In his talk “Jesus Kept Kosher” Prof. Daniel Boyarin argues that Mark 7:19 passage “Thus He (Jesus) declared all foods clean” has been misunderstood.
Daniel Boyarin is a professor of Talmudic Culture at University of California at Berkeley. There is a saying that goes something like this: “Religion exists to comfort the disturbed, and to disturb the comforted.” When I think of this saying I think of Daniel Boyarin.
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I have just realized that my argument in yesterday’s post is self-defeating, because from Acts 10:14 it is clear that Peter was fully keeping kashrut law in 38 AD , i.e. 9 or 10 years after hearing Jesus’ teaching in Mk 7:14-23 (assuming that Jesus started his ministry in 28 AD and was crucified in 30 AD).
Therefore, I must add that the NT shows consistently that the Apostles did not immediately realize the full scope of Jesus’ teachings when they heard them. Sometimes they could not understand even a plain, concrete statement:
For He was teaching His disciples and telling them, “The Son of Man is to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him; and when He has been killed, He will rise three days later.” But they did not understand this statement, and they were afraid to ask Him. (Mk 9:31-32)
In the Farewell Discourse in John’s Gospel, Jesus is fully aware of the Apostle’s present epistemic limitations:
“I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth;” (Jn 16:12-13a)
Therefore, it is fully plausible that both Boyarin’s thesis and my argument are right, each in its own time span. This is because Jesus’ teaching in Mk 7:14-23 had two levels of meaning:
– The immediate level was to declare invalid the pharisaic oral traditions about purity, and that was what the Apostles understood at that time. That’s why Peter was still fully keeping kashrut laws in 38 AD.
– The deep level was to abrogate the Deuteronomical kashrut laws, and the Apostles grasped it only in the council of 49 AD, with Peter drawing that conclusion on the basis of the descent of the Holy Spirit on Cornelius in 38 AD (Acts 15:6-11) .
To note, it is the deep level of meaning which is reflected in Mark’s understanding of Jesus’ teaching in Mk 7:19, because the most plausible date for the composition of Mark’s Gospel is shortly after the council of 49 AD.
 Most NT timelines date the announcement of the Gospel to Cornelius in 38 AD. E.g.:
 Similarly to the case of Jesus’ teaching in Mk 7:14-23, the vision at the rooftop had two levels of meaning. The immediate and, in this case, most important meaning was the alegorical, which Peter grasped at that time: “But God has shown me not to call any man common or unclean.” (Acts 10:28). The mediate meaning was the literal, which was understood only in 49 AD.