Saturday, November 03, 2007

Matthew 13:44: the joy that makes one go, sell, and buy eternal treasure!

In Matthew 13:44 there are three striking uses of the historic present tense. This is a use of the present tense in contexts that require use of a past tense.

"The kingdom of the heavens is like treasure hidden in a field which, having found, a person hid (aorist tense); then in his/her joy GOES and SELLS all that s/he has and BUYS that field."

In this translation, the caps indicate the three historic present tenses. The key words of the parable are "joy" (2:10; 5:12; 13:20; 18:13; 25:21, 23), "hidden" (11:25; 13:35 and "treasure" (2:11; 13:52 etc); combined in this parable they declare that what is hidden is revealed to be eternal treasure and the person who has it is joyous.

The historic present tenses used three times in v.44 is like a "light switch" going on; the treasure of the kingdom is not to be hidden but to be held with joy as the finder's eternal treasure!

Thanks to S.M.B. Wilmshurst of Trinity College Bristol in the Journal for the Study of the NT (25) 2003 for pointing this out. S/he indicates that all examples of Matthew's use of the historic present repay close attention.

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