Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The "Four Types" Parables

[I really appreciate it when someone tells me about a great book in an subject area I'm interested in. I've thought about an author that many of you would certainly enjoy and this week, I'm going to share some excerpts from one of her books. The author is Lois Tverberg and she co-authored Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus. Enjoy!]

"Consider the following rabbinic parable:

There are four types among those who sit in the presence of the rabbis: the sponge, the funnel, the strainer, and the sieve. "The sponge," which soaks up everything. "The funnel," which takes in at this end and lets out at the other. "The strainer," which lets out the wine and retains the dregs. "The sieve," which removes the chaff and retains the fine flour.

This is what's called a "four types" parable, where four kinds of people are compared in their way of living. It reminds us of Jesus' parable in Luke 8:4-11 about the seed that fell in four places: the rock, the path, the thorns, and the good soil. Each parable focuses on how various people respond to God's word.

In the above parable, the rabbi is saying, contrary to our preconceptions, that the best disciple is not "the sponge" who retains absolutely everything, but "the sieve" who sifts through the teaching to retain what is best. What great advice for Christians!

It reminds us that we are not called to be parrots, unquestioningly repeating whatever we learn from a favorite teacher. Instead we are to exercise wisdom and discernment, continually asking questions, weighing answers, seeking understanding, and grounding our beliefs within the context of God's word...."

Page 31


  1. Love these insights. Sounds like my kind of book. :)

  2. Nice. I think most of us go with the sponge method and then can't understand why we got some dirty stuff in there too.

  3. april, i think you're exactly right. and what keen insight into the difference between knowledge and wisdom! i want to read more from this book . . .