From: Robert Schneider (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Tue Jan 28 2003 - 18:03:59 EST
> However, I see the expectation of strict scientific or social fact in the
details of parables as unreasonable.
> Likewise, I do not think that the parable of the mustard seed tells us
anything about whether Jesus held the common knowledge of His time on the
subject of seeds. In fact, as far as scientific issues go, I suspect that
He did not think about such things and thus cannot be said to accept nor
reject common views on things like seed size, the age and shape of the
earth, etc. At any rate, we are not told about His thoughts on such
I agree. The meaning of the parable is what the focus should be on, not the
irrevelant question of whether Jesus gave attention to the science of seeds.
Now in this parable the mustard seed is compared to the kingdom of God. Why
has Jesus chosen the mustard seed?
In his analysis of the parable J. D. Crossan quotes Pliny the Elder on
the mustard plant: it grows wild and it will take over if you don't control
it. Even the garden variety, if not carefully controlled, will run ragged
through the garden. I know that from the experience of clearing mustard
(and thistle) plants out of my Kentucky field; they spring up, as Pliny
said, rapidly, and will quickly take over a field. So, one could interpret
Jesus' use of the mustard seed growing into a great bush to mean that the
Kingdom of God is like that, a reign that takes over, is very hard to
control, and goes where God wants it to go.
Now in another context, John 12:24, Jesus says, "Unless a grain of wheat
falls into the earth and dies, it remains but a single grain; but if it dies
it bears much fruit." Are we going to get scientific on Jesus for that? I
hope not; he's using a short parable to speak of death as a means of gaining
life. The intent is theological and nothing more. Paul uses a similar
analogy in 1 Cor. 15.
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