Summary of salt
- For those that might be interested, but don't want to read through all
that material on the webpage. Here is a summary or an outline of what I
think a rigorous argument might look like here.
My reading of Mark's salt sayings is
You don't want to be thrown into the purgatory of Gehenna.
Everyone/all sacrifices are salted (purified, made acceptable to God) by
But if salt (of the old covenant) has lost its saltiness (acceptability
to God) how can (it/things) be made salty (acceptable to God)?
Have salt (of the new covenant, love and forgiveness) in you, and be at
peace with one another.
Here is an outline of the arguments for that reading, as I see it now.
First we have direct evidence for the "metaphor of the sacrifice" i.e.
we are the sacrifice; salt makes us acceptable, yeast unacceptable.
1) Leviticus tells us about salt and yeast for sacrifices.
2) The connection between Gehenna and salt is sacrifices, we should
read sacrificial salt
3) Paul gives us two different quotes indicating that we should
become metaphorical sacrifices, acceptable to God, and sweet-smelling.
Paul also shows he knows a metaphor about salt.
4) Ancient witnesses made the connection to salt for sacrifices
5) Mark shows us yeast in people as a negative elsewhere, this sets
up a contrast with good salt in people
6) Mark tells us we should follow Christ just as Paul tells us to
follow Christ and then makes explicit that we should be metaphorical
Mark has a pattern of old covenant / new covenant relations that have
been obscured by later gospels. My reading of salt gives us one more
such reference obscured by later gospels. Not only does my reading
extend the pattern in Mark, but there is more confirmation in the fact
that Matthew and Luke treated it like the other old/new contrasts.
1) Calming sea / walking on water
2) Feeding 5000/ feeding 4000
Mark voiding of the Sabbath, eliminated by Matthew and Luke is
consistent with the pattern and my reading of salt.
The pattern of hiding Mark's voiding of the old covenant is made even
clearer by Matthew's placement of not a jot, not an iota, right after
altering Mark's salt saying.
Mark has other old/new contrasts that do not directly indicate the end
of the old covenant, and are not obscured by later gospels, but show
that old/new is a wider theme in Mark. My reading of salt continues that
2) Parable of tenants
3) Parallels between Mark1 and Mark5 casting out demons then curing
Mark has a theme of forgiveness for forgiveness that follows a pattern
of being obscured by later authors. My reading of salt continues that
pattern. Mark 9 reads as a unified whole if we assume Mark has a plan of
salvation involving faith in God, and forgiveness of others.
1) measure parable
2) little children parable
3) Mark 11's forgiveness for forgiveness that shows signs of late
Follow Christ can be read as "imitate my forgiveness to follow in the
resurrection". My reading of salt is consistent.
Matthew continues this pattern of eliminating Mark's forgiveness by
introducing his own method of forgiveness, the sacrament, where Mark has
said "do this in remembrance of me" It is consistant with this that
Matthew takes apart the salt complex.
Salt can be "love and forgiveness". My reading of salt continues that
1) 3 quotes from Paul to support it to various degrees
2) Matthew's position of salt relative to his love and forgiveness
3) Mark indicating that salt allows us to live in peace.
4) The tradition of a covenant of salt being peaceful relations.
5) The Pharisees who have yeast can be seen as non-forgiving
Mark places emphasis on both love (Mark 12) and forgiveness (Mark 11) as
important to God. My reading of salt is consistent with that.
My reading of salt suggests that Mark believes in a purgatory. This can
1) Mark has brought together the fires of Gehenna, the fire and
worm or Isaiah, and salt which can be a purifier
2) We know from the deuterocanonical text that Jewish thought had
developed an idea of something like a purgatory.
3) Mark 12:40 is consistent with a purgatory.
4) Early Christians read it as a purgatory or worse.
5) The variation of ancient witnesses demonstrates that they saw a
connection between people in the fire and sacrifices in the fire here.
Mark seems to warn us to be on the look out for obscure messages, and if
Mark is cluing us in on obscure messages, this makes sense of the dense
Love God, love your neighbor, have faith in God for forgiveness, forgive
others, has a symmetry, which is supported by my reading of salt.
My reading of Salt makes Mark look much more like a very carefully
planned work, and lees like a collection of semi-random bits.
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