Friday, May 8, 2009

A Parable About the Parable of the Mustard Seed

Jesus is said to have said that the mustard, the tiniest of seeds, grows into the largest of trees, where birds rest. The mustard seed is about one twentieth of an inch across, but seeds of many other plants are much tinier. The seeds of the prairie beebalm are about a thirtieth of an inch long and seeds of the prairie shooting star are about a fiftieth of an inch. Mustard is not a tree. It is not even woody. It is not even a perennial. The two forms of edible mustard are annuals and about three feet tall. The bur oak tree of the prairie grows to fifty feet on sandy hillsides with less rich soil and to ninety feet on prairies with thick deep loamy soil. As for the birds, small songbirds may stop briefly to pick at the mustard seeds but the plant is not the sort in which a bird is likely to stop to perch for a rest. In your spice drawer, the common celery seed and the poppy seed are considerably smaller than the mustard seed, and the nutmeg does indeed grow on a tree that grows to about 30 feet tall. But, sorry, mustard isn't the tiniest seed, it does not grow into the tallest tree, and birds do not rest there.
This little parable is repeated in Matthew, Mark and Luke. If that repetition proves Jesus really said it, well, Jesus was a terrible botanist. If the authors got it wrong, because one wrote it wrong and the others copied, one must wonder what else they got wrong. In the end, you might say that whether you have faith in a 'god' has little relation to the accuracy of the book that your belief system is based on. That might be true insofar as faith is concerned. But insofar as specific truths about our world are concerned, one has to wonder how much the book can be trusted.

If you are using your religion's book to be mean to other people, to discriminate against them because they believe in another religion, or to deny them rights because of something your book seems to say about them, you should realize you are on pretty shaky ground. Either your Jesus was wrong about every thing about the mustard plant and its seed, or the people who wrote about Jesus were wrong to say he said that wrong stuff. So the parts of that book that you use to allow you to be mean to people might be wrong too. If you use your religion to be mean to people, you are wrong. Jesus was a terrible botanist, or the authors of the bible were terrible biographers, terrible historians. The information contained in the mustard seed parable is simply not factual. Put another way, it is in error. Put another way, it cannot be taken literally. Did Jesus get it wrong or did his biographers get it wrong? Either way, if you are using things in that book to justify your meanness to other people today, what does that say about you?

11 comments:

Gene Redlin said...

Ah dear Karma, once again you show your ignorance of Flora and Fauna.  Mustard trees mentioned by Jesus indeed are large nest bearing trees with dust fine seed. 

The plant is Salvadora persica.  It is the most mentioned in the Koran.  Grows native in Israel. 

Here is a picture of the tree.Here is some detail from a scholastic source on the tree.

And

Here is some general information on the tree. 
So, those writers of the Bible were on the money.  When Jesus perhaps gestured toward the mustard tree it was a Salvadora he pointed to.  They all understood.  Most of the plants mentioned in the bible are unfamiliar to us in ur culture and environment.  I once decided to do a detailed study of all th plants mentioned in the bible and using historical evidence know a bit about all of them.  If you have questions, the doctor is in.

Sorry, you have to look just a little below the surface to get this.

goprairie said...

ah, dear gene, once again you show your ignorance of the truth. i think what you are doing here is called apologetics. making something up to account for a big ol' problem with the bible. so . . . you found a tree that has small seed that grew in biblical times. but the ISSUE here is that that tree is not MUSTARD. it is not even edible. it is used for making a NON-EDIBLE oil that is used for making soap and for other non-food oil purposes. the word mustard is pretty specific and appears in all 3 versions, eh? just because you find a plant that matches the vague description of having small seed yet is wrong in having the NAME your jesus used does not solve your problem. it is clear from other uses of the word mustard in these same books that it was a food plant. this is just one tiny thing of a huge list of details that render your bible impossible to be inerrant, literally true, or factual. accept it. stop using it for unethical treatment of people.

goprairie said...

so sure, you can trick me into doing some online searching of my own, especially about plants. the consensus out there seems to be that the plant you refer to was NOT called mustard in biblical times. and jesus refers to growing mustard as a crop, which is only consistent with brassica plants. so someone renamed this tree to try to make it fit the jesus story, but it still does not and never, sorry, will. so sad, too bad.

Gene Redlin said...

The Salvadora is in Brassica family and is commonly called the Mustard Tree.

Doesn't take much research to see that.

Yes the Mustard plant native to Israel (Brassica nigra) does get ten feet tall. Birds do nest in it. But, I'm convinced based on the commentary that it is not the brassica nigra. The continual mention in the Koran is the convincing I needed to steer me from the Brassica nigra to the Salvadora.

I have books that I have bought that illustrate. Some excerpts are on Google. A tiny bit of research would have set you right.

goprairie said...

"Genus: Salvadora
Family: Salvadoraceae"
Savadora persica is in its very own genus AND family. It is not even closely related to true brassica mustard at ALL. THAT is commonly available SCIENCE. We could go round and round about this forever. You can find countless sites to support your side. But a book written in the 1800's that decides this is THE mustard tree and assigns it that common name is NOT proof that it was called a mustard tree back then. it was not. it was not even cultivated. and jesus clearly makes other references to mustard seed that indicates he is talking about a cultivated plant. he talks of sowing the mustard seed in a field like the annual crop that the spice mustard is. everything you quote is made up to fit the bible story. made up to support the myth. i tire of this. you can have your myth but i reject it. and i just hope the lawmakers stop being influenced by it and set the laws right like a few states have.

goprairie said...

It is in the same ORDER as mustard. Also in the same order are naturtium family and papaya family. Maybe the tiny seed jesus was talking about was the PAPAYA seed. papaya is cultivated and grows to a truly large tree. that you resort to ORDER to claim sameness is botanically laughable. LOL. LMAF. ROTFL.
WTF!

Gene Redlin said...

I don't know whats the matter with you.  You are so wrong on all this yet you insist you are right.

Just once try saying, "You are right, I was wrong".  You are incapable of any admission of error.

This is a fatal personality flaw that does you no good at all.  I won't wear you out with references.  You are impossibly pigheaded and unteachable.

So, I'll stop.   You could read this Israeli website that supports my supposition.  You won't. 

Pitiful.

goprairie said...

your website is the isreali tourist bureau. of COURSE they want it to be the plant of the bible. you call that a scientific source?
i stand by the facts i have posted.

normally i would not publish a comment so full of personal insult, but it will show you for what you are.

Chuckles said...

My last comment was from Paducah so that may explain why you never got it. What I said was that everyone is missing out on the really important issue here - was it regular mustard, or was it Dijon?

goprairie said...

are you supporting the idea that obama is the messiah?

goprairie said...

One more note: Your tree, called the toothbrush tree until renamed in recent history to 'fit' the bible story, has a fairly large seed, about the size of the distantly related nasturtium, or about half again as large as the equally distantly related yellow and black mustards. So in the same comment where you call me ignorant, you claim it has 'dust fine seed'. You have successfully demonstrated the lengths that must be gone to in order to prop up these bible stories that are so obviously tainted with human error and inaccuracies. Hardly a good basis for denying other people rights, which you seem to have missed as my original point anyway. But I did let you go on about the tree, and now I would like to comment on the original intent of my post. Modern psychology and modern sociology regard homosexuality as normal, healthy, and in no way harmful to the homosexuals themselves and in no way harmful to society in general. Modern psychology and sociology regard homosexuality as normal and ethically acceptable. Anything you can find in your bible to the contrary is wrong. A committed homosexual couple should be allowed the conveniences and protections and privileges of a legal marriage. Your specific church can refuse to marry them as your freedom to privately observe your religion, just as you can refuse to marry wiccans, but they must be allowed legal marriage by all states (and by any religious entity that chooses to bless such a union as part of their freedom of religion). Religion should be kept out of law in this and all other areas. Out of schools, out of courthouses, out of law books, out of all state matters.