Mark 7:18-19, Are All Foods Clean?

“Are you so dull?” he asked. “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them? For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.)

//Most scholars today agree that the gospels of Matthew and Luke were written with Mark in hand. It’s fascinating, therefore, to note subtle differences in how the text was copied. Sometimes what is left out is as revealing as what is written.

Matthew, for example, is recognized as the most “Jewish” of the four gospels. Matthew holds a high regard for Torah, the “law” as written in the first five books of the Bible. He insists that Jesus did not come to abolish the law at all, but that every little dot or dash in the law code is significant:

For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. –Matthew 5:18

What, then, does Matthew have to say about diet, since the purity of food ingested is a matter of great importance to traditional Jews? He dutifully copies the saying of Jesus presented in today’s verse, but simply ignores the moral of the story. The parenthetical statement at the end is left off, where Jesus declares all foods clean. We’re left to interpret the story on our own.

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