The First Commentary on Mark: An Annotated Translation

By Michael Cahill | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 7

And the Pharisees gathered around him, etc. ( Mark 7:1)

With a two-pronged argument, he counters the excessive ranting of the Pharisees by means of the chiding of Moses and Isaiah,1 so that we may overcome opposing heresies with the words of Scripture. They saw the disciples eating bread with defiled, that is, unwashed, hands.2 This signifies the future communion of the gentiles. The cleanliness and the baptism of the Pharisees are useless. The unwashed apostolic community stretches its branches even as far as the sea, which is greater than the guilt.3 However, the tradition of the Pharisees in regard to tables and dishes is not to be maintained, but is to be cut off and eradicated. Often the commandments of God give place to the traditions of men.

After these things, we have the ninth sign (cf. Mark 7:24). The Tyro- Phoenician woman,4 whose daughter had an unclean spirit, entered and fell at his feet ( Mark 7:25). She was a gentile woman. She petitions on behalf of the daughter who is our mother, the Roman church. The daughter of the possessed stands for a barbaric western nation. Her faith changes a dog into a sheep.5

____________________
1
Referring to Jesus' quoting of Isaiah in Is 29:13 ( Mark 7:6-7) and of Moses in Ex 20:12; 21:17 ( Mark 7:10).
2
In the Latin, the terms communibus manibus, i.e., "unwashed hands," suggest easily communio and communicatio. The gentiles are not bound to Jewish ritual observance.
3
Ps 80:11; cf. Micah 7:19.
4
See the comment on the other instance of this unusual form in the prologue.
5
Aug Sym p. 187 58-59. The mother enables her daughter to meet the Shepherd.

-63-

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The First Commentary on Mark: An Annotated Translation
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents ix
  • Abbreviations xi
  • Note: xiv
  • Introduction 3
  • Prologue 19
  • Chapter I 25
  • Chapter 2 41
  • Chapter 3 43
  • Chapter 4 49
  • Chapter 5 55
  • Chapter 6 59
  • Chapter 7 63
  • Chapter 8 69
  • Chapter 9 73
  • Chapter 10 79
  • Chapter 11 83
  • Chapter 12 89
  • Chapter 13 95
  • Chapter 14 99
  • Chapter 15 115
  • Chapter 16 127
  • Epilogue 133
  • Appendix an Interpolated Homily 135
  • Bibliography 139
  • Index of Biblical Texts 147
  • Select Index to Annotations 153
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