New Testament and Christian Theology

The Concept of "Unclean" in the New Testament

The term "unclean" is used in the New Testament more morally than ritualistically, unlike how it is used in the Old Testament. The Jewish people nevertheless continue to follow both the biblical rules of ritual purity and the rabbinic elaborations even in these modern times. A person had to fully avoid the state of being "unclean" in the Jewish Society of Jesus. A person in this circumstance would be in danger and face the possibility of death or divine vengeance. In order to prevent spreading ceremonial uncleanliness to others, the unclean person would not associate with or communicate with them. However, in the New Testament, Jesus Christ speaks about clean and unclean in terms of holiness and taking care of the inner person. This is an aspect that engages Him in disputes with the Pharisees and scribes.

The Modern Understanding of "Unclean"

In our society, people considered as unclean are those who are violent, split personalities, advocating for nakedness. In the book of Luke, there is the story of a man who was asked his name by Jesus. He responded that his name was Legion. In essence, this man was possessed by the devil. He had three negative characteristics. Namely, he was a violent person possessing a split personality, and he had gone for a long time without clothes (Fischer 102). Speaking about sin and evil in our culture today, these three traits are those making people unclean. Split personality is marked by passivity, dissociation, and indifference to praise. Moreover, violence has been witnessed all over the world from the local, national, and international level. In the same way, nowadays nudity is used for attraction and promotion almost everywhere. All these are aspects that entail an unclean person in the contemporary human society.

Jesus' Perspective on "Clean and Unclean"

In Mark's gospel, Jesus responds to the Pharisees by telling them that whatever comes from the outside does not define a man, but rather what comes from the inner person does it. As such, even though the disciples ate food without washing their hands, they were still clean. It contradicts Jews' teachings that before eating anything cooked or bought in the market, people should wash their hands. However, Jesus declared that all those laws established by the Jewish Society did not matter anymore (Malbon 266). According to God, what matters more is practicing inward charity and moral purity. In many accounts, Jesus touched the unclean, such as the sinful woman and even when healing the sick. All these acts were to mark the end of the various laws set in the Jewish Society and introduce a new era where the important issue in a Christian life is their relationship with God.

Clean and Unclean in the Old and New Testament

Clean and unclean have been widely discussed in the Old Testament Laws given to Moses by God. Many circumstances could make an animal or a person unclean in connection with the tabernacle offerings. However, in the New Testament, Jesus used these concepts to talk about being holy and unholy from the inside. He says to the Pharisees that they concentrate on cleaning the outside of the dish and cup, but inside they are filled with wickedness and greed. Therefore, it was better for a person to focus on achieving moral purity, rather than physical cleanliness. In the gospel of Mark, Jesus stated that all the laws were passing away and a new age had dawned with His coming. Although many people did not realize, all things became clear when Jesus died on the cross. Therefore, observing the laws of clean and unclean became optional, but not mandatory.

Work Cited

Fischer, John. "Jesus through Jewish eyes: a rabbi examines the life and teachings of Jesus". Menorah Ministries, n.d., 2008, Accessed 21 July, 2017

Malbon, Elizabeth. "The Jewish leaders in the gospel of Mark. A literary study of Marcan characterization". Journal of Biblical Literature, no. 108.2, 1989, pp. 259-281.

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