Re: Syn. Apoc. (Parable of the Fig Tree)

From: Bruce Terry (
Date: Tue Sep 05 1995 - 15:22:26 EDT

On Tue, 5 Sep 1995, Carl W. Conrad wrote:

>Bruce, it has been my assumption hitherto in considering the Parable of the
>Fig Tree that (1) we have to look at Mark's version first, but, more
>importantly, (2) we have to look at this in association with the incident
>of the fig tree cursed by Jesus that withers overnight (Mk 11:12-14, 20-21,
>par.) As this incident as Mark relates it sandwiches in the "Cleansing of
>the Temple," the withering of the fig tree surely, it seems to me, is a
>portent of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. Moreover, if one
>interprets (as is my inclination) Mark's Apocalypse in chapter 13 to mean
>that the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple is part and parcel of the
>train of events associated with the apocalyptic end-time, it would seem
>that Jesus approaches the Temple seeking the "fruits of righteousness" in
>accordance with the Parable of the Wicked Husbandmen and, not finding them,
>pronounces doom upon Temple and City. Is this an outrageous interpretation?

I personally have no problem with looking at Mark's version first here; Matt.
24:32-36 and Mark 13:28-32 share 77 exact words and only differ in 14. None
of the variations are significant, with the possible exception of Matthew's

I don't think your interpretation is outrageous, but I'm not sure it is
compelling either. Both the fig tree incident and the fig tree parable do
relate to Israel's coming destruction as a nation. There are, however, quite
a number of differences. Especially notable is that the fig tree in the
incident withers while in the parable it puts on leaves.

The Parable of the Fig Tree must be seen in the context of the synoptic
apocalypse before it is seen in the context of Mark since it is found in all
three synoptic gospels. Also significant is Luke's expansion KAI PANTA TA
DENDRA "and all the trees." The point of the parable is not dependent on the
fact that it is a fig tree. Any and all trees (except evergreens, of course)
put forth leaves as summer approaches. The point of the parable is "X implies
that Y is near."

On a related note, a passage from Earle MacMillian's commentary on Mark is
worth quoting:

"The blending of the destruction of the Temple and the end of the world must
confirm the view that it is here understood that the two things--however far
they may ultimately be separated in time--were two parts of the same thing."

Bruce Terry E-MAIL:
Box 8426, ACU Station Phone: 915/674-3759
Abilene, Texas 79699 Fax: 915/674-3769

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