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RE: [XTalk] The parable of the sower

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  • Joseph Codsi
    Reply to Jeffrey B. Gibson Jeffrey, I don t consider myself a professional but an amateur. My personal library is very small. In what pertains to gospel
    Message 1 of 6 , Jul 3 1:07 PM
      Reply to Jeffrey B. Gibson


      I don't consider myself a professional but an amateur. My personal
      library is very small. In what pertains to gospel scholarship, I live in
      a part of the world which is still proud of its medieval heritage. Our
      good Christians are not different from our good Muslims. We are
      interested in Western technology, not in Western thought. The West
      represents to our third-world mentality the latest in immorality and
      error. It is true that Lebanon is proud to be the pearl of the Middle
      East. But as far as I know, Lebanon is the only Middle Easterner country
      where Dan Brown's book **The Da Vinci Code** was and still is banned by
      the State at the demand of the holy Church. Here, we have a "secular"
      State, which takes direct orders from the representatives of Christ and
      Muhammad. Moses has temporarily fallen out of favor not for religious
      but for political reasons.

      I read what I find, and I seldom find what I should read. I order a book
      every now and then, when my retirement budget allows it.

      Of the list of names you have enquired about, only one is in my library.
      I am speaking of Robert A. Guelich's commentary on the first part of
      Mark. The book goes back to 1989.

      I have stopped using this book because I find it frustrating. Guelich
      makes a systematic analysis of the text. He lines up all the parts
      without missing a single one. But he finds himself in front of an
      impossible puzzle. He cannot put the parts together in a way that makes
      sense. His erudition is vast, but he cannot resolve anything. He
      enumerates all sorts of possibilities, without ever reaching a single
      conclusion. I am tempted to apply to him what is said about those who
      are outside. ***To them all things come in riddles, that is, "seeing
      they see but do not perceive and hearing they hear but do not

      I know I am harsh and unfair. Mark is a hard nut to crack. I must
      recognize, however, that Guelich has the merit of recognizing that the
      cards have been shuffled in such a way that it is next to impossible to
      set them straight. I will quote some of his most telling passages.

      Speaking of verses 10-12 that have been inserted between the two parts
      of the parable, he says:

      << This passage sits awkwardly at best in its present context. It
      introduces a change of setting and audience from 4:1-2 that appears to
      have been forgotten in the concluding summary of 4:33-34 and the opening
      scene in 4:35-36. Although Jesus has just completed one parable (4:3-9),
      the disciples question him about "parables" (4:10) and thus interrupt
      the sequence of parable (4:3-8) and interpretation (4:14-20) by
      interjecting the broader topic of "parables." It employs parabolè
      (4:11b), meaning "riddles," in a chapter that consistently uses parabolè
      with the more general meaning of "parables" (4:2, 10, 13, 30, 33). And
      its implication that Jesus teaches in "riddles" to keep "outsiders" in
      confusion seems contrary to the tone of the setting in 4:1-2, the
      reproach directed at the "disciples" in 4:13 and the statement in 4:33.
      Consequently, with few exceptions (e.g., Lane, 156-58; Trocmé, BJRL 59
      [1977] 464-65; Haacker, 423-24), 4:10-12 has been viewed as a later
      insertion into its present context.>> (page 199)

      Here is a question that remains without answer:

      <<But if 4:10–12 represents a pre-Markan unit, where did 4:10–12 come
      from and what did it mean?>> (page 200)

      Here is another passage. It speaks of the Twelve.

      << Called to be "with him" (3:14), privileged to have a special
      relationship, given special instruction and even a share in Jesus'
      mission (6:7–13), they lack understanding (see Comment on 4:13 and
      8:17–21). In 4:10–11 they are set apart from "those outside" for whom
      all things come in riddles, but in 4:13bc they are reproached for their
      lack of knowledge requiring the explanation that follows (cf 7:17–18).>>
      (page 204)

      Guelich sees the difficulties, but cannot solve them. He often mentions
      the relation between the parable of the sower and the incident of the
      yeast of the Pharisees. But this connection does not shed any light on
      the mystery. He is correct, though, when he writes about Mk 8:14-21:

      <<This pericope exhibits numerous awkward elements that supposedly stem
      from Mark's clumsy combination of various traditions or simply his
      "opacity" in transmitting a story without himself understanding it
      (e.g., Meagher, Construction, 74-81). This awkwardness makes any attempt
      at classifying it form-critically, especially if the story represents a
      redactional amalgam, almost impossible.>> (page 418).

      Guelich's big merit is that he sees he is before an impossible task.

      The Markan mystery is not impossible to resolve. The solution becomes
      possible when realize that we are dealing here with the disturbed mind
      of the disciples. Jesus had initiated them into the mystery of the
      Kingdom of God, not into the Christian mystery. This had a disturbing
      effect upon them. They had to find an explanation. What we see in GMark
      is their unconscious at work under the modality of creating a fictional
      world believed to be just as real as the real one.

      The midrash and the myth are possible, because the human mind has the
      power of making the fictional real. This is what faith is all about.


      -----Original Message-----
      From: crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com [mailto:crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com] On
      Behalf Of Jeffrey B. Gibson
      Sent: Sunday, July 03, 2005 12:06 AM
      To: crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: Re: [XTalk] The parable of the sower

      Joseph Codsi wrote:

      > The parable of the sower 2
      > In the initial post, I have shown that the story as it is told in
      > makes no sense.

      I wonder if you'd be kind enough to share with us what, out of what
      might be
      considered the best studies -- either monographs or articles -- on the
      parable of
      the sower, let alone the sections on it in such commentaries as those of
      Taylor or
      Gundry or Guelich or France or Marcus (to name only a few of the ones in
      you have read?

      After that, perhaps you could tell us specifically why you think those
      who have thought that the parable as it stands in Mark **does** make
      sense are



      Jeffrey B. Gibson, D.Phil. (Oxon)
      1500 W. Pratt Blvd.
      Chicago, Illinois
      e-mail jgibson000@...
    • Tony Buglass
      Jeffrey will make his own response to your reply, Joseph, but I want to chip in with a quick comment (being 5 hours ahead of the US means I get in first! :))
      Message 2 of 6 , Jul 4 3:20 AM
        Jeffrey will make his own response to your reply, Joseph, but I want to chip in with a quick comment (being 5 hours ahead of the US means I get in first! :))

        You wrote:
        I don't consider myself a professional but an amateur. My personal
        library is very small. In what pertains to gospel scholarship, I live in
        a part of the world which is still proud of its medieval heritage. Our
        good Christians are not different from our good Muslims. We are
        interested in Western technology, not in Western thought.

        There is a wide range of people on this list, ranging from "professional theologians" working in universities with all those facilities open to them (what, envious, me?) through those who are professional theologians like me, ie working in the field, but as a working minister I don't have access to all the facilities of university libraries or the time to use them, and there are quite a few who are professionals in other fields but are interested in the study of HJ and bring their own disciplines and skills to bear on the subject. We all have various restrictions and limitations on our work in the field, and so we have to work with each other to learn from each other. As I said last week, that has been for me one of the great values of this list.

        Middle-Eastern thinkers may be inclined to dismiss Western thought, but if you wish to engage with a subject of this nature, you need to at least understand it. To say you are an amateur in no way disqualifies you from this kind of study, but it doesn't mean you don't have to obey the rules of the discipline. I have some interest in medicine, but am strictly amateur in the field - I wouldn't dream of telling my GP he is wrong, or disagreeing with a hospital consultant on his diagnosis unless I have access to data which actually falsifies his analysis. And even then, I think I'd be very tentative, because I don't know the significance of the data concerned. My new information may in fact mean nothing.

        To say you do not have access to the texts which have been recommended doesn't mean you can ignore the conversations which have already taken place. I may disagree with Bultmann, but I cannot simply ignore him, because he is still an influential voice in NT studies. His work has changed the landscape in such a way that I need to know what he talked about in order to converse intelligently in the field. The same can be said for many. I'm sure the same is true in any discipline, including your own - which you have not yet disclosed to us, despite my asking for some clue as to the professional expertise which you bring to the conversation. You have now told us you're retired. From what? It might help me to understand where you're coming from.

        Can I suggest that you do some reading around the subject online? Mark Goodacre's NT Gateway is a good starting point, and you could try http://info.ox.ac.uk/ctitext/theology as a useful online directory for all sorts of material.

        If your aim is to engage with scholars to persuade them of your theory, you do need to justify teh grounds for your theory. I don't think you have yet begin to do so.

        Rev Tony Buglass
        Superintendent Minister
        Upper Calder Methodist Circuit
        W Yorks


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      • Joseph Codsi
        Reply to Tony Buglass I know that our personal background can affect the way we think. Would it be helpful if I told you that I used to be a fundamentalist and
        Message 3 of 6 , Jul 6 1:55 AM
          Reply to Tony Buglass

          I know that our personal background can affect the way we think. Would
          it be helpful if I told you that I used to be a fundamentalist and that
          I have changed later my theological orientation? I have done a lot of
          things in my life, but what I say today about the parable of the sower
          has nothing to do with what I did in the past. Example: I worked in the
          early eighties as vice president of a small oil company, headquartered
          in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I had the pompous title of financial officer, but I
          was neither a financial expert nor an oil engineer. I got the job
          through personal connections, not on account of my diplomas. I had at
          that time my own real estate company, based in Hartford, Connecticut,
          and I used to commute between Hartford and Tulsa on a weekly basis.

          Right here in Lebanon, my main interest is political. I am very critical
          of our political system. I think that our conception of the State is
          nonsensical. When people hear me say so, they ask me, "Where do you come
          from?" I tell them, "From Mars." When someone does not think within the
          received patterns, people seek an explanation in the man's background.

          As a matter of fact, it is much easier for an outsider to be critical of
          the specialists than for an insider. The outsider can see what the
          insiders can not. Erudition is an asset; but it can be a handicap as
          well. The accumulation of knowledge does not create new knowledge.
          Creativity depends on the ability to introduce new ways of looking at

          My interest in theology goes back to the days when I was in the Jesuit
          order. Scripture was used then in the Catholic Church as an ancilla
          theologiae. What I owe to those early years is the acquisition of a
          critical mind. I had to leave the order, because I was becoming too
          critical of it and of the Church. By the same token, I had to revise my
          traditional education and reinvent the wheel. I became self-taught.

          I spent most of my adult life in Europe and the States. Now I am back in
          Lebanon. Although I find myself here, in some respect, as a foreigner in
          one's own country, I like the challenge and I am pleased with what I am
          doing. I think I can and should make a difference in the two fields, the
          Lebanese political system and the quest for the historical Jesus.

          It is out of the question to discuss the quest for the historical Jesus
          right here in Lebanon. I find in discussion groups like XTalk a precious
          opportunity. I second, therefore, what you said, Tony, about the good
          things you owe to XTalk. Our exchanges helped me in redoing my
          education. I am now comfortable enough with my thesis to defend it
          before the jury of the group.

          I realize as an afterthought that I should have started the introduction
          of my theory with a comparative study of what is said about the
          disciples in the pericope of the sower, on the one hand, and in the
          pericope of the yeast, on the other. So I suggest we concentrate our
          discussion on this topic. In the parable of the sower, the disciples are
          treated as "insiders". In the incident of the yeast of the Pharisees,
          they are treated as "outsiders". This apparent contradiction can be
          easily resolved, when we ask the following question: "In relation to
          what are they "insiders" and "outsiders". The first text makes it clear
          that they are "insiders" in relation to the mystery of the Kingdom. The
          second text is not as clear. But it puts an emphasis on the feedings of
          the five and four thousand. The disciples' lack of understanding has to
          do with this double event. The connection, however, is not clear.
          Apparently the text induces us to believe that the double event had a
          meaning in and of itself, and that the disciples were too blind to see
          it. The problem is that we are not in a better position today. We do not
          see what that special meaning could have been. This is why I have no
          other alternative but to connect the feeding of the crowds with the
          Eucharist. The disciples had not seen, during the life of Jesus, the
          connection between the feeding of the crowds and the Eucharist.

          Because the Eucharist is an integral part of the Christian revelation, I
          conclude that the disciples were "outsiders" in relation to the
          Christian mystery, symbolized by the Eucharist.

          The disciples could not have openly admitted that Jesus had initiated
          them to the mystery of the Kingdom, but not to the Christian mystery.
          The only way they can admit the fact is indirectly and in the very
          strange way they are doing it here.

          In short, the disciples say openly that Jesus took good care of them and
          initiated them into the mystery of the Kingdom of God. They say not so
          openly and in an indirect way that Jesus had never initiated them into
          the Christian mystery.

          My theory is based on this discovery. It is confirmed by many texts.
          Before moving to other texts, let us discuss the present ones.


          Joseph Codsi
          P.O. Box 116-2088
          Beirut, Lebanon
          Telephone (961) 1 423 145
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