Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven

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Did Jesus offer a rationale for teaching with the aid of story parables in this pericope, or does the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying celebrate the dawning of the new age of redemption?

Matt. 13:11-15; Mark 4:11-12; Luke 8:10

(Huck 91; Aland 123; Crook 145)[1]

וַיֹּאמֶר לָכֶם נִתַּן לָדַעַת אֶת רָזֵי מַלְכוּת שָׁמַיִם וְלִשְׁאָר בִּמְשָׁלִים כִּי רָאוֹ לֹא רָאוּ וְשָׁמוֹעַ לֹא שָׁמְעוּ וְלֹא הֵבִינוּ

Then Yeshua said to his emissaries: “God has permitted you to experience the mysteries the Kingdom of Heaven had in store. But until now those mysteries were only hinted at through the symbolic language of the prophets, for ‘no eye could see, and no ear could hear, and no heart could understand’ beforehand the full scope of redemption the Kingdom of Heaven would bring.”[2]


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Reconstruction

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Conjectured Stages of Transmission

The Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying is a Triple Tradition pericope that affords a fascinating demonstration of Robert Lindsey’s hypothesis that the literary progression among the Synoptic Gospels goes from Luke to Mark to Matthew.[3] This literary progression can be observed in the way the statement about the inability to see or understand, which comes as the climax of the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying, is developed from a mere poetic parallelism in Luke, to an unmistakable scriptural allusion in Mark, to an explicit scriptural quotation in Matthew.

In Luke’s version of Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, the statement about the inability to see or understand has the form of a couplet that reads as follows:

…but for the rest it is in parables so that
seeing they may not see,
and hearing they may not understand.

Read on its own, without the parallels in Mark and Matthew to influence our opinion, it is far from obvious whether this couplet is based on any biblical verse.[4] In Mark’s version of Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, by contrast, an allusion to Isa. 6:9-10 is unmistakable:

…so that
seeing they might see but not perceive,
and hearing they might hear but not understand,
lest they repent and it be forgiven them.

Expanding scriptural quotations is characteristic of Markan redaction,[5] and in this case Mark’s expansion included the addition of the clause “lest they repent and it be forgiven them” (L38, L41-42), which is a paraphrase of the second half of Isa. 6:10. Mark’s expansion also involved changing a denial that the people will see in Luke 8:10 into an affirmation that the people will indeed see (L22), and then adding the further remark that despite seeing they will not perceive (L23). The author of Mark expanded the statement about hearing following the same pattern (L25). These expansions dispel all uncertainty regarding the author of Mark’s opinion about the scriptural background of the statement about the people’s inability to see or understand.

Our suspicion that these Markan expansions are editorial is confirmed by Matthew’s version of the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying, in which the expansions that made the allusion to Isa. 6:9-10 unmistakable in Mark are lacking:

…because
seeing they do not see,
and hearing they do not hear or understand.

Had the author of Matthew not gone on to quote Isaiah explicitly,[6] we would once more be in doubt as to whether this statement was intended as an allusion to Isa. 6:9. Like the version in Luke 8:10, Matt. 13:13 drops the affirmation that the people will see (L22) and the remark that they will not perceive (L23). Matthew’s version also changes Mark’s clause “lest they repent and it be forgiven them” to “and they repent and I will heal them” (L41-42).

The author of Matthew was clearly inspired by Mark’s editorial activity, but unlike Mark he was not content with a mere allusion to Isaiah’s prophecy. His decision to add the Isaiah quotation at the end of the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying afforded the author of Matthew the freedom to remove the Markan expansions and restore a more original version of the statement about the people’s inability to see, hear or understand.[7]

Lindsey’s hypothesis explains how the author of Matthew was able to restore a more original form of the concluding statement of the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying by positing that, in addition to relying on the Gospel of Mark, the author of Matthew also relied on the Anthology (Anth.), the same source from which the author of Luke had copied the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven pericope.[8] By combining his two sources, Mark and Anth., the author of Matthew simultaneously produced the most highly redacted version of the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying while also preserving some of Anth.’s elements even more accurately than the Gospel of Luke did.

In terms of the wording of the statement about the people’s inability to see, hear or understand, Matthew’s version is more original than that of either of the other Synoptic Gospels. But in terms of development from a possible allusion to an explicit quotation of Isa. 6:9-10, we find a clear progression from Luke to Mark to Matthew in the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying.[9]

Story Placement

The same progression from Luke to Mark to Matthew, which we discussed in the previous section, can also be observed in the way Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven became increasingly integrated into the discussion of the Four Soils parable. In the Gospel of Luke the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying interrupts the discussion about the Four Soils parable, intruding between the disciples’ question, “What is the meaning of this parable?” (Luke 8:9), and Jesus’ answer, “This is the meaning of the parable…” (Luke 8:11). If someone were to omit Luke 8:10 while reading aloud the Four Soils parable and its interpretation, a listener who was not following along in his or her Bible might never notice that the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying had been omitted.[10]

In Mark an attempt has been made to smooth the transition between the Four Soils parable and the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying.[11] Unlike Luke 8:9, where the disciples ask, “What is the meaning of this parable?” in Mark 4:10 the inquirers ask Jesus “[about] the parables [plur.].”[12] In this way the author of Mark succeeded in making the justification for Jesus’ speaking “in parables” come as less of a surprise: according to Mark’s version, Jesus had not been asked about a specific parable, but about the parables in general.

In Matthew the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying is even more successfully incorporated into the discussion about the Four Soils parable. The disciples no longer ask Jesus about the meaning of “this parable,” as in Luke 8:10, or about “the parables” in general, as in Mark 4:10; in Matt. 13:10 the disciples explicitly ask, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” This question is then echoed in Jesus’ reply: “Therefore, I speak to them in parables…” (Matt. 13:13). In order to make the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying a logical response to the disciples’ question, the author of Matthew completely reworked the dialogue between Jesus and his disciples.[13]

Observing the successive efforts to integrate Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven into the context of the discussion about the Four Soils parable in Mark and Matthew, in contrast to the complete lack of connection between the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying and the disciples’ question in Luke, David Flusser became convinced that originally the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying had nothing to do with the Four Soils parable.[14] Based on the placement of the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying (Matt. 13:11-15), immediately followed by the Blessedness of the Twelve pronouncement (Matt. 13:16-17) in Matthew, Flusser suggested that Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven might originally have formed part of Jesus’ response to his apostles’ return from their healing and teaching mission.[15] In such a context, the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying could have nothing to do with Jesus’ reason for telling story parables to the crowds. Originally, the saying would have described how the mysteries that had once been hidden even from the prophets were finally being revealed at the present time.

But what evidence is there that Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven and Blessedness of the Twelve were already joined in Matthew’s source? Might not the author of Matthew have been responsible for their juxtaposition? The high level of editorial activity in Matthew’s versions of both of these sayings might be taken as proof that it was the author of Matthew who placed Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven immediately before Blessedness of the Twelve.[16] Upon closer examination, however, we find that Matthew’s editorial activity does not strengthen the bond between Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven and Blessedness of the Twelve, but actually weakens it. In Matthew the bond between the two passages is interrupted by the long quotation from Isaiah that the author of Matthew inserted into the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying. When Matthew’s editorial additions are stripped away, the two sayings fit together even more tightly. Thus, the way Matthew’s editorial insertion of the Isaiah quotation intervenes between the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying and the Blessedness of the Twelve pronouncement lends support to Flusser’s suggestion that these two sayings were already joined in Matthew’s source.

If we accept Flusser’s suggestion regarding the original placement of the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying, and if we follow the logic of Lindsey’s hypothesis, then it must have been the author of Luke who removed this saying from its original context in order to insert it into the discussion about the Four Soils parable. To understand why it must have been the author of Luke who made this change, and not an earlier source upon which Luke relied, we must recall that Luke’s account of the Mission of the Seventy-two (Luke 10:1-24) was based on Anth.’s version of the Mission of the Twelve.[17] It is from Luke’s account of the Mission of the Seventy-two that we learn that in Anth. the Blessedness of the Twelve pericope formed part of Jesus’ response to his apostles’ return.[18] For reasons of his own, the author of Matthew decided not to record the description of the apostles’ return or Jesus’ response to their reported success.[19] The author of Matthew did not simply discard all of the material he omitted from Anth.’s Mission of the Twelve, however. Instead, he used some of the material that appeared in Anth.’s Mission of the Twelve in other parts of his Gospel. So, for instance, Matthew placed Woes on Galilean Villages and Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn in chapter eleven,[20] and he placed Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven and Blessedness of the Twelve in chapter thirteen. If Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven and Blessedness of the Twelve were already linked at a pre-synoptic stage, as Flusser suggested, the only way Matthew could have known this was if he saw these two pericopae together in Anth. Since Luke 10 shows that the Blessedness of the Twelve pronouncement formed part of Anth.’s Mission of the Twelve, it must have been the author of Luke who uprooted the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying from its place in the Mission of the Twelve in order to insert it into the discussion about the Four Soils parable.

But what reason would the author of Luke have had to remove the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying from its original location as part of Jesus’ response to the apostles’ return? Perhaps it was simply that to the author of Luke the mention of parables struck a discordant note. Nowhere in the Mission of the Twelve does Jesus tell a story parable, nor does Jesus instruct the apostles to teach the people to whom he was sending them with the aid of parables. Parables are not mentioned anywhere in the Mission of the Twelve. For this reason Luke might have decided to place Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven into a context where it made more sense to him. If this was Luke’s motivation, then it was likely based on a misunderstanding of the meaning of “parables” in the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying.[21] Elsewhere in the Gospels “parables” usually refers to the story parables Jesus used to illustrate his message. In the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying, however, “parables” seems originally to have been used in its secondary sense of “riddles” or “obscure language.”[22] In other words, the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying originally had nothing to do with story parables,[23] but because the author of Luke misunderstood (or reinterpreted) the meaning of “parables” in this pericope, he placed Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven into a context where the saying would make sense according to the new meaning he either intentionally or unwittingly imposed upon it. In this way Luke transformed a saying about how the mysteries of God, which had been shrouded in the obscure language of the prophets, were coming to light in the present time into a justification for why Jesus used story parables as a method for concealing his message from unbelievers.

To see an overview of the entire “Mission of the Twelve” complex, click here.

 

Click here to view the Map of the Conjectured Hebrew Life of Yeshua.

 

 

Crucial Issues

  1. What does it mean to know “the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven”?
  2. Who are “the rest” to whom it was “in parables”?
  3. Did Jesus use story parables in order to conceal his message from his Jewish contemporaries?

Comment

L1-3 καὶ ἔλεγεν (Mark 4:11). The use of ἔλεγεν (elegen, “he was saying”) is not only un-Hebraic,[24] it is also typical of Markan redaction.[25] Luke and Matthew agree against Mark to write ὁ δὲ εἶπεν (ho de eipen, “And he said”), a strong indication that this was the reading of Anth.

L4 αὐτοῖς (Matt. 13:11; Mark 4:11). Lindsey believed that it was the author of Matthew’s practice to weave together the wording of his two sources, Mark and Anth.[26] An example of this practice is Matthew’s inclusion of αὐτοῖς (avtois, “to them”), which Matthew accepted from Mark after rejecting Mark’s καὶ ἔλεγεν in favor of Anth.’s ὁ δὲ εἶπεν.

L5 ὑμῖν τὸ μυστήριον δέδοται (Mark 4:11). The Lukan-Matthean agreements against Mark’s word order in L5-7 show that they preserve the original wording of Anth.[27] By means of his slight alterations, the author of Mark made Jesus’ statement more immediate: the addressees are not given mere knowledge of the mysteries, they are given the mystery itself.[28] Mark’s alterations also have the effect of producing a less Hebraic word order than we find in the versions of Luke and Matthew, however, and whether “mystery” is reconstructed as מִסְטֵירִין (misṭērin, “mysteries,” “secrets”) or רָזִים (rāzim, “mysteries,” “secrets”),[29] the plural form μυστήρια (mūstēria, “mysteries,” “secrets”) in Luke and Matthew is more Hebraic than Mark’s singular μυστήριον (mūstērion, “mystery,” “secret”). Since a more Hebraic text is more likely to be original, we have preferred to follow Matthew and Luke for GR and HR. In addition, Lindsey noted that the plural “mysteries” harks back to “these things” that God revealed to the simple in Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn, which according to our reconstruction came immediately before Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven.[30] It is only now that we learn what “these things” in Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn refers to. “These things” are the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven.

ὅτι ὑμῖν δέδοται (GR). As we stated, the Lukan-Matthean agreements in L5-7 show that both these authors were copying the wording of Anth. This raises the question whether the author of Matthew added the conjunction ὅτι (hoti, “that,” “because”) or whether the author of Luke omitted ὅτι. Elsewhere we have identified examples where ὅτι is used to introduce direct speech in Anth., and we have therefore accepted ὅτι in GR.[31] The use of ὅτι to introduce direct speech is normal in Greek, but a corresponding -שֶׁ or אֲשֶׁר is superfluous in Hebrew, and therefore ὅτι is not reflected in HR.[32]

לָכֶם נִתַּן (HR). Hebrew word order prefers the verb נִתַּן (nitan, “it was given”) before the preposition with pronominal suffix,[33] but since the order in the Greek text of the Gospels is unanimously ὑμῖν δέδοται (hūmin dedotai, “to you it has been given”), it is possible that the preposition with pronominal suffix was placed ahead of the verb even in the conjectured Hebrew Ur-text in order to indicate emphasis. Examples in which the preposition with pronominal suffix precedes נִתַּן include the following:

לָנוּ נִתְּנָה הָאָרֶץ לְמוֹרָשָׁה

…to us was given the land for a possession. (Ezek. 33:24; cf. 11:15)

לָנוּ נִתְּנוּ לְאָכְלָה

…to us they are given for food. (Ezek. 35:12)

לָהֶם לְבַדָּם נִתְּנָה הָאָרֶץ

To them alone was given the land…. (Job 15:19)

On the basis of these examples we have retained the Greek word order in HR.[34]

L6 לָדַעַת (HR). The vast majority of instances of γιγνώσκειν (gignōskein, “to know”) in LXX occur as the translation of יָדַע (yāda‘, “know”).[35] Sometimes, however, γιγνώσκειν is the translation of רָאָה (rā’āh, “see”), for instance:

אֵין שַׂר בֵּית הַסֹּהַר רֹאֶה אֶת כָּל־מְאוּמָה בְּיָדוֹ בַּאֲשֶׁר יי אִתּוֹ

The warden of the prison did not see anything that was in his [i.e., Joseph’s—DNB and JNT] hand, because the LORD was with him. (Gen. 39:23)

οὐκ ἦν ὁ ἀρχιδεσμοφύλαξ τοῦ δεσμωτηρίου γινώσκων δι᾿ αὐτὸν οὐθέν· πάντα γὰρ ἦν διὰ χειρὸς Ιωσηφ διὰ τὸ τὸν κύριον μετ᾿ αὐτοῦ εἶναι

The chief jailer of the prison had no knowledge of anything because of him, for everything was under Ioseph’s control, because the Lord was with him…. (Gen. 39:23; NETS)

כִּי יִתֵּן אִישׁ אֶל רֵעֵהוּ חֲמוֹר אוֹ שׁוֹר אוֹ שֶׂה וְכָל־בְּהֵמָה לִשְׁמֹר וּמֵת אוֹ נִשְׁבַּר אוֹ נִשְׁבָּה אֵין רֹאֶה

If a man gives his neighbor a donkey, or an ox, or a sheep, or any domesticated animal to watch, and it dies, or is injured, or taken captive, but he did not see…. (Exod. 22:9)

ἐὰν δέ τις δῷ τῷ πλησίον ὑποζύγιον ἢ μόσχον ἢ πρόβατον ἢ πᾶν κτῆνος φυλάξαι, καὶ συντριβῇ ἢ τελευτήσῃ ἢ αἰχμάλωτον γένηται, καὶ μηδεὶς γνῷ

Now if someone gives the neighbor a draft animal or sheep or calf or any animal to guard and it breaks a limb or dies or becomes captive and no one knows…. (Exod. 22:9; NETS)

עַתָּה תִרְאֶה הֲיִקְרְךָ דְבָרִי אִם לֹא

Now you will see if my word will come to pass for you or not. (Num. 11:23)

ἤδη γνώσει εἰ ἐπικαταλήμψεταί σε ὁ λόγος μου ἢ οὔ.

Now you shall know whether my word will overtake you or not. (Num. 11:23; NETS)

אֲשֶׁר רָאוּ אֵת כָּל־מַעֲשֵׂה יי הַגָּדוֹל אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה לְיִשְׂרָאֵל

…who had seen all the great work of the LORD that he did for Israel. (Judg. 2:7)

ὅσοι ἔγνωσαν πᾶν τὸ ἔργον κυρίου τὸ μέγα, ὃ ἐποίησεν τῷ Ισραηλ

…those who had known all the Lord’s great work that he had done for Israel. (Judg. 2:7; NETS)

Since seeing is such a prominent theme in the second half of the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying, as well as in the Blessedness of the Twelve pronouncement which follows, it is tempting to consider whether “it was given to you to know” ought to be reconstructed as “it was given to you to see.”[36] On the other hand, knowledge is a prominent theme in Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn, and therefore לָדַעַת (lāda‘at, “to know”) in Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven would provide thematic continuity between the two passages. Moreover, mysteries and knowledge are commonly associated in ancient Jewish sources.[37] As in ancient Jewish sources, Jesus spoke to his disciples about the knowledge of mysteries that God had revealed to them.

L7 אֶת רָזֵי (HR). In MT the noun רָז (rāz, “mystery”) is confined to the Aramaic portions of Daniel,[38] but רָז had entered the Hebrew lexicon well before the time of Jesus, as we learn from DSS. The noun רָז also occurs in rabbinic sources, albeit rarely.[39] Lindsey suggested that Jesus coined the phrase “the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven,” combining Qumran terminology (רָזֵי אֵל; “the mysteries of God”)[40] with Pharisaic-rabbinic vocabulary (מַלְכוּת שָׁמַיִם; “the Kingdom of Heaven”).[41] This suggestion fits with another phrase Jesus coined, “enter the Kingdom of Heaven,” which likewise combines Essene and Pharisaic-rabbinic jargon,[42] and with Jesus’ reuse of Essene self-designations such as “poor of spirit” (Matt. 5:3) and “the simple” (Matt. 11:25; Luke 10:21) to refer to his own followers.[43]

As an alternative to רָז, Bowker suggested that מִסְטֵירִין (misṭērin, “mysteries,” “secrets”; var. מִסְטוֹרִין [misṭōrin]), a rabbinic loanword from Greek,[44] might have stood behind μυστήριον (mūstērion, “mystery,” “secret”) in the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying.[45] Note the striking parallel in the following passage to Jesus’ announcement that the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven had been revealed to the apostles:

אמר ר′ יהודה הלוי ב″ר שלום…המשנה מסטורן שלו של הקב″ה ואין הקב″ה מגלה מסטורן שלו אלא לצדיקים שנאמר סוד ה′ ליראיו

Rabbi Yehudah ha-Levi said in the name of Rabbi Shalom, “…the Mishnah is a mystery of the Holy One, blessed be he, and the Holy One, blessed be he, does not reveal his mysteries [מסטורן] except to the righteous, as it is said, The secret of the LORD is for those who fear him [Ps. 25:14].” (Midrash Tanhuma, Vayera’ chpt. 6 [ed. Buber, 1:88]; cf. Pesikta Rabbati 5:1 [ed. Friedmann, 14b])

Against accepting מִסְטֵירִין for HR, however, is the fact that this loanword appears only in late rabbinic sources.[46] It is uncertain whether מִסְטֵירִין had entered the Hebrew language as early as the first century. Moreover, we find Lindsey’s suggestion that “the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven” is a hybrid of Essene and Pharisaic terminology to be both attractive and convincing.

L8-9 τῆς βασιλείας τῶν οὐρανῶν (GR). Noting the Essene phrase רָזֵי אֵל (rāzē ’ēl, “the mysteries of God”),[47] Flusser suggested that the words τῆς βασιλείας (tēs basileias, “of the kingdom”) in the phrase “the mysteries of the Kingdom of God” were a later scribal addition to Luke’s text. Flusser found support for this idea in a few ancient witnesses that omit τῆς βασιλείας from the text of Luke 8:10.[48] The textual evidence for this suggestion, however, is weak and pertains only to Luke’s version of Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven.[49] Since the author of Matthew probably corrected τῆς βασιλείας τοῦ θεοῦ (“the Kingdom of God”) to τῆς βασιλείας τῶν οὐρανῶν (“the Kingdom of Heaven”) on the basis of Anth.,[50] we conclude that τῆς βασιλείας was original and that Jesus’ words should be reconstructed in Hebrew as רָזֵי מַלְכוּת שָׁמַיִם (rāzē malchūt shāmayim, “the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven”).[51]

L10-11 ἐκείνοις δὲ τοῖς ἔξωθεν (Mark 4:11). In Mark’s version of Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven Jesus contrasts those to whom the mysteries have been given with “those on the outside” for whom everything is in parables.[52] Elsewhere in NT “outsiders” is an appellation given to non-believers (cf. 1 Cor. 5:12; Col. 4:5; 1 Thess. 4:12). This parallels rabbinic usage in which חִצוֹנִים (ḥitzōnim, “outsiders”) was sometimes used of fellow Jews who adhered to halachic practices that deviated from their own (cf. m. Meg. 4:8). His use of the term “outsiders” indicates that Mark interpreted this saying in a sectarian manner, according to which the parables were for public discourse because they allowed Jesus to hide his message from the unbelieving masses, whereas the esoteric knowledge of God’s Kingdom was reserved solely for the elect.[53] The author of Luke probably understood the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying in a similar, though possibly less stark, manner. Nevertheless, Luke’s different, and probably more original, wording admits of a different understanding.

According to Luke 8:10, it is not to those who are on the outside, it is τοῖς λοιποῖς (tois loipois, “to the rest”) that it was given “in parables.” If Flusser was correct that the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying belongs between Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn and Blessedness of the Twelve, the original contrast in each of these sayings may have been temporal rather than sectarian. The temporal distinction is easiest to appreciate in the Blessedness of the Twelve pronouncement,[54] where Jesus contrasted the visible manifestations of God’s redemption in the present time to the hiddenness of God’s redemption in the past:

Many prophets and messengers wanted to see what you are seeing, but did not see it. (Matt. 13:17; Luke 10:24)[55]

The contrast between the “wise and intelligent” and the “simple” in Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn can also be understood as temporal: God hid “these things” (i.e., the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven) from even the most deserving members of prior generations (such as the prophets and messengers mentioned in Blessedness of the Twelve), but now God was revealing them even to Jesus’ own simple followers.[56] Since it is preferable to suppose that the same contrast was being drawn in all three sayings (Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn, Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven and Blessedness of the Twelve), namely a temporal contrast between the revelation of God’s salvation in the present time versus the hiddenness of God’s redemption in the past, we believe that “the rest” in Luke 8:10 originally referred to the previous generations of Israel who lived at a time when God’s redemption was still shrouded in the veiled words of the prophets.

In support of this interpretation, consider the following rabbinic commentary:

זה אלי ואנוהו רבי אליעזר אומר מנין אתה אומר שראתה שפחה על הים מה שלא ראו ישעיה ויחזקאל וכל שאר הנביאים שנאמר בהם וביד הנביאים אדמה וכתיב נפתחו השמים ואראה מראות אלהים

This is my God and I will glorify him [Exod. 15:2]. Rabbi Eliezer [ben Hyrcanus] says, “How does one know that at the [Red] Sea even the maidservants saw what Isaiah and Ezekiel and all the rest of the prophets [וכל שאר הנביאים] never saw? Because it is said about them [i.e., the prophets—DNB and JNT], And through the prophets I gave similitudes [Hos. 12:11]. And it is written, The heavens were opened and I saw visions of God [Ezek. 1:1; i.e., Ezekiel saw visions, he did not see God face to face—DNB and JNT].” (Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, Shirata chpt. 3 [ed. Lauterbach, 1:184])

According to Rabbi Eliezer,[57] since the time of Israel’s redemption from Egypt, when God openly revealed his kingdom to everyone, divine revelations had been given only in veiled language. No one, not even the prophets, had seen God’s redemption fully revealed in all that time.

If our understanding of the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying is correct, Jesus’ statement is in harmony with Rabbi Eliezer’s opinion that the prophets could only foresee distorted glimpses of the redemption that was to come. But whereas Rabbi Eliezer’s comment focused on the division of history into the period of Israel’s redemption from Egypt and the period that followed when the prophets prophesied, Jesus’ saying focused on a different historical divide—the one between the historical period when the prophets prophesied and the period that witnessed the inauguration of the Kingdom of Heaven.[58] Their different historical emphases need not imply that Jesus would have disagreed with Rabbi Eliezer’s comment, however. To the contrary, it seems likely that Jesus would have wanted his audience to draw the parallels between the revelation of God’s redeeming power when he delivered Israel from Egypt and the miraculous healings and expulsions of demons that were taking place through the Kingdom of Heaven.[59] From Jesus’ perspective, the visible manifestations of God’s redemptive power at the time of the Exodus and in his own time were like bookends on either side of a long historical period when God’s saving power remained hidden from view.[60]

The notion that the prophets spoke in veiled language about the future redemption, and did not themselves see the coming salvation clearly, is attested in a variety of ancient Jewish sources. One of the earliest examples is found in the pesher to Habakkuk:

וידבר אל אל חבקוק לכתוב את הבאות על <על> הדור האחרון ואת גמר הקץ לוא הודעו ⟦ ⟧ ואשר אמר למען ירוץ הקורא בו פשרו על מורה הצדק אשר הודיעו אל את כול רזי דברי עבדיו הנבאים כיא עוד חזון למועד יפיח לקץ ולוא יכזב ⟦ ⟧ פשרו אשר יארוך הקץ האחרון ויתר על כול אשר דברו הנביאים כיא רזי אל להפלה

And God told Habakkuk to write what was coming upon the last generation, but the end of the age he did not make known to him. And of that which says, So that the one who reads may run with it [Hab. 2:2], its interpretation concerns the Teacher of Righteousness to whom God made known all the mysteries of the words of his servants the prophets. For the vision yet has an appointed time. It testifies to the end, it will not deceive [Hab. 2:3]: its interpretation is that the time of the end will extend and exceed all that the prophets said, for the mysteries of God [רזי אל] are wondrous. (1QpHab VII, 1-8)

According to this scroll from Qumran, the prophets did not fully understand the words of their own prophecies.[61] The mysteries of God concealed in the prophetic oracles were revealed only to the Teacher of Righteousness, who may have been the founder of the Dead Sea Sect.[62] Note the similarity between the pesher’s claim that the “mysteries of the words of the prophets” were made known to the Teacher of Righteousness and Jesus’ declaration that the “mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven” were made known to his apostles.

The theme of things that are hidden from the prophets is also found in rabbinic literature. In a parallel to Rabbi Eliezer’s comment (cited above, Comment 10-11) we read:

דבר אחר לעיני כל העם מלמד שראו באותה שעה מה שלא ראה ישעיה ויחזקאל שנאמר וביד הנביאים אדמה

Another interpretation of before the eyes of all the people [Exod. 19:11]: This teaches that they saw in that hour what neither Isaiah nor Ezekiel saw, as it says, And through the prophets I gave similitudes [Hos. 12:11]. (Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, Baḥodesh chpt. 3 [ed. Lauterbach, 2:302])

Likewise, in a comment on the story of Jacob’s final blessing of the twelve tribal patriarchs, we find the following statement:

רבנן אמרי בא לגלות להם את הקץ ונתכסה ממנו, ר′ יהודה בשם ר′ אלעזר בר אבינא שני בני אדם נגלה להן הקץ וחזר ונתכסה מהם, ואלו הם יעקב ודניאל, דניאל, ואתה דניאל סתום הדברים וחתום, יעקב, את אשר יקרא אתכם באחרית הימים, ראובן בכורי אתה, מלמד שבא לגלות להם את הקץ ונתכסה ממנו

The Rabbis said: He [i.e., Jacob the patriarch—DNB and JNT] was about to reveal the end [the Messianic redemption] to them, but it was hidden from him. R. Judah said in the name of R. Eleazar b. Abina: To two men was the end revealed, only to be hidden again from them, and they are these: Jacob and Daniel. Daniel: But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book (Dan. XII, 4). Jacob: That which shall befall you in the end of days…Reuben, thou art my firstborn (Gen. XLIX, 3); this teaches that he was about to reveal the end to them, when it was hidden from him.[63] (Gen. Rab. 98:2 [ed. Theodor-Albeck, 1251]; trans. Soncino)

The idea of the inability of the prophets to see the coming redemption is also found in the NT epistles:

The prophets who prophesied of the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired about this salvation…. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things which have now been announced to you by those who preached the good news to you through the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look. (1 Peter 1:10, 12; RSV)

None of these sources disparage the prophets. To the contrary, the prophets are held in the highest esteem. Nevertheless, there is a common perception that the prophets only caught glimpses of the coming redemption.[64]

וְלִשְׁאָר (HR). In LXX the adjective λοιπός (loipos, “remainder,” “rest”) usually translates יֶתֶר (yeter, “remainder”).[65] On occasion, however, λοιπός is the LXX translation of שְׁאָר (she’ār, “remnant,” “rest”).[66] Since in direct speech we prefer to reconstruct with MH vocabulary, and since the noun יֶתֶר does not occur in the Mishnah, we have decided to reconstruct τοῖς δὲ λοιποῖς (tois de loipois, “but to the rest”) as וְלִשְׁאָר (velish’ār, “and to the rest”), a construction that is found in the following examples:

ר′ יְהוּדָה בֶן בָּבָא או′ אֵין עוֹשִׂין פַּסִּים אֶלָּא לְבוֹר הָרַבִּים בִּלְבַד וְלִשְׁאָר עוֹשִׂין חֲגוֹרָה גְבוֹהָה עֲשָׂרָה טְפָחִים

Rabbi Yehudah ben Bava says, “They do not make covering boards except for a public cistern, and for the rest [וְלִשְׁאָר] they make a border ten handbreadths high.” (m. Eruv. 2:4)

רבי חנניא בן עקביה אומר כשם שמפסיקין לקריאת שמע כך מפסיקין לתפילה ולתפילין ולשאר מצותיה של תורה

Rabbi Hananya ben Akavyah says, “Just as they stop for the recitation of the Shema so do they stop for the [Amidah] prayer, for the tefillin and for the rest [ולשאר] of the Torah’s commandments.” (y. Bik. 3:3 [11b]; cf. y. Ber. 1:2 [8a]; y. Shab. 1:2 [7a])

L12 οὐ δέδοται (Matt. 13:11). Matthew is alone in stating that while to Jesus’ followers it is given to know the mysteries, “to those [i.e., those to whom the parables are addressed[67] —DNB and JNT] it is not given.” This is the first of a series of editorial changes the author of Matthew made to the discussion about the Four Soils parable that heightens the tension between Jesus’ followers (who, in Matthew’s Gospel, represent the members of the Matthean community) and the (obviously Jewish) unbelievers.[68] Additional changes that heighten the tension include the insertion of the saying that those who have will be given more (Matt. 13:12),[69] the long quotation from Isaiah about the intractability of “this people” (Matt. 13:14-15), and the subtle change in Blessedness of the Twelve from the original “blessed are the eyes that see what you see” to “blessed are your eyes that see” (Matt. 13:16).[70]

L13-17 Matthew is alone in adding the saying “For whoever has, it will be given to him, but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him” to the discussion about the Four Soils parable. A doublet of this saying is found in Matt. 25:29. The author of Matthew probably noticed that a version of this saying appears in Mark 4:25,[71] a few verses after Mark records the Four Soils parable, and decided to insert it here on the basis of the catchword διδόναι (didonai, “to give”).[72] This insertion further casts the unbelievers who do not have knowledge of the mysteries in a negative light.[73]

L19 ἐν παραβολαῖς (GR). If Flusser’s suggestion that the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying originally belonged in the context of Jesus’ response to his apostles’ return from their healing and teaching mission is correct, then “in story parables” is an unsuitable meaning for the phrase ἐν παραβολαῖς (en parabolais), since, as we noted above, there is no indication that story parables played any role in the apostles’ mission.[74] “In story parables” is also unsuitable from a literary perspective, since, as Jeremias noted, the contrasting parallelism between “to you” and “to the rest” in the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying requires that μυστήρια (mūstēria; L7) and παραβολαῖς (parabolais; L19) should be roughly synonymous.[75] In other words, Jesus told the apostles that the mysteries were revealed to them, but “to the rest” the mysteries were mysterious. “Story parables” is unsuitable here because “story parable” is not a synonym for “mysterious.” “Riddle,” a meaning attached to the noun παραβολή mainly in Jewish Greek, on the other hand, is roughly synonymous with “mystery,” and it is likely that “in riddles” was the original meaning of ἐν παραβολαῖς in Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven. Thus, the original intention of the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying was to draw a contrast between those who were privileged to witness direct revelation versus those for whom revelation had been mediated through ambiguous oracles.

Starlight Sower by Hai Knafo. The caption reads: אור זרוע לצדיק (“Light is sown for the righteous”; Ps. 97:11). Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The author of Luke, who removed the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying from its original context, inserted it into the discussion about the Four Soils parable because he erroneously interpreted ἐν παραβολαῖς not as “in riddles” but as “in story parables.” At least three reasons could account for why the author of Luke interpreted ἐν παραβολαῖς as “in story parables”: 1) Perhaps he was unfamiliar with the meaning “riddles” that the noun παραβολή had acquired in Hellenistic Judaism, or 2) perhaps Luke was unfamiliar with the pedagogical use of parables and therefore felt that Jesus’ frequent recourse to parables required some kind of explanation for his non-Jewish readers, or 3) perhaps Luke reinterpreted the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying for apologetic purposes in order to explain why so many Jews refused to embrace the Christian faith. It may well be that all three factors were at play to varying degrees. Whatever the reasons, Luke’s reinterpretation of the phrase ἐν παραβολαῖς was to have a profound effect on the synoptic tradition and the significance assigned to Jesus’ parables in later Christian teaching.

The effects of Luke’s reinterpretation or misunderstanding of ἐν παραβολαῖς on the synoptic tradition can be observed in the increasing use of this phrase in Mark and Matthew. In Luke the phrase ἐν παραβολαῖς occurs exclusively in the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying, while in Mark it occurs 4xx (Mark 3:23; 4:2, 11; 12:1) and in Matthew 6xx (Matt. 13:3, 10, 13, 34, 35; 22:1).

Mark and Matthew often have the phrase ἐν παραβολαῖς in conjunction with verbs such as διδάσκειν (didaskein, “to teach”; Mark 4:2), λαλεῖν (lalein, “to speak”; Matt. 13:3, 10, 13, 34; Mark 12:1) or λέγειν (legein, “to say”; Matt. 22:1; Mark 3:23) when referring to Jesus’ use of story parables, which does not accord with Hebrew usage. In MT we encounter the phrases דִּבֵּר מָשָׁל (dibēr māshāl, “speak a proverb”; 1 Kgs. 5:12) and מָשַׁל מָשָׁל (māshal māshāl, “tell a proverb”; Ezek. 17:2; 18:2, 3; 24:3; cf. 21:5), but never מָשַׁל/דִּבֵּר בְּמָשָׁל (“speak in a proverb/parable”). Likewise, in rabbinic literature, while the phrase מָשַׁל מָשָׁל frequently means “tell a story parable,”[76] the phrase דִּבֵּר בְּמָשָׁל (dibēr bemāshāl, “speak in a māshāl”) occurs exclusively in the sense of “speak in riddles” (see below).

We believe that the use of the phrase ἐν παραβολαῖς proliferated in the Synoptic Gospels precisely because of Luke’s reinterpretation of the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying as Jesus’ rationale for telling story parables. The author of Mark picked up the phrase ἐν παραβολαῖς from Luke 8:10 and used it in an un-Hebraic manner in Mark 3:23; 4:2; and 12:1.[77] The author of Matthew subsequently expanded Mark’s use of ἐν παραβολαῖς to refer to Jesus’ use of story parables even further.

In a fascinating example of coming full circle, in one instance the author of Matthew used the phrase ἐν παραβολαῖς in the sense of “in riddles.” This instance occurs at the conclusion of the public portion of Jesus’ parabolic discourse in Matthew 13, where the author of Matthew added a scriptural justification for Jesus’ use of story parables:

All these things Jesus spoke in parables [ἐν παραβολαῖς] to the crowds, and he spoke nothing to them without a parable. In this way the word of the prophet was fulfilled, saying, I will open my mouth in riddles [ἐν παραβολαῖς], I will utter things hidden since the foundation of the world [Ps. 77(78):2]. (Matt 13:34-35)

For the author of Matthew, Jesus’ use of story parables was a fulfillment of prophecy, but the biblical verse he cited did not originally refer to story parables. In Ps. 77[78]:2 ἐν παραβολαῖς is the translation of בְּמָשָׁל (bemāshāl), which stands in parallelism with חִידוֹת (ḥidōt, “riddles”), which the LXX translators rendered as προβλήματα (problēmata, “problems,” “riddles”). But because Matthew had inherited from Luke and Mark the mistaken interpretation of the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying as the justification for Jesus’ use of story parables (“so that…hearing they might not understand”), the author of Matthew had come to regard story parables themselves as riddles meant to conceal Jesus’ teachings from everyone who did not possess the esoteric knowledge needed to decipher his encoded message. This distorted understanding of the purpose of parables allowed the author of Matthew to reappropriate the original sense of ἐν παραβολαῖς as “in riddles.”

בִּמְשָׁלִים (HR). In LXX παραβολή occurs either as the translation of the noun מָשָׁל (māshāl, “proverb,” “riddle”)[78] or the verb מָשַׁל (māshal, “make a comparison”).[79] In MH the noun מָשָׁל acquired the additional meaning of “story parable,” but מָשָׁל does not occur in this sense in MT or DSS.[80]

Although in rabbinic sources the meaning “story parable” predominates, this is not the case when we encounter the phrase בְּמָשָׁל, which always means “in metaphorical or figurative language.” An example of this usage is found in the description of Rabbi Yishmael’s method of interpreting certain difficult passages of Scripture:

זה אחד מן הדברים שהיה רבי ישמעאל דורש מן התורה במשל

This is one of the statements that Rabbi Yishmael would interpret from the Torah בְּמָשָׁל [i.e., figuratively—DNB and JNT]. (Sifre Deut. §237, on Deut. 22:17 [ed. Finkelstein, 269])[81]

From the context in which the above statement appears, it is clear that Rabbi Yishmael did not utilize story parables to elucidate the meaning of these difficult passages. The meaning of בְּמָשָׁל in the above quotation is that Rabbi Yishmael interpreted these Torah passages figuratively instead of literally.

We also encounter the phrase בְּמָשָׁל in a discussion of how, in his capacity as prophet, Moses was superior to Balaam:

משה היה מדבר עמו פנים בפנים שנאמר ודבר ה′ אל משה פנים אל פנים ועם בלעם לא היה מדבר כי אם במשלים

Moses would speak with him [i.e., to God—DNB and JNT] face to face, as it is said, And the LORD spoke with Moses face to face [Exod. 33:11], but with Balaam he would not speak with him except במשלים [i.e., in evasive metaphors and figures of speech—DNB and JNT]. (Num. Rab. 14:20)

Taking their cue from the biblical examples where מָשָׁל is used in parallel with חִידָה (ḥidāh, “riddle”),[82] the sages understood וַיִּשָּׂא מְשָׁלוֹ וַיֹּאמַר (“And he took up his māshāl and said…”), a phrase that regularly introduces Balaam’s oracles in the book of Numbers,[83] to imply that Balaam’s prophecy was couched in metaphors, images, euphemisms and figures of speech, the meanings of which were difficult to unravel. To describe Balaam’s use of veiled language the rabbinic sages used the phrase דִּבֵּר בִּמְשָׁלִים (dibēr bimshālim, “he spoke in metaphors/figures of speech”).

The Jewish sages also used the biblical statement that the LORD spoke to Moses face to face as an argument for Moses’ superiority to the other prophets:

ולא בחידות למה נאמר לפי שהוא אומר בן אדם חוד חידה ומשול משל או כשם שאני מדבר עם הנביאים בחידות ובמשלים כך אני מדבר עם משה <ת″ל ולא בחידות>‏

And not in riddles [Num. 12:8]. Why is this said? Because it says, Son of man, pose a riddle and tell a parable [Ezek. 17:2]. One might assume that just as I speak in riddles and in parables [ובמשלים] with the prophets, so do I speak with Moses. Therefore Scripture adds, and not in riddles [Num. 12:8]. (Sifre Num. §103 [ed. Horovitz, 102])

Here, too, the rabbinic sages used the phrase דִּבֵּר בִּמְשָׁלִים (“speak in metaphors”) to describe the indirect revelations imparted through the prophets.[84] This usage of בִּמְשָׁלִים in ancient Jewish sources supports our hypothesis that when Jesus claimed that “for the rest it was ἐν παραβολαῖς,” it originally had nothing to do with his purpose in telling story parables. Rather, like the contrast between Moses who experienced direct revelation and the prophets who received revelation only “in metaphors” (בִּמְשָׁלִים), Jesus contrasted the privilege his generation enjoyed of seeing the revelation of God’s saving power in their own time versus the hiddenness of God’s redemption in the days of the prophets.

The contention that Moses experienced direct revelation in contrast to the rest of the prophets is reminiscent of Rabbi Eliezer’s comment that even a maidservant on the shores of the Red Sea saw what was hidden from Ezekiel and Isaiah and the rest of the prophets (cited above, Comment to L10-11).[85] Behind both traditions is the understanding that God’s saving power has not been revealed since Israel’s redemption from Egypt. If our interpretation of the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying is correct, then Jesus made the startling claim that God’s redemption was once again being revealed clearly to Israel. Just as the LORD’s victory for Israel was plain on the shores of the Red Sea where Pharaoh and his horsemen and chariots were conquered, so too was God’s saving power being revealed in the present time. Through Jesus and his followers God was once again acting decisively in history to redeem Israel from bondage.

L20 τὰ πάντα γίνεται (Mark 4:11). We seriously considered whether at L12 Matthew’s version preserves a reminiscence of an original reading according to which Jesus said, “But to the rest it is given in parables,” which could be reconstructed as וְלִשְׁאָר נִתַּן בִּמְשָׁלִים‏‎,[86] but this hypothesis could not explain why the author of Luke would have omitted δέδοται (dedotai, “it has been given”) in L12 if this verb had been in his source.

We have therefore concluded that Luke’s “But to the rest in parables” reflects the original version of this saying, which the author of Luke copied from Anth. However, the absence of a verb in this sentence probably sounded as strange to Greek audiences as it does in English, and therefore the author of Mark supplied τὰ πάντα γίνεται (“everything comes”) in order to make up for this deficit.[87] The author of Matthew subsequently replaced Mark’s “everything comes in parables” with “I speak to them in parables” as part of his thorough reworking of the dialogue in order to more fully assimilate the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying into the discussion about the Four Soils parable.[88]

Luke’s laconic “But to the rest in parables” can be explained as a Hebraism. The following examples describe something being given to two parties. In these examples the verb נָתַן (nātan, “give”) is stated only with regard to the first party, while it is implied with respect to the second party:

אָמַ′ לִשְׁנַיִם גָּזַלְתִּי אֶת אֶחָד מִכֶּם מָנֶה וְאֵינִי יוֹדֵעַ אֵיזֶה מִכִּם אָבִיו שֶׁלְאֶחָד מִכֵּם הִיפְקִיד אֶצְלִי מָנֶה וְאֵינִי יוֹדֵעַ אֵיזֶה הוּא נוֹתֵן לָזֶה מָנֶה וְלָזֶה מָנֶה שֶׁהוֹדָה מִפִּי עַצְמוֹ
שְׁנַיִם שֶׁהִיפְקִידוּ אֵצֶל אֶחָד זֶה מָנֶה וְזֶה מָאתַיִם [זֶה אוֹמֵ′ מָאתַיִם שֶׁלִּי] וְזֶה אוֹ′ מָאתַיִם שֶׁלִּי נוֹתן לָזֶה מָנֶה וְלָזֶה מָנֶה וְהַשְּׁאָר יְהֵי מוּנַּח עַד שֶׁיָּבֹא אֵלִיָּהוּ

If someone said to two others, “I stole a mina [i.e., a valuable coin—DNB and JNT] from one of you, but I don’t know from which one of you it was,” [or if someone said to two others,] “The father of one of you entrusted a mina with me [for your sake], but I don’t know for which one of you it was,” he gives to this one a mina and to that one a mina, because his own mouth testified against him.

If two people entrusted money with one man, this one a single mina and that one two hundred, and this one says, “The two hundred are mine,” and that one also says, “The two hundred are mine,” he gives to this one a single mina and to that one a single mina, and the rest must be laid aside until Elijah comes. (m. Bab. Metz. 3:3-4; cf. t. Yeb. 14:2; t. Bab. Metz. 3:6)

הָיוּ שְׁנֵי{הם} תַנּוּרִים סְמוּכִים זֶה לָזֶה נוֹתֵן לָזֶה טֶפַח וְלָזֶה טֶפַח וְהַשְּׁאָר טָהוֹר

…if the two ovens were close to one another, he gives to this one a handbreadth, and to that a handbreadth, and the rest [of the space between them] is pure. (m. Kel. 5:2)

לזו נתן שני לילות ולזו לילות שנים, לילו שלפרעה ולילו שלסנחריב ללאה, לילו שלגדעון לרחל ולילו שלמרדכי לרחל שנ′ בלילה ההוא נדדה שנת המלך

To this one [i.e., Leah—DNB and JNT] he [i.e., God—DNB and JNT] gave two nights, and to that one [i.e., Rachel—DNB and JNT] two nights: the night of Pharaoh and the night of Sennacherib to Leah, and the night of Gideon to Rachel and the night of Mordechai to Rachel, as it is said, In that night the king’s sleep eluded him [Esth. 6:1]. (Gen. Rab. 70:15 [ed. Theodor-Albeck, 2:851])

On the basis of these linguistic parallels, we suppose that “it was given” was implied with respect to the second party (i.e., “the rest”) in the conjectured Hebrew original of Jesus’ saying. The absence of the second “it was given” was reflected in Anth. and copied in Luke’s version, only to be improved upon by the authors of Mark and Matthew.

Stained glass window created by Sergio de Castro. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

L21 ὅτι βλέποντες (GR). The ἵνα + subjunctive construction in Luke 8:10 shows that the author of Luke believed that Jesus told his audience story parables with the intention of preventing some of them from understanding his message.[89] This unpalatable notion was picked up in Mark 4:14, and this is clearly the way the author of Matthew also understood the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying,[90] but instead of the ἵνα + subjunctive construction indicating purpose, Matt. 13:13 has ὅτι (“that,” “because”).[91] It is likely that Matthew’s ὅτι reflects the reading of Anth., first because ἵνα + subjunctive constructions are often indicative of Greek redaction, second because changing ἵνα to ὅτι runs counter to Matthew’s other redactional changes which intensify, rather than decrease, the tension between the “haves” and “have nots” in this passage (see above, Comment to L12), and third because the author of Matthew relied on Anth. in order to restore the saying about the people’s inability to see, hear or understand (see the discussion above in the “Conjectured Stages of Transmission” section) to its original form.[92]

כִּי רָאוֹ (HR). On reconstructing ὅτι (hoti, “that,” “because”) with כִּי (ki, “that,” “because”), see Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn, Comment to L6.

Although all three versions of Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven have the participle βλέποντες (blepontes, “seeing”), we have opted to reconstruct this Greek participle with רָאוֹ (rā’ō, “seeing”), an infinitive absolute. Our reconstruction is based on the observation that Matthew’s construction in L21-22, βλέποντες οὐ βλέπουσιν (lit., “seeing not they see”; ptc. + negative particle + finite verb), looks like an attempt to render the Hebrew construction inf. abs. + לֹא + finite verb,[93] which is used to express emphatic denials.[94] Rendering this construction in Greek presented a challenge to the LXX translators, who sometimes omitted an equivalent to the infinitive absolute,[95] while at other times they rendered the infinitive absolute as a noun.[96] On a few occasions the LXX translators put the inf. abs. + לֹא + finite verb construction into Greek as ptc. + negative particle + finite verb, for example:

הוֹרֵישׁ לֹא הוֹרִישׁוֹ

ἐξαίρων οὐκ ἐξῆρεν αὐτόν (Judg. 1:28)

נַקֵּה לֹא יְנַקֶּה

ἀθῳῶν οὐκ ἀθῳώσει (Nah. 1:3)[97]

In the example from Judges, the Hebrew construction means “he definitely did not drive him out,” but in Greek this was expressed as “removing he did not remove him.” Likewise, in the example from Nahum, the force of the Hebrew construction is “he definitely will not acquit,” but in Greek this came out as “acquitting he will not acquit.” Both of these examples are similar to βλέποντες οὐ βλέπουσιν (“seeing they do not see”) in Matt. 13:13.

If רָאוֹ לֹא רָאוּ is what stood behind Matthew’s βλέποντες οὐ βλέπουσιν, the original intention of Jesus’ saying was not to express a concession (i.e., “I use parables because although they have sight they do not see”) or an intention (i.e., “I use parables because they have sight, but I do not want them to see”). Rather, Jesus’ saying expressed an emphatic denial, which could be paraphrased as, “For the rest, revelations of coming redemption were only hinted at in metaphorical language, because no eye could see what God had in store for them.”

Nevertheless, it is easy to understand how the misunderstanding of βλέποντες οὐ βλέπουσιν took place. Although we believe this phrase was an attempt to express a Hebrew emphatic denial, the authors of Luke and Matthew read Anth.’s βλέποντες οὐ βλέπουσιν as a concession (i.e., “although seeing they do not see”). It would be natural for a Greek reader to understand βλέποντες οὐ βλέπουσιν in this way, and indeed, we find a parallel example in the writings of Philo of Alexandria:

ὅταν γέ τοι κορεσθῶμεν ἡδονῆς, ἐκπίπτει τῶν τόνων ἡμῶν τὰ αἰσθητήρια· ἢ τοὺς οἴνῳ ἢ ἔρωτι μεθύοντας οὐ καταμανθάνεις, ὅτι ὁρῶντες οὐχ ὁρῶσι καὶ ἀκούοντες οὐκ ἀκούουσι καὶ τῶν ἄλλων αἰσθήσεων ἀφῄρηνται τὰς ἀκριβεῖς ἐνεργείας;

You know how when we have surfeited ourselves with pleasure, our organs of sense relax their vigour. Or do you not observe men intoxicated with wine or love, how seeing they do not see [ὁρῶντες οὐχ ὁρῶσι] and hearing they do not hear [ἀκούοντες οὐκ ἀκούουσι] and how they are deprived of the power to exercise their other senses with any precision? (Philo, Leg. 3:183; Loeb)

Luke’s misreading of the Hebraic emphatic denial construction in Anth. as a concession may have contributed to his misapprehension of the entire Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying.

L22 βλέπωσιν (Mark 4:12). The Lukan-Matthean agreement against Mark to negate the verb βλέπειν (blepein, “to see”) shows that it was Mark who changed Luke’s μὴ βλέπωσιν (“they might not see”) to βλέπωσιν καὶ μὴ ἴδωσιν (“they might see and not perceive”) in conformity with Isa. 6:9.[98]

οὐ βλέπουσιν (GR). As noted in Comment to L21, Luke’s ἵνα + subjunctive construction is to be regarded as editorial. We have therefore adopted Matthew’s more Hebraic οὐ βλέπουσιν (“they do not see”) for GR.

L23 καὶ μὴ ἴδωσιν (Mark 4:12). Only Mark has “and may not perceive.” The author of Matthew had no need to adopt this Markan expansion, since he intended to quote Isa. 6:9-10 in its entirety.[99] This decision allowed the author of Matthew to restore the original phrasing of the conclusion to the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying, which he copied from Anth.[100]

L24-25 καὶ ἀκούοντες οὐκ ἀκούουσιν (GR). All three versions agree on καὶ ἀκούοντες (“and hearing”) in L24. Matthew’s ἀκούοντες οὐκ ἀκούουσιν (“hearing they do not hear”) appears to reflect yet another attempt to put a Hebrew emphatic denial, this time שָׁמוֹעַ לֹא שָׁמְעוּ (“they definitely did not hear”), into Greek.[101] By omitting the repetition of ἀκούειν (akouein, “to hear”) in L25, the author of Luke obscured this Hebraic construction. This omission was part of Luke’s reworking of the conclusion of the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying into a statement of purpose. Mark’s ἀκούωσι (akouōsi, “they might hear”) is an adaptation of Isa. 6:9.

L26 οὐδὲ συνίουσιν (GR). All three versions have a form of the verb συνιέναι (sūnienai, “to understand”). Although we considered the possibility that οὐδὲ συνίουσιν (“and they do not understand”) in Matt. 13:13 might be a concession to Mark’s version of the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying, we have concluded that the author of Matthew copied these words from Anth.

This conclusion stems, in part, from our observation that Matthew’s “seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, and they do not understand” correlates with an ancient Jewish interpretation of Isa. 64:3 (“And from ancient times no one has heard, no one has listened, no eye has seen any God except you, who acts for the one who waits for him”; Isa. 64:4 [Eng.]), which is attested in writings dating from the first to second centuries C.E.:

Matthew 13:13 1 Corinthians 2:7-10 Biblical Antiquities 26:13[102]
But we speak God’s wisdom, hidden in mystery, which God foreordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew, for if they had known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. They [i.e., certain precious stones—DNB and JNT] will be [hidden] there until I remember the world and visit the inhabitants of the earth. And then I will take these [i.e., the precious stones—DNB and JNT] and many others, much better ones, from those which
…because But as it is written,
seeing they do not see, What no eye has seen, the eye has not seen
and hearing they do not hear, nor ear heard, nor has the ear heard
and they do not understand. nor arisen in the heart of humankind, nor have they entered the mind of man
what God has prepared for those who love him” God has revealed to us through the Spirit. until the like will come into existence in the world.

All three sources mention a set of faculties that, due to their limitations, prevent human beings from grasping divine intentions. In all three sources those faculties are enumerated in the order of vision, audition and cognition. What is more, in all three sources this triad of limited faculties occurs in a context where God intends to reveal to human beings something that heretofore has been hidden. In Pseudo-Philo’s Biblical Antiquities the revelation pertains to physical objects: precious stones that God will produce in the future, together with heavenly gems that are beyond the capacity of mere mortals to imagine. In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians and in Matthew, on the other hand, the revelation is intellectual in content, consisting of the knowledge of “the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matt.) or “the wisdom of God, hidden in mystery” (1 Cor.). Unlike the saying in Matthew, Paul and Pseudo-Philo name the sensory organs (eyes, ears, heart/mind) that are the seat of the limited faculties, thus making the allusion to Isa. 64:3 easier to detect, but we believe the same midrashic treatment of this Isaiah verse stands behind all three sources.[103] Jesus alluded to this midrashic version of Isa. 64:3 in such a terse manner that the author of Luke did not understand it.[104] Further, on account of Luke’s redactional activity (perhaps already under the influence of Isa. 6:9), the original allusion was not understood by the author of Mark either, who proceeded to rewrite Luke’s version in order to make an allusion to Isa. 6:9 unmistakable. Even the author of Matthew, who restored the original wording of Jesus’ saying on the basis of Anth., did not notice the original allusion, so impressed was he by Mark’s editorial activity.

Supposing that Jesus intended an allusion to a well-known midrashic treatment of Isa. 64:3 in the words “because they did not see or hear or understand” accords well with Flusser’s suggestion that the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying originally belonged to a discourse in which Jesus contrasted Israel’s longing in the days of the prophets to see manifestations of God’s saving power with the privilege his disciples enjoyed in witnessing the inbreaking of the Kingdom of Heaven in their own time. Understood as an allusion to Isa. 64:3, “For the rest, it was given in figurative language, because they did not see or hear or understand” would not imply that the members of earlier generations were unwilling to see, or that God did not want them to see, it merely states why they could not foresee the fullness of the coming redemption: because the eye has not seen, nor has the ear heard, nor has it arisen in the heart of humankind until it will come to pass in the world. In other words, until he chose to put his rescue mission to redeem Israel, humankind and his whole creation into action, only God himself could know how glorious that redemption would be.

Supposing that Jesus alluded to a well-known midrash based on Isa. 64:3 also accounts for the order see→hear→understand, which occurs in all three versions of the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying, but which is quite different from “hear but do not understand, see but do not know” in Isa. 6:9.

L27-42 Despite its presence in all NT manuscripts, some scholars regard the quotation of Isa. 6:9-10 in Matt. 13:14-15 as an early scribal addition to the text of Matthew.[105] One of the reasons some scholars regard this quotation as suspect is that the author of Matthew did not introduce it with ἵνα/ὅπως πληρωθῇ τὸ ῥηθέν (“so that the word might be fulfilled”; Matt. 1:22; 2:15, 23; 4:14; 8:17; 12:17; 13:35; 21:4) or τότε ἐπληρώθη τὸ ῥηθέν (“then the word was fulfilled”; Matt. 2:17; 27:9), his standard formulae for quoting Scripture.[106] However, the reason why the author of Matthew failed to use either of these formulas in the present instance is quite clear, since here alone Jesus himself is speaking. All the other fulfillment quotations in Matthew are given in the voice of the Gospel’s narrator, but here the words are placed on Jesus’ own lips, and the formula was modified accordingly. Given the unanimity among the ancient NT manuscripts regarding the authenticity of this quotation in the text of Matthew, there is no need to suppose that it is an early scribal addition.[107]

L36 καὶ τοῖς ὠσὶν βαρέως ἤκουσαν (Matt. 13:15). Whereas in Isa. 6:10 most LXX manuscripts read τοῖς ὠσὶν αὐτῶν βαρέως ἤκουσαν (“with their ears they hardly heard”), Matthew’s version omits αὐτῶν (avtōn, “their”) after ὠσὶν (ōsin, “ears”).[108] The quotation of Isa. 6:10 in Acts 28:27 similarly lacks αὐτῶν. Although some scholars have suggested that the agreement between Acts 28:27 and Matt. 13:15 shows that later scribes inserted the full Isaiah quotation into Matthew’s version of the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying on the basis of Acts 28:27, this suggestion is unlikely. If scribes felt it necessary to add the full quotation in Matthew’s version, why did they not feel the same compulsion in the Lukan or Markan versions of the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying? Apart from the omission of αὐτῶν, Matthew’s quotation is identical to LXX.

L38 μήποτε (Mark 4:12). It was probably the addition of the μήποτε clause (“lest they repent and it is forgiven them”) in Mark’s version of the statement about the people’s inability to see or understand that inspired the author of Matthew to quote the Isaiah prophecy at length.

L42 καὶ ἀφεθῇ αὐτοῖς (Mark 4:12). Unlike MT, which has וְרָפָא לוֹ (“and he heals him”), or LXX, which reads καὶ ἰάσομαι αὐτούς (“and I will heal them”), Mark’s allusion to Isa. 6:10 reads “and it might be forgiven to them.” Scholars have noted that this departure from MT and LXX agrees with the Aramaic version of Isa. 6:10 in the Targum of Isaiah, which reads וְיִשתְבֵיק לְהוֹן (“and it will be forgiven them”).[109] Some scholars believe that this agreement with the Targum is evidence that Mark’s version of Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven is the earliest and most authentic, perhaps even reflecting Jesus’ words in Aramaic. While Mark’s Isaiah allusion certainly is a valuable early witness to the ancient Jewish interpretation of Isa. 6:10 attested in the later targumic tradition, we do not believe this Markan agreement with the Targum of Isaiah should be traced back to Jesus.[110] As we have discussed above, the connection of Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven to Isa. 6:10 is a secondary development that became increasingly pronounced as the pericope passed from Luke to Mark to Matthew.

Redaction Analysis

In the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying we observe a clear progression from Luke to Mark to Matthew in terms of the development of the statement about the people’s inability to see, hear or understand: from a mere poetic couplet with a possible hint at Isa. 6:9 in Luke, to an unmistakable allusion to Isa. 6:9-10 in Mark, to a full-blown quotation of Isaiah’s prophecy in Matthew. We observe the same Luke to Mark to Matthew progression in terms of the assimilation of the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying to the discussion about the Four Soils parable. Nevertheless, at many points Matthew’s version suffers less from Mark’s revisions than a straight progression from Luke to Mark to Matthew would lead one to expect. This is because the author of Matthew had recourse to the same source Luke had used when recording the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying.[111]

Luke’s Version

For the most part, the author of Luke copied the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying with a high degree of fidelity to Anth. We believe the only verbal changes he made to his source were the following: 1) omitting the recitative ὅτι in L5; 2) changing “Kingdom of Heaven” to “Kingdom of God” in L9; 3) changing ὅτι βλέποντες οὐ βλέπουσιν (“because seeing they do not see”) to ἵνα βλέποντες μὴ βλέπωσιν (“so that seeing they may not see”) in L21-22; and 4) changing καὶ ἀκούοντες οὐκ ἀκούουσιν οὐδὲ συνίουσιν (“and hearing they do not hear and do not understand”) into καὶ ἀκούοντες μὴ συνιῶσιν (“and [so that] hearing they may not understand”) in L24-26. The change from the indicative to the subjunctive mood was due to Luke’s erroneous belief that in the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying Jesus explained his rationale for teaching the crowds with story parables; according to Luke, he did so in order that his message would be hidden from the unbelieving public. Luke’s deletion of the second ακούειν may have been motivated by a desire to hint at Isa. 6:9.[112]

Luke’s most significant contribution to the way the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying would be understood by the synoptic writers who followed him, however, was not his changes to the wording of Anth., or his false identification of an allusion to Isa. 6:9 in this passage, but his relocation of the pericope into the context of the discussion about the Four Soils parable. Henceforth the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying was to be interpreted in relation to Jesus’ use of story parables, whereas in its original context of Jesus’ response to the return of the Twelve, the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying commented on the great privilege Jesus’ followers enjoyed to be living in a generation when God’s redeeming power was being revealed in a way it had not been since Israel’s exodus from Egypt.

Mark’s Version

Throughout the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying the author of Mark made numerous adjustments to Luke’s wording. These adjustments, which include paraphrase (L1-3, L11), transposition (L5), conversion of a plural noun (“mysteries”) to a singular (“mystery”; L5), and the addition of an explanatory gloss (L20), do not substantially affect the meaning of the pericope. Mark’s most important change was to modify (L22, L25) and expand (L23, L38, L41-42) the wording of the statement about the people’s inability to perceive or understand so as to make an allusion to Isa. 6:9-10 unmistakable. Many of these changes were rejected by the author of Matthew, thereby producing the Lukan-Matthean agreements against Mark in L1, L3, L6-7, L22 and L23.

Matthew’s Version

Matthew’s version of the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying is by far the longest, which is mainly the result of the insertion of an additional saying in L13-17 (Matt. 13:12) and the addition of a lengthy Scripture quotation in L27-42 (Matt. 13:14-15 = Isa. 6:9-10). These additions heighten the contrast between believers and unbelievers, and betray an increasingly tense relationship between the Matthean and Jewish communities.[113] Another change that betrays this increasing polarization is the statement “but to those it has not been given” (L10-12).

The words διὰ τοῦτο (“because of this”) in L18 and αὐτοῖς λαλῶ (“to them I speak”) in L20 are also due to Matthew’s editorial activity, but in these cases the motivation was different. In Matt. 13:13 Jesus’ explanation, “Therefore I speak to them in parables…,” harks back to the disciples’ question in Matt. 13:10, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” The author of Matthew reworked both the phrasing of the disciples’ question and of Jesus’ response in order to more successfully integrate the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying into the discussion about the Four Soils parable.

Despite his considerable editorial activity, the author of Matthew relied more heavily on Anth. than on Mark for his wording. As a result, Matthew’s version of Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven has many agreements with Luke’s version against Mark’s, and at points (L5, L9, L22, L25-26) preserves Anth. even more faithfully than does Luke.

Results of this Research

1. What does it mean to know “the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven”? In Jesus’ saying, the phrase “the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven” refers to the good things God had been keeping in store for the coming redemption of Israel. Those good things were so wonderful that no one could fully imagine them beforehand. But now, through Jesus’ words and deeds—and by extension, through the words and deeds of his apostles—the good things that God had been keeping in store for the coming redemption were being realized. Knowing the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, therefore, had to do with experiential knowledge rather than initiation into secret doctrines. Knowing the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven meant witnessing the redemption that had broken out around Jesus and was spreading outward to Israel, humankind and the whole of God’s creation.

2. Who are “the rest” to whom it was “in parables”? In the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying Jesus celebrated the great privilege that God had bestowed upon the generation in which he lived (“to you”), a privilege that had been denied to the members of former generations (“to the rest”). The great privilege that God had conferred upon the members of Jesus’ generation was the opportunity to experience the long-awaited redemption of Israel. But for “the rest,” that is, for the previous generations, the good things that God had in store were only hinted at “in parables.” In other words, the prophets had only been able to describe the coming redemption in metaphorical terms because, until it actually became a reality, no one could fully grasp the full scope of what God intended to do.

Unfortunately, instead of understanding “in parables” as a reference to the symbolic and figurative language of the prophets through which God communicated his promises to former generations, the author of Luke mistakenly supposed that “in parables” referred to Jesus’ pedagogical use of story parables. This misunderstanding prompted Luke to insert the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying into the discussion about the Four Soils parable, where the saying now seemed to express Jesus’ rationale for using story parables when addressing the crowds. Luke’s misunderstanding of “in parables” also affected the meaning of “the rest,” which now seemed to refer to those who did not understand Jesus’ message instead of the former generations who had not lived to see the redemption that was being realized in Jesus’ day. Luke’s reinterpretation and relocation of Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven was subsequently inherited by the authors of Mark and Matthew. The original meaning of Jesus’ saying reemerges when it is reconstructed in Hebrew and compared with other ancient Jewish sources.

3. Did Jesus use story parables in order to conceal his message from his Jewish contemporaries? Concealment defies the purpose of story parables, which is to illustrate abstract concepts in concrete terms familiar to the audience.[114] Concealment also defies Jesus’ open attitude toward people of all walks of life. To ensure that his teachings would reach as many people as possible, Jesus appointed twelve emissaries to carry his message to towns and villages throughout the Galilee. Concealment of his message would have been a self-defeating measure; as Jesus himself pointed out (Matt. 5:15), no one lights a lamp only to hide it under a grain measure.

The author of Luke was responsible for the notion that the purpose of Jesus’ story parables was to conceal Jesus’ message and hinder understanding. His misunderstanding of the phrase ἐν παραβολαῖς as a reference to Jesus’ story parables instead of the cryptic words of the prophets contributed to this error. But it is also possible that the author of Luke, who lived at a time when tensions were increasing between the Jewish and Christian communities, believed that the failure of so many Jews to embrace the Christian gospel demanded some kind of theological explanation. Under such circumstances, the idea that concealment of his message from his fellow Jews had been Jesus’ intention all along must have been appealing. For the author of Luke, who generally esteemed Jews and Judaism,[115] this explanation may have served to alleviate the tension between the Jewish and Christian communities, for inasmuch as Israel’s lack of comprehension was part of Jesus’ intention and in accordance with the divine plan, the people of Israel were excused, and the way remained open for them to receive the gospel at some future point. In the Gospels of Mark and Matthew, however, we witness a hardening of positions. In the Markan and Matthean versions of Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, Israel was not only prevented from understanding, but God’s purpose in preventing them was that Israel might never be forgiven. Nothing can be farther from Jesus’ own understanding of his mission, which was to call all Israel to repentance so that the entire people might participate in the coming redemption.

Conclusion

In the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying Jesus celebrated the great privilege that God had bestowed upon his apostles. What had only been hinted at by the prophets and guessed at by the sages was now being revealed to them and to their entire generation. In this saying we discover that Jesus regarded the time in which he lived as a turning point in history.

When we compare the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying to other ancient Jewish sources we also discover something about Jesus’ personal character. Whereas the pesher to Habakkuk from Qumran highlighted the role of the Teacher of Righteousness as the revealer of God’s mysteries, and whereas rabbinic sources elevated the status of Moses, who saw God face to face, over the rest of the prophets, whose visions of God were mediated through figures of speech, Jesus did not draw attention to his special role as revealer of the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven. Although it was mainly through his activities as healer, exorcist and teacher that the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven were being revealed, Jesus focused instead on the privilege enjoyed by his apostles and their contemporaries. Thus we find in the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying an example of Jesus’ profound humility.

 


 

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  • [1] For abbreviations and bibliographical references, see “Introduction to ‘The Life of Yeshua: A Suggested Reconstruction.’”
  • [2] This translation is a dynamic rendition of our reconstruction of the conjectured Hebrew source that stands behind the Greek of the Synoptic Gospels. It is not a translation of the Greek text of a canonical source.
  • [3] For Lindsey’s main presentations of his solution to the Synoptic Problem, see Robert. L. Lindsey, “Introduction to A Hebrew Translation of the Gospel of Mark”; idem, “Measuring the Disparity Between Matthew, Mark and Luke”; idem, “From Luke to Mark to Matthew: A Discussion of the Sources of Markan ‘Pick-ups’ and the Use of a Basic Non-canonical Source by All the Synoptists.”
  • [4] The differences between Luke 8:10 and Isa. 6:9 become clear when the two verses are presented in parallel columns:

    Luke 8:10 Isaiah 6:9
    …so that
    seeing they might not see,
    and hearing they might not understand. Be ever hearing but do not understand.
    Be ever seeing but do not know.

    The differences between Isa. 6:9 and the couplet in Luke 8:10 include:

    1. The order “hear→see” in Isaiah versus the order “see→hear” in Luke.
    2. The consequence “see→do not know” in Isaiah versus “see→might not see” in Luke.
    3. Second-person verbs in Isaiah versus third-person verbs in Luke.

    According to Nolland (Luke, 1:380), “Luke’s allusion to Isa 6:9-10 is brief to the point of being almost cryptic. This slight allusion is probably original and has been expanded in Matthew and Mark (or their sources).” We would go even further and argue that the differences between Isa. 6:9 and the couplet about the inability to see or understand in Luke 8:10 are sufficient to cast doubt on whether an allusion to the Isaiah 6 passage in Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven was originally intended at all. We will return to this question below in Comment to L26.

  • [5] See Malcolm Lowe and David Flusser, “Evidence Corroborating a Modified Proto-Matthean Synoptic Theory,” New Testament Studies 29.1 (1983): 25-47, esp. 39, 46 n. 80; David N. Bivin and Joshua N. Tilton, “LOY Excursus: Mark’s Editorial Style,” under the subheading “Mark’s Freedom and Creativity.”
  • [6] Only in Matthew’s version of the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying do we find an explicit quotation of Isa. 6:9-10. See Brad Young and David Flusser, “Messianic Blessings in Jewish and Christian Texts” (Flusser, JOC, 280-300, esp. 293).
  • [7] Black (157) opined that “the shorter form of the words [of the seeing and hearing couplet—DNB and JNT] in Matthew and Luke may well be original.” Likewise, Nolland (Matt., 534) writes, “Probably inspired by his second source (cf. Lk. 8:10b), Matthew abbreviates Mark’s allusion here to Is. 6:9 because he intends to provide an extended quotation in vv. 14-15.”
  • [8] The signs of redaction in Luke’s version of Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven are better explained as the result of Luke’s own editorial activity, rather than due to his reliance on the First Reconstruction (FR), Luke’s second source. The minor agreements of Luke and Matthew in this pericope suggest that the same source stands behind both the Lukan and Matthean versions of Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven. For further reasons supporting our conclusion that the author of Luke copied Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven from Anth., see our discussion under the subheading “Story Placement.”
  • [9] Wenham argued for the opposite direction of dependence (i.e., Matt.→Mark→Luke) in this pericope, but the retreat from an explicit quotation of Isa. 6:9-10 in Matthew to an allusion in Mark to a barely perceptible hint in Luke defies probability. See David Wenham, “The Synoptic Problem Revisited: Some New Suggestions About the Composition of Mark 4:1-34,” Tyndale Bulletin 23 (1972): 3-38.
  • [10] See Bundy, 224. The disjuncture between the disciples’ question about the interpretation of the Four Soils parable and the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying is most keenly felt in the way the disciples ask about the sense of a specific parable (ἡ παραβολή; “the parable [sing.]”) in Luke 8:9, but Luke 8:10 appears to offer a justification for Jesus’ use of all parables (ἐν παραβολαῖς; “in parables [plur.]”).
  • [11] Compare the awkwardly phrased ἠρώτων αὐτὸν…τὰς παραβολάς (“they asked him…the parables”) in Mark 4:10 with ἐπηρώτων αὐτὸν…τὴν παραβολήν (“they asked him…the parable”) in Mark 7:17. According to Abbott, “Verbally, though ‘ask’ could be used with two accusatives in such phrases as ‘ask him the name,’ ‘ask him the meaning,’ it could hardly be used in ‘asked him the parables,’ unless it meant ‘asked him what secret meaning he implied.’” See Edwin A. Abbott, The Fourfold Gospel (5 vols.; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1913-1917), 4:11.
  • [12] According to Bultmann (325 n. 1), “There is a question in [Mark 4] v. 10 concerned with the telling of parables in general, and vv. 11f. constitutes the answer. But v. 13 presupposes that the question has been concerned with the parable that has just been told. So the question in the source [behind Mark—DNB and JNT] must have read very much as Lk. 89.” Likewise, according to Jeremias (Parables, 14 n. 7), “The plural τὰς παραβολάς…should be regarded as a Marcan alteration due to the insertion of vv. 11 f.” Cf. Taylor, 255; Guelich, 204-205.
  • [13] See Allen, 144; Bundy, 225; Hagner, 371. Pace Lowe and Flusser, “Evidence Corroborating a Modified Proto-Matthean Synoptic Theory,” 37.
  • [14] Other scholars who have likewise concluded that the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying originally had nothing to do with the Four Soils parable include: Friedrich Hauck, “παραβολή,” TDNT, 5:744-761, esp. 757; Jeremias, Parables, 14; Edward F. Siegman, “Teaching in Parables (Mk 4,10-12; Lk 8,9-10; Mt 13,10-15),” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 23 (1961): 161-181.
  • [15] See Young and Flusser, “Messianic Blessings” (Flusser, JOC, 293-294); Notley-Safrai, 29-30. Cf. Taylor, 258.
  • [16] We have already discussed how the author of Matthew added an explicit quotation of Isa. 6:9-10 to the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying. In Blessedness of the Twelve the author of Matthew changed the wording from “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see, etc.” to “Blessed are your eyes that see, etc.” (Matt. 13:16). This subtle change in wording allowed for a drastic change of meaning, turning an originally temporal distinction between the days of the prophets and the days of the Kingdom of Heaven into a sectarian distinction between the blind Jews and the seeing disciples. See Blessedness of the Twelve, under the subheading “Redaction Analysis.”
  • [17] For a discussion of the reasons why we believe the Mission of the Seventy-two in Luke 10 is based on the Mission of the Twelve as recorded in Anth., see Sending the Twelve: Commissioning, under the subheading “Conjectured Stages of Transmission.”
  • [18] According to Davies and Allison, “The close parallel in Lk 10.23-4 means that Mt 13.16-17 belonged to Q. In Luke the lines follow the great thanksgiving (Lk 10.21-2 = Mt 11.25-7), and that probably preserves the Q sequence” (Davies-Allison, 2:394). Cf. Plummer, Luke, 283.
  • [19] In his decision not to describe the apostles’ return to Jesus or to include Jesus’ response, the author of Matthew was probably influenced by Mark’s version of the Mission of the Twelve, which gives only the barest report of the apostles’ return and omits any reaction from Jesus (Mark 6:30). The author of Mark, for his part, relied on the equally sparse description of the apostles’ return in Luke 9:10, which derived from the First Reconstruction’s (FR’s) abbreviated version of the Mission of the Twelve. See Return of the Twelve, under the subheading “Conjectured Stages of Transmission.”
  • [20] Although Woes on Galilean Villages probably was not originally a part of Jesus’ Sending of the Twelve discourse, it probably did occur in Anth.’s version of the Mission of the Twelve. The Anthologizer (the creator of Anth.) seems to have inserted Woes on Galilean Villages into Jesus’ Sending discourse for thematic reasons. See Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn, under the subheading “Story Placement.”
  • [21] According to Taylor (256), “Misled by ἐν παραβολαῖς, Mark, or an earlier compiler, has interpreted the passage as concerned with parables and has introduced it ad vocem…at this point.” Cf. Siegman, “Teaching in Parables,” 176. We, of course, regard the author of Luke as “the earlier compiler” who came before Mark.
  • [22] According to Abbott, “In literary Greek ‘parable’ [i.e., παραβολή—DNB and JNT] means comparison or illustration, without any suggestion of obscurity, paradox, or riddle” (The Fourfold Gospel, 4:13). Cf. LSJ, “παραβολή,” 1305. See below, Comment to L19.
  • [23] See Taylor, 257-258; Jeremias, Parables, 14, 17-18.
  • [24] See Robert L. Lindsey, “A New Two-source Solution to the Synoptic Problem,” under thesis 7.
  • [25] See Hawkins, 12, 52; Joshua N. Tilton and David N. Bivin, “LOY Excursus: Catalog of Markan Stereotypes and Possible Markan Pick-ups,” under the entry for Mark 2:16.
  • [26] See Robert L. Lindsey, “Introduction to A Hebrew Translation of the Gospel of Mark,” under the subheading “The Significance of the Minor Agreements”; idem, “A New Approach to the Synoptic Gospels,” under the subheading “Mark Secondary to Luke.”
  • [27] Hawkins (210) included the Lukan-Matthean agreements against Mark 4:11 in his list of those for “which it seems almost impossible that Matthew and Luke could have accidentally concurred in making them.” Nevertheless, Streeter (313) and Davies-Allison (2:390-391) made various attempts to explain away these important agreements.
  • [28] Cf. Fitzmyer, 1:707.
  • [29] See below, Comment to L7.
  • [30] See Robert L. Lindsey, “The Major Importance of the ‘Minor’ Agreements,” under the subheading “From Non-Hebraisms to the Synoptic Problem.”
  • [31] See Sending the Twelve: Conduct in Town, Comment to L116.
  • [32] Hagner (372) regards Matthew’s ὅτι as causal rather than as introducing direct speech. Cf. Lowe and Flusser, “Evidence Corroborating a Modified Proto-Matthean Synoptic Theory,” 37.
  • [33] Examples of נִתַּן followed by a preposition with pronominal suffix include the following:

    נִּיתַּן לוֹ מַתָּנָה

    …it was given to him as a gift. (m. Maas. Shen. 4:3; 5:5; m. Sot. 8:2; m. Bech. 9:3; m. Arach. 9:4)

    נִיתַּן לִי בֶן בִּמְדִינַת הַיָּם

    A son was given to me while overseas. (m. Yev. 15:9; cf. 15:10)

    חֲבִיבִים יִשְׂרָא′ שֶׁנִּיתַּן לָהֶם כְּלִּי שֶׁבּוֹ נִבְרָא הָעוֹלָם

    Beloved is Israel because was given to them [i.e., God gave them—DNB and JNT] the vessel through which the world was created. (m. Avot 3:14)

  • [34] Note, moreover, that in the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying the passive voice is simply a polite way of saying “God has given.” There are numerous passages where, in the active voice, God promises לְךָ אֶתְּנֶנָּה (“To you I will give it [i.e., the land—DNB and JNT]”; Gen. 13:15, 17; 28:13; 35:12; cf. Ps. 105:11; 1 Chr. 16:18), or where he reminds Israel לָכֶם נָתַתִּי אֶת הָאָרֶץ לָרֶשֶׁת אֹתָהּ (“To you I have given the land to possess it”; Num. 33:53). In each of these examples the preposition with pronominal suffix is in the emphatic position before the verb.
  • [35] See Hatch-Redpath, 1:267-270.
  • [36] Note, too, the following passage in DSS:

    ולא יתבונן כול בחוכ[מתכה] וב[סוד] רזיכה לא יביט כול

    Not everyone will understand [your] wis[dom] and not everyone will see the [counsel of] your mysteries. (1QHa XVIII, 2-3)

  • [37] In DSS we encounter construct phrases such as רָזֵי דַעַת (rāzē da‘at, “mysteries of knowledge”; 1QS IV, 6), רָזֵי שֶׂכֶל (rāzē sechel, “mysteries of understanding”; 1QS IV, 18; 1QHa V, 19) and רָזֵי עָרְמָה (rāzē ‘ormāh, “mysteries of cleverness”; 1QpHab VII, 14). We also find statements such as the following:

    כי הודעתני ברזי פלאכה

    For you have made known to me your wondrous mysteries. (1QHa XII, 27-28)

    אודכ[ה אדו]ני כי השכלתני באמתכה וברזי פלאכה הודעתני

    I will give thanks to you, my [Lor]d, for you have instructed me in your truth, and you have made me know your wondrous mysteries. (1QHa XV, 26-27)

    καὶ οὐκ ἔγνωσαν μυστήρια θεοῦ

    …and they did not know the mysteries of God…. (Wis. 2:22)

    ἐπίγνωσιν τοῦ μυστηρίου τοῦ θεοῦ

    …knowledge of the mystery of God…. (Col. 2:2)

  • [38] The noun רָז occurs in Dan. 2:18, 19, 27, 28, 29, 30, 47 (2xx); 4:6.
  • [39] In tannaic sources the noun occurs only in a later addition to the Mishnah’s tractate Avot (m. Avot 6:1) and in a blessing recorded in the Tosefta:

    הרואה אכלסין אומ′ ברוך חכם הרזים לפי שאין פרצופותיהן דומין זה לזה ואין דעתן דומות זו לזו

    The one who sees a crowd of people says, “Blessed is the Knower of Mysteries [רזים], for none of their faces are alike, and none of their opinions are the same.” (t. Ber. 6:2; Vienna MS)

  • [40] On the term רָזֵי אֵל (“the mysteries of God”) in DSS, see Anthony R. Meyer, “The ‘Mysteries of God’ in the Qumran War Scroll,” in The War Scroll, Violence, War and Peace in the Dead Sea Scrolls and Related Literature: Essays in Honour of Martin G. Abegg on the Occasion of His 65th Birthday (ed. Kipp Davis, Dorothy M. Peters, Kyung S. Baek, and Peter W. Flint; Leiden: Brill, 2016.
  • [41] See Lindsey’s comments on Petuchowski’s essay on Jesus’ parables in Jakob J. Petuchowski, “The Theological Significance of the Parable in Rabbinic Literature and the New Testament,” under the subheading “Robert L. Lindsey’s Response.”
  • [42] See Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven, Comment to L63.
  • [43] See Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn, Comment to L8.
  • [44] See Jastrow, 806; Even-shoshan, 721.
  • [45] See John W. Bowker, “Mystery and Parable: Mark iv. 1–20,” Journal of Theological Studies 25.2 (1974): 300-317, esp. 312-313.
  • [46] Hirshman even questions whether מִסְטֵירִין (var. מִסְטוֹרִין) is the original reading in the above-cited midrash. See Marc Hirshman, A Rivalry of Genius: Jewish and Christian Biblical Interpretation in Late Antiquity (trans. Batya Stein; Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press, 1996), 17-18.
  • [47] The expression רָזֵי אֵל is found, for example, in 1QS III, 23; 1QpHab VII, 8; 1QM III, 9; XVI, 11, 16. Cf. Fitzmyer, 1:708; Nolland, Luke, 1:379.
  • [48] See David Flusser, “The Parables of Jesus and the Parables of the Sages,” in Jewish Sources in Early Christianity: Studies and Essays (ed. Chana Safrai; Tel Aviv: Sifriat Poalim, 1979), 150-209, esp. 197 n. 52 (Hebrew); Lowe and Flusser, “Evidence Corroborating a Modified Proto-Matthean Synoptic Theory,” 46 n. 76; Young and Flusser, “Messianic Blessings” (Flusser, JOC, 294 n. 29). Cf. Young, Parables, 269.
  • [49] In support of the reading τὰ μυστήρια τοῦ θεοῦ (“the mysteries of God”) in Luke 8:10, Young (Parables, 269) cites “W, 579, 716, l253, l1761, as well as Lvt, (ff2), PET-C, and Eusebius.” Bovon (1:312 n. 61) suggests that “The mss. that omit τῆς βασιλείας (‘the kingdom,’ as does Eusebius) probably do so for stylistic reasons, in order to avoid a double genitive.” It is also possible that some manuscripts read “the mysteries of God” because the phrase τὸ μυστήριον τοῦ θεοῦ was familiar from other NT passages (cf. 1 Cor. 2:1; Col. 2:2; Rev. 10:7).
  • [50] See our discussion in David N. Bivin and Joshua N. Tilton, “LOY Excursus: The Kingdom of Heaven in the Life of Yeshua,” under the subheading “Which is correct: ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ or ‘Kingdom of God’?”
  • [51] Dalman (106) reconstructed “the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven” in Aramaic as רָזֵי מַלְכוּתָא דִשְׁמַיָּא (rāzē malchūtā’ dishmayā’). It should be noted, however, that whereas the Hebrew phrase מַלְכוּת שָׁמַיִם is common in rabbinic sources as early as the Mishnah, the Aramaic phrase מַלְכוּתָא דִשְׁמַיָּא does not occur in sources earlier than the completion of the Babylonian Talmud (ca. 500 C.E.).
  • [52] In the story of Jesus and his mother and brothers (Mark 3:31-35), which in Mark comes immediately before the Four Soils parable, the mother and brothers of Jesus are twice said to be “outside” (ἔξω; Mark 3:31, 32). Noting the proximity of the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying to this passage, Goulder suggested that “those outside” in Mark 4:11 refers back to Jesus’ family members mentioned in Mark 3:31-35. Goulder further suggested that Jesus’ family members stand for the Jerusalem church, headed by James, the brother of Jesus, and that the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying attests to the tension between the Jerusalem church and the Pauline Gentile churches for whom the Gospel of Mark was composed. See Michael D. Goulder, “Those Outside (MK. 4:10-12),” Novum Testamentum 23.4 (1991): 289-302. While his suggestions are provocative, we do not share his conclusions.
  • [53] See Notley-Safrai, 28. The use of the term “outsiders” in Mark is only one example of the author of Mark’s sectarian tendencies. The author of Mark also refers to the members of his community as “the elect” (Mark 13:20, 22, 27), which is reminiscent of the sectarian vocabulary of DSS. See David Flusser, “The Times of the Gentiles and the Redemption of Jerusalem,” under the subheading “Mark’s Sectarian Redaction.” Marcus drew parallels between the Gospel of Mark and DSS in Joel Marcus, “Mark 4:10-12 and Marcan Epistemology,” Journal of Biblical Literature 103.4 (1984): 557-574.
  • [54] See Notley-Safrai, 30.
  • [55] This quotation is based on our reconstruction of Jesus’ saying in Hebrew and therefore does not exactly conform to either Matt. 13:17 or Luke 10:24.
  • [56] See Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn, Comment to L7.
  • [57] Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai characterized his student Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus (first century C.E.) as “a plastered cistern that loses not a drop” (m. Avot 2:8). In other words, Rabbi Eliezer was not known as an innovator, but as a collector of received traditions (cf. Avot de-Rabbi Natan, Version B, chpt. 13 [ed. Schechter, 32]). It is probable, therefore, that Rabbi Eliezer’s statement about the maidservants at the Red Sea was not his own invention, but a received tradition that may date to the period of the Second Temple (noted by Marc Hirshman in his course “Introduction to Aggadic Midrash” at the Rothberg International School of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 2007). Note that according to Kister, “aggadic statements in rabbinic literature should be regarded principally as traditions, and the sages to whom these utterances are attributed as tradents of ancient material. Studies that consider rabbinic literature together with writings of the Second Temple period (such as Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha, Qumran, Philo, Josephus, and Gospels) validate time and again this assertion.” See Menahem Kister, “Allegorical Interpretations of Biblical Narratives in Rabbinic Literature, Philo, and Origen: Some Case Studies,” in New Approaches to the Study of Biblical Interpretation in Judaism of the Second Temple Period and in Early Christianity (ed. Gary A. Anderson, Ruth A. Clements, and David Satran; Leiden: Brill, 2013), 133-183, quotation on 142.
  • [58] On the periodization of history in the teachings of Jesus, see David Flusser, “The Stages of Redemption History According to John the Baptist and Jesus” (Flusser, Jesus, 258-275). See also Blessedness of the Twelve, Comment to L16-19; David N. Bivin and Joshua N. Tilton, “LOY Excursus: The Kingdom of Heaven in the Life of Yeshua,” under the subheading “The Kingdom of Heaven in the Teachings of Jesus: Temporal Aspect.”
  • [59] The expectation that the final redemption would be patterned after Israel’s redemption from Egypt is found as early as the biblical period (e.g., Jer. 23:7-8). In rabbinic literature, examples of this expectation include the comment “I am who I am [Exod. 3:14]: As I am with the past redemption, so I am with the future redemption” (Avot de-Rabbi Natan, Version B, chpt. 38 [ed. Schechter, 100]), and Rabbi Yehoshua’s statement that “In that night [14th of Nisan] they were redeemed, and in that night [14th of Nisan] they will be redeemed in the future” (Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, Pisḥa chpt. 14 [ed. Lauterbach, 1:79]; cf. b. Rosh Hash. 11a). A variation of this concept is expressed in the saying “As with the first redeemer [i.e., Moses—DNB and JNT], so with the final redeemer [i.e., the Messiah—DNB and JNT]” (cf., e.g., Num. Rab. 11:2; Ruth Rab. 5:6).
  • [60] Jesus explicitly paralleled the redemption from Egypt and the redemption that was coming about through the Kingdom of Heaven when he claimed to drive out demons by the finger of God (Luke 11:20; cf. Matt. 12:28). See R. Steven Notley, “By the Finger of God.”
  • [61] Compare the claim made in the New Testament that “no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation” (2 Peter 1:20; NIV). In support of the NIV’s translation of 2 Peter 1:20, see Richard Bauckham, Jude, 2 Peter (WBC 50; Dallas, Tex.: Thomas Nelson, 1996), 229-233.
  • [62] See David Flusser, “The Apocryphal Book of Ascensio Isaiae and the Dead Sea Sect” (Flusser, JOC, 3-20, esp. 14); idem, “‘The Secret Things Belong to the Lord’ (Deut. 29:29): Ben Sira and the Essenes” (Flusser, JSTP1, 293-298, esp. 297).
  • [63] This midrash is based on a perceived failure to meet expectations in the story of Jacob’s blessing of his sons. Jacob begins by promising to tell his sons what will happen to them in the future (Gen. 49:1), but after this dramatic build up, the first thing Jacob reveals to Reuben is “you are my firstborn son” (Gen. 49:3), a disappointingly mundane bit of common knowledge.
  • [64] The limits of prophetic vision are also attested in a rabbinic catalog of synonyms for the word “prophecy”:

    עשרה שמות נקראת נבואה משא. משל. מליצה. חידה. הטיפה. צווי. דיבור. אמירה. חזון. נבואה.‏

    By ten names was prophecy called: burden, parable [משל], metaphor, riddle, sermon, command, speech, saying, vision, prophecy. (Avot de-Rabbi Natan, Version B, chpt. 37 [ed. Schechter, 95])

    Compare this catalog to the parallel in Avot de-Rabbi Natan, Version A, 34:7 (ed. Schechter, 102), where in place of synonyms for “prophecy” we find synonyms for “the Holy Spirit.” On the association of the Holy Spirit with prophecy, see Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn, Comment to L1-3.

  • [65] See Hatch-Redpath, 2:888.
  • [66] In LXX λοιπός is the translation of שְׁאָר in 1 Chr. 16:41; 2 Esd. 4:7; 21:20 (Sinaiticus); Esth. 9:16; Isa. 17:3. Note that in 1 Chr. 16:41, 2 Esd. 4:7; and Esth. 9:16 the plural of λοιπός is used to translate the singular form שְׁאָר.‎
  • [67] Recall that in Matt. 13:10 the disciples ask Jesus, “Why do you speak to them in parables?”
  • [68] On the anti-Jewish bias that can be detected in much of Matthew’s editorial activity, see David Flusser, “Two Anti-Jewish Montages in Matthew” (Flusser, JOC, 552-560); idem, “Matthew’s ‘Verus Israel’” (Flusser, JOC, 561-574); idem, “Anti-Jewish Sentiment in the Gospel of Matthew” (Flusser, JSTP2, 351-353); and R. Steven Notley, “Anti-Jewish Tendencies in the Synoptic Gospels.”
  • [69] See Comment to L13-17.
  • [70] See Blessedness of the Twelve, Comment to L2.
  • [71] See H. Streeter, “On the Original Order of Q,” in Studies in the Synoptic Problem (ed. W. Sanday; Oxford: Clarendon, 1911), 141-164, esp. 154; Bundy, 225; Hauck, “παραβολή,” TDNT, 5:757; Davies-Allison, 2:391; Nolland, Matt., 534.
  • [72] See Lowe and Flusser, “Evidence Corroborating a Modified Proto-Matthean Synoptic Theory,” 39.
  • [73] See Kilpatrick, 87.
  • [74] See the discussion under the subheading “Story Placement.”
  • [75] See Jeremias, Parables, 16.
  • [76] The phrase מָשְׁלוּ מָשָׁל (“they told a parable”) is used to introduce a story parable in t. Hag. 2:5; t. Sot. 11:4; 15:7; t. Bab. Kam. 7:3, 4; and in numerous other instances. The phrase אֶמְשׁוֹל לְךָ מָשָׁל (“I will tell you a parable”) is used to introduce a parable in Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, Baḥodesh chpt. 6 (ed. Lauterbach, 2:325); Avot de-Rabbi Natan, Version A, 6:2 (ed. Schechter, 29); 9:2 (ed. Schechter, 41); 16:3 (ed. Schechter, 64); and also in many other locations.
  • [77] According to Lindsey, the proliferation of certain Lukan phrases was a characteristic feature of Mark’s editorial style. See Robert L. Lindsey, “Introduction to A Hebrew Translation of the Gospel of Mark,” under the subheading “Sources of the Markan Pick-ups”; idem, “My Search for the Synoptic Problem’s Solution (1959-1969),” under the subheading “Markan Pick-ups”; Joshua N. Tilton and David N. Bivin, “LOY Excursus: Catalog of Markan Stereotypes and Possible Markan Pick-ups.”
  • [78] See Edwin Hatch, Essays in Biblical Greek (Oxford: Clarendon, 1889), 64-71; T. W. Manson, The Teaching of Jesus: Studies of its Form and Content (2d ed.; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1959), 59. In LXX παραβολή is the translation of the noun מָשָׁל in Num. 23:7, 18; 24:3, 15, 20, 21, 23; Deut. 28:37; 1 Kgdms. 10:12; 24:14; 3 Kgdms. 5:12; 2 Chr. 7:20; Ps. 43[44]:15; 48[49]:5; 68[69]:12; 77[78]:2; Prov. 1:6; Eccl. 12:9; Mic. 2:4; Hab. 2:6; Jer. 24:9; Ezek. 12:22, 23; 17:2; 18:2, 3; 21:5; 24:3.
  • [79] In LXX παραβολή is the translation of the verb מָשַׁל in 2 Kgdms. 23:3; Ezek. 12:23; 16:44; 19:14.
  • [80] See Notley-Safrai, 3, 31.
  • [81] A parallel to this statement is found in the Jerusalem Talmud:

    תני רבי ישמעאל זה אחד משלשה מקריות שנאמרו בתורה במשל

    Rabbi Yishmael taught, “This is one of three verses that are stated in the Torah במשל [i.e., figuratively—DNB and JNT].” (y. Ket. 4:4 [26a]; cf. y. Sanh. 8:8 [43b])

  • [82] Examples in MT where מָשָׁל is used in parallel with חִידָה include Ezek. 17:2; Ps. 49:5; 78:2; Prov. 1:6.
  • [83] The formula וַיִּשָּׂא מְשָׁלוֹ וַיֹּאמַר is found in Num. 23:7, 18; 24:3, 15, 20, 21, 23.
  • [84] Early Christian writers bear indirect witness to the Jewish notion that the prophets spoke in metaphors, and perhaps even indirect witness to the use of the phrase דִּבֵּר בִּמְשָׁלִים by the rabbinic sages. As we mentioned above, “riddle” was not a common meaning of the noun παραβολή except in Hellenistic Jewish literature. Nevertheless, early Christian writers such as the author of the Epistle of Barnabas and Justin Martyr sometimes used the term παραβολή to describe the enigmatic sayings of the prophets, for example:

    τί οὖν λέγει· Εἰς τὴν γῆν τὴν ἀγαθήν, γῆν ῥέουσαν γάλα καὶ μέλι; εὐλογητὸς ὁ κύριος ἡμῶν, ἀδελφοί, ὁ σοφίαν καὶ νοῦν θέμενος ἐν ἡμῖν τῶν κρυφίων αὐτοῦ. λέγει γὰρ ὁ προφήτης παραβολὴν κυρίου·

    Why, then, does he [i.e., Moses—DNB and JNT] say, Into a good land, a land flowing with milk and honey [Exod. 33:3]? Blessed be our Lord, brothers, who has put into us the wisdom and knowledge of his secrets. For the prophet [i.e., Moses—DNB and JNT] speaks a parable [παραβολή] of the Lord. (Barn. 6:10)

    In this polemical passage the author of Barnabas asserts that Moses did speak in parables (i.e., riddles), contrary to the rabbinic assertion that direct revelation was what distinguished Moses from the other prophets. The similarity of this Barnabas passage to the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying is strong, but the application is different from what appears in the Synoptic Gospels. Whereas the Synoptic Gospels made the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying into a justification for Jesus’ use of story parables, the author of Barnabas seems to have known that the original contrast was between the hiddenness of the mysteries in the days of the prophets versus the revelation of the mysteries in the present time. On the awareness of Jewish traditions by the author of Barnabas, see Tim Hegedus, “Midrash and the Letter of Barnabas,” Biblical Theology Bulletin 37.1 (2007): 20-26.

    A similar use of παραβολή for the words of the prophets is found in the writings of Justin Martyr:

    ἐν παραβολαῖς καὶ ὁμοιώσεσι πολλάκις λαλοῦν τὸ ἅγιον πνεῦμα

    …the Holy Spirit oftentimes announces such events by parables [ἐν παραβολαῖς] and similitudes…. (Dial. chpt. 77 [ed. Trollope, 2:11-12])

    τὸ εἰρημένον πρὸς Δαβὶδ ὑπὸ Θεοῦ ἐν μυστηρίῳ διὰ Ἠσαΐου ὡς ἔμελλε γίνεσθαι ἐξηγήθη. Εἰ μήτι τοῦτο οὐκ έπίστασθε, ὦ φίλοι…ὅτι πολλοὺς λόγους, τοὺς ἐπικεκαλυμμένως καὶ ἐν παραβολαῖς ἢ μυστηρίοις ἢ ἐν πράξαντας γενόμενοι προφῆται ἐξηγήσαντο.

    …Isaiah has explained how that which was spoken by God to David in mystery would take place. But perhaps you are not aware of this, my friends, that there were many sayings written obscurely, or parabolically [ἐν παραβολαῖς], or mysteriously, and symbolical actions, which the prophets who lived after the persons who said or did them expounded. (Dial. chpt. 68 [ed. Trollope, 1:139])

    ὅσα εἶπον καὶ ἐποίησαν οἱ προφῆται…παραβολαῖς καὶ τύποις ἀπεκάλυψαν, ὡς μὴ ῥᾳδίως τὰ πλεῖστα ὑπὸ πάντων νοηθῆναι, κρύπτοντεσ τὴν ἐν αὐτοῖς άλήθειαν

    …what the prophets said and did…they veiled by parables [παραβολαῖς] and types, so that it was not easy for all to understand most [of what they said], since they concealed the truth by these means…. (Dial. chpt. 90 [ed. Trollope, 2:44])

    Ὅτι γὰρ λίθος καὶ πέτρα ἐν παραβολαῖς ὁ Χριστὸς διὰ τῶν προφητῶν ἐκηρύσσετο, ἀποδέδεικταί μοι.

    For I have shown that Christ was proclaimed by the prophets in parables [ἐν παραβολαῖς] a Stone and a Rock. (Dial. chpt. 113 [ed. Trollope, 2:88])

    It is likely that Justin borrowed the notion that the revelations the prophets received were mediated ἐν παραβολαῖς (i.e., through metaphors) from Judaism, and that he used this notion to score points against his Jewish debate opponents. On Justin’s awareness of Jewish exegetical traditions, some of which are attested in rabbinic sources, see Marc Hirshman, “Polemic Literary Units in the Classical Midrashim and Justin Martyr’s Dialogue with Trypho,” Jewish Quarterly Review 83.3-4 (1993): 369-384; idem, A Rivalry of Genius, 31-41, 55-66.

    On the use of παραβολή in the Epistle of Barnabas and the writings of Justin Martyr, see Hatch, Essays in Biblical Greek, 68-69; Abbott, The Fourfold Gospel, 4:12-13. The translation of Justin is according to The Ante-Nicene Fathers (10 vols.; ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and Allan Menzies; repr. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980-1986).

  • [85] Further demonstrations of Moses’ superiority to the other prophets include the following midrashic texts:

    או חולם חלום, מכלל שנאמר למשה פה אל פה אדבר בו יכול אף הנביאים כן תלמוד לומר או חולם חלום

    Or a dreamer of dreams ([Deut.] 13:2): Since concerning Moses it is said, With him do I speak mouth to mouth (Num. 12:8), one might think that this would be the case also with all the prophets; hence the verse adds, Or a dreamer of dreams. (Sifre Deut. §83 [ed. Finkelstein, 149]; trans. Hammer)

    מה בין משה לכל הנביאים, ר′ יהודה בר′ אילעאי ורבנן. ר′ יהודה א′ כל הנביאים ראו מתוך תשע איספקלריות, הה″ד וכמראה המראה אשר ראיתי כמראה אשר ראיתי בבואי לשחת את העיר ומראות כמראה אשר ראיתי על הנהר כבר ואפל על פני (יחזקאל מג, ג). ומשה ראה מתוך איספקלריה אחת, ומראה ולא בחידות (במדבר יב, ח). ורבנן אמ′ כל הנביאים ראו מתוך איספקלריה מלוכלכת, הה″ד ודברתי על הנביאים ואנכי חזון הרביתי וגו′ (הושע יב, יא). ומשה ראה מתוך איספקלריה מצוחצחת, הה″ד ותמונת י″י יביט (במדבר יב, ח).‏

    What differentiates Moses from all the other prophets? Rabbi Yehudah ben Rabbi Ilai and the Rabbis disagree. Rabbi Yehudah said, “All the prophets saw through nine glasses. This is according to what is written, And the visualization of the vision that I saw was like the vision that I saw when I came to destroy the city, and the visions were like the vision that I saw by the River Kebar, and I fell upon my face [Ezek. 43:3]. But Moses saw through a single glass [in accordance with what is written], and a vision and not in riddles [Num. 12:8].” The Rabbis said, “All the prophets through a soiled glass, in accordance with what is written, And I have spoken to the prophets and I increased visions [Hos. 12:11] etc. But Moses saw through a polished glass, in accordance with what is written, and the form of the LORD he sees [Num. 12:8].” (Lev. Rab. 1:14 [ed. Margulies, 1:30-31])

    Young pointed out the similarity of the above quotation to Paul’s statement in 1 Cor. 13:12. See Brad H. Young, Paul the Jewish Theologian (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 1997), 107-110. Note, too, the statement in the Babylonian Talmud:

    כל הנביאים נסתכלו באספקלריא שאינה מאירה, משה רבינו נסתכל באספקלריא המאירה

    All the prophets peered through a glass that was not clear, Moses our teacher peered through a clear glass. (b. Yeb. 49b)

  • [86] Such a reconstruction would require us to assume that the author of Matthew tendentiously negated the verb he found in his source, an assumption that is not inconsistent with Matthew’s editorial style. According to Flusser, “Matthew’s dependence upon his written sources is at times somewhat paradoxical: when he wants to reveal his own opinion, he does not change his source radically, but manipulates his Vorlage by small modifications and a clever rearrangement of material” (Flusser, JOC, 559). Cf. idem, “The Synagogue and the Church in the Synoptic Gospels” (JS1, 17-40, esp. 31).
  • [87] Marshall (322) noted the ambiguity caused by the lack of a verb in Luke’s version of this sentence.
  • [88] Matthew’s “I speak to them in parables” echoes the disciples’ question, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” (Matt. 13:10).
  • [89] According to Hauck, “The softer reading of ἵνα in the sense of ἵνα πληρωθῇ [“in order that it might be fulfilled”—DNB and JNT]…is an illegitimate alleviation of the difficulty” (“παραβολή,” TDNT, 5:758 n. 102). The view Hauck rejected is advanced by, inter alios, Johannes Horst, “οὖς, κ.τ.λ.,” TDNT, 5:543-559, esp. 555; Jeremias, Parables, 17.
  • [90] See Robert H. Gundry, The Use of the Old Testament in St. Matthew’s Gospel: With Special Reference to the Messianic Hope (Leiden: Brill, 1967), 33-34; cf. France, Matt., 513.
  • [91] Some NT MSS have ἵνα + subjunctive instead of ὅτι in Matt. 13:13 as well. This is almost certainly due to the scribal impulse to harmonize the Gospels. See Metzger, 32-33.
  • [92] See Lowe and Flusser, “Evidence Corroborating a Modified Proto-Matthean Synoptic Theory,” 38.
  • [93] On the various ways that LXX rendered the infinitive absolute, see Henry St. John Thackeray, A Grammar of the Old Testament in Greek According to the Septuagint (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1909), 1:47-50.
  • [94] Examples of emphatic denials expressed with the construction inf. abs. + לֹא + finite verb are found in Exod. 5:23 (הַצֵּל לֹא הִצַּלְתָּ; “you definitely did not deliver”); 8:24 (הַרְחֵק לֹא תַרְחִיקוּ; “you must definitely not go far off”); 34:7 (נַקֵּה לֹא יְנַקֶּה; “he definitely will not acquit”); Lev. 7:24 (אָכֹל לֹא תֹאכְלֻהוּ; “you definitely must not eat it”); Num. 14:18 (נַקֵּה לֹא יְנַקֶּה; “he definitely will not acquit”); 23:25 (קֹב לֹא תִקֳּבֶנּוּ; “you definitely must not curse them”); 23:25 (בָּרֵךְ לֹא תְבָרֲכֶנּוּ; “you definitely must not bless them”); Deut. 21:14 (מָכֹר לֹא תִמְכְּרֶנָּה; “you definitely must not sell her”); Josh. 17:13 (הוֹרֵשׁ לֹא הוֹרִישׁוֹ; “he definitely did not drive him out”); Judg. 1:28 (הוֹרֵישׁ לֹא הוֹרִישׁוֹ; “he definitely did not drive him out”); 15:13 (הָמֵת לֹא נְמִיתֶךָ; “we definitely will not put you to death”); 1 Kgs. 3:27 (הָמֵת לֹא תְמִיתֻהוּ; “you definitely must not put him to death”); Isa. 30:19 (בָּכוֹ לֹא תִבְכֶּה; “you definitely will not cry”); Jer. 6:15 (בּוֹשׁ לֹא יֵבוֹשׁוּ; “they definitely were not ashamed”); 8:12 (בּוֹשׁ לֹא יֵבֹשׁוּ; “they definitely were not ashamed”); 11:12 (הוֹשֵׁעַ לֹא יוֹשִׁיעוּ; “they definitely will not save”); 13:12 (יָדֹעַ לֹא נֵדַע; “we definitely do not know”); 23:32 (הוֹעֵיל לֹא יוֹעִילוּ; “they definitely do not profit”); 30:11 (נַקֵּה לֹא אֲנַקֵּךָּ; “I definitely will not acquit you”); 46:28 (נַקֵּה לֹא אֲנַקֶּךָּ; “I definitely will not acquit you”); Ezek. 20:32 (הָיוֹ לֹא תִהְיֶה; “it definitely will not be”); Amos 3:5 (לָכוֹד לֹא יִלְכּוֹד; “it definitely did not capture”); Nah. 1:3 (נַקֵּה לֹא יְנַקֶּה; “he definitely will not acquit”); Dan. 10:3 (סוֹךְ לֹא סָכְתִּי; “I definitely did not anoint”).
  • [95] For example, in Exod. 5:23 LXX rendered הַצֵּל לֹא הִצַּלְתָּ (“you definitely did not deliver”) as οὐκ ἐρρύσω (“you did not deliver”), and in Ezek. 20:32 LXX rendered הָיוֹ לֹא תִהְיֶה (“it definitely will not be”) as οὐκ ἔσται (“it will not be”).
  • [96] For instance, in Jer. 23:32 LXX rendered הוֹעֵיל לֹא יוֹעִילוּ (“they definitely do not profit”) as ὠφέλειαν οὐκ ὠφελήσουσιν (“a profit they will not profit”), and in Dan. 10:3 LXX rendered סוֹךְ לֹא סָכְתִּי (“I definitely did not anoint”) as ἔλαιον οὐκ ἠλειψάμην (“with oil I did not anoint”).
  • [97] Similar treatments of the inf. abs. + לֹא + finite verb construction are found in Num. 23:25, where LXX rendered בָּרֵךְ לֹא תְבָרֲכֶנּוּ (“you definitely must not bless them”) as εὐλογῶν μὴ εὐλογήσῃς αὐτόν (“blessing you may not bless him”), and in Jer. 13:12 where LXX rendered יָדֹעַ לֹא נֵדַע (“we definitely do not know”) as μὴ γνόντες οὐ γνωσόμεθα (“not knowing we will not know”).
  • [98] See Lowe and Flusser, “Evidence Corroborating a Modified Proto-Matthean Synoptic Theory,” 39.
  • [99] See Gundry, The Use of the Old Testament in St. Matthew’s Gospel, 117.
  • [100] According to Lowe and Flusser, the author of Matthew “recognized Mark’s innovation as a mutilated version of Is. 6.9-10, but also noticed how far it was from the Proto-Matthean ὅτι βλέποντες…. He therefore both retained the latter and added to it the complete and unabridged prophecy from Isaiah in the exact Septuagint form as Mt. 13.14-15” (“Evidence Corroborating a Modified Proto-Matthean Synoptic Theory,” 39). Lowe and Flusser’s “Proto-Matthew” is roughly equivalent to Lindsey’s “Anthology.”
  • [101] See above, Comment to L21.
  • [102] Translation of L.A.B. according to Howard Jacobson, A Commentary on Pseudo-Philo’s Liber Antiquitatum Biblicarum With Latin Text and English Translation (2 vols.; Leiden: Brill, 1996), 1:138.
  • [103] There are significant differences between the wording of Isa. 64:3 as it appears in MT and LXX and the ways Paul and Pseudo-Philo allude to this verse in their writings. The only sensory organ mentioned in Isa. 64:3 is the eye, although hearing and seeing (in that order!) are both mentioned. Understanding with the heart, which is found both in 1 Cor. and L.A.B., does not appear in Isa. 64:3, but is picked up from Isa. 65:17 (וְלֹא תַעֲלֶינָה עַל לֵב). The shared order see-hear-understand, the shared mention of eyes, ears and heart, and their agreement to splice a phrase from Isa. 65:17 into their allusions to Isa. 64:3 demonstrate that both Paul and Pseudo-Philo were familiar with a midrashic treatment of this verse that was probably well known in the first century C.E. (See the discussion in Jacobson, A Commentary on Pseudo-Philo’s Liber Antiquitatum Biblicarum, 2:776, and the attestations to this midrash on Isa. 64:3 collected in Michael E. Stone and John Strugnell, The Books of Elijah: Parts 1&2 [Missoula, Mont.: Scholars Press, 1979], 45-73.) Underlying this conjectured midrash on Isa. 64:3 appears to be the notion that the words עַיִן לֹא רָאָתָה אֱלֹהִים זוּלָתְךָ should be interpreted as “no eyes have seen except yours, O God,” whereas a more natural interpretation would be “the eye has not seen any God except you,” which is theologically problematic. The same approach to this exegetical difficulty also underlies a rabbinic comment on Isa. 64:3:

    אמר רבי חייא בר אבא אמר רבי יוחנן כל הנביאים כולן לא נתנבאו אלא לימות המשיח אבל לעולם הבא עין לא ראתה אלהים זולתך

    Rabbi Hiyya bar Abba said in the name of Rabbi Yohanan, “All the prophets prophesied only for the days of the Messiah. But as for the world to come, the eye has not seen, O God, except you [Isa. 64:3].” (b. Ber. 34b; cf. b. Shab. 63a; b. Sanh. 99a)

  • [104] In the Gospel of Thomas we find a parallel to the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying that does allude to Isa. 64:3:

    Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven Gos. Thom. §17 (ed. Guillaumont, 13)
    To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, Jesus said: I will give you
    but for the rest it was in parables,
    because they did not see or hear what eye has not seen and what ear has not heard
    and what hand has not touched
    or understand. and (what) has not arisen in the heart of man.

    Is this logion from the Gospel of Thomas a variant of the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying? And does this logion preserve an authentic recollection that the verse Jesus originally alluded to in the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying was Isa. 64:3?

  • [105] See Davies-Allison, 2:394.
  • [106] At Matt. 13:14 Codex Bezae reads καὶ τότε πληρωθήσεται επ᾽αὐτοῖς ἡ προφητεία τοῦ Ἠσαΐου λέγουσα (“and then will be fulfilled on them the prophecy of Isaiah, saying…”). This variant may be a scribe’s attempt to assimilate the introduction of the Isaiah quotation in Matt. 13:14 to the fulfillment formulae found elsewhere in Matthew’s Gospel.
  • [107] See the discussion in Gundry, The Use of the Old Testament in St. Matthew’s Gospel, 116-118; cf. Nolland, Matt., 535; France, Matt., 513 n. 16.
  • [108] On the textual witnesses to Isa. 6:10, see David S. New, “The Occurance of ΑΥΤΩΝ in Matthew 13.15 and the Process of Text Assimilation,” New Testament Studies 37.3 (1991): 478-480.
  • [109] See T. W. Manson, The Teaching of Jesus: Studies of its Form and Content (2d ed.; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1959), 77; Black, 154; Jeremias, Parables, 15.
  • [110] Lindsey believed that the author of Mark may have relied on an Aramaic targum as a source of some of his paraphrastic changes to Luke. (See Robert L. Lindsey, “Introduction to A Hebrew Translation of the Gospel of Mark,” under the subheading “Sources of the Markan Pick-ups”; idem, “A New Two-source Solution to the Synoptic Problem,” thesis 4; idem, “Measuring the Disparity Between Matthew, Mark and Luke,” under the subheading “Further Proof of Mark’s Dependence on Luke.”) However, it may be preferable to suppose that the author of Mark was familiar with Jewish traditions that are later attested in the Aramaic targumim than to suppose that the author of Mark relied on a written targum. On the liturgical use of targumim in the synagogue, see Ze’ev Safrai, “The Origins of Reading the Aramaic Targum in Synagogue,” Immanuel 24/25 (1990): 187-193.
  • [111] Note that Martin rated Luke’s version of the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying as the closest to translation-style Greek, and Mark’s version to be closest to original Greek composition. See Raymond A. Martin, Syntax Criticism of the Synoptic Gospels (Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen Press, 1987), 42.
  • [112] See Lowe and Flusser, “Evidence Corroborating a Modified Proto-Matthean Synoptic Theory,” 38. From the conclusion of Acts we know this Isaiah verse was important to the author of Luke because it seemed to explain Paul’s failure to convince the Jewish people of the truth of the Gospel (Acts 28:25-28).
  • [113] On the community for which the Gospel of Matthew was composed and its relations with the Jewish community, see Tomson, 272-276, 407-408.
  • [114] On the pedagogical purpose of parables, see Notley-Safrai, 27-35. See also Joseph Frankovic, “The Power of Parables.”
  • [115] On the generally positive portrayal of Jews and Judaism in Luke and Acts, see Peter J. Tomson, “Gamaliel’s Counsel and the Apologetic Strategy of Luke-Acts,” in The Unity of Luke-Acts (ed. J. Verheyden; Leuven: Leuven University Press, 1999), 585-604; idem, “Luke-Acts and the Jewish Scriptures,” Analecta Bruxellensia 7 (2002): 164-183; Tomson, 214-247.

Comments 5

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  4. !תודה רבה
    You have made this pericope aline with rest of Yeshua’s “Gospel of the Kingdom”. You have been helping me understand the Gospels since I first read “Understanding the Difficult words of Jesus” in the 1980’s.
    !שלום

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David N. Bivin

David N. Bivin
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David N. Bivin is founder and editor of Jerusalem Perspective. A native of Cleveland, Oklahoma, U.S.A., Bivin has lived in Israel since 1963, when he came to Jerusalem on a Rotary Foundation Fellowship to do postgraduate work at the Hebrew University. He studied at the Hebrew…
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Joshua N. Tilton

Joshua N. Tilton

Joshua N. Tilton grew up in St. George, a small town on the coast of Maine. For his undergraduate degree he studied at Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts, where he earned a B.A. in Biblical and Theological Studies (2002). There he studied Biblical Hebrew and…
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