Eating grain on the Sabbath (Lk 6:1-6:1)

“One Sabbath,

While Jesus

Was going through

The grain fields,

His disciples plucked

Some heads of grain.

They rubbed them

In their hands.

Then they ate them.”

 

Ἐγένετο δὲ ἐν σαββάτῳ διαπορεύεσθαι αὐτὸν διὰ σπορίμων, καὶ ἔτιλλον οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ καὶ ἤσθιον τοὺς στάχυας ψώχοντες ταῖς χερσίν.

 

Luke followed the order of Mark, chapter 2:23, while Matthew, chapter 12:1, has this incident of plucking grain on the Sabbath later in his work.  Luke said that on one Sabbath day (Ἐγένετο δὲ ἐν σαββάτῳ), while Jesus was going through some grain fields (διαπορεύεσθαι αὐτὸν διὰ σπορίμων), his disciples plucked some heads of grain (καὶ ἔτιλλον οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ).  This is the only use of the word “σπορίμων” in all of the biblical literature.  All three synoptics used this word that meant a sown field or a grain field, so that they may have copied it from Mark.  This is also the only time that the word “ἔτιλλον, plucking” appears in its various forms by the three synoptics.  Once again, Mark may have the source for this word.  The disciples rubbed these grains in their hands (ψώχοντες ταῖς χερσίν) and ate the heads of these grains (καὶ ἤσθιον τοὺς στάχυας).  In Matthew and Luke, the disciples ended up eating the grain, but Mark did not explicitly mention that.  Matthew was the only one to say that the disciples were hungry, but that may be presumed in the other 2 accounts.  This leisurely Sabbath walk through the grain fields set up the problem of plucking grain on the Sabbath.

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Disciples plucking grain (Mk 2:23-2:23)

“One sabbath,

Jesus was going through

The grain fields.

As they made their way,

His disciples

Began to pluck

Heads of grain.”

 

Καὶ ἐγένετο αὐτὸν ἐν τοῖς σάββασιν παραπορεύεσθαι διὰ τῶν σπορίμων, καὶ οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ ἤρξαντο ὁδὸν ποιεῖν τίλλοντες τοὺς στάχυας.

 

Matthew, chapter 12:1, as well as Luke, chapter 6:1, are similar to Mark.  In Matthew and Luke, the disciples were also eating the grain, but that is not explicitly mentioned here.  Mark said that Jesus was going through the grain fields on the Sabbath (Καὶ ἐγένετο αὐτὸν ἐν τοῖς σάββασιν παραπορεύεσθαι διὰ τῶν σπορίμων).  This is the only use of the word “σπορίμων” in all the biblical literature.  All three synoptics use this word that meant a sown field or a grain field, so that they may have copied it from Mark.  Jesus’ disciples (καὶ οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ) made their way through the field (ἤρξαντο ὁδὸν).  They began to pluck the heads of the grain in the field (ποιεῖν τίλλοντες τοὺς στάχυας).  This is a unique word “τίλλοντες, plucking” that only appears in the New Testament literature in this story by the three synoptics.  Once again, Mark may have the source for this word.  This set up the problem of plucking grain on the Sabbath.

Different printed Bibles

The early bibles had to be copied by hand in manuscript form, since there was no printing press until the 15th century.  The classic Bible of the middle ages was the 4th century Latin Vulgate translation of St. Jerome.  The first book ever printed in the 15th century was the Latin Bible.  In the 16th century, the various translations began to appear, the most famous being the German New Testament translation of Martin Luther.  The English, under King James I (1603-1625) decided to set up a committee to translate the Bible into Elizabethan English.  They finished their task in 1611.  The King James Bible became the only authorized Bible in the English language and has dominated the American religious scene, because of its use among the American Puritans.  The Roman Catholics produced an English Douay-Rheims translation of the Bible in France about the same, in 1609-1610.