2. Mark 4.26-29

GTh 21.4

26 The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, 27 and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. 28 The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. 29 But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.

May there be a man of understanding among you.

When the arain has ripened, he came quicklv with his sickle in his hand (and) reaped it.

377. See also Perrin, Rediscovering!55-59; Wright also gives particular attention to the parables of growth (Jesus 229-42).

378. On the details see Hultgren, Parables 406-407.

379. GTh 8.2; 21.5; 63.2; 65.2; 96.2 (also 24.2); cf. Mark 4.9 pars.; 4.23; Matt. 11.15; 13.43b; Luke 14.35b (also Rev. 13.9a).

377. See also Perrin, Rediscovering!55-59; Wright also gives particular attention to the parables of growth (Jesus 229-42).

378. On the details see Hultgren, Parables 406-407.

379. GTh 8.2; 21.5; 63.2; 65.2; 96.2 (also 24.2); cf. Mark 4.9 pars.; 4.23; Matt. 11.15; 13.43b; Luke 14.35b (also Rev. 13.9a).

3. Matt. 13.24-30

GTh 57

24 The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; 25 but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went

The kingdom of the Father is like a man who had (good)seed.

His enemy came by night (and) sowed a weed among the good seed.

away. 26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. 27 And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, 'Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?' 28 He answered, 'An enemy has done this'. The slaves said to him, 'Then do you want us to go and gather them?' 29 But he replied, 'No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. 30 Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn'.

The man did not allow them to pull up the weed. He said to them, 'Lest you go to pull up the weed, and you pull up the wheat along with it'.

For on the day of the harvest the weed will appear; they will be pulled up and burned.

4. Matt. 13.31-32

Mark 4.30-32

Luke 13.18-19

GTh 20

He put before them another parable: 'The kingdom of heaven

30 He also said, 'With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or

18 He said therefore, 'What is the kingdom of God

The disciple(s) said to Jesus, 'Tell us what the kingdom of heaven is

is like a mustard

what parable will we use for it?

It is like a mustard

like? And to what should I compare it? 19 It is like a mustard

like'. He said to them, 'It is like a grain of

seed that someone took and sowed in his field; 32 it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air

seed. which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; 32 yet when it is sown it comes up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can

seed that someone took and sowed in his garden;

it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air

mustard seed.

smaller than all seeds. But when it falls on the earth which has been cultivated, it puts forth a great branch (and) becomes a shelter for (the) birds of heaven'.

come and make nests in

make nests in its

made nests in its

its branches'.



All three have been touched on already.380 The point here is simply that such parables liken the kingdom to a process of growth or development, but also of climax. Dodd justifiably protested against the assumption that what is envisaged is a period of indeterminate (hidden) growth only now beginning to take place,381

380. (2) and (3) underjudgment (§12.4e), and (4) under the theme of eschatological reversal (§ 12.4c) as an equally or more appropriate heading. That (2) goes back to Jesus in some form is agreed by the Jesus Seminar (Funk, Five Gospels 58-59) and Lüdemann, Jesus 31.

The older Liberal view, stressing the gradualness of the growth and so also the time intervening before the harvest (see, e.g., those listed by Ladd, Jesus and the Kingdom 185 n. 42), remains attractive to Gnilka, Jesus 139-44, Becker, Jesus 73, 122-24, and Theissen and Merz, Historical Jesus 261. Contrast Kümmel: 'it is not the growth of the crop, but the certain and argued instead that the parables look back from the end of the process of growth, from the time of harvest.382 In view of Matt. 9.37-38/Luke 10.2/GTh73 the point cannot be ignored:383 Jesus was recalled describing the harvest as here already, ready to be reaped; God's rule had already come to its expected fruition. On the other hand, both Matthew and Luke, in the mission instructions which follow, include the commission to preach, 'The kingdom of heaven/God has drawn near' (Matt. 10.7/Luke 10.9). So the point should not be pressed.384 We should rather hesitate before setting these parables firmly into one or other of the alternative time-frames reviewed above.385 They belong to the scatter of images on which Jesus probably drew in his preaching of God's kingdom, and he may have been a good deal less concerned about questions of timing than are modern questers. The parables of growth are worth noting at this point precisely because they express the tension and diversity within the Jesus tradition's talk of the kingdom's

In sum, it should now be clear that the Jesus tradition contains a second strong strand in the kingdom motif which emphasizes that in some sense the kingdom has come, is already present. As with the other (future) strand, the term 'kingdom' itself does not always feature. And again there are plenty of indications of the tradition being retold in a variety of performance variants. But the strand is held together by a common sense of fulfilment, of a new thing happening of supreme importance, of the blessings expected for the age to come already being experienced, of a complete change of tone from the Baptist's message, of arrival of the harvest which nothing can influence, that is the point of the parable [Mark 4.2629]' {Promise 128). The harvest would come 'only through the miracle worked by God: automate he ge karpophorei' (Hengel, Charismatic Leader 60), 'independent of every human act' (Bultmann, Theology 1.8), 'unfathomably, miraculously, without visible cause' (Schrage, Ethics 21).

382. Dodd, Parables 176-80, 185-86, 191, 193; Taylor, Mark 266, 268-69 (but recognizing that the idea of growth is integral to the parables in view).

383. Matt. 9.37-38/Luke 10.2 was the decisive factor for Dodd (Parables 178-79, 183, 187, 191).

384. Cf. R. Schnackenburg, God's Rule and Kingdom (Freiburg: Herder, 1963) 159. Hultgren represents the majority view in seeing the presentness of the kingdom mirrored more in the implication of patient waiting, of little beginnings, of a hidden but irresistible force (Parables 389, 398, 407).

385. As Perrin observes, 'The emphasis is upon God, upon what he is doing and what he will do, and the parable, like all the parables of this group, is an expression of the supreme confidence of Jesus in God and God's future. . . . Out of the experience of God in the present learn to have confidence in God's future' (Rediscovering 158-59). Oakman (Jesus 123-28) and Crossan (Historical Jesus 276-81) focus more on the ironic (or shocking) humour of using weeds (and leaven) to image the kingdom.

386. Cf. Beasley-Murray, Jesus and the Kingdom 124-25, 126-27.

Satan's power decisively (finally?) broken. It is difficult to think of a note of such persistence and variety having ever been absent from the memories of Jesus' preaching and teaching. On the contrary, this note of kingdom already come, of God's (eschatological) rule already active in the present, must have been characteristic of the Jesus tradition from the first. And that can only be because it was characteristic of Jesus' preaching and teaching.

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