Matthew 7:6

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Deckard
 
Reply Tue 15 Dec, 2009 08:46 am
Matthew 7:6

Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.
KJV

This is one of those verses that I struggled with for a while but I am now coming to understand. In the past I have not been a fan of secrecy and reticence. I thought it better for everything to be out in the open. But recently I have come to understand how necessary it is even in matters relatively mundane.

The verse does suggest a sort of esoteric undertone to Christianity which is also intriguing. Perhaps some secret oral tradition existed which is now lost or perhaps it is still being passed along from master to student.

Another interesting verse in the same vein.
Matthew 10:16

Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
KJV

Does anyone have any insights on the reticent, silent and esoteric side of Christianity? Does it still exist today in the modern churches? Do we really know what Christians are up to? These maxims are likely much older than Christianity. Any insights on the maxims considered apart from Christianity?

What type of person is a dog? What type of person is a pig?
 
jgweed
 
Reply Tue 15 Dec, 2009 08:58 am
@Deckard,
One must remember that early Christians were a prosecuted minority, and often had to watch their words and actions very closely. One could also interpret these passages as a subtle attack on St. Paul's preaching to the Gentiles. The first hundred years or so after the death of Jesus may be compared to the history of communism in which various interpretations jockeyed for power in the successive Internationals.
 
prothero
 
Reply Tue 15 Dec, 2009 09:06 am
@Deckard,
Well among your choices are the Romans, the gentiles, and the jewish temple hierarchy. Lots of interpretations show Jesus himself as a Jewish reformer; not someone looking to found a new religion and not too interested in preaching to the non Jewish population. Taking the message to gentiles, pagans, and Romans was Paul's brilliant contribution.
Love not law, inner purity not external piety, spirtualism (distributive justice) not materialism.
 
Arjuna
 
Reply Tue 15 Dec, 2009 09:10 am
@Deckard,
I never thought of any meta-message in that verse, but now that you bring it up, no doubt the earliest Christians would have been secretive... they were afraid of being executed. In terms of a background for it: it would have been in keeping with their culture use encoding. By this time the prevailing Jewish perspective was that the Torah contained encoded messages from God. I think the Rabbis considered it an obligation to unravel the code.

A religion scholar might suggest that this was simply the result of their absorption of Iranian ideas leading to the need to ground those ideas in the Torah. But Judaism contains a mystical side which sees special significance in letters and numbers.

A lot of the words of Jesus are pretty cryptic... pointing to some special knowledge required to decode it.

I'm too lazy to find the reference, but Christians were known for secretiveness by the Romans. This would have been after Mattew was written, though. Hey, and I've always wondered: what happened between you and that robot?:rolleyes:
 
jgweed
 
Reply Tue 15 Dec, 2009 09:20 am
@Deckard,
Compounding the whole problem of interpretation is that Jesus did not write anything himself, so we have even his reputed words second-hand and thus subject to the hearer's memory and interpretation. Now while people were accustomed to listening and remembering what they had heard, the other side of the coin is that many of the hearers were hardly intellectually sophisticated---perhaps that is why much of Jesus's teachings were in parables.
 
Deckard
 
Reply Tue 15 Dec, 2009 09:32 am
@jgweed,
jgweed;111506 wrote:
One must remember that early Christians were a prosecuted minority, and often had to watch their words and actions very closely. One could also interpret these passages as a subtle attack on St. Paul's preaching to the Gentiles. The first hundred years or so after the death of Jesus may be compared to the history of communism in which various interpretations jockeyed for power in the successive Internationals.


I never thought of Paul and the gentile-phobic thing. Thanks.

Does the maxim have value when taken out of the Christian and historical context? I suppose common sense says that it does.

On the one hand it can be a tactical maxim of an oppressed group or an elite jockeying for power or an oppressed elite for that matter.

On the other hand, it can also be a pedagogical maxim. There are different levels of understanding. There are different types of students. Not all of which are ready to know a particular piece of knowledge and perhaps some of them never will. Granted, calling a student a dog or a pig is a bit derogatory.

Back in the Christian context this pedagogical reading might mean that though everyone can be saved not everyone should be taught what salvation actually means. It could also mean that some can never be saved.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Tue 15 Dec, 2009 10:57 am
@jgweed,
jgweed;111512 wrote:
Compounding the whole problem of interpretation is that Jesus did not write anything himself, so we have even his reputed words second-hand and thus subject to the hearer's memory and interpretation.
Not even secondhand, because the authors of the gospels did not personally know him either. By the time the gospels were written, 50-100 years after the death of Jesus, his words had already become traditions.
 
Arjuna
 
Reply Tue 15 Dec, 2009 11:23 am
@Aedes,
Q document - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Yea... one of the more obscure ones is how the Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed.

The obvious meaning of that passage is that pigs don't appreciate pearls. Pigs aren't ever going to understand the value of a pearl. So it's not that we want to keep something from the pig. I think a person in the position of teacher wants to help anyone who really wants to learn. Somebody who's really trying to understand isn't a pig.

On the other hand, people have given me bits of wisdom I wasn't prepared to understand at the time... but I figured it out later, and I appreciated that they bothered with me... they gave me a pearl.
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Tue 15 Dec, 2009 11:40 am
@Aedes,
Aedes;111528 wrote:
Not even secondhand, because the authors of the gospels did not personally know him either. By the time the gospels were written, 50-100 years after the death of Jesus, his words had already become traditions.


Uh... I'm sure you must know there was divine intervention involved. God told the disciples what to write. So, technically, the bible is written secondhand by the disciples (quoting God).

And some people believe this means that it was written firsthand by God. So, let's just say it was.
 
Deckard
 
Reply Tue 15 Dec, 2009 11:48 am
@Arjuna,
Arjuna;111532 wrote:


On the other hand, people have given me bits of wisdom I wasn't prepared to understand at the time... but I figured it out later, and I appreciated that they bothered with me... they gave me a pearl.


That's a good point. A pearl can sometimes be more like a seed. That pretty much mutilates the metaphor but I do take your point. And I've also received pearls that I only realized much later.

I've occasionally been aware of teaching something that would only be understood later. Especially with younger children. They don't fully understand what is being said but you know they will remember the words and if all goes well they will eventually put it all together. But you can never be sure. So much of knowledge and wisdom is like that.

How can the teacher know that the student will not someday realize the pearl is a pearl? It seems impossible. So how can a teacher know that a pig is a pig?!

Let me assert that some knowledge can be received before the student is ready and some must wait until the student is ready. The verse refers to knowledge of the second sort.

Furthermore, I'm going to interpret the verse as being a case by case and moment by moment maxim. Existence precedes essence for human beings. At any moment the dog could turn into a man and at that point they will be ready to receive teaching.
 
salima
 
Reply Tue 15 Dec, 2009 07:27 pm
@Deckard,
Deckard;111502 wrote:
Matthew 7:6

Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.
KJV

This is one of those verses that I struggled with for a while but I am now coming to understand. In the past I have not been a fan of secrecy and reticence. I thought it better for everything to be out in the open. But recently I have come to understand how necessary it is even in matters relatively mundane.

The verse does suggest a sort of esoteric undertone to Christianity which is also intriguing. Perhaps some secret oral tradition existed which is now lost or perhaps it is still being passed along from master to student.

Another interesting verse in the same vein.
Matthew 10:16

Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
KJV

Does anyone have any insights on the reticent, silent and esoteric side of Christianity? Does it still exist today in the modern churches? Do we really know what Christians are up to? These maxims are likely much older than Christianity. Any insights on the maxims considered apart from Christianity?

What type of person is a dog? What type of person is a pig?


i think arjuna interpreted the verse best. the reference to pigs and dogs is not to be taken literally, but to bring home the point that if you did have pearls, or any thing of value either physically and spiritually, it would be senseless to give them to someone who would place no value on them, as senseless as giving them to animals. it is not to minimize or demonize or even categorize other people one feels is inferior and unable to understand or blockheaded and unwilling to listen...it is more the idea of discriminating between who to give what of yourself-and it is a rather unsettling reminder that love does not always bring peace or harmony-we can try and exude only love to all other human beings, but if they have guns in their hands or knives in their pockets, we need be a little wary. everyone is equal at the level of spirit, but in this human condition it is too easy to commit some unholy acts.i think that also covers the second verse...

as far as mystical thought in christianity, mysticism exists in a person so it doesnt matter what religion they belong to or use as parameters to express themnself, mysticism is not dead-it is everywhere! but it still must necessarily be kept secret. persecution is still as rampant as ever...
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Wed 16 Dec, 2009 03:33 am
@Deckard,
Deckard;111502 wrote:
Matthew 7:6
Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.


My take - don't try and teach those who aren't ready. Because (for example) the next thing you know, they will be running Self-Knowledge Seminars in expensive hotels (The Secret!) for large amounts of money, meanwhile using their acquired charisma to seduce the wives of their students.

Deckard;111502 wrote:
The verse does suggest a sort of esoteric undertone to Christianity which is also intriguing. Perhaps some secret oral tradition existed which is now lost or perhaps it is still being passed along from master to student.


There were indeed esoteric schools in early Christianity. There are of course many interpretations of the Gospel and in some ways many different Jesus-es. There is a tension between 'you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free' and 'believe, and be saved'. Elaine Pagel's book Beyond Belief looks at the power struggles in the early church between the 'pistic' (faith-based, Johannine) and gnostic (knowledge-based, Thomistic) movements. The sign of the fish belongs to the pistic sects. Many of the gnostic sects were hardly known until the discovery of the Nag Hammadi scrolls. Their discovery has thrown a completely new light on early christianity (much to the discomfort of many in the regular churches).

Deckard;111502 wrote:
Another interesting verse in the same vein.
Matthew 10:16

Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.

KJV

Very reminiscent of the Mahayana Buddhist discipline of 'teaching via skillful or expedient means (upaya). This is the skill of communicating The Teaching to those in various stages of development, according to their particular outlook, predispositions, etc. Here the disciples are 'sheep' - unarmed, peaceful, amongst many who might wish them ill - be wise as serpents - watchful, almost cunning - but harmless as doves - fairly self evident. But I think this is preparation for their teaching mission.[/QUOTE]

Deckard;111502 wrote:
Does anyone have any insights on the reticent, silent and esoteric side of Christianity? Does it still exist today in the modern churches? Do we really know what Christians are up to? These maxims are likely much older than Christianity. Any insights on the maxims considered apart from Christianity?


Have a look at the books of Richard Smoley, Forbidden Faith and Inner Christianity (the first is better). Also check out The Gnosis Archive. And Elaine Pagels, as I mentioned. She is quite readable (but an academic heavyweight).
 
jgweed
 
Reply Wed 16 Dec, 2009 09:35 am
@Deckard,
Another thing to remember is that the audience to which Christianity preached were primarily rural; it would be natural to present ideas in terms a farmer would understand from his own daily experience. Even in large metropolitan centers, the urban populace was far from being completely divorced from agriculture, and would have understood rustic references.
 
Deckard
 
Reply Thu 17 Dec, 2009 12:31 pm
@jgweed,
Usually the question that comes to my mind when I think of this verse is not: "how and who the dogs and swine are" but rather: "what does it mean to have the pearl trampled?"

Does this mean that wisdom, knowledge, an idea, can be destroyed if you tell the wrong person?

Subjectively this seems possible. If an idea is met with scoffing and insults or simply ignored one may lose confidence in it. If this happens over and over again one may start believing the idea is foolish and discard it.

I suppose there is a time to stand up for what you believe and "speak truth to power" as the protesters say but there is also a time to remain silent and to "give power the silent treatment."

Anyone else have any ideas about the idea of knowledge being destroyed because it was shared with the wrong people?
 
Justin
 
Reply Thu 17 Dec, 2009 01:59 pm
@Deckard,
jgweed;111512 wrote:
Compounding the whole problem of interpretation is that Jesus did not write anything himself, so we have even his reputed words second-hand and thus subject to the hearer's memory and interpretation. Now while people were accustomed to listening and remembering what they had heard, the other side of the coin is that many of the hearers were hardly intellectually sophisticated---perhaps that is why much of Jesus's teachings were in parables.

Excellent point.

Aedes;111528 wrote:
Not even secondhand, because the authors of the gospels did not personally know him either. By the time the gospels were written, 50-100 years after the death of Jesus, his words had already become traditions.

Exactly. Apostle Paul, if in fact he was the author of some of these and not his trusty side-kick Luke, never met Jesus so much of these verses are hearsay and we don't truly know who the authors were.

Zetherin;111537 wrote:
Uh... I'm sure you must know there was divine intervention involved. God told the disciples what to write. So, technically, the bible is written secondhand by the disciples (quoting God).

And some people believe this means that it was written firsthand by God. So, let's just say it was.

God is telling me what to write at this moment in time. So technically, the gospel verses were written off of hearsay decades after the death of Christ. Did they quote God or did they find some good hallucinogenic drugs? Lots of questions that are very valuable in determining the meaning of many of these writings.

We know one thing, humans wrote the bible during another time. Humans that wrote these words in the scriptures didn't even scratch the surface as to what we know and understand today. We've evolved but the bible hasn't so I think it's important not to take many of these writings as universal law because they are left to interpretation and each interpretation differs.

I'm not a big bible thumper though so keep that in mind. The reason I'm not is because the 'New Law' of the Gospels does away with the 'Old Law' and the old ways of a Jealous God. So in with the 'politically correct'- and empowering Gospels and out with 'Old Laws' of that supposed God of the old.

So the original post is a verse. It's one man's interpretation of what another man thought he heard Jesus say... And Jesus, there is no real proof of anyway so it could very well all be political jargon carefully worded to seem like it was some divine intervention.

---------- Post added 12-17-2009 at 03:03 PM ----------

Deckard;112154 wrote:
Does this mean that wisdom, knowledge, an idea, can be destroyed if you tell the wrong person?

If so, wouldn't that be a fear based assumption? If so, was that what the Christ was instilling when he supposedly spoke these words? Fear has no place in omniscience, omnipresence and omnipotence so it just doesn't fit, at least for me.
 
Deckard
 
Reply Thu 17 Dec, 2009 08:21 pm
@Justin,
Justin;112174 wrote:

If so, wouldn't that be a fear based assumption? If so, was that what the Christ was instilling when he supposedly spoke these words? Fear has no place in omniscience, omnipresence and omnipotence so it just doesn't fit, at least for me.


I suppose fear can be a pedagogical tool. Not a very good one in my opinion. It's kind of a scary verse. There's lots of fear based rhetoric in the bible. And I am aware that I am being a bit superstitious.

When reading the bible I like to think of it as an authoritative text. I like to pretend that it must be true and then try to figure out what it meant. This starts as pretend for me but sometimes it yields interesting results. Suspension of disbelief. Of course this is the sort of thing that medieval philosophers had to do as well.

Ones understanding of an idea does change when it is opened up for others to comment on. What's to say the idea can't be destroyed?

The post-enlightenment scientific paradigm believes that anyone who doesn't open up their ideas to peer review is a quack or hiding some results that disprove the theory. Everything out in the open. Yet science has its own biases and exposing an idea for peer review will be at the mercy of these biases. This same ethic bleeds over into the general public as well and the general public has even more biases than the supposedly objective scientific community.

Also, secrets are knowledge of a special type. A secret's value, its power, lies in the fact that not everyone knows it. If anyone is allowed access to it, its power is lost. Is the pearl knowledge or is the pearl the power associated with that knowledge?
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Thu 17 Dec, 2009 10:20 pm
@Deckard,
Deckard;112268 wrote:
I suppose fear can be a pedagogical tool. Not a very good one in my opinion. It's kind of a scary verse. There's lots of fear based rhetoric in the bible. And I am aware that I am being a bit superstitious.


It is also possible that being a modern, you are more self aware, and aware of the use of fear as a rhetorical device, rather than just being fearful.

Deckard;112268 wrote:
When reading the bible I like to think of it as an authoritative text. I like to pretend that it must be true and then try to figure out what it meant. This starts as pretend for me but sometimes it yields interesting results. Suspension of disbelief. Of course this is the sort of thing that medieval philosophers had to do as well.


There was no requirement for medieval philosophers to 'suspend disbelief'. They simply believed it. It was scarcely concievable not to, in their world.

Deckard;112268 wrote:
Ones understanding of an idea does change when it is opened up for others to comment on. What's to say the idea can't be destroyed?

The post-enlightenment scientific paradigm believes that anyone who doesn't open up their ideas to peer review is a quack or hiding some results that disprove the theory. Everything out in the open. Yet science has its own biases and exposing an idea for peer review will be at the mercy of these biases. This same ethic bleeds over into the general public as well and the general public has even more biases than the supposedly objective scientific community.


Peer review is perfectly appropriate in the case of impersonal knowledge of a scientific matter. How is it appropriate to the individual's relationship with God? (leaving aside the question of whether you or I believe in God).

Deckard;112268 wrote:
Also, secrets are knowledge of a special type. A secret's value, its power, lies in the fact that not everyone knows it. If anyone is allowed access to it, its power is lost. Is the pearl knowledge or is the pearl the power associated with that knowledge?


Do you think there is any kind of knowledge which is specifically 'religious' in nature. Not, knowledge of the scriptures, or knowledge of biblical languages but actual knowledge, insight or wisdom which the religious have?
 
Deckard
 
Reply Fri 18 Dec, 2009 04:45 am
@jeeprs,
Here's something relevant Aquinas (1225-1274) on fear as a pedagogical device:
Quote:

I answer that, A man of counsel may be taken in two ways. First, from his being willing or anxious to take counsel. And thus fear makes men of counsel. Because, as the Philosopher says (Ethic. iii, 3), "we take counsel on great matters, because therein we distrust ourselves." Now things which make us afraid, are not simply evil, but have a certain magnitude, both because they seem difficult to repel, and because they are apprehended as near to us, as stated above (Question [42], Article [2]). Wherefore men seek for counsel especially when they are afraid.
Secondly, a man of counsel means one who is apt for giving good counsel: and in this sense, neither fear nor any passion makes men of counsel. Because when a man is affected by a passion, things seem to him greater or smaller than they really are: thus to a lover, what he loves seems better; to him that fears, what he fears seems more dreadful. Consequently owing to the want of right judgment, every passion, considered in itself, hinders the faculty of giving good counsel.
[QUOTE=jeeprs;112278]
There was no requirement for medieval philosophers to 'suspend disbelief'. They simply believed it. It was scarcely concievable not to, in their world. [/quote]
Here I think you exaggerate. For example, the fourfold interpretation of scripture is at least as old as Clement of Alexandria (150-215 CE). Literal, allegorical, tropological, anagogical. Point being, they weren't just blindly believing as some of our fundamentalists do today. They were trying to understand and thought it was clear that there were multiple levels of interpretation.
[QUOTE=jeeprs;112278]
Peer review is perfectly appropriate in the case of impersonal knowledge of a scientific matter. How is it appropriate to the individual's relationship with God? (leaving aside the question of whether you or I believe in God). [/quote]
Nice point. I think you're getting to the matter of it there. I am talking about knowledge that is less than impersonal. But then we have psychology, sociology and others that encroach upon this personal information. And of course these sciences have theories on religious belief including the experience of the sacred and the "individual's relationship with God" really means. But then religion itself is just as guilty of encroaching on this realm of personal knowledge.

[QUOTE=jeeprs;112278]
Do you think there is any kind of knowledge which is specifically 'religious' in nature. Not, knowledge of the scriptures, or knowledge of biblical languages but actual knowledge, insight or wisdom which the religious have?[/quote]
Anyone with a particular perspective is bound to acquire some knowledge that is specific to that perspective. The religious person makes some things axiomatic through a confession of faith. These creeds are less open to interpretation than other things. The skeptic will spend his/her time refuting and mulling over these axioms and assertions and probably never believing any of them. The religious person thus has a great advantage or a great disadvantage. If the principles of the creed are true then the religious person will be able to proceed further into the matter and get a more in depth understanding. If those axioms and assertions are completely false then the religious person is headed down one of the many dead ends in the maze of truth.
 
KaseiJin
 
Reply Sat 19 Dec, 2009 11:27 pm
@Deckard,
Deckard;111502 wrote:
Matthew 7:6

Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.
KJV
What type of person is a dog? What type of person is a pig?



As you have pointed to in the OP, Decard, the base of such proverbial usage is older than the Christian movement of the first century CE, and in this case, is thinkably more especially from Semitic-based languages (specifically the Hebrew/Chaldean branches).

One very large distraction which can often be found, is the fact of removal by time and culture from the scene of active linguistic usages involved in Jewish based works within the Greco-Roman literature scene of the period. The result is often enough, reading more into what is determinable by critical analysis methodologies. In investigating this, we can find the following:

[indent]First of all, the passage found at our Matthew 7:6:[/indent]

The full-running contextual setting is that of Matthew 5:1~7:28. While this block can well be said to have been constructed using a number external pericopes, as a single text, we'll have to consider a passage which falls within an overall context, within the framework, attitude, and intended audience (both internally {the audience within the story itself} and externally the intended audience {the reader/listener}). We will find that there is parallel in Matthew 10:11~15, and this will have to bear some weight within the text itself (since we cannot determine that there had been any more than one author of the autograph...even if bits and portions of other works had been added into this work). In the more obviously so same setting (Sermon on the Mount) give us by Luke (Lk 6:20~7:1) we have no information to compare to, or use.

The work in question, According to Mathias, does have some historical matters which will bear on understanding, and reading, it as well. The prime factor being its very obvious Jewish system/culture based point-of-presentation, and literary style. The passage in question is a fairly common Hebrew introverted parallelism. Additionally, we can compare the likes of Proverbs 9:7, and 15:12, to the application, or intended communication. When looking at the Masoretic Text (MT), we will find that usages of the word 'dog' (kereb), applied in analogy to humans, give us the idea of 'men of impure mind; imprudent men.' In looking at the Greek term used (in plural form) at Matthew 7:6 (kyon), we will find that it is even used in Homer in such a sense, as well. We should also consider, for general usage, the likes of Phip 3:2; Rev 22:15 (cf Deut 23:18).

The much more evident conclusion of a careful analysis, is that this Hebrew-ism had been used by the author (and we must be careful to understand [as this post will by no means have scope to handle] that the words cannot be traced back to the historical person (Yeshua) or the particular, possible setting),(1) not in any secretive, esoteric manner, but simply in the typical Jewish-like, proverbial object lesson manner; viz. 'Don't waste your time with imprudent, bent-on-wrong-doing [ relative to the religious-belief system's tenets] people, when you teach the message.'

I'll touch on the next one, in an additional post.



1. I'll try to make it a point to go into this in more satisfactory detail in my thread for such textual matters. . . sometime down the road.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Sat 19 Dec, 2009 11:29 pm
@Deckard,
Deckard;112325 wrote:
. The religious person makes some things axiomatic through a confession of faith. These creeds are less open to interpretation than other things. The skeptic will spend his/her time refuting and mulling over these axioms and assertions and probably never believing any of them. The religious person thus has a great advantage or a great disadvantage. If the principles of the creed are true then the religious person will be able to proceed further into the matter and get a more in depth understanding. If those axioms and assertions are completely false then the religious person is headed down one of the many dead ends in the maze of truth.

Good point. Some knowledge is only made available by risk/choice. There's only so much time. An axiom is just such a risk. Just as doubt is.
 
 

 
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