Re: BIBLE/ORIGINS: seeking feedback

Date: Wed Jan 29 2003 - 13:31:37 EST

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    Yes, indeed, the choice of the mustard plant is very appropriate as a
    parable for growth of the Kingdom. There are a large number of weedy
    species in the Mustard family, plants that have been associated with
    disturbed (human inhabited areas) going way back in time. Jesus' hearers
    would have appreciated his meaning very clearly.

    I am in total agreement that requiring Jesus' parables to be scientifically
    accurate is absurd. Obviously, he is co-Creator of the universe and
    omniscent; however, I get the impression that, as man on earth, he was not
    practically omniscent; the extent of his knowledge, even about his own
    purpose and mission, seems to have been directly dependent on his communion
    with the Father (through prayer). In this way, he demonstrates to us how
    we can know and be directed in God's will: remain in communion with the
    Father in prayer.

    Even if I am wrong about Jesus' Father-dependent omniscence while on earth
    and he was actually all-knowing at the time, I do not think it means that
    he was somehow lying to speak in parables that were not scientifically
    accurate. Any form of communication--whether Jesus' teaching and parables,
    president Bush's State of the Union address, this e-mail posting, or a
    scientific article--uses a mode of description and language that is meant
    to be understood and interpreted within that context and purpose only.

    With regard to the wheat seed dying, that is scientifically inaccurate. The
    seed contains a living embryo (a fairly well developed plant "fetus", if
    you will). It does not die in order to sprout. It is more accurate to say
    that it "hatches" like a chicken from an egg.

    I have a real problem with people who attempt to stretch the analogies made
    by Jesus in his parables by fleshing them out with more scientific detail.
    I was recently asked to give my expertise on soil types, nutrients, and
    plant growth in order to help understand and appreciate the parable of the
    sower. I politely declined.

    Douglas Hayworth

                        Schneider" To: <>, <>
                        <rjschn39@bellso cc:
              > Subject: Re: BIBLE/ORIGINS: seeking feedback
                        Sent by:
                        01/28/03 05:03

    David writes:
    > 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
    irrelevant topics.

    I agree. The meaning of the parable is what the focus should be on, not
    irrevelant question of whether Jesus gave attention to the science of
    Now in this parable the mustard seed is compared to the kingdom of God.
    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
    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
    falls into the earth and dies, it remains but a single grain; but if it
    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
    life. The intent is theological and nothing more. Paul uses a similar
    analogy in 1 Cor. 15.

    Bob Schneider

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