Proper 16A

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This page is part of the Lectionary series within the Living with Jesus Now project.


Lectionary

  • Genesis 28:10-19a and Psalm 139:1-12, 23-24 [or Wisdom of Solomon 12:13, 16-19 (or Isaiah 44:6-8) and Psalm 86:11-17]
  • Romans 8:12-25
  • Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43




The Parables — Matthew 13 (continued)

This week the major western lectionaries offer a set of sayings (mostly parables) from Matthew 13, although there is some variation in the set offered by each lectionary:

Saying

ECUSA

RC

RCL

The Planted Weeds

Yes

Yes

Yes

Mustard Seed

Next Sunday

Yes

Next Sunday

Leaven

Next Sunday

Yes

Next Sunday

Speaking in Parables

No

Yes

No

Hidden From Eternity

No

Yes

No

Planted Weeds Explained

Yes

Yes

Yes

Who Has Ears

Yes

Yes

Yes

Gnashing of Teeth

Yes

Yes

Yes


As the parables of the Mustard Seed and the Leaven will be considered in the ECUSA and RCL cycles next week, these notes will focus on the Planted Weeds.

Before looking specifically at this week's parable, it is interesting to note the diversity of attestation enjoyed by the items in Matthew 13. Bold type is used to indicate the probable source of each item, following the suggestions in The Five Gospels so far as possible, while ordinary type is used for secondary sources.

Item

Paul

Thomas

Q Gospel

Mark

Matt

Luke-Acts

John

Other NT

Outside
NT

From the Boat

No

No

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No
No

The Sower

No

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No
Yes

Who Has Ears

No

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Yes
No

Knowing the Mystery

No

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No
No

Have and Receive

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No
No

Eye, Ear, Mind

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

No

No
Yes

Interpreting the Sower

No

No

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No
No
The Planted Weeds
No
Yes
No
No
Yes
No
No
No
No
The Mustard Seed
No
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
No
No
The Leaven
No
Yes
Yes
No
Yes
Yes
No
No
No
Speaking in Parables
No
No
No
Yes
Yes
No
No
No
No
Planted Weeds Explained
No
No
No
No
Yes
No
No
No
No

Gnashing of Teeth

No

No

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

No

No

Yes

Hidden Since Eternity
Yes
No
No
No
Yes
No
No
No
No
The Treasure
No
Yes
No
No
Matt
No
No
No
No
The Pearl
No
Yes
No
No
Yes
No
No
No
No
The Fishnet
No
Yes
No
No
Yes
No
No
No
No
The Fishnet Explained
No
No
No
No
Yes
No
No
No
No
The Kingdom's Scribe
No
No
No
No
Yes
No
No
No
No
Prophet's Own Country
No
Yes
No
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
No




The Planted Weeds

It is clear from the following horizontal line synopsis that the version in Matthew has undergone additional development beyond the simpler version found in Thomas.

Thom: Jesus said,
Matt: He put before them another parable:

Thom: The Father's imperial rule is like a person who had [good] seed.
Matt: "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field;

Thom: His enemy came during the night and sowed weeds among the good seed.
Matt: but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away.

Thom: --
Matt: So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well.

Thom: --
Matt: And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, 'Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?'

Thom: --
Matt: He answered, 'An enemy has done this.'

Thom: The person did not let the workers pull up the weeds,
Matt: The slaves said to him, 'Then do you want us to go and gather them?'

Thom: but said to them, "No, otherwise you might go to pull up the weeds and pull up the wheat along with them."
Matt: But he replied, 'No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them.

Thom: For on the day of the harvest the weeds will be conspicuous, and will be pulled up and burned.
Matt: Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.'"

 

Samuel Lachs [Rabbinic Commentary on the New Testament, 224] notes that there are no rabbinic parallels to this saying, but he does offer this comment on the rabbinic view of darnel (Lolium temulentum):

Heb. zun, Aram. zuna. Darnel closely resembles wheat, and since it cannot readily be distinguished from wheat, it is left in the field until harvest time. The Rabbis looked upon darnel as a degenerative form of wheat, the product of sexual excesses that took place in the plant world before the Flood. The Rabbis fancifully derive its meaning from z-n-h, which means "to commit fornication."

This is one of the sayings considered at the opening session of the Jesus Seminar, but it was then reconsidered at the second session later in 1986. At the first session, both versions were given a Gray vote but at the second session they each were voted Black.

While the Seminar recognized that its occurrence in Thomas showed that it was circulating in Christian circles from a very early time, this parable's eventual Black vote marked it as an item that could not be considered for inclusion in the database of sayings attributed to Jesus. The summary opinion of the Seminar is stated as follows:

The parable reflects the concern of a young Christian community attempting to define itself over against an evil world, a concern not characteristic of Jesus. Letting the wheat and weeds grow up together suggests the final judgment rather than agricultural practice. [Five Gospels, 194]

The main shift of opinion between the two sessions seems to have concerned the "distant echo of the final apocalyptic judgment" in the Thomas version of the parable. The allegorical interpretation appended to the parable in Matt 13:16-43a makes the theme of judgment on the last day explicit:

Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples approached him, saying, "Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field." He answered, "The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen!

The Seminar comments as follows on this interpretation of the parable:

Matthew certainly created the allegory that interprets the parable: it reflects his notion of a mixed domain, made up of good and evil, that is to be separated only at the final coming of Jesus as the son of Adam. [Five Gospels, 196]

John Dominic Crossan, who was co-chair of the Jesus Seminar during the period when it studied the sayings of Jesus, is more optimistic about the authenticity of this parable as a saying of Jesus. He gives it a positive historical rating and suggests a kind of ironic humor that might often persuade people that this saying can be understood on the lips of Jesus.

Crossan writes:

When I first worked on this parable I thought that it intended to praise the wisdom of the landowner's decision caught, as he was, between twin evils (In Parables. 1973:64,85). But I find Oakman's recent arguments entirely persuasive, as is also his contention that Jesus' hearers are being asked to laugh a little at this relatively well-to-do landowner. Since darnel is a natural problem, only its great extent in a specific field would need to be explained, within the narrative of the parable and not just the paranoia of the owner, as due to an enemy's action. So he is stuck. "Weeding after the appearance of grain might pose the danger of uprooting wheat along with the darnel," according to Oakman, "but it possibly can lay claim to be the lesser of two evils." (Jesus and the Economic Questions of His Day. 1986:118) And that, says Jesus, is what the Kingdom is like. From the viewpoint of the well-to-do with their fields of best wheat and plural servants, it is a noxious weed. But they are stuck with it. Mustard and darnel, then, stand together, surely with some ironic humor, as twin images of the Kingdom, seen, however, from the angle of the landless poor. [Historical Jesus, 280]




Jesus Database

  • 035 The Mustard Seed: (1) GThom. 20:1-2; (2) 1or2?Q: Luke 13:18-19 = Matt 13:31-32; (3) Mark 4:30-32 = Matt 13:31-32
  • 104 The Leaven: (1) GThom. 96:1; (2) 1or2?Q: Luke 13:20-21 = Matt 13:33
  • 009 Who Has Ears: (1a) GThom. 8:2; (1b) GThom. 21:5; (1c) GThom. 24:2; (1d) GThom. 63:2; (1e) GThom. 65:2; (1f) GThom. 96:2; (2a) Mark 4:9 = Matt 13:9 = Luke 8:8b; (2b) Mark 4:23 =Matt 13:43b; (3) Matt 11:15; (4) Luke 14:35b; (5) Rev 2:7,11,17, 29; 3:6,13,22; 13:9
  • 125 Gnashing of Teeth: (1a) 2Q: Luke 13:28a = Matt 8:12b; (1b) Matt 13:42b; (1c) Matt 13:50b; (1d) Matt 22:13b; (1e) Matt 24:51b; (1f) Matt 25:30b; (2) Dial. Sav. 14e




Liturgies and Prayers

For liturgies and sermons each week, shaped by a progressive theology, check Rex Hunt's web site

Other recommended sites include:



Music Suggestions

See the following sites for recommendations from a variety of contemporary genre: