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Parable Comparision Between The Gospels Matthew And Mark

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Redefine What Defiles

The Jewish tradition of using parables was a common way to teach morals and ethics in a complicated fashion. Indeed, these slightly convoluted stories and teachings allowed the listener to analyze, question and reflect deeply about the message of the parable. No doubt this was a favorite method of teaching for Jesus of Nazareth. Feeling the opposition from the Pharisees and Sadducees sects of Judaism, Jesus used the following parable to shake the established doctrines of cleanliness of kosher foods and how to maintain a clean soul. This parable is shared by both the Gospel of Mark and the Gospel of Matthew:

Matthew 15:12-21 Mark 7:17-23

From both versions of the parable, the word “defile” is the most prominent aspect of the parable. It is a strong word that means “to make dirty or foul” and Jesus uses this word in many ways. First, Jesus explains that defiling the body with evil that comes from the heart and out the mouth. Second, Jesus denounces the perception of unclean food to make a person evil. Thus, it can be understood that all food is clean and that the acts of a person can either purify or defile the soul. There are multiple instances of the word “defile” in the New Testament. However, the examples that pertain to the soul and food come from the multiple letters of Paul and the letter of James, found after the Gospels:

1. It is not everyone, however, who has this knowledge. Since some have become so accustomed to idols until now, they still think of the food they eat as food offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. “Food will not bring us close to God.” (1 Corinthians 8.7-8)

2. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble, and through it many become defiled. (Hebrews 12.15)

3. Let marriage be held in honor by all, and let the marriage bed be kept undefiled; for God will judge fornicators and adulterers. (Hebrews 13.4)

4. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. (James 1.27)

In the first instance of the word “defile” from 1 Corinthians is the only passage found that refers to food. This confirms Jesus’ teaching that all food is clean and that food has nothing to do with how God will judge a person. Moreover, the person who believes that eating the food offered to idols and gods will defile their conscience with ignorance and petty actions. The second instance refers to how people can become defiled by bad influences, or “root of bitterness.” This root symbolizes those to wish to corrupt a person by inspiring hate, provoking sinful actions etc. The third instance refers to the specific sin of adultery. Outlined by both gospels of Mark and Matthew, adultery is a sin of the flesh and would taint the soul indefinitely. The last instance is a precaution. In short, people must do what is right to those who are unwillingly stricken with loneliness and to not be influenced by the temptations of sin. From this research, it is determined that defilement of the soul was a genuine concern of the ancient Hebrews. However, the gospels themselves proclaim this and much more.

The Gospels (lit. “good news”) genre is a collection and chronicle of Jesus’ teachings, miracles, passion and messianic life. As a compilation of all this information, the Gospel writers function more as editors rather than writers. Thus, the Gospels have been compared to being a type of ancient biography. This means that these gospels were meant to capture the essential character of Christ and a fluidity of the stories (Sanchez). Regardless, the authors of the Gospels had one focus in mind: to express the life of Christ. This is especially true in the case of Matthew’s Gospel. The unknown writer used up to ninety percent of the Gospel of Mark, explicit use of the Q Source



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