almost another thesis

No really. It’s ridiculous. When I scribbled “vineyards not wheatfields: what is it about vineyards and not wheatfields? what’s the difference?” in my digital notebook, I presumed I could do a quick rummage around and get what I wanted… or at least enough to go on. Thousands of years of these oral/written texts—for vineyards and wheatfields are laced throughout the First Testament as well as the New—and one would think at least a few matter-of-fact commentaries would have washed into the Interwebs.

Not in any easily-discernible way, no. The three (two grapes, one grain) that came up are pretty Web 1.0-looking… which sets my “fringe alert” going. No doubt there are wonderful, orthodox and/or mainstream theologians operating with text-heavy static pages. However. Heck, I’m no mainstream theologian, and even I have a WordPress-based site-!

Plus none of them address what I want to know. They mention the ways the texts refer to grapes, or vines, or wine, or vineyards metaphorically. The “wheat” one is much closer to what I’m shooting for:

That wheat is love and charity, may be seen in Jeremiah:–

“Many shepherds have destroyed My vineyard, they have trodden down the portion of My field,[…]” (Jer. 12:10)

except that it earlier wandered off into:

The means of the conjunction of the external man with the internal have been described under the representation of the four sons of Jacob by the handmaids; and the subject now treated of is the conjunction of good and truth by means of the rest of the sons; and therefore the dudaim are first spoken of, by which this conjunction or conjugial relation is signified.

Um. Further digging has shown that these are re-typed quotes from the extensive late works of Emanuel Swedenborg. Double-um for me in my generally orthodox Presbyterian life.

So the Interwebs have oddly failed me. What about actual books? What does a rough catalog search on “Bible metaphor” get me? Oh, thousands of entries, where the most-promising one is in German and English… and doesn’t mention either wheat or vine in the table of contents.

Now my little “read two encyclopedia entries” effort is metastasizing into another edition of my seventh-grade “What’re the differences between Hochdeutch and a local German dialect?” project. Did I tell you this story? The short version is that, when I went to the Carnegie Library in downtown Pittsburgh to begin my research, the only reference works I could find were published in 1890-something and had some (now) extremely esoteric ideas about how modern languages got to where they are. Well, the one in English said that, anyway. It became clear to me that, short of linguistics field research in Germany, I wasn’t going to find what I wanted to know. And I didn’t care enough about the topic to do a doctoral thesis on it… even if I hadn’t been 12 at the time, with a full slate of seventh-grade classes.

(Side note: now there is an Encyclopedia Brittanica entry that holds a moderate amount of what I tried to find then. Finally!)

On a more hopeful note for this polyhistor, I eventually bumped into The Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, edited by Leland Ryken, et. al. Stitt Library has a copy in the reference room… but I’m not working in Stitt, I’m in Central: quite a different collection-! (I like the proximate restaurants better.)

Once I was driven to the last ditch of “I’m going to write this THIS afternoon!” I gave up and went to Bezos-land I mean Amazon. The scrap that they’ve shared for Kindle mentions that both vineyards and wheatfields are archetypically “good” plant-spaces. But I knew that already. That’s why I want to know whether they’re interchangeable or not!

I decided to order The Dictionary of Biblical Imagery for myself anyway. It seems like something I would use all the time, don’t you think? It’ll arrive in a week or so, and I can explore this properly then, if I’m so inclined. Maybe! Or maybe I’ll have another #thesisproblem by then. <g>

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: