Tuesday, August 5, 2014

No literalists

While there are some who would suggest that they follow the Bible literally, as opposed to the Catholics. The truth is, there aren't any.

In today's gospel the two parts of the Old Testament law that are abrogated are the one regarding clean and unclean food, and the one about washing your hands before eating.

Some Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders?
They do not wash their hands when they eat a meal.”

The law of the Old Testament was clear about a whole series of required washings, including washing your hands before eating. Clearly Jesus's disciples did not do this, and it was noticed. If we are going to assume the reenactment posture toward the Bible then it seems to me we would have to stop washing our hands, but we don't.

Once more we are reminded of the dangers of pulling single verses out of context. If we read the verse about hand washing in context we immediately recognize that the hand washing is incidental to the point Jesus is making, about hypocrisy. He problem is with the fact that the Pharisees are obsessing over minutia like hand washing, while not being equally concerned about what they are saying.

It is not what enters one’s mouth that defiles the man;
but what comes out of the mouth is what defiles one.

People in the 1st century were as petty, gossipy and back stabbing as in the 21st century. That is the issue Jesus is addressing.

The Bible must be taken as a whole, the New Testament as a whole. It is what we refer to as the unity of the scriptures, and the gospels are for us Christians the lens through which we read all of the rest.

And just as an aside for anyone thinking about it:
"Cleanliness is next to godliness" is not in the Bible.