Mark 12:28

Then came up one of the teachers of the Law who had heard their discussions. Knowing that Jesus had answered them wisely, he asked him this question, “Which commandment is the most important of all?”

when reaching the nub
light breaks beyond
another new reading
opens before young eyes

the settling of one question
beckons older ones
to reenter the scene
sniffing for resolution

the oldest seeking
the one main thing
running through
all else

bursts through propriety
not looking for middle ground
but a moment of unity
in which to finally die

What is the one ring to rule them all? This question has been around since at least Cain? This is a restatement of the question about eternal life and what need be in place for it to be grasped.

Earlier asked by a rich person and now asked by a religious person, this is a basic question about people, things, the universe and everything.

The shaping of this question grows out of an ambiguity in the Greek. Is the overheard dispute between Jesus and the Sadducees or only between the Sadducees as they reacted to the way Jesus reframed their question?

Readers will come to their own conclusion about whether this is a critical difference or just a grammatical nicety. Their response may be passed over until they are asked to read this verse to a community gathered to rehearse it to assist the consideration of some current question.

As this is a basic question of life, it is good to remember that a similar question was put to a contemporary, Rabbi Hillel the Elder (c. 40 BCE–10 CE), by a Gentile only a generation earlier: “How do you summarize the Law?” In response Hillel spoke of one version of a Golden Rule: “What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow: this is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn.”

A Reader is here given an opportunity to consider their own response to the question of which commandment stands at the head of all the rest. Before proceeding further, a reader here is gently requested to pause and reflect on their own understanding as though they were a beloved partner of G*D who had authority to say aloud what they saw as a central tenet of the way they live in the world.

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