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What Comes Out of the Body: Jesus, Speech, and Purity

"It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles."
Some of you may have heard, or may have preached, that this passage illustrates Jesus’ enlightened dismissal of the tedious materialism of the Jewish dietary laws in favor of the enlightened freedom of the spirit.
There is an instructive irony about that approach, because it arguably illustrates Jesus’ point precisely by misrepresenting it utterly.
Jesus’ attitude to defilement and the question of what goes in and what comes out is in fact readily understood within contemporary Jewish debates. Of course certain foods were excluded from the diet of observant Jew, and Jesus remained one; this, however, did not make non-kosher foods defiling substances. The laws concerning proper diet in the Torah were not the same as the laws of purity.(1)
Thus when Jesus says "it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that …

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