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(1) 1Q: Luke 14:34-35a = Matt 5:13
(2) Mark 9:50a
(1) Luke 14:34-35a
Salt is good; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored?
It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile.
= Matt 5:13
You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored?
It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.
(2) Mark 9:50a
Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it?
John Dominic Crossan
Stratum: I (30-60 CE)
Common Sayings Tradition: No
Crossan [Historical Jesus, 262] includes this item in a group of complexes related to the ideal of open or egalitarian commensality: 19 What Goes In, 76 Speck and Log, 80 The Blind Guide, 84 On Hindering Others, 102 Inside and Outside, 113 Eating with Sinners, and 124 Honors and Salutations.
As advocated in parable and acted out in practice, [this ideal] involved very specific challenges from mesocosmic table to macrocosmic society. There is, first and above all, 19 What Goes In [1/4], a complex that negates any value to food taboos or table rituals. The same point is made in 102 Inside and Outside [1/2]. Together they insist that the inside and what comes from the inside out are more important than the outside and what comes from outside in. There is no need to presume that Jesus was speaking against the fully developed table rituals of the Pharisaic sect. An open table and an open menu offend alike against any cultural situation in which distinctions among food and guests mirror social distinctions, discriminations, and hierarchies. It would of course, offend the Pharisees, but it was not directed exclusively against them.
Color Luke 14:34-35a 61 Q, K 89Son 42 17 17 25 0.58 Pink Mark 9:50a 61 Q, K 89Son 33 33 8 25 0.58 Pink Matt 5:13 61 Q, K 89Son 33 8 42 17 0.53 Pink
Samuel T. Lachs
Lachs [Rabbinic Commentary on the New Testament, 82] notes the importance of salt in the rabbinic tradition:
You are the salt of the earth Undoubtedly this was a popular proverb; its language is a bit confused and its moral is not clear. It is addressed to the disciples, and in calling them "salt," Jesus is using a term with positive meaning. In Matt. vv. 14-16, Jesus calls them "light of the world" with similar implication. The disciples are called "salt" presumably because they, like salt itself, are considered essential for the well-being of the world. Cf. "The world cannot exist without salt." [M. Sof. 15.8] The disciples are not only essential to the world, but having been granted "authority" they cannot lose it. The phrase it is no longer good for aything, etc. should be udnerstood as, "were it to have lost its saltiness, it ewuld then be good for nothing." The implication as to the disciples is, saltness is your very quality, Heb. ta'am. raison d'etre, the essence of your discipleship. Allen suggests, "the idea underlying 'salt' here is probably its use as a preservatuve. The disciples are the element in the world which keeps it wholesome, and delays the day of decay and subsequent judgment."
Many have seen in this proverb an Aramaic original. Bischoff suggested that there is a wordplay here, tabla de'tebel, "salt of the world." The word "earth" means world. F. Perles reads it le letabla wela lezable khasher, "fit neither as spuce (table, confused with tebel, which is rendered in the Gr. by ge) nor as fertilizer (zabla). M. Black reconstructs the Aramaic in a more convincing fashion:
"Ye are the salt of the earth
('attun melah 'ar'a)
But if the salt has lots its savour wherewith shall it be salted.
('m taphel melah lema tabbelunnah)
It is neither fit for the ground, nor yet for dung ...
(la leara, 'aph la lere'a kashar)
The question "how shall it be restored" is purely rhetorical. Salt cannot lose its saltiness. All attempts to prove that it can are unconvincing. Understood rhetorically, it is admirably illustrated by a rabbinic passage in the same vein: "They asked [R. Joshua]: 'When salt became unsavory wherewith is it to be salted?' He replied, 'With the afterbirth of a mule!' 'And is there an afterbirth of a mule?' 'And can it become unsavory?' [B. Bekh. 8b]