Bible Workbench Extra: Exploring the “fig”

Supplemental link for Lent 3, March 7, 2010

Use this Google Books link to explore the use of the word “fig” and commentary about it in The Jewish Study Bible: Jewish Publication Society Tanakh translation by Adele Berlin, Marc Zvi Brettler, Michael A. Fishbane to see if it adds to your understanding of figs, the tree, Jesus and his parable in Luke 13:1-9.

– Caren Goldman


3 responses to “Bible Workbench Extra: Exploring the “fig”

  1. what is significance of the figtree in Luke 13:1-9 (common lectionary C Year)

    • The story begins with “he told them this parable.” A parable is not an allegory, in which every detail refers to something else. Rather, a parable invites us to ponder precisely the question you ask, “what is the significance of the fig tree”? Work with the image, consider what comes to you. The questions in the Bible Workbench for this Sunday suggest some ways to do that: “What are some words and phrases that describe the man who has had someone plant a fig tree in his vineyard? What might he be thinking and feeling when he comes to find fruit and there is none?”

  2. As is the case in the other two stories, the fig tree is abnormally barren. Jesus does not hesitate to use obvious examples of bounty (the fig tree) to point out that, in this particular case, the tree is atypically unproductive. In this parable Jesus teaches that the unproductive tree should first be watered and fertilized before deciding whether or not to destroy it. It is also given a year to recover. If the tree fails to recover, then the gardener advises, “you may cut it down.”

    Among all the Gospel accounts and parables, this Lucan parable is one of the starkest examples in the New Testament that Christ expects a person of faith “to bear fruit.” On the other hand, the parable says that the tree expected to bear fruit should be cultivated. But, assuming it is cultivated and fails to bear fruit, its destiny is the ash heap.

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