Mark 7:6

His answer was, “It was well said by Isaiah when he prophesied about you hypocrites in the words – ‘This is a people who honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far removed from me;


hypocrites grow without planting
mysterious in their formation
until little by little
an addictive craft is ready
for every life event

an advantage box is constructed
taking heart pulses apart
their constituent parts compared
against immediate short-term desires

reconstructed pulses stir anxieties
every decision-making situation
effective dot-connecting delayed

mouths twitter away every thought
decaying compassion to punishment

disconnection drifts to a whimper


“Prophecy” is too often thought of as “prediction”. At a later date, it becomes useful as a self-fulfilling statement. Mark and other gospel writers presume the Greek understanding of prophecy as fate. Both fate and a hardened heart are blind to being able to see it until it is too late and the “prediction” has come to pass.

In the Hebrew tradition, prophets are speaking to the people they are speaking with, not some later generation. Their intent is in seeing a change in behavior—BANG! NOW!

It is this predictive usage that allows Mark to put the word “Hypocrite” in Jesus’ mouth. Again, the Greek has reference to a stage actor playing a role. The actor is there as a marker for the playwright, not because it is not something the actor would have said without the playwright’s words. This is a counter-, ad hominem argument.

Because of the tensions between the Jewish sects of the time, Mark enlists Isaiah as Jesus’ authority. This appeal to the written word instead of an interpretive word carries with it an interpretation. It is as if Jesus is not interested in responding to the question raised as much as upping the ante on an internal argument. This is not keeping question and response on the same level, which has some hope of resolution. This is boxing the Pharisees and Scribes into a corner where tag-team members can rough them up.

In its day, a hypocrite is more like a “pettifogging lawyer” (Mann313). Here it is helpful to remember Job’s rule-limited “friends”.

1 thought on “Mark 7:6”

  1. The first couple stanzas here really hit home. Honesty can be a difficult trait to cultivate, requiring discernment and bravery in any number of cases. That, “hypocrites grow without planting/
    mysterious in their formation” sure seems like the playing field tips towards deceit. It’s a worry, especially played out over the scope of a whole species. Thanks for consistently expressing a better ethic!

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