Re: [GTh] The evil mustard seed
I'm confused about "deep similitude". It sounds good, but the your use of it
is rather perplexing. You say at first that a parable should "give deep
similitude" to the concept it's trying to express, and then later that you
don't think that a certain interpretation "exhibits a deep similitude" to
the parable in 98. These are two different things, I would think. Bearing in
mind that 'similitude' simply means 'similarity', these two statements seem
to be substantially equivalent to:
1. A parable should be very similar to the concept it's expressing, and
2. An interpretation should be very similar to the parable it's
I suppose what you're trying to say is that the parable-maker in this case
could hardly have chosen such an image as an amateur assassin to illustrate
what the Kingdom is like. So here and also with the mustard-seed, you think
that the image might have been intended to invoke evil. (BTW, the swordsman
thrusts his sword _into_ the wall, not _through_ it.) But perhaps the
intended lesson of some of these parables is that the initiation of the
Kingdom - like childbirth - isn't pretty.
BTW, 98 ties in rather nicely with the saying about the kingdom being both
internal and external.
Mt. Clemens, MI
- Hi Mike,
Thank you for your response. I agree completely that the parable of the 'sword and the wall' is aimed at what you refer to as ordinary people, and not trained fighters. However the act of practicing with a sword to use it qualifies as an interest in the practice of martial arts, we'll call it technique.
When you use the visualization of the wall as a target, you are doing a form of meditation that lets you use the 'vision' to evaluate both offensive and defensive moves. Using this visualization in actual combat or the act of assassination gives you a higher level of understanding how the sword can be used. It also lets you experience the commitment to the meditation, and turning that into a reality. Very mystical.
Saying 98, is a key to using the tool of a 'vision' and I think the other parables can be reasoned the same. Think about the 'passage of the soul' against the seven demons of wrath in Mary. To paraphrase the GMary..... "Put the vision between the soul and the spirit in the mind, then fight 'your' demons, by becoming a person of light."
Also, "Thank you Mike Mazina.......
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
In regard to Th98, I want to go back to something you wrote in reply
to Frank McCoy in a message dated 6/7/2001. At the time, I was so
intrigued by the implications of your remark that I saved it in my
documents folder with the idea of asking you about it sometime later.
Unfortunately, I neglected to do so, and you, as far as I know, never
brought it up again.
In the message, you were suggesting a connection between the meaning
of Th98 and Th97; that looking at Th98 in a different way might begin
to answer the problem of Gth97. Gth98 reads:
"Jesus said, 'The kingdom of the father is like a certain man who
wanted to kill a powerful man. In his own house he drew his sword and
stuck it into the wall in order to find out whether his hand could
carry through. Then he slew the powerful man.'"
Mike Grondin wrote on 6/7/2001:
"One little word may be crucial - the word 'TOTE'.
Normally, it's translated 'then', but it seems to have a temporal
dimension as well - as in 'at that moment' or 'just then'. What a
difference it makes if we read Th98 as saying at the end, "At that
moment [i.e., when he stuck the sword in the wall], he slew the
Yes indeed, accepting that the word 'TOTE' may be translated as 'at
that moment' makes a big difference in how we might understand this
saying. Let me try to give you my take on the saying as a whole,
while employing your translation suggestion.
My feeling is that Jesus here is not describing an external event, but
an internal event. I feel the same way about TH9, the saying about
the man and the lion, bent on consuming each other. I don't think
that that saying is any more about real lions than this one is about
real swords. The kingdom of the father, the realm of truth and
enlightenment, is revealed to the one who can overcome *internally*
his baser or worldly nature and allow his divine nature to shine
through. Gth98 is a symbolic depiction of this epic struggle that
endlessly goes on in the minds of human beings.
In Gth98 the assassin is the seeker who has had his fill of the world
and wants to be free, psychologically and spiritually free. He knows
that half measures won't work. The realm of the world is both a
prison and a force that is so powerful that both the realm of God and
the worldly realm can't coexist together in peace. So in Th47 we
read, "it is impossible for a servent to serve two masters; otherwise,
he will honor the one and treat the other contemptuously." In Th35
the strong man must be bound before his house can be ransacked, again
I think, representing the internal bind or be bound struggle between
man's worldly nature and his divine.
So knowing that half measures won't work, the man decides to eliminate
the powerful man, a symbol representing the part of himself he must be
free of. I don't believe that the powerful man here represents the
body, as an external thing to be eliminated. That wouldn't do the man
much good. But the *idea* of the body, as his identity, as something
separate from God and separate from everything else, that's the part
of his thinking that he want's to eliminate from his mind altogether.
Now since this struggle is internal, the man can only destroy his
allegence to and identity with the world by cutting his connection
with it internally. He has to stop believing it has any real power
over him, stop trusting it, stop feeding it with whatever ego
enhancers he has at hand. In short, he must totally align himself
with its opposite, which Thomas identifies as the kingdom of the
father, one or union.
But our boy is scared. Who wouldn't be, facing such a formidable foe.
So he cautiously cuts into the wall of his house to test his nerve.
This "house" is also a symbol. It's not a real house. It represents
the *structure* of his world-dominated belief system. It's this house
that I think Jesus refers to in Th71, when he says, "I shall [destroy
this]house, and no one will be able to build it [...]" Destroying
this structure of thinking is basic, I think, to the purpose of these
Now this is where I return to what you said, Mike, about "TOTE". The
saying deliberately employs a word that can be used in two ways.
That's what makes this saying so damn clever. It rewards those
willing to probe deeper into this little maze. It seems to be saying,
"after that, he slew the powerful man." But what I think it's really
saying is that when the man assaults the wall of the house, the very
structure of his world-dominated belief system, *at that very moment*
the powerful ego-driven nature is slain. An internal problem is fixed
with an internal solution. This understanding of Th98 seems to me to
be totally consistent with the gospel as a whole. It repeats the
theme of learning to know who we really are.
- Tom Saunders wrote:
> When you use the visualization of the wall as a target, you are doingThat may be so, but I doubt whether the prospective audience would have
> a form of meditation that lets you use the 'vision' to evaluate both
> offensive and defensive moves. Using this visualization in actual
> combat or the act of assassination gives you a higher level of
> understanding how the sword can be used. It also lets you
> experience the commitment to the meditation, and turning that into
> a reality. Very mystical.
understood the surface details of the parable in this way, thus I doubt that
this was the intended interpretation.
A parable is a way of expressing some theological or mystical concept 'A' in
terms of a story 'B'. By deep similitude I meant that there should be some
mapping of A onto B so that the important features of the story B correspond
to important features in the explanation A.
To apply this to 98 - the most striking (no pun intended!) feature of the
story is the image of the man putting the sword into the wall of his own
house. If we were to interpret the story as just a trail of strength before
slaying the devil then there is no explanation of why this trail of strength
takes this form. So I would reject this simple 'trial of strength'
explanation as being inadequate. If however the explanation was that the
trial of strength was some mortification of the flesh before going on to
slay the devil then this would give an explanation of the sword being struck
into the persons own house. You could say that the interpretation has
passed this test - although it may still not be the correct one!
The second problem with the 'trial of strength interpretation is indeed that
the assassin is evil and I believe is more likely to represent an evil force
rather than a person seeking the kingdom.
Personally I still favour the explanation that the house is a person's body,
the powerful man is a person's spirit. I take the state of being possessed
with the spirit as being the same as the kingdom of heaven, the imperial
rule of god. A demon attempting to destroy the spirit will first strike at
the body, his own house. I do not think the Gnostics would have had many
problems with seeing the physical body as belonging to the devil. If the
demon wins this trial of strength at the bodily level he will go on to slay
----- Original Message -----
From: Michael Grondin <mwgrondin@...>
Sent: Thursday, October 16, 2003 1:17 PM
Subject: Re: [GTh] The evil mustard seed
> I'm confused about "deep similitude". It sounds good, but the your use of
> is rather perplexing. You say at first that a parable should "give deep
> similitude" to the concept it's trying to express, and then later that you
> don't think that a certain interpretation "exhibits a deep similitude" to
> the parable in 98. These are two different things, I would think. Bearing
> mind that 'similitude' simply means 'similarity', these two statements
> to be substantially equivalent to:
> 1. A parable should be very similar to the concept it's expressing, and
> 2. An interpretation should be very similar to the parable it's
> I suppose what you're trying to say is that the parable-maker in this case
> could hardly have chosen such an image as an amateur assassin to
> what the Kingdom is like. So here and also with the mustard-seed, you
> that the image might have been intended to invoke evil. (BTW, the
> thrusts his sword _into_ the wall, not _through_ it.) But perhaps the
> intended lesson of some of these parables is that the initiation of the
> Kingdom - like childbirth - isn't pretty.
> BTW, 98 ties in rather nicely with the saying about the kingdom being both
> internal and external.
> Mike Grondin
> Mt. Clemens, MI