The (Hermeneutical) Rule of Love


Mark 12:28–30 reports Jesus’ citation of Deut 6:4–5 as Torah’s preeminent commandment and of Lev 19:18 as the commandment of next greatest standing (cf. Matt 22:34–40; Luke 10:25–28). Jesus’ expansion of Deuteronomy’s בכל־מאדך (Deut 6:5; ἐξ ὅλης τῆς δυνάμεώς σου; with all your might) into ἐξ ὅλης τῆς διανοίας σου καὶ ἐξ ὅλης τῆς ἰσχύος σου (Mark 12:30; with all your mind and with all your strength)1 is in step with Deuteronomy’s original formulation (cf. Mark 12:33a) but perhaps stresses still further יהוה’s comprehensive claim on the affections of the command’s addressees.2 Not surprisingly, these commands’ importance also provides further, mutually-reinforcing suggestions about readings of Israel’s scriptures, including ones that privilege the love of יהוה and even of one’s potentially disagreeable neighbor over any burnt offering or sacrifice (Mark 12:32–34).3


1. The Lucianic texts that expand Deuteronomy’s normal three terms into four likely do so because of Christian influence (France, Mark, 479–80).

2. Bock, Jesus according to Scripture, 331; Bruce, “Synoptic Gospels,” 424–25; Ladd, Theology of the New Testament, 131; Lane, Mark, 432–33; cf. Augustine, Confessions, 10.29.

3. Heil, “The Temple Theme in Mark,” CBQ 59, no. 1 (1997): 76–77; Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God, 304–5, 335, 566–67. Similarly, Augustine, Doctr. chr., 1.36 (NPNF1 2:533), suggests that “[w]hoever . . . thinks that he understands the Holy Scriptures, or any part of them, but puts such an interpretation upon them as does not tend to build up this twofold love of God and our neighbor, does not yet understand them as he ought” (cf. Didache, 11.2). See also Augustine, Doctr. chr., 1.40 (NPNF1 2:534).

Cross-posted from New Testament Interpretation.

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