Some Thoughts on the Parable of the House on the Rock, 1 — J.P. Garcia

These were garnered several years ago from a small Synoptic meeting held in Suffern, NY at the home of Dr. Notley

The Parable of the House on the Rock (Matt 7:24-27; Lk 6:47-49)

During the course of our Synoptics session it was clear that  Matthew’s version was far more terse and quick-moving than the Lukan parallel. Luke’s parable is fleshed out version that bears the signals of later development from what may appear in Matthew.

Matthean Parable:

(note: the GK is Nestle-Aland 27th ed.)

“Everyone who hears these words of mine and does them is like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the flood came, and the winds beat against that house, but it did not collapse because it had been founded on rock. Everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the flood came, and the winds beat against that house, and it collapsed; it was utterly destroyed!”

Πᾶς οὖν ὅστις ἀκούει μου τοὺς λόγους τούτους καὶ ποιεῖ αὐτούς, ὁμοιωθήσεται ἀνδρὶ φρονίμῳ, ὅστις ᾠκοδόμησεν αὐτοῦ τὴν οἰκίαν ἐπὶ τὴν πέτραν· καὶ κατέβη ἡ βροχὴ καὶ ἦλθον οἱ ποταμοὶ καὶ ἔπνευσαν οἱ ἄνεμοι καὶ προσέπεσαν τῇ οἰκίᾳ ἐκείνῃ, καὶ οὐκ ἔπεσεν, τεθεμελίωτο γὰρ ἐπὶ τὴν πέτραν. καὶ πᾶς ὁ ἀκούων μου τοὺς λόγους τούτους καὶ μὴ ποιῶν αὐτοὺς ὁμοιωθήσεται ἀνδρὶ μωρῷ, ὅστις ᾠκοδόμησεν αὐτοῦ τὴν οἰκίαν ἐπὶ τὴν ἄμμον·καὶ κατέβη ἡ βροχὴ καὶ ἦλθον οἱ ποταμοὶ καὶ ἔπνευσαν οἱ ἄνεμοι καὶ προσέκοψαν τῇ οἰκίᾳ ἐκείνῃ, καὶ ἔπεσεν καὶ ἦν ἡ πτῶσις αὐτῆς μεγάλη.

Some notes on Matthew which have a Hebraic feel:

  • The use of kai seems to parallel the use of ve used in Hebrew narrative throughout the Hebrew Bible. (I am not sure if the same occurs in Aramaic which is the presumed Semitic language of the gospels). Notice the orange formatting.
  • The subject/verse position in Matthew’s text mimics that of a Hebrew text, that is, main verb followed by the verb’s subject on several occasions. Notice the blue lettering

Lukan Parallel:

“Everyone who comes to me and listens to my words and puts them into practice; I will show you what he is like: He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep, and laid the foundation on bedrock. When a flood came, the river burst against that house but could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the person who hears and does not put my words into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the river burst against that house, it collapsed immediately, and was utterly destroyed!”

Πᾶς ὁ ἐρχόμενος πρός με καὶ ἀκούων μου τῶν λόγων καὶ ποιῶν αὐτούς, ὑποδείξω ὑμῖν τίνι ἐστὶν ὅμοιος·ὅμοιός ἐστιν ἀνθρώπῳ οἰκοδομοῦντι οἰκίαν ὃς ἔσκαψεν καὶ ἐβάθυνεν καὶ ἔθηκεν θεμέλιον ἐπὶ τὴν πέτραν· πλημμύρης δὲ γενομένης προσέρηξεν ὁ ποταμὸς τῇ οἰκίᾳ ἐκείνῃ, καὶ οὐκ ἴσχυσεν σαλεῦσαι αὐτὴν διὰ τὸ καλῶς οἰκοδομῆσθαι αὐτήν. ὁ δὲ ἀκούσας καὶ μὴ ποιήσας ὅμοιός ἐστιν ἀνθρώπῳ οἰκοδομήσαντι οἰκίαν ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν χωρὶς θεμελίου, ᾗ προσέρηξεν ὁ ποταμός, καὶ εὐθὺς συνέπεσεν καὶ ἐγένετο τὸ ῥῆγμα τῆς οἰκίας ἐκείνης μέγα.

One will notice that in the beginning of Jesus’ parable he expresses one who will ‘hear’ and ‘do’ his words. Of the instances where shema and oseh, none is more interesting than Ex 24:7: “All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will hear!” At first sight the exclamation seems to be reversed. How can one do before they hear? The same question sparked the debate regarding which was more important, doing or hearing. One will quickly notice that while the LXX and Targum Neofiti keeps the order the MT, Targum Onkelos and Pseudo-Yonatan changes ‘hearing’ to ‘receiving.’ This reversal seemed to spark some conversation in antiquity as to which was more important ‘hearing,’ what becomes studying the Torah,’ or ‘doing’. Jesus’ parable and the subsequent parable development seem to touch on this debate. This parable, in particular, deals with the importance of doing, or being a person of action (perhaps deeds of righteousness and charity), versus simply hearing.

On the next post, I will mention what seems to be the parable development  evident in Matthew, the Mishnah, and Avot de Rabbi-Natan.

 

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