The contemporary Christian interpretation of the passage found in Mark 7:19 seems incompatible with the greater context of the chapter as a whole. How can this be about unclean meat?

Mark 7:19 NASB

because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach and is eliminated. (Thus He declared all foods clean)

Is it true that the latter clause is missing entirely in the oldest manuscripts, (Codex Sinaiticus, Codex B, et al.) and is a marginal note that made its way into the Textus Receptus? There seems to be a tremendous amount of liberty taken to translate three Greek words.

It begins (Mark 7:2 & Matthew 15:2) with the Pharisaic criticism of the Disciples for not keeping the traditions (Gk. Paradosis) of the Elders when eating bread without ceremonial cleansing. (Emphasis mine.)

There is no mention of pork, shellfish, or any unclean creature in the entirety of the Chapter. Moreover, the only mention of swine in the entire Book of Mark is associated with the cleansing of the demoniac in chapter 5!

How do Christians reconcile Jesus' rebuke of the Pharisees for "neglecting the commandments" (vs. 8), "setting aside the commandments" (vs. 9), and "invalidating the Word of God" (vs. 13) with a view that contradicts Leviticus 11?

Wouldn't Jesus be guilty of doing the very thing he rebukes the Pharisees of? Namely, setting aside the commandments of God?

If the Christian interpretation was so straightforward as to undermine the Torah of Moses, why are all of the Disciples so confused?

Peter is present for the explanation (ref. Matthew 15:15). Surely he would have received the correction the second go around. Yet we find Him quite dogmatic in Acts 10:14 regarding eating "what is unholy and unclean".

Wouldn't this instead be tied to the Pharisaic traditions and interpretations of the Levitical Purity Code? (i.e. Oral Law)

  • This question contains half a dozen questions. It would be better (for this site) if there were only a single question. Commented Nov 13, 2023 at 4:14
  • Also, for this site it is good to mention specific denominations rather than all of Christianity, which is far too broad a category. ¶ And since this is about a specific scripture and not really about any one denomination, it might have been better to ask it in Biblical Hermeneutics Stack Exchange. And by the way, welcome to the site. Commented Nov 13, 2023 at 4:24
  • The 'question' (or rather, as is pointed out, batch of questions) is not a genuine enquiry. This is quite clearly an attempt to assert a doctrinal structure that is based on a particular viewpoint.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Nov 13, 2023 at 7:34
  • Thank you for the responses, and yes, I am brand new.to the site - major learning curve! I strive to emphasize the substance of the context of my questions. While Nigel is correct in that I have my own viewpoints for frame of reference, I am hoping that others may point out something that I am missing - addressing the substance of my post would be quite beneficial. Commented Nov 14, 2023 at 14:08

1 Answer 1


How do Christians reconcile … ?

There are many denominations within nominal Christianity.
Not all of them disagree with you.

NLT has:

They noticed that some of his disciples failed to follow the Jewish ritual of hand washing before eating. (The Jews, especially the Pharisees, do not eat until they have poured water over their cupped hands, as required by their ancient traditions.

Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’ For you ignore God’s law and substitute your own tradition.”

It’s not what goes into your body that defiles you; you are defiled by what comes from your heart.

Food doesn’t go into your heart, but only passes through the stomach and then goes into the sewer.".

It's clearly a Pharisaic ritual, not God's law.

And the real dirt is what you allow into your heart, not the dust on your fingers.

This whole episode is about the Pharisees trying to find something to blame Jesus and the Disciples for.
Jesus turns it around to point out that the dirt in the Pharisees hearts is far worse and far more permanent than the dirt on anyone's fingers.

This chapter has nothing even remotely related to unclean animals, and the parenthetical addition is simply someone's wishful thinking.

Abductive reasoning makes that even more obvious.

If Jesus really had "declared all foods clean":

  • How would the Pharisees have reacted? They were trying to catch him on minor things like hand washing rituals, and suddenly Jesus declares that one of God's explicit laws is no longer in effect; that's explicit blasphemy; there would have been a riot. But there wasn't, there was no reaction at all.
  • What would the Disciples have learned? Had they learned that all foods were now okay to eat, would Peter, many years later have stated, "I have never eaten anything that our Jewish laws have declared impure or unclean."?

Clearly Jesus did not "declare all foods clean".
Anyone that thinks otherwise would have to explain away (at least) those two very unnatural responses to the declaration.

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