“Listen! A sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. 5 Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. 6 But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. 7 Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. 8 Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9 Let anyone with ears listen!”
--Matthew 13:3-9 (NRSV)
There’s a version of this Jesus parable in all three of the synoptic Gospels: Matthew, Mark, and Luke. It must be important. Even the Jesus Seminar thinks it’s probably an authentic story from Jesus.
Charles Courtney, retired Professor from Drew, reminds me that the Jesus Seminar archives are housed in the Drew Library. Some of the key founding fellows of the Jesus Seminar served on faculty at Drew over the years. Drew was/is a key player in the Jesus Seminar.
I talk about them a lot because both of my New Testament profs in seminary, Dennis Smith and Brandon Scott, were founding fellows of the Jesus Seminar. I learned a lot about their work and methodologies.
Jesus Seminar was established to study the acts and words of the Historical Jesus, Jesus of Nazareth, the man who physically walked the Earth in ancient Palestine. They are not concerned with the Christ of faith. Just the facts.
What did he say?
What did he do?
Which of the “red letter” words in the Bible really belong to Jesus?
Which are redactions and story-telling of the Gospel writers?
It’s fascinating stuff!
Just the very idea that Jesus may or may not have said everything that the Gospel writers attribute to him. Start there, and that’s enough to make your brain hurt by itself! Never mind digging into what may or may not be “authentic.”
I find it invigorating!
But what causes me to think about it today is this:
If you want to live out the parable of the sower, come to the Madison Community Garden after school tomorrow, Thursday, May 10. Plant some real seeds in some good soil—let’s feed the hungry! All produce goes to the Interfaith Food Pantry.
And feel free to toss some seeds on the rocks, or on the path, or even up in the thorns—
Let’s see what happens…
Let anyone with ears listen!
Grace & Peace,