Re: Plutarch's Life of Tiberius Gracchus & Matthew 8:20
- Sorry, I am telescoping this a bit.
28 I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John; yet he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he." 29 (When they heard this all the people and the tax collectors justified God, having been baptized with the baptism of John; 30 but the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the purpose of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.) 31 "To what then shall I compare the men of this generation, and what are they like? 32 They are like children sitting in the market place and calling to one another, 'We piped to you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not weep.' 33 For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine; and you say, 'He has a demon.' 34 The Son of man has come eating and drinking; and you say, 'Behold, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' 35 Yet wisdom is justified by all her children."
The 'piper' (v32) referred to represents John the Baptist (v33), while the 'wailer' represents the Son of man (Jesus, v34). This pericope clearly states that the Pharisees and lawyers did not heed the messages of these men, to their disfavor. The disfavor is indicated by "wisdom is justified by all her children." But what justly happened to the children of the Pharisees and lawyers on account of their rejection of the wise message of John the Baptist and Jesus?
Herodotus, Book 1 (Clio):
Immediately after the conquest of Lydia by the Persians, the Ionian and Aeolian Greeks sent ambassadors to Cyrus at Sardis, and prayed to become his lieges on the footing which they had occupied under Croesus. Cyrus listened attentively to their proposals, and answered them by a fable. "There was a certain piper," he said, "who was walking one day by the seaside, when he espied some fish; so he began to pipe to them, imagining they would come out to him upon the land. But as he found at last that his hope was vain, he took a net, and enclosing a great draught of fishes, drew them ashore. The fish then began to leap and dance; but the piper said, 'Cease your dancing now, as you did not choose to come and dance when I piped to you.'" Cyrus gave this answer to the Ionians and Aeolians, because, when he urged them by his messengers to revolt from Croesus, they refused; but now, when his work was done, they came to offer their allegiance. It was in anger, therefore, that he made them this reply.
Couldn't Jesus statement (or Matthew/Luke/Q's statement) be taken to mean "By rejecting God's call to repent, God's anointed, like Cyrus, will destroy them in consequence." What happened one generation after Jesus' time? The destruction of the Temple and the fledgling Jewish state.
Aesop, who is believed to have flourished around the time of Cyrus, has a similar version of this saying.
Ben Perry, Babrius and Phaedrus (Loeb). This edition contains the Greek texts of Babrius, with a facing English translation, and an extensive index covering the Greek and Latin fable tradition.
ÂÁÂÑÉÏÕ ÌÕÈÉÁÌÂÏÉ ÁÉÓÙÐÅÉÏÉ
Babrius 9 = Perry 11
Ἁëéåύò ôéò áὐëïὺò åἶ÷å êáὶ óïöῶò çὔëåé·
êáὶ äή ðïô' ὄøïí ἐëðéóáò ἀìï÷èήôùò
ðïëὺ ðñὸò áὐëῶí ἡäõöùíίçí ἥîåéí,
ôὸ äίêôõïí èåὶò ἐôåñέôéæåí åὐìïύóùò.
ἐðåὶ äὲ öõóῶí ἔêáìå êáὶ ìάôçí çὔëåé,
âáëὼí óáãήíçí åἷëêåí ἰ÷èύùí ðëήñç.
ἐðὶ ãῆò ä' ἰäùí óðáίñïíôáò ἄëëïí ἀëëïίùò,
ôïéáῦô' ἐêåñôόìçóå ôὸí âόëïí ðëύíùí·
"ἄíáõëá íῦí ὀñ÷åῖóèå. êñåῖóóïí ἦí ὕìáò
ðάëáé ÷ïñåύåéí, ἡíίê' åἰò ÷ïñïὺò çὔëïõí."
Aesop's Fables, translated by Laura Gibbs (2002)290.
THE FISHERMAN AND HIS PIPE
Perry 11 (Herodotus I.141)
There was once a fisherman who saw some fish in the sea and played on his pipe, expecting them to come out onto the land. When his hopes proved false, he took a net and used it instead, and in this way he was able to haul in a huge catch of fish. As the fish were all leaping about, the fisherman remarked, 'I say, enough of your dancing, since you refused to dance when I played my pipe for you before!'
http://mythfolklore.net/aesopica/oxford/contentindex/index_contentf.htm (mind the wrap!)
Newton Falls, Ohio, USA
--- In Synoptic@yahoogroups.com, fathchuck@... wrote:
> UH I just caught this one and am a bit confused: Jesus and a dancing fish?
> Rev. Charles Schwartz
> Church of Saint Dorothea
> Eatontown, NJ
> In a message dated 3/18/2012 10:32:52 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
> dhindley@... writes:
> This is not the first time I've run across this deafening silence. Jesus' tale of the dancing fish and the pipe-flute is strangely reminiscent to Herodotus' account of Cyrus taunt of the Lyddian representatives who were petitioning a surrender with terms. Yet I really don't see this in modern scholarship.
- G--gle Books was eventually persuaded to limit a search to the
period before 1700 and it turned up a copy of Matthew Poole,
Synopsis criticorum ...commentatorum (1694) which he produced over
some ten years after 1666 using many earlier critical studies. In Vol 4
on p.242 he gets to Matthew 8.20, and notes the similarity of Matthew 8.20
to what Plutarch said in his life of Tiberius Gracchus. As this work
is, like many commentaries, a compendium of what previous commentators had
already published, the awareness of this similarity probably goes back
quite a bit before 1676.
David Mealand, University of Edinburgh
The University of Edinburgh is a charitable body, registered in
Scotland, with registration number SC005336.