036 Commentary

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This page forms part of the resources for 036 Lamp and Bushel in the Jesus Database project of FaithFutures Foundation

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John Dominic Crossan

Crossan [Historical Jesus] (349) draws on this cluster for his discussion of "The Message of an Open Secret."

Other complexes used for this purpose include

Two that focus on the openness of the message:

Four that share the same theme but may involve a move in emphasis from Jesus himself to the disciples as "healed healers:"

Five others judged less likely to derive from Jesus himself:

Crosssan comments:

[The] appeal to common nature rather than special Scripture goes back to Jesus, ... the missionaries have a message that is neither private nor clandestine, neither hidden nor occult, neither secret nor mysterious. (p. 349)

The commentary in [The Five Gospels] (57) notes the variations in context and interpretation of the underlying motif of the light that cannot be hidden: the disciples as the community of the Beatitudes in Matthew, as people who have been given sight in Mark and Luke, and as recipients of revelation in Thomas.

Jesus Seminar

In spite of the variations in content and context, the Fellows of the Seminar designated the saying pink in all five of its forms. The reasons for this judgment are:

  1. it is Jesus' style to speak in figures that cannot be taken literally;
  2. the application of the saying is left ambiguous;
  3. the saying is well attested;
  4. the saying is short and memorable.

Gerd Lüdemann

Lüdemann [Jesus] (30) suggests that the saying is really an extended simile with parallels in Jewish literature. Despite that, he concludes:

These words might very well go back to Jesus. He clearly thought that the seed had to be scattered everywhere and that the light had to shine everywhere. This stands in opposition to the Markan interpretation of 4.11-12. The nearness of the kingdom of God announced by Jesus is to be scattered everywhere, its light will shine everywhere -- this is the meaning which Jesus probably attached to the saying.

John P. Meier

Meier does not comment on this saying in the first 3 volumes of [A Marginal Jew]