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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

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Bill,

I tried to keep this short but I’m afraid it still turned out rather long. Perhaps, because I tried so hard to do good you can spare me the awful punishment of the outer cyber-darkness and send me to cyber-purgatory? ;)

I agree that the argument is valid so the only question left is whether or not it is sound. I can readily accept the first premise although I would like to guard against certain misunderstandings of ‘abrogation’ as it appears in the Scriptures as being evidence against inerrancy since there are times when certain Biblical writers (Paul in Eph. 2:15 comes to mind) speak in terms of ‘abrogation’ and ‘abolishment’ when a type is fulfilled in the arrival of its anti-type. With this minor quibble out of the way we can move on to the more controversial premise 2.

I found it troubling that your commenter thought that “all that ritual and ceremonial stuff doesn't mean much of anything and can even at times be ignored”. Really? God instituted a rigorous system of rituals that didn’t mean much of anything? Symbols that don’t symbolize? What a strange thing for the all-wise God to do! If anyone finds it plausible that the Israelites thought they were out there keeping these laws about ritual purity which had little to no significance while God watched on, ready to pronounce covenant curses or blessings depending on how they fulfilled these arbitrary and meaningless laws, then I don’t know what I can say! I suppose the best I can do is offer an alternative explanation consistent with the view of inerrancy expressed in premise 1 and defend it against the counterexamples raised by your correspondent.

He sees a contradiction between Matthew 15:11, 18-20 and Leviticus 11:24 as if Jesus did not uphold the ritual purity laws of the Mosaic Law but this is almost certainly false. Firstly, he fails to make the crucial distinction between the ritual itself and the reality symbolized by the ritual. The physical washing away of dirt prescribed in the law in order to render a person ritually clean symbolized a spiritual washing from sin to render a person spiritually clean. When Jesus makes his point that it is not these physical things that defile a person but rather what comes out from the heart he is, unlike the Pharisees, going beyond the ritual to that which it represents. So when Jesus addresses the Pharisees in Matthew 15 he is speaking at the literal level whereas Leviticus 11:24 is speaking at the symbolic level and no contradiction occurs. Secondly, earlier in the very same gospel of Matthew in which this teaching is found Jesus says the following: “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt. 5:17-19) This verse clearly shows Jesus’ reverence for the law down to its smallest details. So unless your commenter believes that Jesus will be ‘least in the kingdom of heaven’ his interpretation will have to go. This emphasis on law keeping is further corroborated by examples of Jesus instructing people to keep the ritual purity laws. (Mt. 8:4; Lk. 17:14 cf. Lev. 14:2-32)

The quotation of Hosea 6:6 in Matthew 9:10-13 fits well with my interpretation since the point is not that the sacrifices are unimportant but rather that they are emptied of their significance if the reality symbolized by the sacrifice is ignored.

The references to Rom. 2:28-29, 1 Cor. 7:19, and Gal. 6:15 all agree that the rituals did in fact mean something and that something is righteousness and holiness before God. In fact, these verses are evidence for the position that the apostles were not altering the meaning of these symbols. They are clearly alluding to the promise in Deuteronomy 30:6 of restoration where God promises that he will ‘circumcise [their] heart and the heart of [their] descendants, to love the Lord [their] God with all [their] heart and with all [their] soul, so that [they] may live.’ Circumcision symbolized the cutting off of impurity from the person. I would also argue that it was a bloody ritual because it pointed towards the need for a bloody sacrifice to be made to render the covenant people clean. It was a way of symbolizing inclusion in God’s holy community set apart for the work of blessing the nations. But this symbol was worth nothing if the reality that it symbolized – namely righteousness – was unrealized in the recipient’s life. It is this emphasis on a circumcised ‘heart’ where the person himself is rendered clean that is presented in Deuteronomy 30:6 and employed by the NT writers. This is actually a wonderful example of the Bible’s consistency.

With all due respect to your correspondent, one can only see support for premise 2 from the passages he’s raised if one is ignorant of the significance of the Mosaic ceremonial laws. That said, I think premise 2 is false or at least it has not yet been proved and the argument does not go through.

God bless,

David

Thanks for your comment, David, despite its violation of the principle that brevity is the soul of blog. I told the guest poster that he should respond to you.

I'm all too aware of my violation of the commandment of brevity but I need to address his commandments concerning Jesus' and Paul's summary of the law. I find it amusing that your commenter says that the true fulfillment of the Law is obedience to the command “Love thy neighbor as thyself” and quotes Matthew 22:34-30 as support without elaborating on the rest of the verses referenced. Perhaps he was in a hurry and he missed the rest of Jesus’ answer: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Romans 13:8-10 says that love is the fulfillment of the law and it would be very odd for Paul to believe that the love of God is neglected in this commandment. (cf. John 14:15-24) Similarly, in Galatians 5:14 Paul is addressing human interactions so it is only necessary that he mention the commandment regarding human interactions that fulfills the general command to love. As for how the ceremonial laws can fit under the law of love, these can be easily interpreted as fulfilling the love of God in obeying him by taking part in the rituals which reveal his character to the Israelites themselves and to ‘the nations’ who they are supposed to bless through their faithfulness to God.

When Paul taught that the obligation to be circumcised had been annulled, he rescued the Gentiles from an absurd religious practice that, had it been a mandatory condition for salvation, would surely have wrecked the Christian mission at the outset.

Hello David,

I will respond in brief to what I consider to be the substance of the problem with your comments.

You assert that the Old Testament rituals had some sort of special moral symbolism; but this is a spiritualized reading of the OT, unwarranted by the relevant texts. Gen 17 and Lev 11, for example, don't say anything about the moral symbolism of circumcision or certain dietary restrictions, and though Exod 30:6 does use "circumcision" in a metaphorical sense, it does not follow that it teaches that circumcision is symbolic for casting off moral impurity: there is nothing, after all, impure or dirty about the foreskin itself, so where does the symbolism lie?

It must be noted that the laws regarding ritual purity and impurity are remarkably similar to other laws in ancient, primitive religions such as the Vedic religion: for example, the expulsion of bodily fluids and contact with the dead makes one ritually impure. They may simply be a product of the ancient religious mind which we, in large part, no longer understand; it is question-begging, is it not, to assume that they must have all come from God, as your opening paragraph does!

You are doing what Jesus and Paul did by reinterpreting some of the Old Testament texts into a moral paradigm from a ritual one. My point in my brief write-up was that such a reading of the texts, though it no doubt exists in some later writers, is not warranted by the original texts themselves, and is in fact a manifestation of one stage of a common process of religious evolution: the ancient emphasis on the ritual and the exterior is slowly transformed into an "enlightened" emphasis on the moral and the interior, the ritual first reinterpreted and then ultimately rejected altogether.

There are numerous other comments to make about this or that use of yours of some relevant NT texts from Jesus and Paul, but I fear that if I enter into the trenches of an exegetical debate the discussion will never end. I will limit myself for now to commentary regarding Jesus' remarks on ritual purity and the Law:

Regarding the Matthew 15 text, Jesus never says anything about the spiritual significance of ritual laws. The complaint against him is that his disciples disobey the tradition of the elders, and in this instance it made them ritually impure. He, in response, denies the reality of ritual impurity, giving a crude argument against its legitimacy ("Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body?", Mt 15:17 -- one which admittedly may not be all that persuasive to the dedicated believer in ritual purity) and redefining purity and impurity in terms of morality. They complain that his disciples have been made (ritually) impure; his response is that only immorality (what "comes out of a man") makes one impure. If he were not denying the reality of ritual impurity and asserting only the reality of moral "purity", then his response would not make any sense: he would be addressing a different issue than that raised by the Pharisees.

And Jesus may say that he has come to fulfill the Law and the Prophets, and that those who are to be great in the kingdom of heaven must obey them down to the smallest detail, but surely this must be understood as a fulfillment and obedience in accordance with his interpretation of them. This is clear because he considered himself to obey the Law, but the Pharisees and other religious authorities of his time certainly thought him a Law-breaker. It does not follow from this statement of his, however, that he understood these texts in the same way you do, as a believer in scriptural inerrancy belonging to some particular religious tradition.

And as for Paul, the discussion of his epistles to the Romans the Galatians is whether or not the Gentiles must obey the ceremonial injunctions of the Mosaic Law (e.g., circumcision) in order to be justified before God. In these epistles, Paul regularly exhorts them to do good and to obey various moral commands of the Law, but is opposed to their adopting the ritual practices of Judaism. In such a context, then, when he asserts that "love thy neighbor" is the fulfillment of the Law, what he is asserting is this: if you wish to fulfill the Law in such a way as to win God's favor -- which he does not deny that Christians must do, as Rom 2:13 and Gal 6:8-10 makes clear -- then you must love your neighbor and do good to others, not obey rituals and not eat certain animals. After all, "fulfilling the Law" was the concern of his Jewish opponents: they claimed the Gentiles must "fulfill the Law" to be justified. So when Paul claims "fulfilling the Law" means "love thy neighbor" and not "be circumcised", he is moralizing and spiritualizing the Old Testament, and offering a non-literal interpretation of it.

Even if Paul understands "Love God" to be a good summary of the Law, as well, he clearly does not expect the Gentile Christians to fulfill this command by obedience to the ritual commandments of the Mosaic Law. Rather, Paul adopts a moralist interpretation of the Old Testament law, raising the social ethical injunctions above the level of the ritual, and perhaps even reinterpreting the ritual in light of the moral, something not warranted by the Old Testament texts themselves.

Alex. A said: When Paul taught that the obligation to be circumcised had been annulled, he rescued the Gentiles from an absurd religious practice that, had it been a mandatory condition for salvation, would surely have wrecked the Christian mission at the outset.

If the religious practice is absurd, then it cannot really have been instituted by God as necessary for membership in the covenant community. So this too is a non-literal understanding of the Old Testament text.

Alex,

I'm trying to understand what you find so "absurd" about circumcision as a religious ritual. My guess is you believe that, prior to the arrival of the New Covenant, circumcision was necessary for salvation. But, clearly, some were saved even before the covenants requiring circumcision were instituted. Abel and Enoch being prime examples. As I said above, circumcision of the heart is what's important even under the old covenant. This is Paul's point in Romans 4:9-12. Circumcision was a sign of the righteousness of God that is acquired through faith independently of any work of the law including circumcision itself.

Much more could be said about fittingness of circumcision for God's purposes but I've already sinned enough against the laws of the blog. :)

What is the point in dispute?

Guest Poster (GP) maintains, among other things, that Lev 11:24 contradicts MT 15:11. Roughly, LEV maintains that some things are such that if you eat them, you are rendered unclean (presumably in a moral sense of 'unclean') whereas MT maintains that nothing is such that if you eat it you will be rendered unclean (in the same sense of 'unclean'). What renders a man morally unclean is not what goes into his mouth in the manner of a food stuff, but what comes out of his mouth in the form of words that betray his evil thoughts and desires.

David Houston sseems to be maintaining that there is no contradiction because the LEV passage must, or can, be interpreted symbolically: >>When Jesus makes his point that it is not these physical things that defile a person but rather what comes out from the heart he is, unlike the Pharisees, going beyond the ritual to that which it represents. So when Jesus addresses the Pharisees in Matthew 15 he is speaking at the literal level whereas Leviticus 11:24 is speaking at the symbolic level and no contradiction occurs.<<

Now I agree that there is no contradiction if one and the same message is given first symbolically and then literally. But I agree with GP in failing to see anything symbolic in the LEV passages. The plain sense of the text is that certain dietary laws are being laid down, laws which we now know are ridiculous.

So if you maintain that the Bible is the inerrant word of God in everything said in oratio recta -- as opposed to such oratio obliqua sentences as "There is no God!" attributed to the Fool -- then you are either making God out to be a fool, or you must admit that the Bible is not inerrant.

If you say that the Bible *properly interpreted* is inerrant, then you are kissing sola scriptura goodbye: you are bringing to bear principles of interpretation that are not found in Biblical texts.

Why not say something sensible: in the Bible God reveals certain truths to man, but that in the Bible there is also a sizeable admixture of crud of human origin.

Muslims think that dogs are 'unclean.' Correct me if I'm wrong, but they get that from the Koran. Now that is a stupid thing to believe. (And I say that as a cat-lover.) Now the same goes for the uncleanliness of pig flesh. Maybe at one time there were hygienic reasons for not eating pork or for having your foreskin lopped off. But surely it would be absurd to suppose that it is the eternal Word of God that pork not be eaten on the ground of its 'uncleanliness.'

Hello Bill,

You said: Guest Poster (GP) maintains, among other things, that Lev 11:24 contradicts MT 15:11. Roughly, LEV maintains that some things are such that if you eat them, you are rendered unclean (presumably in a moral sense of 'unclean') whereas MT maintains that nothing is such that if you eat it you will be rendered unclean (in the same sense of 'unclean').

That is not quite what I am asserting. Lev 11:24 asserts that eating certain foods makes one ritually unclean, not morally unclean (there is a difference!), and therefore asserts the reality and the importance of ritual purity for religious life. (Take, for example, the affirmation of Lev 13 that after childbirth, a woman is unclean: that is because (just as in other ancient religions, e.g. primitive Hinduism), touching bodily fluids and losing bodily fluids makes one unclean and unfit for participation in the cultus; it is has nothing to do with morality whatsoever.)

Ritual purity and impurity is not the same as either moral or physical purity or impurity; it is a distinct category of purity that is distinctive of very old, ancient religions and which is no longer very intelligible to the modern mind; we simply don't believe in this stuff anymore. Ritual purity is one more condition one must have in order to participate in the sacrificial systems in ancient religions, such as traditional, non-philosophical Hinduism and ancient Judaism.

Over time, in various religious traditions that advanced such as ancient Greek religion, the category of ritual purity and impurity was reinterpreted as being symbolic of moral purity and impurity, and not as having any significance or being of its own. (E.g., when Socrates says in Phaedo that only the pure may see the Forms upon death, he is understanding "purity" in a moral sense, not a ritual sense, though the terminology is ritualistic.) This is what happens in Mt 15. In response to the argument of the Pharisees that his disciples have defiled themselves (from the point of view of ritual purity) by eating with unwashed hands, Jesus at Mt 15:11 asserts that nothing that enters into a man makes him unclean, which in this context clearly is a denial of the reality of ritual impurity, the presupposition of his critics' complaint; this is a reinterpretation of the ancient category of ritual (im)purity into moralistic terms. The terms "(im)pure", "(un)clean", etc., originated as terms describing ritual cleanliness, and were eventually transformed and reinterpreted as referring to a moral reality.

In other words, my argument is this: the Leviticus text presupposes the genuine, independent reality of an ancient category of religious life, namely ritual purity and impurity, whereas the Matthean text asserts the reality only of the moral category of religious life. The Leviticus text represents an ancient way of religious thinking, asserting that there is such a thing as ritual purity distinct from moral uprightness, whereas the Matthean text is a manifestation of an evolved religious consciousness (an evolution which took place in numerous religions throughout the world), where the ritual categories of ancient religion are denied and the supremacy and sole reality of the moral is upheld. The ancient religious Jew, on the basis of the Leviticus texts, for example, would have said that ritual purity along side moral uprightness is essential; Jesus denies that there is anything such thing as ritual purity, and claims only the moral is essential.

GP,

Thanks for the clarification. But then what becomes of the "direct contradiction" you mention in the second para. of your post?

But perhaps first I should ask you whether the gist of your post is accurately summarized in the (1)-(3) syllogism I provided.

If the LEV passage is about ritual purity/impurity (a concept I am not sure I understand if it is supposed to be distinct both from physical and moral purity/impurity), but the MT passage is about moral purity/impurity, then there is no contradiction and no threat to inerrancy, at least not in this pair of texts.

If I say that x is hot and you say that x is not hot, then you contradict me only if you are using 'hot' in the same sense as I am.

Couldn't one say that the MT passage fulfills or adds to or completes or perfects the LEV passage without contradicting it?

What exactly is the doctrine of inerrancy that you think is refuted by the considerations you adduce?

Hello Bill,

You ask: But then what becomes of the "direct contradiction" you mention in the second para. of your post?

The contradiction is direct as far as the literal wording of the propositions is concerned; the contradiction is less but still direct as far as meaning is concerned.

You said: If the LEV passage is about ritual purity/impurity (a concept I am not sure I understand if it is supposed to be distinct both from physical and moral purity/impurity), but the MT passage is about moral purity/impurity, then there is no contradiction and no threat to inerrancy, at least not in this pair of texts. . . . Couldn't one say that the MT passage fulfills or adds to or completes or perfects the LEV passage without contradicting it? What exactly is the doctrine of inerrancy that you think is refuted by the considerations you adduce?

Regarding ritual purity: like I said, ritual purity/impurity is a concept we do not believe in as moderns and can no longer really understand, but it was evidently clear enough to those ancients for whom it was a great concern. The tendency over the years in some religious traditions throughout the world was to try to understand it in terms of moral or physical purity, but this spiritualized reinterpretation would be technically incorrect; it was category of its own and is not rightly understood in those terms, but only in its own.

As far as inerrancy is concerned, there is a contradiction between the two texts, and this is it: Lev 11 (as well as many other OT texts) affirm the reality of ritual (im)purity, and Jesus at Mt 15 denies it.

The context is this: Jesus' disciples eat without washing their hands, which makes them ritually impure. The Pharisees as a sect had a tremendous concern for maintaining a high level of ritual purity in their day-to-day life (which concern led them to refuse to dine together with those who were ritually impure, which is precisely the sort of thing Jesus regularly did). The Pharisees rebuke Jesus and ask him why they do this. His response is two fold: (i) nothing that enters into a man makes him unclean; (ii) what comes out of a man makes him unclean. Because the Pharisees were objecting to his disciples' laxity regarding ritual purity, affirmation (i) must be interpreted as a denial of the ultimate reality of ritual purity/impurity; otherwise he is not addressing what they are saying. It's not a straightforward denial, as if he were simply asserting "Ritual (im)purity is a fiction", but it is the implied sense of what he is saying. Now, because (i) is a denial of the reality of ritual purity, affirmation (ii) therefore should be taken as an affirmation of the centrality and sole reality of moral purity/impurity; in other words, "unclean" in (ii) has a different sense than "unclean" in (i). Jesus then, in (ii), means to replace the Pharisees' concern with ritual purity with a concern for moral purity, which for Jesus implied compassion for those who were neglected and spurned, including the ritually "impure."

The literal way Jesus phrases his response to the Pharisees ("Nothing that goes into a man makes him unclean") is directly contradictory to the wording of Lev 11:24 ("You will make yourselves unclean by [eating] these"); what he means to imply by what he says (viz., the unreality of ritual impurity) is contradictory to the presupposition of Lev 11:24 (viz., the reality of ritual impurity). In brief, then, the Leviticus text affirms a certain aspect of reality, whereas Jesus in Matthew denies it; the Leviticus text is an expression of religious sentiment typical of ancient religious thinking, whereas Jesus offers a spiritualized interpretation of ancient religion which is typical of later stages of ordinary religious evolution. So Jesus does not "add to" or "complete" the Leviticus text; he straightforwardly denies its validity!

This is incompatible with biblical inerrancy because an authoritative figure in one text (Mt 15) denies the validity of the teaching of another text (Lev 11). If Jesus is divinely inspired, then the author(s) of Lev 11 cannot be.

In reply to David and the Guest Poster - concerning my independent attitude to ritual circumcision:

I know Paul distinguished physical circumcision from 'circumcision of the heart - which I understand to mean a spiritual covenant with God rooted in an interior conviction. Some of the apostles apparently believed that circumcision must still be imposed on what we might call Gentile converts to Christianity. If Paul had not successfully contradicted this error, Gentiles willing to endure this mutilation would have been hard to find. In which case, the early Christian movement would have probably dwindled into an obscure Judaic sect - perhaps something like the Essenes.

On the question of why God instructed Abraham to be circumcised, I have never believed that the Creator of the Universe would issue such a bizarre commandment in order to identify His 'chosen people' with this seal of approval. My supposition is that in very ancient times Semitic peoples had primitive notions of sexual hygiene, and perhaps potency, which they attributed to circumcision. Later, this antique custom was 'rationalised' in a myth that explained it as an emblem of tribal affiliation (and as a Badge of the Covenant) when its true origins had been forgotten.

GP says,

>>As far as inerrancy is concerned, there is a contradiction between the two texts, and this is it: Lev 11 (as well as many other OT texts) affirm the reality of ritual (im)purity, and Jesus at Mt 15 denies it.<<

Having just again quickly read through LEV 11, I do not see that it affirms the reality of ritual purity/impurity. For one thing, the word 'ritual' does not appear. Suppose the writer of LEV is not distinguishing among ritual, moral, and physical purity/impurity. Then how can you impute to him the claim that he is affrming the reality of ritual purity/impurity.

Perhaps you could say that the writer is presupposing the reality of rit. imp. -- but to presuppose X is not to affirm X.

Similar problem with MT 15. Jesus does not explicitly deny the reality of ritual purity/impurity. But here I tend to agree with you nonetheless. Jesus is obviously concerned with purity of heart, not with purity in any physical or ritualistic sense.

Suppose the author of LEV is confusing or conflating ritualistic, moral, and physical purity. Then he is not saying or presupposing something definite enough to contradict what Jesus says or presupposes.

>>The literal way Jesus phrases his response to the Pharisees ("Nothing that goes into a man makes him unclean") is directly contradictory to the wording of Lev 11:24 ("You will make yourselves unclean by [eating] these"); <<

Not clear unless you can show that 'unclean' is being used in the same sense in both passages.

*Nothing that a man eats makes him morally unclean* is not the logical contradictory of *Some of the things a man eats make him ritually unclean.* Obviously, these propositions can be be true.

By the way, it is not words or sentences that stand in log. contradictory relations, but propositions.

I also need you to give me an explicit definition of inerrancy. What is the subject of the property of being inerrant? And what exactly is this property?

You also didn't tell me whether my syllogism accurately captured the gist of your post.

Corrigendum: *Nothing that a man eats makes him morally unclean* is not the logical contradictory of *Some of the things a man eats make him ritually unclean.* Obviously, these propositions can BOTH be true.

Bill,

I don't know if I'm being too naive, but I think the above post has an obvious problem.

"1. If the Scripture is inerrant, then no later passage revises, corrects, contradicts, annuls, or abrogates any earlier passage."

"1" doesn't seem to be a valid valid premise. It pressuposes that everything (at least every law) contained in the Bible (if it is inerrant) has universal validity to all mankind in every circunstance at any time. It is obviously not the case.

I don't have my Bible with me right now, but I think Genesis make it quite clear that circumcision is only required after the convenant with Abraham, and not at any moment before.

There is nothing contradictory in believing between Lev 11 and Mt 15. At one moment God reveals what is needed of a specific portion of mankind (Jews) at that moment onwards. At the other moment God reveals that it is not required anymore.

Scripture was not wrong in Lev 11. Those details should indeed be observed by the Jews at that time, but were no more required after the advent of Christ.

So we could put it as follow:

1 - That God revealed a new requirement for circumcision at a given moment does not entail that it was required before, nor that any previous section of the Bible is in error because of lacking that information.

2 - If the enacting of a law does not entail Biblical error, then the abrrogation of an earlier law (which is just the enacting of a new law) does not entail Biblical error.

3 - Mt 15 relieving mankind of the requirement for ritual purity does not entail Biblical error.

I don't see why it should be obvious that God can't revise his laws. He seem to do it all the time in the Bible. It need not to be incoherent or self-contradictory to ask something of mankind during a period of time and them relieving mankind of that obligation at other moment.

I have some concerns about this distinction between ritual purity and moral purity.

To what extent can ritual purity and moral purity be distinct--given the sense that we attach to the term "moral"?

From what I've been able to gather, ritual purity does not entail moral purity, so in that sense they are distinct. But it seems to me that (a) ritual impurity must entail some sort of moral impurity or ungodliness, or else (b) there is no moral obligation to be ritually pure. If having bacon for breakfast makes me unworthy of God's presence or communion, or is somehow displeasing or offensive to God, or is in opposition to his will, then I would say that I shouldn't have bacon for breakfast--and that, as far as I'm concerned, is to say that having bacon for breakfast is morally impermissible, as contrary to God's will.

As I see it, "Jesus denies the reality of ritual purity/impurity" can mean only this: Jesus denies the moral significance of ritual purity/impurity; he denies that neglecting the rituals puts one in opposition to God.

Guest Poster,

A side-question: how is the ritual purification of ancient Judaism different from that of today's Judaism or Islam or even Christianity? (The answer shouldn't have any bearing on what I wrote above, though. I'm just curious to learn more.)

Dr. Vallicella,

Above you seem to dismiss as insensible the view that the Bible, when properly interpreted, is inerrant, because such a view is inconsistent with sola scriptura. Am I misreading you?

Hello everyone,

It is obviously difficult to respond concisely to so many different statements by so many different authors, so please forgive me for only having addressed what I considered to be most important.

To Bill: (1) The Leviticus chapters (11 and onward) do refer to and teach regarding ritual impurity because they have all the characteristics typical of ancient documents containing archaic religions' purity codes: contact with the dead and the diseased makes one impure, coming into contact with and emitting bodily fluids makes on impure, and so on. That it does not use the term "ritual" doesn't amount to much, because (as far as I know) the term was invented by scholars to refer to the notion of "purity" and "cleanliness" found in many different ancient religions which was clearly neither moral nor merely physical.

(2) Because the evidence points to the Levitical author's understanding purity as ritual, what Jesus says does stand in contradiction to what the author of the Leviticus passage says. (Admittedly, it is not a straightforward contradiction like P & ~P, but he was (and I am!) speaking in ordinary language, not propositional logic.) After all, as I argued, the objection of the Pharisees to Jesus' disciples' not washing their hands was that they make themselves ritually unclean; when Jesus denies that anything entering a man's mouth makes him unclean, he must be referring to ritual purity in order for his reply to make any sense in its context.

(3) I don't know precisely how to define inerrancy, but the following is sufficient to prove my point: ordinary conservative Christians take both Leviticus and Matthew to be "inerrant", which for them implies that the teachings of either text, when properly interpreted, are true. I've properly interpreted either text -- or at least I like to think! : ) -- and they ultimately teach contradictory things. So the collection of the two texts cannot be "inerrant": one or (inclusive) the other must be wrong.

(4) It seems to me your syllogism is a good one, but I was not principally interested in giving an argument against inerrancy; I don't know if I made this entirely clear, but my interest was primarily demonstrating a very non-conservative (meaning, unlike present-day conservative Christians) attitude towards the scriptures taken by authoritative figures in the Christian religion, viz. Jesus and Paul. Though an argument against inerrancy can be extracted from this, I was not mostly interested in offering such an argument.

To Lucas Nicolato: (1) There is a problem with your solution to the contradiction of Lev 11 and Mt 15, namely, none of the scriptural texts support it. Beyond the fact that there is nothing in the nature of ritual purity codes to suggest that they can simply be changed or abandoned, as if bodily fluids or contact with the dead might no longer pollute a person if it ever did, I must also point out that the argument that Jesus gives against ritual purity in Mt 15 (at vv. 17-20) makes no reference to God's changing his mind regarding purity codes, in the first place, and would be equally sound (if it is sound!) in the time of the writing of the Levitical texts, in the second place; in other words, the argument does not make reference to truths particular of only Jesus' time, but to truths which would always and everywhere be applicable.

(2) You suggest God can change his laws and requirements. If his laws are not based on the nature of the things the laws are about -- e.g., if the law against contact with the dead is not based on an actual polluting power of a deceased body -- then his laws would seem to be entirely arbitrary. But can God do the arbitrary? Is it not opposed to his rationality? Why does he decide one way some thousands of years ago and decide another way in the time of Jesus?

Rather than suppose that God gave the purity laws, it seems to me more rational to believe that they originally played an important role in the early stages of the development of the Jewish religion, which may have started out more or less the same as other ancient religions. After all, some of the same laws and patterns appear in the purity codes of other religions which had no contact with the Jews (that is, those who believe in the divine inspiration and authority of the Pentateuch), but we do not think God revealed it to those persons, do we?

To BA: (1) It is in the very nature of ritual purity that it be of importance and essential to one's relation to God, because in religions in which there is such a notion as ritual purity, God only can relate with those who are pure. I'll word this another way: there is no believing in ritual purity without believing in its necessity (from an ethical point of view, perhaps), because to be ritually impure is to be incapable of communion with the divine, the latter being desirable in itself. To deny that God only relates with the pure, or that being "pure" has any significance for one's relation with God, then, is tantamount to denying the very notion of ritual purity in toto.

GP sez:

>>(Admittedly, it is not a straightforward contradiction like P & ~P, but he was (and I am!) speaking in ordinary language, not propositional logic.)<<

Not a good answer. If you cannot reduce the competing sayings to an explicit contradiction of the form *p & ~p,* then there just is no logical contradiction. And it is a logical contradiction that you need to make your case against inerrancy.

>>After all, as I argued, the objection of the Pharisees to Jesus' disciples' not washing their hands was that they make themselves ritually unclean; when Jesus denies that anything entering a man's mouth makes him unclean, he must be referring to ritual purity in order for his reply to make any sense in its context.<<

Why? Jesus could be rejecting the whole hang-up with ritual purity. He could be saying to them: Look, you are hung up on externals. It is of no consequence whether you eat pig meat or not. What matters is what goes on in the heart: whether, for example, you covet your neighbors goods and lust after his wife.

Bill, you say: If you cannot reduce the competing sayings to an explicit contradiction of the form *p & ~p,* then there just is no logical contradiction. And it is a logical contradiction that you need to make your case against inerrancy.

How is this not an explicit contradiction: Nothing one eats makes one ritually unclean (implicature of Jesus' affirmation at Mt 15) & Some things one eats makes one ritually unclean (implication of Lev 11:24)? The contradiction is not at the level of what is explicitly said, but it is there nonetheless.

Why? Jesus could be rejecting the whole hang-up with ritual purity. He could be saying to them: Look, you are hung up on externals. It is of no consequence whether you eat pig meat or not. What matters is what goes on in the heart: whether, for example, you covet your neighbors goods and lust after his wife.

I think he is saying and doing that -- and saying/doing that entails a denial of the category of ritual purity -- but it is still in contradiction to Lev 11! Lev 11 says it is important whether or not you eat pig meat, and Jesus denies it -- that is sufficient as far as an argument against inerrancy goes, is it not?

GP "But a rejection of ritual purity, the requirement for sacrifice, the legitimacy of the temple, etc., is a rejection of a literal reading of many Old Testament texts."

GP "Jesus denies that there is anything such thing as ritual purity, and claims only the moral is essential."

Jesus never denies there is such a thing as ritual purity nor rejects its requirement as decreed within the law. The specific Rabbinic ordinance he was accused of transgressing was not in the law but rather in the Yadayim, a treatise of the Mishnah and the Tosefta.

GP "God only can relate with those who are pure."

In this last clarification, it seems that you have identified the crucial element. The law indeed demanded ritual purification that could cleanse the outside but stood only as a symbol of the real need; it was powerless however to address it (Romans 8:3). The writer of Hebrews spends much time examining the dichotomy between the modes of approaching God.
"For on the one hand there is an annulling of the former commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness, for the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God. (Heb 7:18–19).

Hi Bryant Poythress,

Whatever the textual basis of the Pharisees' complaint, remember that my argument is that Jesus' words are in contradiction with Lev 11:24, not with some rabbinical tradition, though they were obviously in contradiction with the tradition to which the Pharisees were appealing, as well.

You say: Jesus never denies there is such a thing as ritual purity nor rejects its requirement as decreed within the law.

This does not line up with his behavior -- he regularly comes into contact with the ritually impure and there are no recorded instances of his undergoing purification afterward -- nor with his words -- as, for example, in Mt 15. If Jesus did not deny the requirement for ritual purity, how, then, do you go about purifying yourself after contact with impure animals, whether by consumption or touching their corpses? or after a seminal emission or discharge of bodily fluids?

You say: The law indeed demanded ritual purification that could cleanse the outside but stood only as a symbol of the real need.

You have spiritualized the Old Testament texts, as did David J. Houston above. Ritual purity is not a "symbol" for moral or interior purity in the ancient religions; it comes to be interpreted that way by later generations (in numerous different religious traditions, whether Jewish or Hindu or whatever) who no longer understand the "caveman metaphysics" (or so we might call it; I do not use this phrase entirely literally!) involved in the purification ceremonies, but the original religious believers did not understand it as a symbol of moral purity or anything of the sort. They really believed that there was a distinct manner in which a person may defile himself, and that such defilement was incompatible with the continuing presence of the deity with the people.

Nowhere in the Old Testament is it stated that the various ritual purity requirements are symbolic of some kind of "inner purity", because ancient religious persons did not think about the matter in that way. Contact with the dead, bodily fluids, certain animals, etc., really did make you impure in a distinct way which required its own distinct treatment (namely, ritual purification).

Jesus, in denying that anything enters a man's mouth defiles him, is implicitly denying the validity of this whole ancient way of thinking, as well as explicitly denying the truth of Lev 11:24.

I know I'm violating the brevity-law of bloggery, but I hope there's enough substance here to save these comments from the darkness.


Here's an argument for a straightforward, logical contradiction, and against scriptural inerrancy.

1. The term 'ritually impure' describes some sort of state in which we are unworthy of God's presence or in violation of his Law. One becomes ritually impure, for example, when he violates the ritualistic prohibitions against eating some foods.
2. If performing some action is contrary to God's will or violates his Law, then performing it is morally impermissible.
3. It is morally impermissible (as contrary to God's will) to be ritually impure (by violating the prohibitions against eating some foods, for example): ritual impurity entails moral impurity.
4. (a) *Some of the things a man eats make him ritually impure* entails (a') *Some of the things a man eats make him morally impure*.
5. (a') contradicts (b) *Nothing that a man eats makes him morally impure*.
6. (a) contradicts (b).
7. Lev. 11 embodies proposition (a).
8. Mt. 15 embodies proposition (b).
9. Mt. 15 contradicts Lev. 11.
10. If the Scripture is inerrant, then, at the very least, no later passage contradicts any earlier passage. (from Dr. Vallicella's syllogism.)
11. The Scripture is not inerrant.


Now, putting this argument aside, I'd like to respond to some of GP's stimulating comments.


"Why does he decide one way some thousands of years ago and decide another way in the time of Jesus?"

I don't have a direct answer, but Richard Challoner's comments on the rituals might be useful; they certainly are illuminating:

"The prohibition of so many kinds of beasts, birds, and fishes, in the law, was ordered, 1st, to exercise the people in obedience, and temperance; 2ndly, to restrain them from the vices of which these animals were symbols; 3rdly, because the things here forbidden were for the most part unwholesome, and not proper to be eaten; 4thly, that the people of God, by being obliged to abstain from things corporally unclean, might be trained up to seek a spiritual cleanness." (http://www.newadvent.org/bible/lev011.htm)

This interpretation seems valid to me, even if other possible interpretations are valid, and regardless of how these prohibitions were interpreted by the Jews and in other ancient religions. The frequent "these shall be an abomination to you" invites Challoner's interpretation of the rituals as an exercise in self-reformation and self-control, in aligning one's will with God's, in making this or that abominable to oneself or one's consciousness for no other reason than that such is God's will. Of course, for a truly compelling argument either way, one would have to refer to the original Hebrew text.


"It is in the very nature of ritual purity that it be of importance and essential to one's relation to God, because in religions in which there is such a notion as ritual purity, God only can relate with those who are pure."

I'm not sure this is valid. Suppose everyone in the world believed that God only relates with the physically pure. It wouldn't follow that it is in the very nature of physical purity that it be essential to one's relationship with God. A prophet or philosopher who said, "It is not soap or shampoo that makes a man clean," would not be denying the very notion but the moral significance of physical purity. Or perhaps we should say that he would be denying just one possible interpretation or notion of physical purity. Jesus might be denying the notion of ritual purity that--rather than seeing the system of rituals as a once useful and still optional means toward obedience to God and sanctity of spirit--attaches moral significance to all of the rituals themselves. It seems that one can, in principle, live according to a ritual-purity code without regarding all of the rituals as morally obligatory in themselves. In much the same way, I can and do live according to what might be called a physical-purity code, considering myself physically impure until I have brushed my teeth after eating, without considering the physical impurity as damaging in itself to my relationship with God.

On the one hand…

‘Ritual purity is not a "symbol" for moral or interior purity in the ancient religions; it comes to be interpreted that way by later generations (in numerous different religious traditions, whether Jewish or Hindu or whatever) who no longer understand the "caveman metaphysics" (or so we might call it; I do not use this phrase entirely literally!) involved in the purification ceremonies, but the original religious believers did not understand it as a symbol of moral purity or anything of the sort. They really believed that there was a distinct manner in which a person may defile himself, and that such defilement was incompatible with the continuing presence of the deity with the people.’

On the other hand…

‘Regarding ritual purity: like I said, ritual purity/impurity is a concept we do not believe in as moderns and can no longer really understand, but it was evidently clear enough to those ancients for whom it was a great concern. The tendency over the years in some religious traditions throughout the world was to try to understand it in terms of moral or physical purity, but this spiritualized reinterpretation would be technically incorrect; it was category of its own and is not rightly understood in those terms, but only in its own.’

It’s hard to find a contradiction when you don’t understand the concepts involved. ;)

To BA: When the author you cited interprets the purity codes as causes for the development of various virtues, symbolic of a moral purity, etc., he is spiritualizing the Old Testament text, just like David Houston and Bryant Poythress super did. None of those notions are found in the Leviticus texts themselves.

You also said, This interpretation seems valid to me . . . regardless of how these prohibitions were interpreted by the Jews and in other ancient religions. This is not a reasonable position. The Leviticus text wasn't written for you or me, some thousands of years after the fact; it was written for the Jews of that time whose concern was preserving the favor and presence of their deity. They did not understand these commandments as ultimately moral in scope or purpose; they are autonomous, they stand on their own, and that is the proper understanding of the text. A spiritualized, moralistic interpretation of the text may be our tendency as moderns who no longer believe in the importance of maintaining ritual purity, and for whom religion is primarily a matter of ethics; but that is not what the author(s) of the text had in mind when it was being written, and that is not the right way to interpret it. No one would feel compelled by a reading of Acts in which Paul's handling a snake without being killed is merely a fable, symbolic of his battling some vice or other and conquering; that is clearly not what the author had in mind. For the same reason, we cannot understand Leviticus in a spiritualized way, modernizing it; we must accept it for what it is, a purity code typical of religions of ancient times, making use of concepts and a background metaphysic that we cannot understand anymore.

Re: ritual purity, there is no separating ritual purity codes from one's conception of the divinity and how to properly relate with it. Ritual purity is understood more or less just as fittingness to participate in the cultus and commune with the divinity in offering sacrifices, etc. There is no other role for ritual purity to play, no other significance for it to have.

To David Houston: I don't understand what you are trying to get across with your latest comment.

Happy to clarify!

On one hand you claim to understand how the original believers understood ritual purity but on the other hand you say that ritual purity is something that we moderns cannot understand. So what I want to know is... which is it? Can we understand the concept of ritual purity or can't we? If we can't grasp it then how are we in any position to judge whether or not Jesus was denying its original meaning?

This is especially important when we take into consideration that Jesus was in a far better place to understand what ritual impurity was all about (he lived in a society that was dominated by the concept, after all) and yet he saw himself as being in conformity with the law of Moses which contains laws concerning ritual impurity. (Mt. 5) I guess the real question is how is it that you are confident that you understand ritual impurity better than Jesus?

GP,

I'll preface my response by saying that I don't have a strong view on scriptural inerrancy, and am inclined to agree with you that Matthew 15 contradicts Leviticus 11. (Just out of curiosity: do you accept the argument I presented above? A "yes" or "no" is fine.) Consider these comments my attempt at some constructive criticism to help all of us formulate better positions, even if we don't formulate the same one.

1. Yes, Leviticus was written for the Jews, but the Jews were not infallible interpreters. The background metaphysics and principles of interpretation that they brought to all texts might be useful for us today in our own quest to understand the Bible, but the ancient Jewish interpretation, whatever it was, wasn't necessarily the correct or the best one. Agree?

From the fact that the text was written for the Jews, it doesn't follow that the Jews interpreted it correctly.

I'm not saying they didn't; I'm just saying that your argument against my acceptance of Challoner's reading isn't valid. Suppose an ancient Jew, living and thinking in ancient times, held that some minority interpretation of the Old Testament was the best one. Now, his holding to the minority interpretation might have been unreasonable, but not because the interpretation was a minority one! He was a thinking mind. Suppose his thinking child asked him, "Father, why do they say pig meat is impure?" It would have been perfectly reasonable for him to respond (and it remains reasonable, I think, to respond now), "Child, it is impure for no other reason than that God has prohibited it, asking us to 'reckon it among the unclean,' to make it 'abominable to ourselves,' to our consciousness! You are 'ritually' impure when you eat pig meat for the same reason you are 'morally' impure when you commit adultery: because to do these is to violate God's Holy Law and Will." It isn't a long way from here to Challoner's reading of Leviticus, or a reading like Challoner's...

2. I quoted Challoner mainly as a first, speculative step to answering your question, Why might God decide one way at one time, and then another way later?

3. "Ritual purity is understood more or less just as fittingness to participate in the cultus and commune with the divinity in offering sacrifices, etc. There is no other role for ritual purity to play, no other significance for it to have."

Why do you say that (the sentence in bold)? Aren't you assuming one of the points potentially at issue?

Maybe we should distinguish two possible senses of 'ritually impure'.

(c) I am 'ritually impure' = I have failed to observe all of the prescribed rituals.
(d) I am 'ritually impure' = I am unworthy of God's presence, in violation of his Law.

(c) and (d) are distinct. On the Pharisees' interpretation of the Law, (c) entails (d). In the argument above (July 17) I assume that (c) entails (d). But one can, in principle, accept (c), and live by it, and benefit from it, without accepting (d). So it seems.

4. Are there any articles or books you would recommend on this subject, or these subjects, rather?

To David J. Houston: More or less the whole of what I've said thus far about ritual purity is that it is not the same as moral or physical purity, and that in the ancient religions it is not symbolic for either of the latter categories but autonomous. I haven't said anything about ritual purity itself but only made certain negations regarding the relations it bares to other recognizable forms of "purity." So I don't think I've said anything contradictory to my claim to understand ritual purity, by which I mean the thing itself, nor is this lack of understanding a problem for the argument I am making.

Jesus lived in a society in which many had a concern for maintaining ritual purity, but it doesn't follow that he or anyone else of his time perfectly understood the "logic" of ancient Jewish purity codes. By Jesus' time, much of the Old Testament sacrificial and ritual system was becoming unintelligible, so much so that Josephus, for instance, claimed the Jews offered sacrifices merely because God told them to. That is not a good answer, and that is presumably not the answer the ancient Israelites who understood the sacrificial metaphysics of the Old Testament system would have given.

Yes, Jesus claimed to fulfill the Law, but I've already addressed this point: his claim to fulfill the Law surely must be understood as a claim to fulfill the law according to his own interpretation of it. (Thus, e.g., he Pharisees who disapproved of his Sabbath-day healings would call him a Law-breaker, but Jesus considers them to be the Law-breakers.) But the fact that Jesus thinks he is fulfilling the Law according to his interpretation doesn't mean that Jesus has the same opinion of the Law, scriptural inerrancy, etc., that you do.

And even if Jesus did understand the notion of ritual purity, which I do not necessarily admit he did, then he still contradicts Lev 11, and scriptural inerrancy is still false.

To BA: (Note, the numbering of my response to do not necessarily match up with the numbering of your response.)

(1) You have to take into consideration the fact that I am not attempting to offer rigorous logical proofs of contradiction; I am offering something of an abductive argument (although I certainly haven't phrased it explicitly in this manner), as is necessary when the subject matter is biblical interpretation. I can't prove with logical precision any of the major premises of my argumentation thus far, but that is not a problem, because I am not doing logic.

For this reason, I think your comments are mistaken when you say: "the ancient Jewish interpretation, whatever it was, wasn't necessarily the correct or the best one"; "From the fact that the text was written for the Jews, it doesn't follow that the Jews interpreted it correctly"; "your argument against my acceptance of Challoner's reading isn't valid." All these may be true, but then again, I am not trying to offer a logical proof, and so validity is not a concern for me.

Beyond that, there is no textual evidence in support of the moralist interpretation. Where do the Levitical texts ever make a connection between the ritual impurity contracted by contact with the dead, or seminal emission, for example, and some sort of moral purity? Where do the Levitical texts ever say that the practice of these laws (a good part of which appear in other, non-Jewish religions as well!) are about developing obedience to God?

Furthermore, why would God give the purity laws so that the Jews would develop a firm obedience to God's will, then only to change it after a few years, and dramatically so? Would not the Jews of Jesus' time have a good argument against accepting the Christian rhetoric according to which circumcision and obedience to Jewish dietary practice are unnecessary for God's favor? -- namely, that God himself had commanded these things in a law which was to last forever and ever? They spend all those years obeying God's law, considering pigs abominable, so much so that it has entered into their thinking and can't be taken out: if God were to then declare all foods clean, God would have worked in such a way as to be his own obstacle.

(2) I don't think I am begging the question when I say that there is no other role for ritual purity to play beyond the domain of interaction with the deity. That is just what ritual purity is; hence the name ritual -- because it had to do with rituals aimed at placating, etc., the divinity.

(3) You can try Stephen Finlan, Problems with Atonement (Liturgical Press, 2005) for some discussion on Old Testament sacrifices, Jesus' attitude toward the cultus, etc. It contains a lot of abbreviated material from his discussion The Background and Content of Paul's Cultic Atonement Metaphors.

GP,

You claim to have disproved inerrancy by showing an explicit contradiction between Mt. 15 and Lev. 11:24 but then you back off from that statement and say things like ‘the contradiction is not at the level of what is explicitly said’. So then I take you to mean that although the language appears consistent the underlying concepts are actually contradictory. This is okay as far it goes but at this point you owe us an argument for thinking that although the statements in these passages are not explicitly contradictory they are implicitly.

As far as I can tell, the only argument you’ve put forward to justify you claim that Jesus departed from the original meaning of Lev. 11 is your allusion to the similarities between the rituals of ancient Israel and other nations but, at best, this only adds some justification for your claim that this is in fact how the ancient Israelites view them. It is by no means a tight case. Take a similar case, like the baptismal practices of Presbyterians and Roman Catholics. Both use water. Both believe children to be proper recipients. Both refer to baptism as a sacrament. Both believe that baptism is of spiritual value. And yet Presbyterians and Roman Catholics attach a very different significance to this ritual practice. There is superficial concord but deep conflict between the two positions. Why couldn’t some similar state of affairs exist between ancient Israel’s purity laws and the purity laws of the surrounding nations? Why must they be taken in the sense that you take to be contradictory to Jesus’ statement in Mt. 15?

The fact that the alleged contradiction involves concepts that you take to be ‘unintelligible’, something we ‘no longer really understand’, takes away from any strength that your argument might have. Even if you think that by treading the via negativa you can know enough about ritual purity to show a contradiction that has certainly not been demonstrated. You can keep saying that there is contradiction loudly and slowly so that the silly Calvinists will understand but you have yet to provide anything like a good argument for your position.

GP - This does not line up with his behavior -- he regularly comes into contact with the ritually impure and there are no recorded instances of his undergoing purification afterward -- nor with his words -- as, for example, in Mt 15.

What is this, argument from silence? Jesus did something (failed to undergo purification) because it is not recorded that he didn't?

GP - Nowhere in the Old Testament is it stated that the various ritual purity requirements are symbolic of some kind of "inner purity", because ancient religious persons did not think about the matter in that way.

The words and concepts are intermingled in such a way in this passage as to make clear that the two are interrelated. I have copied the transliteration in case the Hebrew script does not show properly. (טָמֵא tame) is the most common word in the OT translated unclean and (קָדַשׁ qadash) is the word most commonly translated as holy.

"Do not defile yourselves by any of these creatures. Do not make yourselves unclean (טָמֵא tame) by means of them or be made unclean (טָמֵא tame) by them.  I am the Lord your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy (קָדַשׁ qadash), because I am holy (קָדַשׁ qadash). Do not make yourselves unclean (טָמֵא tame) by any creature that moves along the ground. I am the Lord, who brought you up out of Egypt to be your God; therefore be holy(קָדַשׁ qadash), because I am holy(קָדַשׁ qadash). These are the regulations concerning animals, birds, every living thing that moves about in the water and every creature that moves along the ground. You must distinguish between the unclean (טָמֵא tame) and the clean (טָהֹור tahowr), between living creatures that may be eaten and those that may not be eaten." Lev 11:43-47

GP - Jesus, in denying that anything enters a man's mouth defiles him, is implicitly denying the validity of this whole ancient way of thinking, as well as explicitly denying the truth of Lev 11:24.

Of the two words used in the Septuagint to translate the Hebrew concept of unclean, 
‎(טָמֵא tame) is predominately translated by (ἀκάθαρτος akathartos) but also by (μιαίνω miaínō) and the idea of profane by (βεβηλόω bebēlóō). Jesus used none of these, but instead chose the greek word (κοινόω koinóō) which " does not occur in the LXX, which uses → βεβηλοῦν for “to profane,” and in the Apocr. the only instance is 4 Macc. 7:6."
...
"In connection with the NT view of personal holiness it is found in Mt. 15:11, 18, 20 and par., where we read that the capacity for fellowship with God is destroyed, not by material uncleanness (foods, hands), but only by personal sin."

Vol. 3: Theological dictionary of the New Testament. 1964- (G. Kittel, G. W. Bromiley & G. Friedrich, Ed.) (electronic ed.) (809). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

OK, carry on if you like, but it's long been time to do so via private e-mail.

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