[B-Greek] Matt 13:32a

Iver Larsen iver_larsen at sil.org
Tue Jul 31 09:52:57 EDT 2007


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Bert de Haan" <b_dehaan at sympatico.ca>


> One more question about this passage. Not a critical one for understanding
> the passage but I find it interesting just the same.
> "hO MIKROTERON MEN ESTIN PANTWN TWN SPERMATWN" means "which is smaller 
> than
> all the seeds" (Not: a bit on the small side) and "MEIZON TWN LAXANWN 
> ESTIN
> KAI GINETAI DENDRON" means "is greatest among the vegetables and becomes a
> tree."(Not: of great importance compared to the other vegetables....)
> Mustard seeds are a bit on the small side but not the smallest by anyones
> standard and I don't think any mustard plant grows tall enough to be 
> called
> a tree.
> Assumtions can get one in trouble but is it a reasonable assumption that
> SINAPI is not the same as our mustard?
> =================================

Yes, assumptions can easily get us in trouble. You seem to assume (like many 
others) that DENDRON refers to the kind of plant that in English goes by the 
name tree. Is a rhododendron a tree or a bush? L&N says for DENDRON: any 
kind of relatively large woody plant - 'tree, bush.' Other dictionaries I 
have checked miss the fact that the word can refer to a large bush as well 
as a tree. Most English translations are somewhat misleading as they use the 
word "tree" in this place.
NCV avoids the problem by saying: "... It becomes big enough for the wild 
birds to come and build nests in its branches."

In addition, the word "all" is relative within a particular "universe". It 
is not a botanical statement about all the seeds of the world, but a 
comparison to other seeds that they were used to handle, like barley and 
wheat and the seeds of grapes.
According to Fauna and Flora of the Bible (UBS) the mustard plant (Brassica 
nigra) can exceed the height of a man and the stem can be as thick as a 
man's arm.
The book also suggests that something very small was proverbially compared 
to "a mustard seed" (cf. Mt 17.20)

Iver Larsen 




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