"Psalm 23," John August Swanson. Used by permission from the artist.
Image © by John August Swanson. Artwork held in the Luther Seminary Fine Arts Collection, St. Paul, Minn.
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Mark 12:28-44 Commentary
by N. Clayton Croy
The average Christian’s perspective on first century Jews, particularly their leaders -- high priests, scribes, the Sanhedrin -- is understandably derived from the New Testament.
While the New Testament is an important source of information, it obviously can skew one’s perspective because the Jewish leaders are usually portrayed as the opponents of Jesus. In Mark 12:28-34 we get a delightful exception to this trend.
A scribe overhears Jesus in debate with the Sadducees (Mark 12:18-27) and is impressed by his deft handling of a tricky question. So he poses his own question to Jesus, but unlike so many others recounted in the gospels, this question is sincere. This scribe is not seeking to entrap Jesus, but to learn from him. His approach is that of a fellow rabbi, not a hostile opponent.
Rabbis seem to have revelled in debate. According to a tradition that may go back to the 2nd century CE, the Torah contained 613 commandments. There was thus ample material for debate, particularly when one tried to prioritize these laws. That is the thrust of the scribe’s question in Mark 12:28. Given the multiplicity of laws, how could one possibly remember them and ...
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2019-20 Worship resources
The narrative lectionary is a four-year cycle of readings. Read more.
NL215: Great Commandment
March 06, 2016
This podcast discusses Mark 12:28-44, the Narrative Lectionary reading for Mar. 6, 2016.