Did Jesus Cleanse the Temple?

Jesus_Chasing_the_Merchants_from_the_TempleThe standard Mormon reading of Mark 11:15-19 goes something like this: the temple was corrupt and so Jesus cleansed it by kicking out the wicked money changers so that the temple, now purified of evil, could get back to business. But this may not be the best reading.

First off, let’s talk about the merchants in the temple. It’s Passover time, which means that people are coming from all over the place. They want to worship at the temple. But it’s not easy to bring your sacrificial animal (or even a sack of grain) all that way. And what happens if your animal becomes blemished in transit? It makes more sense to buy what you need when you get there. While it is possible that the merchants were gouging pilgrims, that isn’t stated in the text and it is entirely possible that they are doing nothing wrong but rather providing a much-needed service. The reference to dove sellers is relevant here, since doves were necessary for the sacrifices (see Lev 12:6, 8); again, there is no indication that they were doing anything wrong.

What about the money-changers? Well, the requirement is a half-shekel temple tax. If you lived somewhere where the local currency was not shekels, you’d need to swap your coins at the temple in order to pay. Again, maybe these folks were gouging the tourists, but they might not have been and their role is necessary if Jews from far-flung lands are going to pay what they owe.

When we get to verse 16, it becomes really hard to argue that the people Jesus targets were actually doing anything wrong: here, Jesus prohibiting people from carrying anything through the temple. While it is possible that this refers to non-worshippers using the temple complex as a short-cut (like people today who cut through gas stations to avoid traffic lights), it is more likely that it refers to people carrying anything through the temple. Hard to imagine how the temple could continue to function if people aren’t allowed to walk through it carrying anything!

I think the reason that people assume that the merchants and money-changers were being predatory (and thus needed to be “cleansed”) is because Jesus announces that people have turned the temple into a “den of thieves” or, as I’d translate it, “a hideout for robbers.” But think about that for a minute: the robber’s hideout is not the place where they commit their crimes; it’s the place where they hide from the authorities after they have committed their crimes. The phrase is also a quotation from Jeremiah 7:11, where the context is that people are committing various sins and then hiding out in the temple because of their (false) belief that the temple cannot be destroyed and thus it is a very good hideout, but, as Jeremiah explains, God will in fact destroy the temple for their sins. So while a surface reading might associate the temple’s merchants and money-changers with “thieves” and thus impugn their work, a contextualized reading suggests something different: that people are sinning elsewhere and then hiding out in the temple.

The quotation from Jeremiah, where the context is the coming destruction of the temple, might point to what is really happening here: Jesus is not cleansing the temple but rather enacting a parable of its coming destruction.

You already know what a parable is; an enacted parable is like street theater or an object lesson. In other words, Jesus is enacting a prophesy of the destruction of the temple by kicking out the people who are necessary to the operation of the temple. Kicking them out means the temple can’t function and thus suggests its destruction.

The temple complex was something like 450 by 300 meters. In a word: huge. If this story were a complete cleansing, Jesus would almost certainly have had to turn over a lot of tables and chase off a lot of people. It’s almost impossible to imagine him doing that without getting arrested on the spot, so reading this story as a cleansing causes historical problems. On the other hand, if Jesus just turns over a table or two as an object lesson of sorts, we can more easily imagine that happening without drawing the attention of the crowds or authorities. Now, ultimately, the scribes and chief priests hear about it and want to destroy Jesus, but the fact that there wasn’t an immediate response by Roman soldiers seems to weigh against the spectacle that would have accompanied a complete cleansing.

Also, think about Mark 13. Jesus teaches pretty clearly that the temple will be destroyed. So if Mark 11 shows Jesus cleansing the temple, then you either need to argue that his cleansing effort failed, or that some other mechanism is at work which reconciles a cleansing with a coming destruction.

Lending further support to the theory that Jesus is condemning the temple and not cleansing it is the story that surrounds it: Jesus’ curse of, and the subsequent withering of, the fig tree. Mark will frequently insert one story within another in order to encourage the audience to read the stories in light of each other. When you do that here, the cursing and withering of the fig tree serves as a hint to the meaning of Jesus’ actions of the temple. And what does the withering of a fig tree sound like to you: its cleansing or its destruction?

Additionally, when Jesus talks to his disciples about moving “this mountain” immediately after Peter notices the withered fig tree, it is likely that “this mountain” refers to the temple mount. A temple and mount hurled into the sea sounds more life a destruction than a purification. And as if that weren’t enough, this scene bears a strong resemblance to the beginning of Mark 13 where the topic is . . . the coming destruction of the temple. Further, the fig tree incident seems to allude to Micah 7:1; in that text, the figless fig tree is compared to the fruitless (ha!) search for a righteous person. This is a picture of condemnation leading to destruction, not of cleansing.

One final note: this is why I hate attaching titles to scripture stories. Once someone tells you that this story is called “The Cleansing of the Temple,” it’s like your brain shuts down and can’t think beyond this being a cleansing of the temple. But Mark doesn’t use the language of cleansing. So maybe we shouldn’t either.

(My thinking here was strongly influenced by J. R. Daniel Kirk’s essay “Time for Figs.”)

40 comments for “Did Jesus Cleanse the Temple?

  1. December 31, 2014 at 9:47 pm

    You are on a roll!

    Once someone tells you that this story is called [X], it’s like your brain shuts down and can’t think beyond [X]

    This is how I’ve felt about chapter headnotes in the Old Testament chapters read for Sunday School in the past three months. Once you announce that this chapter foretells something that will happen in the last days, you can’t read what follows as having anything to do with events surrounding the Exile.

  2. December 31, 2014 at 11:06 pm

    Julie, there are several interesting ideas here, but I think you’re making four different mistakes.

    First, the “standard Mormon reading” you’re reacting against is actually the traditional Christian reading. This isn’t something that someone cooked up just for the LDS Sunday School manual. It’s an interpretive tradition that goes back many centuries.

    Second, why should the physical reality of the temple in 30 AD constrain the possible interpretations of a story written down many decades after that? Our only knowledge of the event derives from the four gospels, and each of those texts in its own way argues for Jesus being the son of God – so the suggestion that the temple was simply too big for Jesus to cleanse isn’t overly convincing.

    Third, you’re mistaking one possible way to read the text with the one correct way to read the text. You’ve got an interesting new way to understand the text, and that’s enough in itself. I think interesting new ways to read scripture are great. But going beyond that to say that we should throw out the traditional reading entirely is misguided. The polyvocality of scripture should be promoted. Coexistence is good.

    Fourth, not using the accepted names for scriptural episodes makes it more difficult to raise Mormon awareness of the long Christian tradition of scriptural interpretation, which we too often adopt without being aware we’re doing so. There’s already a strong temptation to attribute every scriptural interpretation to some Latter-day prophet or another. Not referring to the “Cleansing of the Temple,” the term everyone else uses for it, just contributes to that tendency.

  3. December 31, 2014 at 11:49 pm

    Very cool. Fits with Morton Smith’s assertion that Jesus was doing rites secretly in private houses and at Gethsemane. That is, he had rejected the temple as had the Jewish apocalypses.

  4. Abu Casey
    January 1, 2015 at 2:21 am

    I love this stuff! Thanks!

  5. January 1, 2015 at 3:26 am

    Keep these coming Julie! Very interesting take on the temple episode. I wonder, though, what the takeaway might be for me as I try to learn more about Christ, his character, and how to liken this episode to my life in some way. I’m trying to think about why Jesus would be enacting such a parable and what it implies for me (or us all) as a latter-day saint. Any thoughts?

    I had always hoped that the price gouging case would be the more historically likely, since that would at least make sense to me. The living parable thing, not as much.

  6. larryco_
    January 1, 2015 at 8:06 am

    The actions Jesus took at the temple also had another effect. I believe Jesus chose this confrontation to bring attention to Himself at a pivotal moment during the Passover when both the Sanhedrin and the Romans were particularly sensitive to any sedition that might occur. Where in the past He had confined His ministry mainly to less populated areas primarily in Galilee, He has now placed Himself front and center and at a time when tensions are high and Jerusalem has swollen to 3 times it’s normal size. In several places He explains to His disciples that what is about to take place is the reason for Him coming from the Father – to lay down His life. The Sanhedrin and the Romans are to play a part in this “passion”, and after His actions at the temple, there is no way for then to ignore Him and no turning back.

  7. Kevin Barney
    January 1, 2015 at 9:08 am

    Very interesting; I had never thought about it that way.

  8. January 1, 2015 at 9:17 am

    I really like J. R. Daniel Kirk’s ‘Unlocking Romans’ (well, his dissertation at least).

  9. Julie M. Smith
    January 1, 2015 at 10:44 am

    Jonathan, thanks for engaging the post. Some responses to your responses:

    1–I was well aware that this was not a uniquely Mormon reading but rather one Mormons imbibed from the broader Christian tradition. I can see how my language was ambiguous, however, so I probably should have said something like “the traditional reading, which Mormons have generally followed.”

    2–I’m comfortable with a gap between the historical Jesus and the written accounts, but my point was that for people who want a tight correspondence between the two, they have a much easier row to hoe if they read this event as a portent of doom rather than as a cleansing. If you don’t care about there being some distance between history and text, then this argument will carry no weight for you and that’s fine. (Note that it’s a side argument to the post and not essential to the argument.) Further, Mark’s audience (and, even moreso, earlier tradents of the story, unless you think this is entirely Mark’s creation, which I don’t think is likely) is close enough to the event that asking them to think that Jesus cleansed the entire temple complex without immediate intervention from the authorities would likely have sparked some serious side eye action.

    3–I think you know my work well enough to know that I’m all about polyvocality. But for me there’s an obvious caveat: only when there is a reasonable case for each reading. I don’t think there is a solid case for the “cleansing” reading, as I explain in the original post, so I can’t be my usual Little Miss Let a Thousand Flowers Bloom on this one.

    4–You are correct that one advantage of titling stories is that they make discussion easier. But I think the disadvantages to such titles (which I outline in the post) far outweigh this advantage: I’m not real keen on making it easier for us to talk about these stories if we are not reading them well in the first place! But now that I’ve vented my spleen, a more reasonable suggestion would probably be not a plea to get rid of titles but rather to modify titles so that they do the minimum amount of interpretive work: maybe “Jesus Removes the Money-Changers” or something similarly anodyne.

    Steve Fleming, I’m sorry to say that I don’t take Morton Smith seriously.

    Walker F, in terms of take-away: Jesus is indicating that many people in his day were committing the same sin of Jeremiah’s day, which is assuming that their temple worship would cover for a multitude of other sins. I wonder if we do the same today in a sense, perhaps by thinking, “Well, I may not be completely [insert commandment here], but since I’m [insert other commandment here], I can still rely on the Lord’s protection.” Also, one thing I find interesting is that Mark and Luke appear to have different attitudes toward the temple (not in an absolute sense, but rather regarding whether the admittedly corrupt temple of their time was or was not still useful for worship; you can hear me talk about this here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z8Vnd2lrn4U); I find this canonized divergence of opinion fascinating and helpful in terms of negotiating our differences today. I think this also gets us to the issue of why Jesus taught in parables; there’s a lot to say about that, maybe another post. But there’s a long tradition of prophets enacting parables or doing object lessons or street theater or whatever you want to call it. Bottom line, they taught in ways likely to reach their intended audiences and that’s a mercy.

  10. Naismith
    January 1, 2015 at 11:30 am

    Thanks for this, very thought-provoking.

  11. January 1, 2015 at 11:47 am

    Oh well.

  12. January 1, 2015 at 12:24 pm

    Julie, thanks, those are all reasonable points. As I re-read the account in Mark (and Matthew and Luke and John), cleansing the temple still seems to fit the plain sense better. I think your alternate reading is interesting and useful, but I don’t see a case yet for taking it as the only valid reading.

  13. N. W. Clerk
    January 1, 2015 at 1:19 pm

    John 2:16: “And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise.”

    Julie: “there is no indication that they were doing anything wrong”

    So the fact that Jesus told them to stop doing it is not indication that it was wrong?

  14. Julie M. Smith
    January 1, 2015 at 1:52 pm

    N. W. Clerk, this post is about Mark 11, not John 2. The author of the gospel of John is obviously taking the story in a very different direction than Mark does; we already knew that because the incident is placed at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry instead of the end.

  15. N. W. Clerk
    January 1, 2015 at 1:59 pm

    So the dove-sellers were wrong in John 2 but right in Mark 11?

  16. Julie M. Smith
    January 1, 2015 at 2:31 pm

    N. W. Clerk, knowing how John interpreted an event does not help us understand better how Mark interpreted or understood it. (Rather, it can actively mislead us.) I explain this principle more in this post:


    Note particularly the final paragraph.

  17. January 1, 2015 at 2:45 pm

    My question is that your interpretation would seem to fit the apocalypses that saw the earthly temple as corrupt. How do you see those themes aligning?

  18. Julie M. Smith
    January 1, 2015 at 2:51 pm

    Steve Fleming, that’s a great question, but I’m not sure what the answer is. We might refine the question by thinking about how Jesus viewed it, how early tradents of the story viewed it, how Mark viewed it, how Mark’s early audiences viewed it, and how we today (with the benefit of lots of hindsight!) might view it.

  19. January 1, 2015 at 2:56 pm

    Okay, how do you think Mark viewed it? (I find the topic interesting, that’s why I’m asking).

  20. Julie M. Smith
    January 1, 2015 at 3:11 pm

    I’m going to take a raincheck on that question for a few months. I’m about to spend a lot of time on Mark 13, so whatever I say now, I’d probably regret later. :)

  21. January 1, 2015 at 4:50 pm

    I look forward to it. In the meantime, Morton Smith sort of seems like out kind of guy. :)

  22. January 1, 2015 at 4:51 pm

    Or “our”

  23. Julie M. Smith
    January 1, 2015 at 4:53 pm

    Steve, I’m 83.7% sure he perpetuated a hoax; if he’s our sort of guy, that isn’t very flattering to us!

  24. January 1, 2015 at 5:13 pm

    Nonsense! http://www.juvenileinstructor.org/the-secret-tradition-part-3-the-debate-over-the-validity-of-clements-letter-to-theodore/#more-15898
    Okay, again, I have no expertise here, but I have to say that the attempts to discredit it look to me like they have all failed. Hershel Shanks’s overview in Ancient Gospel of Modern Forgery I think says it best. “No matter have many arguments that you refute, you can never prove that the letter is authentic,” because critics refuse to quit. Shanks goes on to show just how silly some of the charges have been.

    So that doesn’t sound like a real critique.

  25. sterflu
    January 1, 2015 at 6:07 pm

    Hi Julie, thanks for sharing your sharing your insights about a scriptural passage that many of us thought we understood. I have some questions that I hope you can answer about the cultural work that passage performs for contemporary, and largely conservative, Mormons.

    I am reading a book by Joe Evans, a former BYU quarterback, called Encompassing Charity: A Clarion Call to Arm Yourself. The book, according to the back cover, “clearly defines the boundaries of charity.” Some might say he speaks to the Mormon discomfort with bleeding-heart liberalism.

    In chapter 11, tiled “Charity is Not Easily Provoked,” Evans starts out by saying “there is a societal trend that seeks to disavow any signs of heated emotion.”

    This begins his brief critique of feminism. He says “Our overly hostile world has caused a shift in discipline and a weakening of the American male.” He also quotes a professor who talks about a “movement to ‘construct boyhood’ in ways that will render boys less competitive, more emotionally expressive, more nurturing—more, in short, like girls.”

    Evans asserts some groups in our country often proceed in the wrong direction with the right intent: “This movement towards the feminization of the American male is steeped in wickedness yet clouded by somewhat altruistic motives.”

    He proceeds to share something from the New Testament that he finds somewhat odd: “Curiously, Paul states that charity is not easily provoked.”

    Evans parses that qualifier to reach a different conclusion: “Even charitable people, in extreme cases, can and should become provoked, especially, if the provocation is due to the defense of righteousness.”

    He then sets up a comparison between people who are unpatriotic and those who attack the very things that sacred spaces symbolize for us today:

    “Captain Moroni’s ‘soul was filled with anger’ when he went to ‘compel … or put to death’ those dissenters who would not defend their country (Alma 51:15). The Savior was no less moved when he cast the moneychangers out of the temple.”

    If you conduct a search for the phrase “righteous anger” at lds.org, you will get 271 hits, according to Google. Many of those pages on the church website that discuss righteous anger also invoke the story of Jesus cleansing the temple.

    Do you think Mormons cling to their traditional understandings of the scene, in which Christ is provoked at the temple and has to cleanse those portions that have been defiled, because they see it as giving them permission to get angry sometimes and to call sinners to repentance?

    Is this not similar to the frustration modern Mormons feel when they stand up for marriage between a man and a woman, only to be accused by the world of lacking the compassion that Christ preached?

  26. Julie M. Smith
    January 1, 2015 at 6:10 pm

    Steve, you should read, e.g., AYCollins’ summary of the Secret Mark situation before you rely too much on Brown.

    For anyone else reading, here’s the draft of my section addressing the issue:

    The Secret Gospel of Mark

    A letter purporting to be written by Clement of Alexandria near the end of the second century contains two excerpts claiming to be from the “secret Gospel of Mark.” The excerpts consist of:

    1. A story where Jesus raises a man from the dead, resides in his home for nearly a week, and then teaches him the mysteries of the kingdom. This passage is inserted between Mark 10:34 and Mark 10:35. Because the teaching of the mysteries has some resonances with modern LDS temple ritual, this text has been of interest to some LDS scholars.1
    2. A brief report of Jesus’ refusal to meet with two female disciples. This incident is placed in the middle of Mark 10:46. This text can be viewed as either:
    1. Likely to be original and capable of explaining the odd situation of Mark recounting that Jesus went to Jericho but then not recording what he did there. (See the commentary on Mark 10:46.)
    2. Likely to be unoriginal; rather, a later attempt to fill what was perceived to be a gap in the text. Had Secret Mark been the original version of the text, a redactor would likely have excised all reference to Jericho instead of leaving behind a confusing reference to the city.

    There are solid reasons to question the legitimacy of Secret Mark, including:

    1. Morton Smith, a biblical scholar, claimed in 1958 to have discovered the letter. It is possible that he forged the letter.
    2. What Smith found was a copy of the letter made in the eighteenth century, so it is possible that the letter was forged before Morton Smith found it.
    3. If the letter does derive from Clement, his belief that Mark wrote one gospel for the public (now known as the canonical Gospel of Mark) and another, secret gospel for “insiders” may not be accurate.
    4. It is unclear whether Secret Mark was written by the same person who wrote canonical Mark and which text was written first.
    5. There are many reasons why the themes in Secret Mark does not fit well with canonical Mark:
    1. Because Jesus does not elsewhere refuse female disciples in Mark, this material does not mesh well with Mark’s portrayal of Jesus and may instead stem from divisions in the early church.
    2. There are three passion predictions in Mark and they all follow a very consistent pattern (see the commentary after Mark 10:45). But the inclusion of Secret Mark disrupts that pattern.2
    3. Generally, Secret Mark reads like “a confused pastiche of phrases gathered from elsewhere in Mark and the other canonical gospels.”3
    4. In Secret Mark, the “mysteries” are transmitted via ritual, but in canonical Mark, they come through the parables.4

    While certainty is not possible on this subject, the weight of the evidence currently available suggests that the Secret Gospel of Mark was written after canonical Mark and by a different author; whether that author lived in the second century, the twentieth century, or at some point in between may never be known.5 Secret Mark may have some value in determining Christian concerns and beliefs in the time in which it was composed, but it is unlikely to be helpful in explaining either canonical Mark or the life of Jesus.

  27. January 1, 2015 at 6:16 pm

    Julie, the title of your post might be causing confusion: “Did Jesus Cleanse the Temple?” and “Did Mark Depict Jesus as Cleansing the Temple?” are two different questions.

  28. Julie M. Smith
    January 1, 2015 at 6:22 pm

    Wow, sterflu, there’s a million interesting/controversial ideas in what you wrote. I’ll try to resist the urge to go line-by-line because I’m supposed to be making dinner, but I’ll just note that I think the most feminizing influence that LDS men face is not feminism (a movement of which I am rather fond what with it having given me the right to vote and get a higher education) but rather the priesthood, which requires/encourages all sorts of behavior that is culturally encoded as feminine.

    I don’t know that I’d say that Mormons “cling to the traditional interpretation” of the scene because I don’t know that they are aware of an alternative. I’d say it’s more like always eating lunch in the same restaurant all the time because you didn’t realize that there was a better one down the block. :)

    That said, I think my “enacted parable” reading still permits the kind of “righteous anger” idea of which you speak–Jesus is still flipping over tables, he’s still accusing them of misusing the temple, he’s still calling them robbers. We can’t access his emotional state in this story (anger? dispassion? regret? something else?) because Mark doesn’t tell us, but you may be interested to know that (1) the most frequent emotion he shows in the gospels is compassion and (2) there is a good case to be made that he gets mad at a leper in Mark.

    And I don’t want to judge a book by a few-sentence excerpt, but it sounds from here as if he is downplaying Jesus’ call to turn the other cheek and Jesus’ example of being a mother hen and hugging children, etc., in order to advance another agenda.

    [I edited my comment because I shouldn’t say mean things about quarterbacks.]

  29. Julie M. Smith
    January 1, 2015 at 6:26 pm

    Jonathan Green, it’s really hard for me not to snark on you for complaining about misleading titles immediately after arguing that I shouldn’t be complaining about misleading titles. :)

    The body of the post makes clear that it is about Mark, from the first line to the penultimate one. The title did not. There’s a vast number of pieces of info one might include in a title, but at a certain point, you have to pick and choose. And, you know, clickbait.

  30. Kevin Barney
    January 1, 2015 at 10:40 pm
  31. January 1, 2015 at 11:06 pm

    Thanks Kevin. Didn’t mean to derail the post. Thanks Julie, but I do disagree at this point (I just reviewed Brown as an overview).

  32. January 2, 2015 at 12:04 am

    And I did a whole ten part series at the JI this summer on the secret tradition that focused on secret Mark. Just not a JI reader?

  33. January 2, 2015 at 1:12 am

    Thanks for this post, Julie. This was fascinating!

  34. January 2, 2015 at 12:28 pm

    Next you’re gonna tell me David didn’t kill Goliath.

  35. January 3, 2015 at 9:55 pm

    Thanks for the reply! I appreciate you helping me connect those dots.

  36. Joseph Stanford
    January 4, 2015 at 4:52 pm

    One thing I don’t understand about this otherwise plausible interpretation is how Jesus would NOT be able to clear out the entire temple space and at the same time would be able to not allow anyone to carry anything through he temple.

  37. Aaron
    January 5, 2015 at 8:21 am

    I once sat through a Gospel Doctrine class in which we were told that Jesus did not resort to violence in the temple because he loved animals and would never do anything that would hurt the little birdies. I put that in the same category as telling little kids that Jesus didn’t drink real wine because it is against the Word of Wisdom. I don’t know what happened in the temple or if anything happened at all, but I appreciate your thought-provoking post. Pondering is good!

  38. January 5, 2015 at 3:26 pm

    Thanks Julie for the four arguments to why Secret Mark does not fit well with canonical Mark. There are of course arguments to the contrary also, i.e. why it fits very well with canonical Mark and also why it most likely was written by the same person who wrote Mark and *must have* been written before he or (not that likely though) she wrote canonical Mark..

    1) The Secret Mark fragments form an intercalation within the Gospel of Mark. Ancient authors were unaware of that literary technique of Mark and could therefore not have imitated it.
    2) The Secret Mark fragments form a framing story within the Gospel of Mark. Ancient authors were unaware of that literary technique of Mark and could therefore not have imitated it.
    3) Medieval authors were unaware of Mark’s literary techniques and could therefore not have imitated them.
    4) Even though someone from the 18th century could have done the 18th century handwriting, that person could not have been aware of all the Markan literary techniques in order to produce the Secret Mark fragments.
    5) Morton Smith could hardly have forged the letter since the handwriting expert deemed it highly unlikely due to his normal handwriting that he could have written the letter. Furthermore, Secret Mark uses Markan techniques not fully understood even in the 1950s.

    For a more thorough examination, see “A Quest for Secret Mark’s Authenticity: A Chain is as Strong as its Weakest Link” at

    Regarding your reasons why the themes in Secret Mark does not fit well with canonical Mark;

    Point 1: Fragment 2 of SecMk does not say that refuse female disciples or even refuse disciples, simply that he at that point in Bethany did not receive the sister of the youth whom he loved and his (the youth’s or Jesus’) mother and Salome.

    Point 3) I don’t give much for the pastiche theory. My reasons you find here: “The pastiche forgery of Secret Mark, as presented by Francis Watson” http://rogerviklund.wordpress.com/2010/09/05/the-pastiche-forgery-of-secret-mark-as-presented-by-francis-watson/

    Point 4, remember that Secret Mark is said to be a mysterious gospel only meant to read for the initiated. The parables for the ordinary people, the ritual for the enlightened people. Yet, I don’t believe the ritual is meant to be taken literally. It is clearly a symbolic story.

  39. John KL
    January 26, 2015 at 11:16 pm

    In the book of Chronicles, David DOES NOT kill Goliath. :)

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