prophet,
The Song of the Three Children, The Prayer of Manasses,
The Story of Susanna, The First Book of Maccabees,
Of Bel and the Dragon, The Second Book of Maccabees.
Actually the Greek of verse 26 is even worse than the Good News Translation version: εἰ μὴ πορεύεται κατὰ χεῖράς σου ἀπὸ τῶν σαρκῶν σου ἀπότεμε αὐτήν, literally "if she does not go according to your hands [probably referring to when you hit her], cut her off your flesh". The Hebrew text of Sirach seems to be missing at this point.
In the light of this passage, I am glad that my church does not apply Sirach/Ecclesiasticus "to establish any doctrine". (In fact I don't think even the Roman Catholic church does this; they certainly don't accept "If she won't do as you tell her, divorce her.") I am glad that what is written in my authoritative Bible has a very different flavour:
12 Sin came into the world through one man, and his sin brought death with it.(Romans 5:12, GNT)
3 A man should fulfil his duty as a husband, and a woman should fulfil her duty as a wife, and each should satisfy the other's needs. ... 10 For married people I have a command which is not my own but the Lord's: a wife must not leave her husband; 11 but if she does, she must remain single or else be reconciled to her husband; and a husband must not divorce his wife.Thanks to Ethel Saltz on the b-hebrew list for bringing the Sirach passage to my attention.(1 Corinthians 7:4,10-11, GNT)