Next, we come to a chapter full of parables. Which I was expecting to like, because I’m quite fond of stories these days; but these parables, not so much. Instead, they’re just different variants of “here are the good guys, here are the bad guys”, and while I find that less distasteful in parable form than in other forms, it’s not my favorite topic, and it’s rather repetitive even within this chapter alone.
Still, there’s something pleasantly meta about running across the parable of the sower (Matthew 13:3-9) when I myself am listening but, I have to assume, “seeing see not; and hearing [I] hear not, neither do [I] understand” (from Matthew 13:13). Also, at the end of this chapter, we see yet another take on family and group, this time leading to “A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house” (from Matthew 13:57), putting a rather poignant spin on his words on the subject in previous chapters.
Matthew 14 starts out with the beheading of John the Baptist; only a handful of verses (Matthew 14:1-12), but such is the power of the Bible that they’ve been expanded into at least one opera, and countless other works. And then some good old fashioned miracles: the loaves and the fishes (Matthew 14:15-21), and walking on water (Matthew 14:24-33). Both of which I enjoy, though I don’t think I have anything to say about them in terms of the focus of this exercise.
And, with that, we’re halfway through the 28 chapters of this book. It wouldn’t surprise me if I have less to say about the second half of the book than the first half: my guess is that we’ll be shifting into a mode with more narrative and fewer moral pronouncements. I could be wrong, though (it’s been a while since I’ve read the Bible!), and it will doubtless also be the case that the narrative itself leads to some interesting moral questions. (Indeed, perhaps when mentioning John the Baptist’s beheading, I should have delved more into Herod’s feelings in Matthew 14:9 that “And the king was sorry: nevertheless for the oath’s sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given her.”) My thanks to those of you who are still with me; for those of you who are getting tired, my apologies, and rest assured that I certainly don’t expect to spend nearly as much time on the other three books.
This post has not been revised since publication.