Saturday, December 20, 2014

Michelle Fletcher discusses Mark 7:14-23 and provides an application of "into the body" that applies to more than food.

With a HT to Jim West.
The central logion is believed to be v.15: ‘There is nothing outside of a person that goes into them that has the power to defile as much as the things which come out.’ Here Jesus discusses the person (ὁ ἄνθρωπος), which includes male and female. However, prior to my work on this passage, not one scholar had read it with a female body in mind. The generic body (aka male body) had been the point of focus for all scholarly discussions. Much has been done to undo readings which argued it abrogated Levitical laws, and attention has turned to other forms of bodily impurity in light of second temple Judaism. These examinations found no possible cases where something entering into a body could cause less contamination than what leaves it, and so conclusions centre on unwashed hands and contaminated food, for as Sanders says ‘Nothing else goes in and comes out.’

Well, that’s not quite true, is it.


Fletcher goes on to discuss childbirth because insemination is a process in which semen enters a woman's body and she's impure for one day but the impurity that comes from childbirth lasts longer.  Reading Jesus' statement not just in terms of the bodies of males but of females gets read not just as a statement about food as such but about ritual uncleanness in other terms.

Something to read if it's of interest. 

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