052 Commentary

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This page forms part of the resources for 052 Yoke and Burden in the Jesus Database project of FaithFutures Foundation

Crossan Inventory | 052 Literature | 052 Parallels | 052 Commentary | 052 Poetry | 052 Images


Marcus J. Borg

This saying is one of several "Sophia" texts cited by Borg in 'Jesus, the Wisdom of God' [Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time] (ch 6). It also has some parallels in Sirach 51:23-26.

Draw near to me, you who are uneducated, and lodge in the house of instruction. Why do you say that you are lacking these things, and why do you endure such great thirst? I opened my mouth and said, Acquire wisdom for yourselves without money. Put your neck under her yoke, and let your souls receive instruction, for it is to be found close by.

A full listing of the texts cited by Borg is [available online].

John Dominic Crossan

Crossan [[Historical Jesus] (p. 349) notes that this cluster could be included in a set of materials relating to Jesus' historical mission and message: "the open secret." However, Crossan discounts this saying as less likely to have originated with Jesus because its focus is on Jesus himself as the one giving rest. Other related traditions in this complex include: 014 Eye Ear Mind [1/4], 032 Hidden Made Manifest [1/3], 045 Father and Son [1/3], 066. Wise and Understanding [1/3], 067 Hidden Since Eternity [1/2], and 092 Knowing the Mystery [1/2].

David Flusser

David Flusser [Jesus, 107] cites the following rabbinic parallels to this cluster:

If Israel kept the words of the law given to them, no people of kingdom would rule over them. And what does the law say? 'Take upon you the yoke of My kingdom and emulate one another in the fear of God, and practice kindness to one another.' [Sifre on Deut 32:29]
Every individual who takes upon himself the yoke of the law removes from his shoulders the yoke of government and daily sorrows. But whoever removes the yoke of the law will be burdened with the yoke of government and daily sorrows. [M.Avot 3:6]
(A scribe complains when the Zealots had forcible assumed government and the rebellion had been bloodily suppressed by the Romans:) the rulers of the cities of Judah, who have put off the yoke of heaven and assumed the yoke of the government of flesh and blood. [Mekhilta de Rabbi Ishmael]

Jesus Seminar

The Jesus Seminar took the view that Matthew and Thomas have independently attributed to Jesus a saying about Sophia/Wisdom providing a (gentle) yoke that leads to rest as its reward. They also noted that, in addition to the parallel in Sirach 51, there is an earlier passage that deals with these themes:

23 Listen, my child, and accept my judgment;
do not reject my counsel.
24 put your feet into her fetters,
and you neck into her collar.
25 bend your shoulder and cary her,
and do not fret under her bonds.
26 Come to her with all your soul,
and keep her ways with all your might.
27 Search out and seek, and she will become known to you;
and when you get hold of her, do not let her go.
28 For at last you will find the rest she gives,
and she will be changed into joy for you.
29 Then her fetters will become for you a strong defense,
and her collar a glorious robe.
30 Her yoke is a golden ornament,
and her bonds a purple cord.
31 You will wear her like a glorious robe,
and put her on like a splendid crown. [Sirach 6:23-31]

While this seems a reasonable conclusion so far as the historical derivation of this saying is concerned, it fails to note that the cluster is nonetheless part of the the surviving evidence for an early line of thought that understood Jesus in categories derived from the Sophia figure of Jewish writings of the second Temple period.

Samuel T. Lachs

Lachs [Rabbinic Commentary on the New Testament](p.280) cites B.Ber. 61b in which the regular recital of the Shema (Deut 6:4ff) was called

The acceptance of the yoke of the kingdom of heaven.

Gerd Luedemann

Luedemann [Jesus] (174f) notes the parallels in the wisdom writings (including Prov 8:1-21) and dismisses the saying as inauthentic since he judges the identification of Jesus with Sophia to be a post-Easter development.

John P. Meier

Meier [Marginal Jew] (II, 387 n. 174) indicates a preference to regard this saying as coming from the special Matthean source, rather than as being derived from Q or created by Matthew. He clearly does not consider the saying authentic.