Revista Studii Teologice


JA slide show

Împărăţia lui Dumnezeu, între aparenţă şi potenţă. Pilda grăuntelui de muştar şi a aluatului (Mt 13, 31-33; Mc 4, 30-32; Lc 13, 18-21)

Autor(i): Ilie Chişcari
The centrality of „The Kingdom of heaven” in our Saviour's preaching and the major influence this concept had on the Christian theological thought are the least contestable and contested issues in the New Testament theology. The Kingdom of heaven was Jesus' essential theme. This aspect is almost unanimously acknowledged by exegetes. In His preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom, our Saviour often addresses the question: «With what can we compare the Kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it?» (Mark4:30), answering it with the so-called „parables of the Kingdom”. The present study approaches two of these parables, that of the mustard seed and that of the leaven.
Although very brief and easily comprehensible at first sight, they proved to be among the most controversial parts of the Scripture. As they count among the parables left unexplained by our Saviour Jesus Christ, and on whom the context offers no direct explanations, numerous theories have been put forth regarding their sense and relevance for the New Testament theology. Therefore, after an argument for treating them together, the present study begins with a succinct presentation of these theories and their proponents, stressing the interpretations offered by patristic exegesis. The lack of uniformity, even contradiction, among the various solutions suggested for the sense of these parables is striking. In order to better grasp the original sense of the two parables, the author resorted to the instruments of historical-critical methods of analyzing the Holy Scripture texts. The two parables are approached in turn, highlighting the similarities and differences in their synoptic versions, alongside a brief presentation of their version in the apocryphal Gospel according to Thomas. Key terms and concepts of each parable are analyzed, in both the Jewish and Greek paradigms in which they originate. It becomes obvious that a simplistic approach is no longer possible, due to the conceptual differences between our Saviour's times and the contemporary world.
To the first-century Jews, the mustard seed, or the leaven respectively, constituted symbolic elements associated with defilement, prohibition, impurity. The study discusses the grounds for associating such elements with the Kingdom of heaven. It then analyzes the Old Testament roots of these parables, commenting on their metamorphoses in Christian preaching. It also raises the issue of the first listeners of these parables, that is the Jews attending Jesus' preaching and the first readers of the three synoptic Gospels, and their possible reaction, depending on their temporal relation with the events in the history of salvation. Even with the first listeners, the sense of these parables could have been understood differently.
Following the thorough analysis of the text and of the main contemporary comments on the parables, the study provides an interpretation hypothesis, centered on the Christic event and on St. Paul's concept of „foolishness of the Cross”. This interpretation does not, however, rule out, at the application level, almost any of the other theories formulated in the history of this text's interpretation, often conceptually correct, but in disagreement with the primary sense of the parables. Modern exegesis is of real value in understanding the texts, but fails to reach a final, incontestable solution, due to some shortcomings caused mainly by attaching too little importance to the events of Christ's Passion and Resurrection. In order to provide a pertinent solution to the issue of interpreting the two parables, patristic exegesis is retrieved, for it has an extraordinary intuition of their sense, as a result of the Holy Spirit's work in the Church Fathers' lives and despite the fact that they did not have the exegetic instruments that contemporary research enjoys.
The solution put forth by the present study, concerning the sense of the mustard seed and leaven parables, can be best explained in St. Paul's words: «God chose what is foolish in the world, to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world, to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are» (1 Co 1, 27-28).

Pagini: 73-129