The Omicron Variant in Mark 7:19

In his recent sermon, “Purging All Meats”, Pastor Steven Anderson takes a razor to the many “blasphemous” bible translations that portray Jesus as declaring all foods clean in Mark 7:18b-19. The King James Bible (of course) is the absolutely holy and correct translation, which reads:

“Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him? Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats?”

The context is everything that proceeds these verses in Mark 7, where the subject is not kosher but handwashing and the transfer of impurity. Here is Jesus is saying that it is not what goes into the body that renders someone impure, but rather the impure things residing in a person’s heart — and that anything eaten which is impure doesn’t enter one’s heart, but rather exits the body, going out into the latrine. In other words, if you take in something bad, it’s eventually going out into the toilet anyway, and you’ll get over it.

That’s how the term “cleansing all the foods” is translated in the King James Bible: the process of purging into the latrine. But most other translations have Jesus doing the “cleansing”, and by going so far as to have him declare all foods or meats clean. Thus the NIV:

“Don’t you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them? For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.)

Or the RSV:

“Do you not see that whatever goes into a man from outside cannot defile him, since it enters, not his heart but his stomach, and so passes on?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.)

This radical statement on the part of Jesus is put parenthetically by the translators — which is no surprise, since it’s a non-sequitur. Again, the issue throughout Mark 7 isn’t dietary regulations. It’s handwashing and the transfer of impurity. But in these non-KJV translations, Jesus is adding this radical addendum that it’s okay to eat non-kosher foods.

People may wonder what’s at stake here. For Pastor Anderson, the issue hinges on two things: (1) making sense of the context of Mark 7 (which again has nothing to do with Jewish dietary laws), and (2) preserving Testamental boundaries. Regarding the second, he says:

“There is no New Testament until Jesus dies on the cross. It doesn’t start in Mark 7. So how can Jesus be ending the dietary restrictions before he dies on the cross? I would love for anyone to try to defend this to me. I would love for anyone to try to defend Jesus telling people to eat things against the law of Moses before he dies on the cross. Have fun trying to defend that, because it’s crazy and it’s totally wrong. These modern Bible versions are way out to lunch on this.”

The good pastor then proceeds to explain the translation issue with regards to the “omicron variant”. Here’s his explanation, which you can listen to around the 25:33-33:50 part of the youtube video:

“Now normally I wouldn’t go this deep into a subject like this, but I’m gonna go a little deeper on this translation issue of this passage, just because it involved the omicron variant. This is the omicron variant in Mark 7:19. Now I’ve already explained to you where the modern versions got their stupid interpretation — how they took this ‘purifying all foods’, or ‘purging all meats’, and turned it into this parenthetical statement of, ‘Jesus is saying you can eat anything’, instead of leaving it in the quotation where it belongs.

But not only that, the Greek text underlining the King James Version of the Bible is the Textus Receptus, or the Received Text — the one that’s been passed down and used for centuries. The one that’s tried and true. Versus a new reconstructed text based on the Nestle-Aland, which is on, like, it’s 28th edition. And they’re coming out with a 29th edition very soon. Now look, we believe in the Textus Receptus, that the Holy Spirit has been using for centuries. We’re not part of the Bible-of-the-Month Club, digging up some old manuscript and saying, ‘Well maybe this is the original.’

So here’s the thing. There are two letters in the Greek alphabet that are really similar to one another. One is ‘omega’, the other is ‘omicron’. One is a ‘big O’, the other a ‘little o’. In the Textus Receptus you have the little o (omicron) at the end of this word, which means that it’s a neuter word, which means that the ‘purifying’ cannot be applying to Jesus, because Jesus isn’t a neuter person; he’s a dude. So if you have the right Greek text, you would NEVER come up with this crazy interpretation that Jesus is saying ‘all meats are pure now’. You can only have that interpretation with the corrupt modern Greek texts. The omicron isn’t referring to JESUS, it’s referring to the PROCESS of going out the draft. Going out the draft is what is purging all meats. That process is neuter, as the omicron implies.

But in the corrupted texts, the omicron is changed to an omega, which now makes it masculine. Now even with this masculine word, it still doesn’t have to refer to Jesus, because it could refer to the draft, which is masculine. My point is that because of this omicron variant in Mark 7:19, you could never get this dumb interpretation that came from the corrupted Greek texts. But even if you had their corrupted Greek texts, you’d still have to be an IDIOT to think that this is saying that Jesus is making all meats clean, when that has NOTHING to do with the context, and it’s not right in the timeline, because Jesus hasn’t died on the cross yet.

I want to drive home how bad these modern versions are, and how they ruin doctrine. Because if you have a Jesus who is just ignoring the Mosaic Law, telling you to ignore it, telling you not to quibble about it, just do what you want… folks, that is not the Jesus of the Bible. The Jesus of the Bible said, ‘I came not to destroy the law and the prophets, I came to fulfill.’ The Jesus of the Bible got up and said, ‘When the Pharisees tell you to obey the law of Moses, they’re right about that.’ He didn’t get up and say, ‘Hey dude, we need to get free! Eat whatever you want, man!’

That’s not what he’s saying in Mark 7:19. He’s saying that if you eat something contaminated, it’s not going to hurt you, whereas stealing will contaminate you; adultery will contaminate you; fornication will contaminate you; blasphemy will contaminate you. But is eating without washing your hands going to contaminate you? No, because worst-case scenario, you take in something bad, it’s going into the toilet anyway eventually, and you’re going to be okay, you’ll get over it.”

There you have it. A Sunday-morning textual criticism lesson from our dear Pastor Anderson. Watch that omicron variant! These days it’s bringing people down in more ways than one.

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