Re: Mark 7.19

From: Mark Goodacre (
Date: Tue Apr 22 1997 - 08:49:20 EDT

Replying to Carl Conrad on Mark 7.19

Apologies everyone for not having used these > signs before. I have
just worked out how to use them on my machine. I am relatively new
to Email!

> >I still wonder, though, whether this may be an example of very
> >loose language - i.e. the KAQARIZWN does not refer back to LEGEI in
> >7.18 but stands alone? Certainly Mark is famous for some strained
> >grammar. The oddity would then explain scribes changing to
> >KAQARIZON in the attempt to make the participle agree with PAN TO .
> >. . Or does this rather strain plausibility?
> I don't quite understand what you mean by "stands alone"? That it is
> grammatically absolute? I would not ever want to affirm anything
> like that except as a last resort, if even then.

I mean that KAQARIZWN may simply be an example of anacolouthon - cf.
the famous instances at Mark 2.10 and 11.32.

 And yes, Mark is
> reputed to have strained grammar, but as I indicated this morning,
> I've come around completely on that matter and now feel that the
> questionable grammar in Mark is not his own but is in the tradition
> which he passes on without making the sort of redactional changes
> which Matthew and Luke make in order to smoothe out the text. I
> still prefer to think that Mark has not scissored-and-pasted WITHIN
> his cited tradition, but has pasted KAQARIZWN PANTA TA BRWMATA at
> the end, even though the participle KAQARIZWN is considerably
> distant from its implicit subject noun.

It is of course possible that KAQARIZWN . . . translates oddly
something in Aramaic - this was Black's suggestion (ARAMAIC APPROACH,
p. 159), 'all the foods being cast out and purged away'. In this
case the anacolouthon would be explained simply by Mark's attempt to
render an unusual Aramaic saying. I am not sure how happy I am to go
down this route in general (and I am afraid that I know no Aramaic so
cannot really judge the issue), but it does seem at least a
> >"the logic of affirming that"anything coming into a man's ...
> >STOMACH" should "cleanse all foods" is ultimately not very
> >convincing . . .": unless one takes KOILIA here more broadly as
> >'digestive tract' and something that food passes through - a
> >contrast with KARDIA. Thus the saying is affirming that food does
> >not defile because it does not stay in the body but passes through
> >it. The passing through, into the latrine, effectively cleanses
> >the food, a crude but understandable image.
> My point was rather that, IF one wants to understand the KAQARIZWN
> as referring to TO EIS THN KOILIAN EISPOREUOMENON (with or without
> changing the gender of the participle),

Where is this clause? I do not want to take KAQARIZWN with PAN TO ECWQEN
EISPOREUOMENON but I would like to suggest that KAQARIZWN refers to
the digestive process explicated in the previous clause ending with

> then although one might
> argue that completion of the digestive process somehow "purges all
> foods," yet it seems to me a curious way of stating that if one says
> that "incoming food ... purges all foods."

If you like, it is the digestive tract and the latrine that purges
all the food that goes through it. That is, 'unclean' food does not
defile but, rather, it is 'cleansed' by the digestive process which
turns it to excrement and excludes it from the system. (Sorry to be
crude, but I think that is what the image is about). The contrast
is with the list of vices which defile the person on their way out of
it (through the mouth).

> And KAQAROS is the proper term for foods, is it not?

Well, KAQAROS can relate to foods but also other things.

> to be an inclusive phrase.

> >"Mark's fairly consistent stance regarding the ritual law of
> >Judaism . . .": I would agree with this reading of Mark. But I
> >would still see 'declaring' all foods clean here as rather
> >over-translating something which in the Greek seems much less
> >weighty. Look at how blatantly Mark flags up editorial comments
> >when he really wants to stress one - 13.14!
> For my part, I can't see this larger pericope as anything less than
> radical in its implications for Jesus' attitude toward Kashrut. It
> starts out with the observation in 7:2 that Jesus' disciples EAT
> BREAD with IMPURE HANDS. It then goes on in 7:3-4 to list a number
> of purificatory practices observed by Pharisees. In Jesus' teaching,
> what begins as a defense of the behavior of his disciples against
> failure to observe Kashrut, Jesus launches into a full-scale attack
> upon "traditions of the elders" used to neutralize the force of
> authentic moral law. There seems to be a radical antithesis here
> developed between an inner KAQAROTHS of the heart closely bound up
> with the moral law, on the one hand, and a superficial KAQAROTHS of
> foods eaten, of hands and vessels for cooking, observances bound up
> with the ritual law. If this little phrase, KAQARIZWN PANTA BRWMATA,
> seems "tacked on" to a context where it doesn't fit so very well,
> one might compare the uncomfortable fit of the successive verses in
> hUIOS TOU ANQRWPOU KAI TOU SABBATOU, where one might suppose that
> the last line is Marcan redaction.
As I indicated before, I agree with this reading of Mark. I think
that the radical nature of the passage remains even if one does not
read 7.19b as a narrator's comment. I am not entirely comfortable
with the idea of a contrast between 'ritual law' and 'moral law' as a
distinction in 1st C. Judaism, but I do think that something
approaching this is happening in Mark.

> Finally, although the larger context might not seem to weigh so
> forcefully in the argument with all readers, it seems to me that the
> immediately following episode of the Syrophoenician woman is loaded
> with ironic contrasts between Gentile faith (the dogs beneath the
> table that are allowed to eat the children's food) and Jewish
> exclusivist tradition ("It's not right to take the children's food
> and throw it to the dogs"). While one tends to think of Luke as the
> gospel closest to the Pauline mission, I know that I am not alone in
> thinking that Mark is much more attuned to the Gentile mission and
> the Pauline theme that "Christ is the end of the Law." For my part,
> therefore, I think that the phrase KAQARIZWN PANTA BRWMATA is indeed
> an expression of Mark's radical interpretation of Jesus as
> transcending traditional Jewish norms.
Again, I agree. I think Mark is a much more Pauline Gospel than
Luke. And your own reference to the Sabbath issue somewhat confirms
> I'm sorry if I've gotten carried away on this little issue, but I
> stated my view this morning in my first response that I thought this
> textual problem was one that really required application of all the
> critical tools available. In sum, I think that grammar, logic, and
> the prevalent tenor of Mark's gospel as well as the immediate and
> larger context of the participial phrase support the forceful
> translation as "declaring all foods clean." Jesus is here acting in
> his capacity as KURIOS THS KAQAROTHTOS, if I may coin such a phrase
> comparable to KURIOS TOU SABBATOU in 2:28.
Translation of the minute parts is surely always a matter of doing
exegesis and translation of the larger context so I do not think you
need to apologise for this - you are quite right. The points still
make sense, though on a reading which does not take Mark 7.19b as a
narrator's comment. (Though I admit that if Mark 7.19b is a
narrator's comment, it is easily explicable as such for the very
reasons that are mentioned).

Sorry to have gone on for so long, but I have really found this a
most interesting exchange - and much appreciate the fascinating things
Conrad has said.

Mark G.

Dr Mark Goodacre
Department of Theology
University of Birmingham
Birmingham B15 2TT

Tel.: 0121 414 7512 Email:
Fax.: 0121 414 6866

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:38:13 EDT