In the world today, we have the expression “body, mind, and soul,” which means the complete person. Sometimes, we shorten it to “body and soul.” But, Jesus didn’t think of the complete person in this way. For Jesus to refer to the complete person, he would mention body parts that related three different zones, which scholars today call the emotion-fused zone, the self-expression zone, and the purposeful action zone. Understanding this helps us gain the critical cultural knowledge we need to more fully understand the parable of the sower in Luke 8:5-15.
- In the parable of the sower, Jesus mentions seeds, which represent the instruction of God (the gospel). He says these seeds can fall on different types of ground: the road, the rocks, among the thorns, and on good soil.
- The different types of ground represent the different responses people have to the gospel.
- To the ancient, Semitic person, the complete person was not “body, mind, and soul,” nor was it “body and soul,” as we think of it today. For them, the complete person involved three zones, which modern academics have labeled emotion-fused zone, self-expression zone, and purposeful action.
- These names are our terminology. The biblical writers referenced these zones using concrete images of the body.
- They referred to the emotion-fused zone by referencing the heart or the eyes (those things that allow us to see, gain insight, understand, choose, love, think, or value). This zone had to do with the will, intellect, judgment, and personality.
- They referred to the self-expression zone by talking about the mouth, ears, tongue, and lips (those things that allow us to speak, hear, sing, swear, curse, listen, or even remain silent). This zone had to do with communication, especially if it’s self-revealing, but also listening and responding).
- The purposeful action zone was expressed through the arms, legs, hands, and feet (those things that allow us to walk, sit, stand, touch, or accomplish). This zone had to do with external behavior or interaction with the environment.
- When Jesus describes the good soil, he makes reference to each of these zones, meaning that to be "good soil," one has to respond completely to God’s instruction.
- When Jesus explains what the other types of ground mean (the road, rock, and thorns), it’s clear, from our understanding of the three zones, that the reason the seeds don’t bear fruit is that they haven’t completely responded to the gospel.
What is The Way?
Fr. Dustin Lyon explores scripture to rediscover Christianity so that we can walk in the Way of the Lord.