The prophecy about parables (Mt 13:35-13:35)

“This was to fulfill

What had been spoken

By the prophet.

‘I will open my mouth

To speak in parables.

I will proclaim

What has been hidden

From the foundation

Of the world.’”

 

ὅπως πληρωθῇ τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος Ἀνοίξω ἐν παραβολαῖς τὸ στόμα μου, ἐρεύξομαι κεκρυμμένα ἀπὸ καταβολῆς.

 

Matthew uniquely cited this prophecy from the Psalms, Psalm 78:2, where the psalmist Asaph explained the teachings from long ago.  Jesus was going to open his mouth in parables about the old-fashioned sayings, like the wisdom writers.  These sayings had been passed on from his ancestors, showing the great deeds of Yahweh that he had done for Israel.  Jesus, via Matthew, justified or fulfilled (ὅπως πληρωθῇ) what the prophet Asaph in the psalms had said (τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος) about the use of parables.  He would open his mouth in parables (Ἀνοίξω ἐν παραβολαῖς τὸ στόμα μου) to proclaim the hidden mysteries from the foundations of the earth (ἐρεύξομαι κεκρυμμένα ἀπὸ καταβολῆς).  The parables were a way of conveying wisdom, with only the initiated able to understand them.

The development of the gospel biblical texts

After the death and resurrection of Jesus, his followers expected him to return at any moment, certainly within their own lifetime.  There was little motivation to write anything down for future generations.  However, as the various eyewitnesses began to die, there was more concern.  The missionary needs of the church grew, so that there was a demand for written versions of the founder’s life and teachings.  The stages of this process included this first oral tradition stage.  Then the stories and sayings of Jesus were passed on largely as separate self-contained units, but not in any order.  There were some written collections of miracle stories, parables, and sayings, with the oral tradition continuing alongside these.  Finally, there were the written proto-gospels that served as the sources for the canonical gospels.  The final gospels were formed by combining proto-gospels, written collections and still-current oral tradition.  All four gospels use the Hebrew Jewish scriptures, by quoting or referencing passages.  They interpreted texts or alluded to various biblical themes.  Their source was the Greek version of the scriptures, called the Septuagint, since they did not seem familiar with the original Hebrew.

Question for the priests about holiness (Hag 2:11-2:12)

“Thus says Yahweh of hosts.

‘Ask the priests

For a ruling.

If one carries

Consecrated meat

In the fold

Of one’s garment,

Then if the fold

Of his garment,

Touches

Bread,

Or stew,

Or wine,

Or oil,

Or any kind of food,

Does it become holy?’

The priests answered.

‘No.’”

Haggai gave an example of what Yahweh was talking about.  Haggai was to ask the priests about holiness.  If someone was carrying consecrated holy meat in the fold or cover of his garment and it touched bread, stew, wine, oil, or any other kind of food, would that food then become holy by touching it?  That was the dilemma.  How could holiness be passed on?  The priests answered negatively, by saying no, because these things could not become holy by merely touching a holy thing accidently.

The bad proverb (Ezek 18:1-18:4)

“The word of Yahweh

Came to me.

‘What do you mean

By repeating

This proverb

Concerning

The land of Israel?

‘The parents have eaten

Sour grapes.

The children’s teeth

Are set on edge.’

As I live,

Says Yahweh God!

‘This proverb

Shall no more

Be used by you

In Israel.

Know

That all lives are mine!

The life of the parent

Is mine.

The life of the child

Is mine.

It is only the person

Who sins

That shall die.’”

Yahweh was talking about personal responsibility rather than suffering for the sins of one’s parents. This proverb about parents eating sour grapes, while the effect would be on their children’s teeth is also found in Jeremiah, chapter 29. Here Yahweh asked them why they were repeating this proverb, because he wanted them to stop using this proverb in Israel. Yahweh, via Ezekiel, said that all lives, both the parents and their children, belong to him. The person who sins will die. No one else will die. There is no collective guilt passed on from father to son.