Mark 7:3

(For the Pharisees, and indeed all strict Jews, will not eat without first scrupulously washing their hands, holding in this to the traditions of their ancestors.


won’t our ancestors be proud
we copy the old ways
conceived in limits not ours
dedicated to denied new opportunities

carefully we consult laws
built on one circumstance
eager to ease today’s decisions
with cut and paste reduction

each and every action we meet
comes pre-cut pre-chewed
digested down to a smaller package
treasured or trashed

such offal is awful
no shoulder-standing allowed
we become nose-blind to stink
accommodated to the uncouth

won’t our ancestors be proud
we copy the old ways
conceived in limits not ours
dedicated to denied new opportunities


Perkins605 notes,

Controversy stories ordinarily begin with a question or challenge, and the retort follows quickly. But both the question over customs of purification (v. 5) and the reply are delayed in this episode (vv. 14–15).

This is a notation worthy of a question or two about what would lead Mark to bring emphasis to this encounter by changing the style of telling his story.

An easy response has to do with the possibility of Mark dealing with Gentiles who aren’t up on a significant struggle within the Israelite community about a relationship with G*D: The Torah as written, the oral Torah which finds options to the strictness of commandment abominations.

Perhaps closer to an author’s process is that the introduction of the elders and heritage begins to set up a different line of inquiry that Jesus will look at more closely than the too-easy, either/or question by Pharisees and Scribes.

Though Mark can be an awkward writer, he wrestles with what a new Messiah might mean for those not yet scared away from the dangers posed by following John and/or Jesus. Mark continues his simultaneous use of and revision of the ancient texts that shape the frame of a new response in the midst of a stuck situation with the Roman Empire ruling through the Herods and Temple leadership. The written/oral debate is no longer helpful in a state of occupation.

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