The traditions of men (Mk 7:8-7:9)

“‘You abandon

The commandments

Of God!

You hold

To human tradition!’

Then he said to them.

‘You have a fine way

Of rejecting

The commandment

Of God,

In order

To keep

Your tradition!’”

 

ἀφέντες τὴν ἐντολὴν τοῦ Θεοῦ κρατεῖτε τὴν παράδοσιν τῶν ἀνθρώπων.

καὶ ἔλεγεν αὐτοῖς Καλῶς ἀθετεῖτε τὴν ἐντολὴν τοῦ Θεοῦ, ἵνα τὴν παράδοσιν ὑμῶν τηρήσητε.

 

There is something similar to this in Matthew, chapter 15:3.  Mark indicated that Jesus said that they had abandoned or neglected the commandments of God (ἀφέντες τὴν ἐντολὴν τοῦ Θεοῦ).  Instead, they followed or kept their own human traditions or instructions (κρατεῖτε τὴν παράδοσιν τῶν ἀνθρώπων).  This is a question that many Evangelical Christians ask about mainline Christian Churches, especially Catholics and Orthodox, that have strong Christian traditions.  However, sometimes, new traditions are hard to break also.  This seems to set a dichotomy against God’s commandments and human religious traditions.  Some ancient manuscripts added the section that was in chapter 7:4 here.  There are many other traditions that they hold or observe (καὶ ἄλλα πολλά ἐστιν ἃ παρέλαβον κρατεῖν) about washing cups (βαπτισμοὺς ποτηρίων), pots (καὶ ξεστῶν), and bronze plates (καὶ χαλκίων).  Then Jesus said to them (καὶ ἔλεγεν αὐτοῖς) that they had a fine honorable way of rejecting the commandments of God (Καλῶς ἀθετεῖτε τὴν ἐντολὴν τοῦ Θεοῦ), in order to keep their own traditions (ἵνα τὴν παράδοσιν ὑμῶν τηρήσητε).  This last saying was not in Matthew.  This is a very strong rejection of Jewish traditional religious practices.

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The response of Jesus (Mt 15:3-15:3)

“Jesus answered them.

‘Why do you break

The commandment of God

For the sake of your tradition?”

 

ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς Διὰ τί καὶ ὑμεῖς παραβαίνετε τὴν ἐντολὴν τοῦ Θεοῦ διὰ τὴν παράδοσιν ὑμῶν;

 

There is something similar to this in Mark, chapter 7:8.  Jesus responded to the Pharisees (ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς).  He wanted to know why they broke or violated the commandments or command of God (Διὰ τί καὶ ὑμεῖς παραβαίνετε τὴν ἐντολὴν τοῦ Θεοῦ) for the sake of their own tradition or instructions (διὰ τὴν παράδοσιν ὑμῶν).  This is a question that many Evangelical Christians ask about mainline Christian Churches, especially Catholics and Orthodox, that have strong Christian traditions.  However, sometimes, new traditions are hard to break also.  This seems to set a dichotomy against God’s commandments and human religious traditions.

Catholic Fundamentalism

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Until 1966, Catholics had been anti-modernism and had been skeptical of modern rationality.  The Catholic Church had a rigorous clear-cut world view.  With the changes of Vatican II (1962-1966) some feel that the Church has abandoned unchanging truths.  There was a reaction to the English liturgy, the changes in the church, and the attacks on the absolute authority of the Pope.  The sinfulness of man needed the episcopal authority to direct them.  God is a God of judgment, not a God of mercy.  Catholic fundamentalists are selective, with not much about the Trinity, but lots about the Latin Mass, female and married priests, and artificial birth control.

Evangelicalism

Evangelicals believe in the Bible as the reliable, authoritative and sufficient source of knowledge about God.  You must have a personal experience of a conversion to Jesus Christ, be born again, and have a personal devotion to Bible reading, prayer, and evangelization.  Evangelical was a term originally used to describe Catholics who were more biblical.  Today Protestants with American roots in the 18th century have appropriated the term “Evangelical Christians.”

Intellectual attacks on the Bible

Until the 18th century, there never was any question about the historical validity of the Bible.  Both Protestants and Catholics took it for granted that whatever the Bible said happened, actually happened.  The only dispute was as to the meaning and significance of the stories.  A new historical skepticism from the French Enlightenment and the German Rationalism began to question whether the events as described in the Bible ever took place.  First there were questions about events in the Old Testament, about Adam and Eve, Abraham, and Moses.  Then in the 19th century, the problem of Jesus and his miracles came into question.

Modern Bibles

In the past century a number of scholarly editions of the Bible have appeared, such as the American Standard Version (1901), the Revised Standard Version (1952), the Jerusalem Bible (1966), the New American Bible (1970) and many more editions, including revisions of the King James Bible and on-line Internet Bibles, with many commentaries that can be found at the web site Bible Hub.  All agreed on the New Testament.  The question of which books belong to the Old Testament has been a sticking point.  Most Protestant Bibles contain the thirty-nine books of the Hebrew canon, while Catholics use the Jewish Greek Septuagint that has seven other books that were also in the Latin Vulgate.

Offerings to the queen of heaven (Jer 44:17-44:18)

“Instead,

We will do everything

That we have vowed.

We will make offerings

To the queen of heaven.

We will pour out libations

To her.

Just as we,

Our ancestors,

Our kings,

Our officials

Did

In the towns of Judah,

In the streets of Jerusalem.

We used to have

Plenty of food.

We prospered.

We saw no misfortune.

But from the time

We stopped making offerings

To the queen of heaven

And pouring out libations

To her,

We have lacked everything.

We have perished

By the sword

And by famine.”

The Judean refugees insisted that they would complete their vows to the queen of heaven. They would make offerings and libations to her just as their ancestors, their kings, and their officials had done in Judah and Jerusalem. When they were making these sacrifices, they had plenty of food and prospered. Since they stopped, they have been lacking everything. They have been dying by the sword and famine. Who then was this queen of heaven? For many Catholics, this might be a veiled reference to Mary, the mother of Jesus, since there are some Catholic churches with that name, Queen of Heaven. However, this is a clear reference to a popular goddess of fertility since Jeremiah had already mentioned this queen in chapter 7. In both places, here and there, this queen of heaven is a reference to the Babylonian and Assyrian goddess Ishtar, or the Canaanite goddess Astarte, the wife of the god Baal. The Greek equivalent would have been the goddess Aphrodite or the Roman goddess Venice, the goddess of love. Thus the practice of worshipping to this fertility “Queen of heaven” was quite popular already in Judah and Jerusalem, before they came to Egypt.