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Caitlin Kennell Kim
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Fr. Rick Malloy, SJ
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Neela Kale
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Ann Naffziger, M.A., M.Div.
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Our readers asked:

Why does Jesus use agricultural terms so often in his parables?

Ann Naffziger Answers:

Jesus lived in an agrarian society in which the majority of people would have had experiences living on farms or working with food crops and/or livestock. His audiences would have included shepherds, grape growers, wheat farmers, laborers in fruit orchards, and families raising livestock as just a few examples.

As the son of a carpenter in the Middle East 2,000 years ago, Jesus would have had exposure to the agrarian lifestyle even if he never worked on a farm himself. His family might very well have raised chickens and tended a vegetable plot, which would have taught him about the manner of a hen mothering her flock, or the surprise of weeds growing up among the crop that had been sown, or how some seeds fall on good earth while others never produce or produce poorly. So it is natural that Jesus would have used concrete examples from his daily life and the lives of those around him in his teaching parables.

If Jesus were teaching in America today, he might rather use parables invoking things from the world of technology, music, sports, and fashion.

 
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The Author : Ann Naffziger
Ann Naffziger is a scripture instructor and spiritual director in the San Francisco Bay area. She has has written articles on spirituality and theology for various national magazines and edited several books on the Hebrew Scriptures.
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Please note that the editorial staff reserves the right to not post comments it deems to be inappropriate and/or malicious in nature, as well as edit comments for length, clarity and fairness.
  • cowboybob

    good answer. Paul was a city person and had a different approach.

  • Title

    Re: Earthquakes…try reading that pssgaae in The Message. :) That’s the first time it ever actually made sense to me, because obviously if you look back throughout history there have always been tons of wars and natural disasters. I don’t think Jesus meant to be quoted as hinting that when earthquakes and hurricanes increase, the end is near. Re: The pssgaae referring to one person being taken and one being left…RIGHT before this, there’s a description of what supposedly happened in the flood. One was taken, one was left. But it was the wicked who were literally taken away, and the righteous who were left on the Earth.Re: The pre-trib rapture…The rapture at all was only introduced into doctrine in the last couple of centuries, and it’s certainly not universally accepted, regardless of those who speak as though it is. When I threw away the hearsay about the rapture and the end times, which for the most part appear to spring straight from people’s imaginations, and started rereading these pssgaaes from a less biased perspective, I came to the conclusion that this is one of the biggest lies being propagated in Christianity today. I don’t believe the doctrines of the rapture/end of the world can be found in the text at all.

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