[The Leaven – exploring the relationship between science and religion (cont)]
In many translations there are three measures of meal in the leaven parable (see previous post), these are thought by many to represent the human race amongst which the Gospel is working. The number three is mentioned over 500 times in the bible: There are three Magi, Noah had three sons, Lot had three daugters and then, of course, there is the father, son and holy spirit where God is represented in three forms. The three measures of meal in the leaven parable are thought by some to represent faith, hope and love:
Meanwhile these three remain: faith, hope, and love; and the greatest of these is love.
[I Cor. 13,13]
They have also been thought to represent the three elements of human-life; body, soul and spirit as the meal has been compared to the human race. When Jesus specified three measures, he was trying to portray a figurative meaning that could be interpreted by the people in that space of time. Therefore it’s difficult to know exactly what he was referring too as those influences no longer exist.
In Laws about Sacrifices, in the Old Testament, three measures of meal should be used as part of a sacrifice when a Bull is being offered:
When a bull is offered to the Lords as a burnt offering or as a sacrifice in fulfilment of how or as the fellowship offering, a great offspring of three measures of flour mixed with two measures of olive oil is to be presented, together with two measures of wine. The smell of the sacrifice is pleasing to the Lord.
There maybe an association between the measures of meal and the ceremony of sacrifice. The meal may represent something that is normally sacred and without leaven. The woman may have hidden the leaven into the meal because the teachings of Jesus were in direct conflict to those of the Torah. The Bible always states that no leaven should be offered as a sacrifice to the Lord.
None of the grain offerings which you present to the Lord shall be made with leaven.
When the woman hid the leaven in the meal she was doing something that was prohibited by God. Therefore this parable could be deduced to mean the doctrines of Christ are the Bread of Life and must remain pure and uncorrupted. Some propose that the Parable of the Leaven represents degeneracy in power, a breaking in upon divinely ordered fellowship, the corrupting influences of apostasy. The other interpretation is that leaven is in fact being used on occasion as a positive element that permeates through the meal as teachings would permeate through society.
When Jesus compares his leaven with that of the Pharisees and the Sadducees, although there leaven symbolises corruption his leaven is symbolic of truth.