The parabolic jolt re: Parable of the Sower
- David Flusser's writings and those of his pupil Brad Young are helpful on the
parables as early rabbinic forms.
Archive of Australian Judaica
Loren Rosson wrote:
> Ted and Bob,[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
> I would like to pick up on some observations and
> comment further on the so-called "parabolic jolt",
> which Ted believes has been somehow diminished in
> Matthew and Luke's versions of The Sower.
> >What is most significant is that Matthew
> >and Luke's versions, in effect,
> >eliminate or seriously reduce, the parabolic
> >jolt which is the signature of Jesus' parabolic
> >methodology. Jesus incorporated into all his
> >parables a parabolic jolt whose purpose was to
> >shock his hearers into an
> >existential encounter with a parable's message...
> >In the case of the Parable of the Sower the
> >parabolic jolt which produces the "double take"
> >lies in the numerical sequencing of the yield of
> >the seed sown in good soil....
> >My question is, if Matthew & Luke were copying
> >from Mark, why spoil a good ending?
> Isn't this, rather, a splendid example of varying
> performances of the same story sifting down through
> oral tradition (apropos Bailey, Dunn)? For, as Bob
> says, to what end would Matthew and Luke change
> "30,60,100" to "100,60,30" and "100", respectively?
> >The only reasons I could imagine are
> >(1) Neither Matthew or Luke liked the point of
> >the parabolic jolt, and therefore sought to
> >undermine it.
> But what would be preferable about their own numerical
> figures as contrasted with Mark's? Isn't the
> "parabolic jolt" equally jolting in all three
> tellings? Whether "30,60,100", "100,60,30", "100" (or
> "60,120" in Thomas) -- all these figures reflect
> stupendous and incredible yields. This, in spite of
> what some commentators tell us:
> Brandon Scott, for instance (in "Hear Then the
> Parable"), states that these figures (i.e.
> "30,60,100") suggest normal yields, based on citations
> of Pliny (describing Byzacium in Africa), Varro
> (describing Sybaris in Italy), and Herodotus
> (describing a region in Babylonia). For Scott, then,
> the "jolt" of the story comes from nothing more than
> the asymmetrical Markan sequence itself (later
> sanitized by Matthew, Luke, and Thomas): as one would
> expect "30,60,90", the "100" figure rocks the hearer,
> shattering expectations -- perhaps shocking him into
> one of those "existential encounters" you mention,
> Ted. (!!!)
> Douglas Oakman, by contrast (in "Jesus and the
> Economic Questions of His Day"), notes that normal
> yields were nowhere close to the range of 30- and
> 100-fold. They were between 2- and 5-fold. (Oakman's
> figures come from an exhaustive study of production in
> Palestine by Gildas Hamel.) These figures are specific
> to Palestine. The citations from Scott are completely
> irrelevant; those places in Africa, Italy and
> Babylonia aren't remotely comparable to Palestine for
> analyzing yields. (Not to mention different farming
> techniques -- dry land farming in Palestine vs.
> irrigation in Babylon, etc.)
> So we need to think about normal yields which could be
> expected from Palestinian peasants. Two to five times!
> And here comes this prophet from Nazareth, telling a
> story which suggests "30,60,100" yields (Mark), or
> "100,60,30" yields (Matthew), or "100" yields (Luke),
> or "60,120" yields (Thomas). Which of these is most
> jolting? They're all (literally) impossible yields.
> Luke jolts as much as Mark. Thomas jolts as much as
> Matthew. That's why I think it's safer to regard the
> numerical variances as trivial ones, deriving from
> different oral performances in different settings.
> >(2) Matthew & Luke wanted to use the parable to
> >make a different (and to them, more important) point.
> But Matthew and Luke use the parable the same way as
> Mark. It's the same allegory in all synoptics, even if
> the three writers have some different ideas about the
> precise identity of those who "hear the word" and who
> are privy to the "secrets of the Kingdom".
> Loren Rosson III
> Nashua NH
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- Sakari is having some trouble posting to the List. I'm forwarding this
for him until we get things sorted out.
Lähettäjä: "Sakari Häkkinen" <sakari.hakkinen@...>
Lähetetty: 2. heinäkuuta 2001 10:17
Aihe: Re: [XTalk] The parabolic jolt re: Parable of the Sower
I wonder why no one has taken under consideration the simple fact that
the number 100 was - as it still is for many who are not dealing with
billions in their everyday life - a common number to refer when
describing something amazingly large. This was the point in Gen 26:12,
which Karel quoted in his message.
Gen 26:12 NIV: "Isaac planted crops in that land and the same year
reaped a hundredfold, because the LORD blessed him."
In NT the number is used in a comparable meaning in Mk 10:30 (par.):
NIV: 29. "I tell you the truth," Jesus replied, "no-one who has left
home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields
for me and the gospel
30. will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age
(homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields-and with them,
persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life.
The number is used here metaphorically to describe God's overwhelming
blessings to someone obedient to Jesus (which implies here obedience to
God). The last number 100 in the parable of the Sower could be 100 and
not 90 just because of this. It is good conclusion to the series of
numbers with not so dramatic effect as Ted wants to see it. It looks
like natural. See also the Parable of the Lost Sheep, Lk 15:3-7.
What comes to the meaning of the original Parable of the Sower, I am of
the opinion that the point is in the end of the parable. Although the
story has more lines on the unsuccess of the sowing, the enormous
success in the end seems to be a metaphor for God's mercy and blessings,
especially if the audience had knowledge of Gen 26,12 or some other
stories where God gives an extremely good yield.
My questions here are:
1) Are there any parallel stories in the Mediterranian ancient culture?
This would help us to see where the real point of the story lies.
2) Could someone open up the difference between hO (4) - KAI ALLO (5) -
KAI ALLO (7) and the final KAI ALLA (8)? Should this be read so that
there were some seeds, but no so many, going to bad soil (4,5,7) and the
rest, all the other seeds, plenty of them, falling in good soil? This is
implied in the newest (1992) Finnish translation, but I cannot see it
even implied in NIV, KJV, GNB, Svenska Bibeln 2000 or Lutherbibel. Or
shoud we understand the Parable so that only a little part of the seeds
fell into a good soil?
With best wishes to all of you,
Dr. Sakari Hakkinen
Diocesan secretary in Kuopio Diocese