-- Is This Possible?
by Hank Scott
ONE scriptural parable has
always puzzled me -- the "You are the salt of the earth" teaching that
everyone knows by heart.
Occurring in Matthew, Mark and Luke (in the New Testament only), this apparent teaching of the Savior seems sacrosanct enough to be unquestionable.
But is it really?
HY have I always had a problem with the parable of "the salt of the earth" apparently taught by the Savior?
The answer is summarized in the statement that immediately follows hard on its heels, and is intricately connected to its meaning: "...but if the salt has lost its savor [saltiness], how can it be made salty again?" (Matthew 5:13; Mark 9:50, Luke 14:34).
The first of these three accounts adds the following, which only increases the puzzle of the true meaning: "It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men" (Matthew 5:13).
Luke 14:35 adds: "It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out."
Ask yourself when salt was ever fit for the soil or a manure pile, or for that matter, how can salt ever lose its saltiness?
Salt is a combination of the unstable metal sodium (which can suddenly burst into flame) and the poisonous gas chlorine, which forms sodium chloride (NaCl), a basic elemental substance that simply does not ever change ts basic characteristics (unless first dissolved in a liquid like water with electricity applied, which effectively destroys salt through chemical reaction and recombination with other metals or minerals to form different substances).
The NIV Bible translation footnote to Matthew 5:13 attempts to make sense of this metaphor with the following equally puzzling conjecture:
"Most of the salt used in Israel [sic] came from the Dead Sea and was full of impurities. This caused it to lose some of its flavor."
My question concerning this attempted justification of the meaning of this parable is: Exactly when and how did such salt "lose some of its flavor," before or after use, and how would anyone know the difference?
Or is this really just a feeble attempt to make sense out of nonsense, while appearing "erudite" and "wise," as justification for the otherwise incomprehensible meaning of the metaphor?
In truth, as it stands, this parable is actually a puzzling metaphor with little real meaning; the commonly presumed assumption of which underlies one of the major evils and destroyers of health down through the ages that this "understanding" has been prevalent (too much salt is bad for you, and it doesn't take much to have an adverse effect on your health).
A rescript is something that has been rewritten, and the entire Greek New Testament is a rescript of Ibreyan (original ancient "Hebrew") source texts (e.g. Matthew has been indisputably proved to have been a translation from an Ibreyan original source text).
This can make it difficult to decipher the meaning of a particularly peculiar or obscure idiom of New Testament scripture.
Such is the case with the idea of a camel passing through the eye of a needle, for instance (Matthew 19:24; Mark 10:25).
Again, the NIV footnote to these texts, without a real clue about the true meaning, flails about seeking to "make sense" out of this nonsense interpretation, as follows:
"The camel was the largest animal found in the Holy [sic] land. The vivid contrast between the largest animal and the smallest opening represents what, humanly speaking, is impossible. The oft-repeated suggestion that one of Jerusalem's [sic] gates was called the Needle's Eye is unsubstantiated." (Referring to yet another absurd attempt to make sense out of this nonsense.)
Frankly, the idea of a rich man -- such as Yavceph of Arimathea -- entering the Kingdom being "humanly speaking...impossible," is likewise unsubstantiated and misses the entire intended point of the parable.
In truth, in Aramaic -- an ancient language closely related to Ibreya, in which even some of the Old Testament was preserved (e.g. see Daniel 2:4 - 7:28) -- the words for camel and rope are nearly identical.
Apparently an early translator of Matthew and/or Mark mistook one word for the other, and so imposed an entirely wrong meaning onto the analogy.
Unlike a camel, a rope can, in fact, go through the eye of a needle, if it is first unwoven and pared down to a single strand of thread!
Just so a rich man can, humanly speaking, enter into the Kingdom of heaven, but only if he first willingly divests himself of his riches, such as by selling them and helping the poor with the proceeds.
Rare as this choice may be, it has been known to happen, and this is the clear and inspired intent of the Savior's teaching to the young rich man, who refused to do this as suggested (see: Matthew 19:16-26; Mark 10:17-27; Luke 18:18-27).
Unraveling the Mystery of the True Meaning
Careful examination and research into the supposed "salt of the earth" parable reveals yet another scripture rescript with a similar resulting confusion over its original, intended meaning.
Unlike the rope through the needle's eye corrupted idom, however, the original meaning of this "salty" parable is not so easily discovered, and thus it has remained obscured and unknown until now.
In conducting such research studies into scripture, other than by inspired revelation alone, I have found a set of Interlinear texts coded to Strong's Concordance of great help, since I am certainly no Greek, "Hebrew" or Aramaic scholar, in the traditional sense of that word.
Needing to look up everything, and not taking anything for granted -- since I am not entirely conversant with all that is taught about these ancient languages as they relate to scripture (in the Western world's "mainstream" religious notions of such scholarship) -- has, I think, immeasurably aided my efforts, given a careful attention to detail.
Though, like other works of man (my own included), I have not found any resource to be entirely 100% free from error or typographical mistakes, the correct use of Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, coupled with J.P Green's Interlinear Old and New Testament texts and the matching four-volume set of Hebrew and Greek-English Concordances and Lexicons published by Hendrickson Publishers (1989 edition), have been of great help in my research over the years.
Especially with the help of the Hebrew and Greek Concordances, where every single occurrence of a word, in either original Ibreya/Aramaic or the Greek New Testament translation texts, in scripture, can be traced and discovered easily (this can be done with Strong's Concordance alone, but it is an awkward, time-consuming and frustrating effort), understanding the true meaning and original intent is thereby much easier to discover.
For instance, seeing how the same words are used in other contexts or verses of scripture, by other authors, and how they are translated into English throughout scripture, it is possible to learn where and how previous translators sometimes made poor choices, or erred outright -- often inadvertently, but also occasionally with deliberate intent to deceive or conceal the true meaning.
Conflicts between modern religious doctrines and other false beliefs have thereby been superimposed onto the scriptural translations by scholars and translators, such as the recent false substitution of the feminine gender onto references to the Creator, or Father in heaven, in a more recent mistranslation, as a case in point.
Clearly, all such corruptions, mistranslations and errors in the English, and even Hebrew and Greek, texts --along with the resulting confusion and obscuring of the original meaning -- must be found, exposed and rejected, if you are to ever discover the full, inspired and true intended meaning and wisdom of scripture.
Though the process of uncovering and discovering the truth, hidden behind centuries of such neglect and false superimpositions isn't easy, with inspired guidance and direction it is possible.
You can finally learn the answers to these age-old riddles, attempted alterations, mistaken translations, and similar hermeneutical (interpretation) problems, that a long history of scriptural apologetics has utterly failed to explain, with any sense of true understanding or unclouded reason!
However, you must first be able to recognize inspired guidance and follow it.
Examining the underlying text of the English New Testament, derived from Greek translations from the original texts, in relation to the alleged "salt of the earth" parable, is a case in point.
Although we do not have access to any original Ibreya or possibly Aramaic scriptures for the New Testament texts, it is possible to piece together some fairly conclusive facts that open and reveal the original and intended meaning for us.
Here is what I've discovered...
Starting with Matthew 5:13, in the Interlinear version of the New Testament texts -- which consists of an English translation in a side column, alongside the "received" Greek and literal English texts under each line of text (interlinear), and including Strong's Concordance Greek Dictionary (Hebrew Dictionary, in Old Testament volumes) numbers above most words of the text -- you will find the following key Greek words used in this verse:
"You are the salt  of the earth , if But the salt  be tasteless , by what shall it be salted ? For nothing  It is strong  still , except to be thrown  out , and to be trampled under  by  men ."
Concerning fiery judgment in the Lake of Fire, Mark 9:49-50 adds:
"everyone For with fire will be salted , and every sacrifice with salt  will be salted ," followed by verse 50: "Good  (is) the salt , if but the salt  saltless  becomes , by what it will you season ? Have  in  yourselves  salt , and be at peace among one another."
Finally, Luke 14:34 and 35 adds:
"Good  (is) the salt ; if but the salt  becomes useless , with what will it be seasoned ? Not for soil  nor for manure  fit  it is. out  They throw  it."
Turning to the New Englishman's Greek Concordance and Lexicon by Wigram-Green, we discover that the only other New Testament scripture where the world translated "salt" in all these scriptures (halas, #217) is also found is Colossians 4:6, where it occurs in the following context:
"The speech of you (let be) always with grace, with salt  being seasoned , to know how it behooves you one each to answer."
You will notice that both the words for "salt" and "seasoned" appear in three of the four verses, all except Matthew where the word for "seasoned" (741) does not occur.
Again, in the New Englishman's Greek Concordance, we discover that these are the only verses in the entire New Testament where the word translated "seasoned" is found.
In no case will you find the Greek word for spice(s) (#759, aroma) in any of these accounts, a word that derives from airo (142); meaning, "to lift."
Instead, the Greek word artuo (741) is "presumed" to be a derivative of this same word, according to Strong's Greek dictionary, but the meaning "to prepare, i.e. spice (with stimulating condiments):-- season" given in Strong's is entirely dependent on the context of the three verses where this word is used.
Since this connection is tenuous and presumed, at best, you should withhold judgment on the actual meaning of this word, pending further investigation.
The fact that the word for "salt" in Mark 9:49, in relation to sacrifices, is clearly not the same word used in the other verses quoted, should not go unnoticed, but its proximity to verse 50 might explain the faulty translations in the other scriptures where this parable appears.
There the word is hals (251) which, although it occurs only in this verse of the New Testament, is closely related to halukos (252), translated "salty" in James 3:12, referring to springs of water (this also is the only New Testament scripture where this particular word is found).
The Key to Understanding
The key word that unlocks the meaning of this metaphor is #3471, moraino, which Strong's defines as: "to become insipid; fig.[uratively] to make (pass.[ively] act) as a simpleton..."
This word comes from #3474, moros, which has the meaning: "dull or stupid (as if shut up), i.e. heedless (mor.[ally]) blockhead, (appar.[ently]) absurd..."
There are only four verses in the New Testament where moraino (3471) occurs, two of which are Matthew 5:13 and Luke 14:34, where it is wrongly translated "savour" (or "savor") in the King James English Bible, and "saltiness" in the New International Version translations, i.e. "tasteless."
The remaining two verses of scripture where moraino is found, according to The New Englishman's Greek Concordance, where we learn the actual meaning of this word, are Romans 1:22 and I Corinthians 1:20. This word is highlighted in the following English translations:
"Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools," (Romans 1:22), and:
"Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the quarreler of this world? Has not the Almighty One made foolish the wisdom of this world?" (I Corinthians 1:20).
You certainly could not translate either of these uses of moraino "saltiness" or "savor," now could you?
Only Mark 9:50 uses the word analos (358), translated "saltness" or "saltless," which is defined as being derived from 251 (hals), and yet -- once again -- this is the only New Testament scripture where this word is used.
Without a second or third witness for any of these assumed meanings, therefore, there is no point in arguing they are the inspired intention, original meaning, or correct translation for these scriptures.
Not even artuo (741), translated "season" in Mark 9:50 and "seasoned" in Luke 14:34, can be cited for proof, since the only other scripture where this word is found in the Greek New Testament is Colossians 4:6, where it is again used in the context of halas (217).
According to Strong's, artuo is "from a presumed der.[ivation]) of 142; to prepare, i.e. spice (with stimulating condiments)..." Yet there seems to be no basis for this assumed derivation of the word, because in no instance does airo (142) mean anything other than: "to lift; by impl.[ication] to take up or away; fig.[uratively] to raise (the voice), keep in suspense (the mind); spec.[ifically] to sail away (i.e. weigh anchor) by Heb.[rew] [comp.[are] 5375] to expiate sin..."
Finally, the word translated "good" in Matthew 5:13 is ischuo (2480), meaning: "...to have (or exercise) force (lit.[erally] or fig.[uratively])" (Strong's Concordance Greek Dictionary), i.e. to be "able," as this word is translated in most other scriptures where it is found.
The Revealed and Only Inspired Meaning
The true meaning of the "salty" parable, obviously then, is the opposite of the meaning: dull, stupid or foolish. Which reveals that wisdom is the intended meaning, as indicated by the contexts of both Romans 1:22 and I Corinthians 1:20.
From this perspective, then, the true translation should be:
"You are the wise of the earth; but if the wise become foolish, how can they be made wise again? You are moreover able to be cast out and trampled by men" (Matthew 5:13), and:
"Wisdom is good, but if the wise become foolish, how will you be wise again? Have wisdom in yourselves, and be at peace with one another" (Mark 9:50), and finally:
"Wisdom is good, but if you lose your wisdom, how can you be made wise again? You are not fit for the soil or for the manure pile; they will throw you out. The one who has ears, let him hear" (Luke 14:34-35).The only "parable" here was one of mistranslation obscuring the inspired meaning, doubtless due to an early copyist or translation error from original Ibreya or Aramaic into Greek, with presumed definitions further superimposed by the Greek, and finally the English translations from the imperfect Greek texts.
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