Mark 7:1

One day the Pharisees and some of the teachers of the Law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus.


adversary fascination
confronts our confrontation gene
a temptation too far

we gather to plot
implement our plan
surrounding the infection

an autonomic reaction
to self-limited survival
gathers strange bed-fellows

a common enemy
builds a false unity
between adversaries

such heightened awareness
will crash soon enough
of its own weightlessness


The timing and setting of this confluence of local Pharisees and Scribes connected with the High Priest and Temple in Jerusalem is not known. This is an urgent shift from Crowd to Institutional Debate. However the Pharisees and Scribes came together and honed in on Jesus, there is a looming background.

Imagine yourself sitting, teaching, as your known opponents “assemble” around you. There is menace in the air.

The Revised Common Lectionary pieces the first part of Chapter 7 together (1–8; 14–15; 21–23). Swanson201 notes that the resultant scene “sets ethics in opposition to ritual”.

This tension needs a bit of warning that we not set Jesus against Judaism. As generations-later Christians, removed by time and culture, we dare not overlook the importance of codes of practice or purity for a community. Every community, including Christianity, has them. We are in danger of allowing this ethical/ritual tension to turn into anti-Semitism. Without an appreciation for the positive value of boundaries to aid in a “stable and orderly love of God”, Swanson205 continues, “Gentile Christians will simply misunderstand this scene from beginning to end.”

It is easy to miss an internal debate between an oral Torah of specific commentary by Rabbis and a written Torah of overarching commandments. This tension has continued in what has become the Christian tradition. Mark and other Gospel writers are quite capable of shading prior written words to speak for and to their communities. By refining and redefining a word here and there, the prophets devolve from present warning to predictor of our bias.

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