by Ed Rowell

This content is part of a series.

Tradition Becomes More Attractive Than Truth (5 of 7)
Series: Adventures in Missing the Point
Ed Rowell
Mark 7:6-23
March 7, 2003

Read vv1-7 during announcements.

Clip from Fiddler on the Roof

Tradition: "the handing down of information, beliefs and customs by word of mouth or by example from one generation to another without written instruction." Merriam-Webster

Name some family traditions.
When should Christmas presents be opened--Christmas Eve or Christmas day?

In our key passage, the Pharisees believed traditions were more than just good ideas or cherished beliefs. They believed their traditions were of equal authority with Scripture.

They believed that God gave both the written Torah (Gen.--Leviticus) and the oral Torah (the traditions of the elders). The oral Torah was in six sections, containing laws and traditions about agriculture, festivals, women, civil and criminal law, holy things, and ritual purity. The oral Torah was exactly that until 200 A.D. when it was codified into what is now known as the Mishnah by Rabbi Judah the Prince.

So during the time of Jesus, part of being a Pharisee was memorizing these oral traditions verbatim and passing them along faithfully. To the Pharisee, these traditions were just as authoritative as the written Law.

Every week we read about a conflict Jesus had with the Pharisees. They would make an accusation against him and he would teach, usually with a parable. The accusation this week is found v. 5 "Why don't your disciples live according to the "tradition of the elders"?

It all began over the issue of hand washing (See vv.3-4). When you read about this in the New Testament, it has nothing whatsoever to do with hygiene. Interestingly, it wasn't until around the time of the Civil War that people equated dirty hands with germs. The issue with the Pharisees was a symbolic ritual that demonstrated adherence to the oral Torah.

They believed that defilement occurred when an observant Jew know ...

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