Thursday, July 21, 2005

Mark 7.15 and Authenticity

Without going into a whole detailed argument about authenticity etc. Here's my brief reflections on Mk. 7.15 re: authenticity.

Context Plausibility:

- Other Jews could critique the Pharisee’s emphasis on purity (T.Mos. 7.3, 9-10; T.Levi 16.2), why not Jesus?
- Jesus' remark may be the answer to a question posed to Jesus as a veiled exhortation from one religious leader to another to undertake a more strenuous form of law observance.
- No mention of Gentiles which was the direct concern of purity disputes in early Christianity (e.g. Gal. 2.11-14; Acts 15). Gentiles and purity laws is also, a topic which Jesus ventured no opinion on!


- The thought is verbalized elsewhere in the Jesus tradition (e.g. Lk. 11.39-40/Mt. 23.25-26; Gos. Thom. 89)
- The idea is ‘cross-referenced’ (Holmen 2001) in Jesus’ action in dining with sinners.

Those in favour of authenticity: Bultmann, 1963 [1921]: 105; Cranfield 1966 [1959]: 240; Perrin 1967: 70; Banks 1975: 138-39; Booth 1986: 108-12; Guelich 1989: 375-76; Sanders 1990: 28; Loader 1997: 75; Borg 1998 [1984]: 110-11; Holmén 2001: 248-49. I imagine also Wright and Gundry. [Note: I’m not using a consensus argument here – I won’t go there – but the authenticity is supported by a reasonable constituency of scholars].

The case is obviously not water tight, but I reckon this saying could plausibly derive from Jesus' ministry in a setting analagous to the one described in Mk. 7.1-23.

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