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.
P.O. Box 116-2088
Telephone (961) 1 423 145