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Re: [Synoptic-L] Trusting the text

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  • Ken Olson
    ... believe that appeal to Mk 7:15 as an answer to this diffficulty is adequate.
    Message 1 of 5 , Sep 1, 2003
      On August 31, David B. Peabody wrote in response to Bob MacDonald:

      >>I think your reading of the difficulty at Mk 7:17 is astute and I do not
      believe that appeal to Mk 7:15 as an answer to this diffficulty is

      Dr. Peabody,

      I wonder if you could expand upon your reasoning here. In both Mark and
      Matthew, a disciple or more asks Jesus about his "parable" (Mt. 15.15/Mk.
      7.17) and Jesus responds by explaining his saying about what goes in and
      what comes out (Mt. 15.11, Mk. 7.15). Doesn't it appear that both Matthew
      and Mark take that saying to be the parable about which Jesus was asked?

      We could instead take the reference to Jesus' parable in Mt. 15.15 to be
      referring to Mt. 15.13-14. This is what I took Bob to be suggesting in his
      first post. If we do this, however, we have to wonder why Jesus ignores
      Peter's request that he explain his parable in Mt. 15.13-14 and instead
      explains the saying about what goes in and what comes out from Mt. 15.11.
      Doesn't this interpretation create a bigger problem than the one it was
      intended to solve?

      Further, I think Bob's problem with Mk. 7.15 and yours are mutually
      exclusive. Here's your exposition of the relevant passage:

      >>Mk. 7.15. Mark omits "into _the mouth_" and "out of _the mouth_" from
      both parts of the saying in Mt. 15.11. This can hardly be considered an
      example of Mark's radical primitiveness. By omitting references to the
      "mouth," Mark not only disengages the comment from the Isaiah text upon
      which it is a comment, but renders the saying physiologically absurd. A
      Jewish audience might be prepared to give credence to a claim that what
      enters the mouth is not what defiles, but it would have been bewildered by a
      claim that everything that comes out of a man defiles him. Taken literally,
      for example, this saying would mean that one could not even exhale without
      defilement. The into and out of the mouth saying is difficult enough to
      envision in a strongly Jewish setting, but in the Matthean context of the
      Isaiah reference it is understandable. The removal of "mouth" from the
      saying does not represent radical authenticity, but unintelligibility.
      Those reading the Markan parallel must presuppose Matthew's exegesis of
      Isaiah here, although Mark's text does not contain all the elements required
      to support such a reading. The question and corban counterquestion may be
      primitive, but the use of the Isaiah reference as a mid-point proof text is
      characteristic of Matthew. Mark has blurred Matthew's precision regarding
      the technical use of scripture and Jewish attention to detail in matters of
      ritual cleanliness and purity<< [David B. Peabody, with Lamar Cope and Allan
      J. McNicol, eds., _One Gospel from Two: Mark's Use of Matthew and Luke
      (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Trinity Press International, 2002) 174].

      Bob MacDonald said, "no one at our study saw that phrase [Mk. 7.15] as a
      parable. It seems non metaphoric if any language can be said to be so."
      You, on the other hand, find Mk. 7.15 physiologically absurd, bewildering to
      the audience, and unintelligible if taken literally. It seems to me that
      the two of you are saying very different things here. He objects to calling
      Mk. 7.15 a parable because it's perfectly straightforward and
      non-metaphorical while you object to it as unintelligible if taken

      Many Markan commentators explain the use of "parable" in Mk. 7.17 as a
      not-entirely-satisfactory translation of the Hebrew _mashal_ or "dark
      saying," meaning a saying that is difficult to interpret. Many also see the
      disciples' question and Jesus' response as part of Mark's motif of the
      incomprehension of the disciples. I think this addresses both Bob's point
      and yours adequately. You find the saying absurd, bewildering, and
      unintelligible if taken literally. Of course, in Mark's text, Jesus
      introduces the saying in 7.15 by saying, "Hear me, all of you, and
      understand." The command to "understand" would seem to indicate that the
      saying which follows is difficult to interpret and not to be taken
      literally. Mark also has Jesus give an explanation of the saying which
      precludes it being taken in the sense you suggest.

      If Mark is indeed dependent on Matthew, as you and Bob propose he is, it
      seems to me that he has tightened and clarified the pericope. He has
      clarified the relationship between the question about the parable and the
      parable to which it refers by removing the material that Matthew had placed
      between them in vv.15.12-14. He has also removed Matthew's references to
      the mouth in 15.11, 17 and 18. Matthew's saying that what comes out of the
      mouth defiles a person would appear to refer only to speech that defiles,
      but Matthew's expansion on the saying in vv. 15.18-19 shows that in fact
      Matthew means to include actions as well. Mark has clarified the
      relationship between what comes out of a person (both evil words and evil
      deeds) and that person's heart by removing Matthew's superfluous reference
      to the mouth.

      Best Wishes,



      Kenneth A. Olson
      Graduate Student
      University of Maryland
      Department of History
      2115 Francis Scott Key Hall
      College Park, MD 20742-7315

      Synoptic-L Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l
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