Talk:Cursing the fig tree

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This is about an item in the New Testament that is written about extensively and has art devoted to it. It is clearly notable since it appears in book after book and is clearly referred to with the same term as part of Gospel harmonies, e.g. in Steven L. Cox, Kendell H Easley, 2007 Harmony of the Gospels ISBN 0805494448 page 350 . I was surprised it did not have a page, so I built one. History2007 (talk) 00:01, 4 November 2009 (UTC)

An explanation and a cautioning[edit]

User:History2007 saw fit to delete the paragraph that I added that begins "Since neither Matthew nor Mark explain...", with the justification "Sorry, those are not WP:Reliable sources by any measure". In fact, they do indeed meet WP:Reliable. The first source, Internet Infidels is one of the main portals for freethought and atheism on-line, with over 7 million Google hits and about 10,000 visits per day. In fact, leading apologist Gary Habermas has called it "one of the Internet's main Web sites for skeptics". The other source,, is slightly less well-known, with still over 115,000 Google hits and over 1,200 unique visits per day. But to make it a little easier for you, I'll remove the latter citation and just let it rest on the former, which makes both assertions anyway.

I realize that, as the originator of this entry, you feel protective of it, but you cannot arbitrarily decide to remove additions to it just because you dislike them contradicting your own Christian beliefs. The story of Jesus cursing the fig tree is allegedly an historical event, and is thus subject to critical inquiry. The entry, as you wrote it, only provides the Scriptural side. It is not Wikipedia:Neutral point of view to claim a miracle occurred, nor is Jesus' alleged action logical. An argument could be made that it was irrational and contradictory to the supposedly perfect character of Jesus. Indeed, the sources I cited do just that. It would be rather like the entry on Julius Caesar asserting that, upon his death, citizens of Rome observed Caesar's soul ascending to heaven, as Suetonius claimed in his biography of Julius Caesar -- and just leaving it at that. If a skeptic of Suetonius' claim posted substantive objections from WP:Reliable sources that assert that Suetonius' claim is unlikely to be true and that no such miracle could've occurred, then they must be allowed to have their say.

Finally, it's a breach of Wikipedia:Etiquette to simply delete non-vandalism additions to entries. The correct protocol is to first post an objection to it in the Talk page and debate its merits first. This you never did. Consequently, I'm reverting the entry. If you want to actually debate the matter, here's your chance. Bricology (talk) 06:55, 21 November 2010 (UTC)

God hates figs[edit]

User:History2007 has deleted God hates figs from the "See also" section. This is a modern (admittedly unusual) invocation of this parable, and deserves at least a "See also" mention in here. (A section on how the parable has been invoked over the years would be a reasonable addition, but it should probably be done with more than the one example if it's to be done at all.) --Nat Gertler (talk) 01:11, 6 March 2011 (UTC)

I also removed another irrelevant item in that edit. Looking at Wikipedia articles often reminds me of driving on Sundays past people's open garage doors that are full, full of accumulated junk over years. These See also sections gather junk over time and need to be cleaned up. That item is really way out of what one could remotely call "biblical content" and its existence in itself serves only one purpose in the end: to draw attention to some current conflict between some groups of people who have nothing better to do. This is not encyclopedic, it is attention seeking by junk placement. History2007 (talk) 08:40, 6 March 2011 (UTC)
Wikipedia does not a Bible reference, and does not exist merely to document what you think people should be doing. It is designed to reflect the interrelationship of things, that is a point of wikification. If you want to create a reference in which the Bible exists in isolation from all other things, this is not the place for it. You may think it peripherally-related, but "Links included in the "See also" section may be useful for readers seeking to read as much about a topic as possible, including subjects only peripherally related to the one in question." --Nat Gertler (talk) 14:21, 6 March 2011 (UTC)
Ok, please just see a 3rd opinion. Thanks. History2007 (talk) 14:23, 6 March 2011 (UTC)
Searchtool-80%.png Response to third opinion request:
I think we should keep the link to God hates figs in the "See also" section of this article. As peripherally related as it may be to this article, it does not seem to me to be so unrelated that it does not belong in that section. And as there is right now only one other entry in the "See also" section, there's also not much need to prune that section of any "accumulated junk" at this time, either. My opinion is that God hates figs should be restored (and btw not the other link removed, Sour grapes, because that one really does seem too unrelated to go there). WikiDao 21:24, 9 March 2011 (UTC)—WikiDao 21:24, 9 March 2011 (UTC)
Ok, I do not like that but 3O is 3O, so Thanks. History2007 (talk) 23:08, 9 March 2011 (UTC)


I think the Donald Morgan quote is pushing beyond the limits of notability and clearly fails WP:V. I asked for proof that he is notable, and none was offered. It is just from a website whose Wiki-article calls it of questionable notability, and Morgan's only claim to fame seems to be that website. He is just one critic who has not written a single scholarly work that I can find on Amazon (feel free to do an Amazon search). He can only get published on that website. He is not encyclopedic or notable at all, and unless proof of notability is provided, I will delete it. History2007 (talk) 22:38, 6 April 2011 (UTC)

No, it doesn't fail WP:V at all, as the statement is that the site says that, and that is quite verifiable. It is a statement of an educational foundation on their significant secular website. But you may want to look into whether F.F. Bruce has any recognized expertise on botany. --Nat Gertler (talk) 23:08, 6 April 2011 (UTC)
No, WP:V and WP:RS do not work that way. If a "non-notable" person says something on a street corner, and some website puts it on the web, that is not notable, or encyclopedic and is not a WP:RS source known for double checking facts and presenting multiple viewpoints. All over Wikipedia there is debate about scholarship. Morgan is not a scholar, or a reliable source for commentary. And that website is not a well known publisher, just a website set up by a few like-minded people who gave their credit card number to pay for the internet web service charges. It is not Oxford University Press. Your statement is pushing far beyond Wikipedia standards for scholarship. There are "scholar critics" and "nobody critics". Morgan is in the 2nd category, else by now you would have pointed to the 12 books he has written. History2007 (talk) 23:31, 6 April 2011 (UTC)
I'm sorry, but while it may be fun for you to make up about a website in order to demean it, it doesn't actually forward the conversations. It's the website of an IRS-registered 501(c)3 non-profit, cited as a "Best of the Web" by PC Magazine, cited by a number of works on religion and opposition thereto. And I'm sorry if you don't understand WP:V and WP:RS, but even if it were established that this is not a generally-reliable source Wikipedia:V#Self-published_or_questionable_sources_as_sources_on_themselves does exist. --Nat Gertler (talk) 00:32, 7 April 2011 (UTC)
First, avoid negative and impolite language, Monsieur. I can think, the last I checked. And I do understand WP:V and WP:RS. And since when is being registered non-profit is an indication of reliability? All that takes is filling some forms. Now I think you have started to accept that it is not a "generally-reliable source". Self-published sites may be used "about themselves". This is NOT about itself, is about an episode in another book. That argument fails. So that statement is not a main stream generally accepted statement from a high quality web site and needs to be deleted. I have marked it with tags anyway. I see no benefit from adding low quality material to Wikipedia. History2007 (talk) 00:40, 7 April 2011 (UTC)
  • Before you resume editing the comments of others, I suggest that you read WP:TCO. If you have concerns about tone, you may wish to do something about that mote in your own eye first.
  • "since when is being registered non-profit is an indication of reliability?" I didn't say that it was an indication of reliability, I was showing the falsehood of your claim that it was "just a website set up by a few like-minded people who gave their credit card number to pay for the internet web service charges".
  • "This is NOT about itself" - the statement as it was last made was directly about the site. If I said that the story has a contradiction, and ref'd it to that site, that would not be about itself, but saying that the site said something, yes, that's about itself. --Nat Gertler (talk) 02:14, 7 April 2011 (UTC)
"F. F. Bruce states that fig trees produce 'taqsh' before the season if they are going to bear fruit in the season itself. Since this one didn't, it was a sign that it would not produce any fruit that year either." So he's arguing that this isn't a miracle at all. Very odd. Does he also hold therefore that Jesus wasn't divine? I really wonder if Bruce realises where his argument is taking him. PiCo (talk)
I think all that section is junk and should be deleted altogether. History2007 (talk) 02:03, 7 April 2011 (UTC)
I would say that causing a tree to immediately wither would still be recognized as a demonstration of some sort of force; I doubt (wagging an IANAB flag) that not having any forthcoming fruit causes a tree to immediately wither. I think all Bruce is arguing (in what's quoted) is that this wasn't a case of cursing a tree because it wasn't producing fruit out of season, but rather of cursing a tree because it wasn't going to produce fruit in season. (I'm not saying that's supported by the Biblical text, mind you.) --Nat Gertler (talk) 02:19, 7 April 2011 (UTC)

This is ALL WP:OR and unsubstantiated junk. History2007 (talk) 02:45, 7 April 2011 (UTC)

The statement supposedly supported by footnote #7 is inaccurate. The Secular Web lists a perceived contradiction between Matthew stating that the fig tree withered immediately, and Mark saying that the disciples noticed it when they passed by the following day. There is no mention of fig season. ...Who is Donald Morgan and why is his opinion of any interest???Mannanan51 (talk) 16:47, 9 April 2012 (UTC)mannanan51

Edits to lead[edit]

I've made a few edits to the lead, and I'll explain them here.

  1. I've added blockquotes for both the Gospel stories - since the story is told twice, we can't be encyclopediac is we conflate them into one.
  2. I've used the NIV version instead of the KJV. This is because of a language problem - the KJV says the tree withers "presently", which in modern English means "after a while," but in the English of the KJV it meant "immediately."
  3. The older version of the lead had something about the tree in Mark withering the next day, but there's nothing in the blockquote about that and I can't find anything in the chapters immediately following.

PiCo (talk) 01:51, 7 April 2011 (UTC)

You did well, as usual. History2007 (talk) 01:54, 7 April 2011 (UTC)
Thank you sir or madam. It occurs to me, without having researched it, that figs must have had some symbolic meaning in ancient Judaism. Probably connected with fruitfulness (as indeed it is today), and with seeds multiplying (all those seeds you find inside a fig) - which connects to the constant Deuteronomistic emphasis on fruitfulness and multiplying (the Israelites had to be fruitful and multiply in order to outnumber their enemies ASAP). Surely there's a book about this.PiCo (talk) 02:14, 7 April 2011 (UTC)
The "next day" references would appear to be Mark 11:20-22, where they don't see that it has withered until the next day (or at least until after "even" has come and then "morning"), rather than seeing it happen immediately. --Nat Gertler (talk) 02:27, 7 April 2011 (UTC)
Ah yes, I missed that. I'll make an edit. Thanks for catching it. PiCo (talk) 02:49, 7 April 2011 (UTC)

Future directions (suggestions for new material)[edit]

I think, or suggest, that the article could usefully go like this:

  1. Brief discussion of the relationship between Mark and Matthew (the gospels, that is), including probably authors, dates, and such.
  2. Origin of the Matthew story (comes from Mark)
  3. Origin of the Mark story

That last part is the most interesting. The author of Mark has probably based it on Psalm 37:35-36 and Micah 7:1, where "the imagery of a search for figs is a figure for God's search for righteous Israelites, and the image of a barren or withered fig tree is occasionally used to represent national failure as a manifestation of divine judgment." There's also Hosea 9:15-16, where the prophet is talking the "wicked" (rebellious Israel) and the Temple: "Because of their sinful deeds, I will drive them out of my house; I will no longer love them; all their leaders are rebellious; Ephraim is blighted, their root is withered, they yield no fruit."

  1. Meaning

The fig tree (the tree, not the fruit) is a symbol for Israel in the OT see Jeremiah 8:13, 29:14, Joel 1:7, Hosea 9:10, and 9:16. (For example, Jeremiah 8:13: "When I would gather them, says the LORD, there are no grapes on the vine, nor figs on the fig tree; even the leaves are withered, and what I gave them has passed away from them"). So when Jesus curses the fig tree, he curses Israel. But what about the fact that Jesus curses the tree out of season? T.L.Thomspon says it's because Jesus is the Messiah who has come "out of season" - Israel should be ready for the Messiah at any season, but the Jews reject him, and so he (or rather, the author of Mark) curses them.

Incidentally, it's juvenile to point out gleefully that the incident can't really have happened - that's teenager stuff. PiCo (talk) 02:46, 7 April 2011 (UTC)

I agree with the juvenile comment. But the rest may be overkill. Somewhat like using elephant gun to shoot fig tree? This is just one episode. History2007 (talk) 02:50, 7 April 2011 (UTC)
All those OT references? PiCo (talk) 03:03, 7 April 2011 (UTC)

If the story is worth noting, it is worth noting because it has reaction and impact - and that reaction and impact should be noted as well. --Nat Gertler (talk) 03:09, 7 April 2011 (UTC)

Sorry, but I don't understand what you mean by "reaction and impact"? PiCo (talk) 03:12, 7 April 2011 (UTC)