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RE: [XTalk] Parable of the Sower

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  • David C. Hindley
    ... from the lips of the historical Jesus, regardless of how we view the possibility or impossibility of the yield figures. In truth, I have found this parable
    Message 1 of 34 , Jul 1, 2001
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      Loren Rosson III mused:

      >>I remain unsure as to what the parable of The Sower may have meant
      from the lips of the historical Jesus, regardless of how we view the
      possibility or impossibility of the yield figures. In truth, I have
      found this parable to be one of the most elsusive in the gospels.
      (This, despite that the story seems so simple and strightforward!)
      Some commentaries in the above samples are helpful, but "the message"
      is still murky. Perhaps others will chime in and comment on the above
      interpretations (or offer their own). In any case, I look forward to
      more discussion regarding the
      yield figures.<<

      There is one other parable where Jesus discussed the growing of
      individual plants.

      RSV Mark 4:26 And he said, "The kingdom of God is as if a man should
      scatter seed upon the ground, 27 and should sleep and rise night and
      day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he knows not how. 28 The
      earth produces of itself, first the blade [CORTON], then the ear
      [STACUN, stalk-head], then the full [PLHRH(S), full grown] grain
      [SITON, grain (singular)] in the ear. 29 But when the grain [KARPOS,
      fruit] is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has

      It is believed that all reference to grain farming in the NT refer to
      wheat, although I am not sure why some cannot also include barley.

      Following up on the information provided by Bob Schact, I looked up
      some information about covered wheats (eikhorn, emmer, spelt, common
      in unirrigated settings) and naked wheats (common wheats & kamut,
      usually grown in irrigated settings) on the net. These are the strains
      that seem to be represented in archeological digs. A report from the
      excavations of Jericho (through the Middle Bronze period) is at:

      A comparison of ancient wheats (incl. eikhorn, emmer, spelt & kamut)
      is to be found at:

      A description of the various parts of grasses (which include grain
      crops) is at:

      Unfortunately, none of these resources mention the number of grains
      each grain head would have (although the latter site above has
      pictures), or whether this number varies with conditions.

      "In cereal crops the [seed] head (inflorescence) *if unbranched* is
      called a spike. The spike consists of flowers (spikelets) arranged on
      the rachis (which is an extension of the stem)" (2nd URL above
      emphasis mine). From this (unfamiliar as I am with botanical technical
      terms) it appears that it is possible that there can be more than one
      spike per plant.

      There also appears to be a wide degree of variability in the number,
      and quality, of grains on a spike (in the site that follows the
      variety is that of common wheat) per the following paper:

      Jan Sammer mentioned in a post of 6/29 that "It is a botanical fact
      that a head of wheat contains
      50 to 75 grains." If Jan is reading this, I wonder if he (?, and my
      apologies for not being certain of your gender) would let us know what
      resource he used for this statistic, and whether the source also
      indicates the number of heads individual plants are likely to produce
      (if more than one).

      Also, if barley is included, would this change the equation? I
      understand that barley produces more dense clusters of grain than
      wheat does.


      Dave Hindley
      Cleveland, Ohio, USA
    • David C. Hindley
      ... seeds.
      Message 34 of 34 , Jul 2, 2001
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        William said:

        >>I don't follow what is meant by a 2-5x return on planting grain

        In ancient times, and even recently in regions where subsistence
        (i.e., relatively unmechanized) farming is common, the yield is not
        represented as volume of grain but by the volume of grain returned
        divided by the volume of grain sown. If you sow a bushel of wheat
        (using modern US measure), you expect (maybe pray for) 5 bushels
        reaped. The yield seems to have varied between 4x and 6x, according to
        the Turkish study (circa 1950, and using relatively primitive farming
        techniques resembling that of 1st century Palestine) mentioned in an
        earlier post.


        Dave Hindley
        Cleveland, Ohio, USA
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