Mark 7:7

but vainly do they worship me, For they teach but human precepts.’


lucky seven plus seven
pretending to be eleven
empties awe

made up rules of success
trump common senses
gilding lilies

ephemeral words jump around
eluding meanings as they go
null sets

the right-way announcer
solves every problem for you
but vanity

there is no devil nor blue sea
such knotty developments slice easily
no consequences

hovering over the face of the deep
tomorrow invites today to come forth
awe fulfilled


This is an excellent example of how the gospel writers appropriated ancient prophets. As LaVerdiere193 notes:

The quotation from Isaiah 29:13 in Mark 7:6b–7 follows neither the Septuagint nor the Hebrew Massoretic text, but is closer to the Septuagint. The distinctive elements in the New Testament, rendering could stem from a loose quotation done from memory or represent a traditional Christian form of the text. Those elements probably constitute a deliberate adaption of Isaiah 29:13 for the present Markan context.

The word translated here as “empty” attempts to carry Isaiah’s accusation of being “rote” or “memorized”—where the form has obliterated the content.

Regarding “instructions” it is instructive to return to the venerable King James translation that reads: “Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” The word “doctrine” comes to us from Latin for “doctors”. Doctrine is what is taught by those who claim authority or have it affirmed by others. Either way it is as provisional as are humans.

“Instruction” is too mild a term here for a “commandment” as used by the Jewish Study Bible841 or “doctrine”. These carry a stronger sense of “must be followed”.

It is this “mustness”, one person to another or a culture to an individual, that Jesus responds to by using a close version of Isaiah to shift the question from honoring rote responses to physical realities.

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