Ancient Greek Athlete

1The teacher said, “Hear now the parable of the foolish weightlifter. 2A certain man wished to become stronger and to run and not grow weary. So he went to the gymnasium, paying the gymnasium-master three obols.a 3The man began lifting bars with weights upon them, first one talent,b then two. But he was not able to lift three talents. 4So the man said to himself, “Soul, your arms are very sore. You are not able to lift so many talents.” 5So after going home, the man sewed bags out of linen cloth, filled them with feathers of doves,c and painted them so that they appeared as weights of burnished bronze. 6Then the man returned to the gymnasium, paid the gymnasium-master three obols, and began lifting the bars with false weights upon them. 7And behold, the man was able to lift bars with five and even six false talents upon them. 8And the attendantd saw the man lifting six false talents (now the attendant did not know that they were false talents, but the man lifting the talents did) 9and he approached the gymnasium-master, saying, “Behold! The man who was not able to lift three talents now is able to lift six talents.” 10And the gymnasium-master and the attendant and those who hurled the discus and those who wrestled all marveled, saying “Never have we seen a man improve so quickly!” 11So the man lifted false talents daily. But he never became stronger or became able to run and not grow weary.”

12When the teacher was alone, his students came to him asking him about the parable. 13And the teacher answered, saying “Do you not understand this parable? And how will you pass your midterm exam? How will you write your final exegetical paper? 14The man lifting weights is the seminary student. The gymnasium-master is the registrar, who will not admit anyone to class until they have paid. 15The three obols is the tuition. The weights are the work the student does to learn to read, parse, and exegete Hebrewe and Greek. 16But when the student grows weary, he begins using false talents. The false talents are those things that the teacher does not permit: copying parsing from Bible software,f copying a translation from Bible Gateway, and not attempting to translate by the student’s own knowledge. 17The attendant and those who throw the discus and those who wrestle are those who are deceived, thinking that the student has actually learned Greek and Hebrew, and they marvel. 18But the student, because he is lifting false talents, never learns Greek and Hebrew in truth. 19He is not able to interpret the mysteries of the Scriptures as well as he could have.”

“20Now hear this wisdom from the parable: what shall it profit a student if he takes Greek and Hebrew, but does not study and learn Greek and Hebrew in truth? 21Truly I say to you, it would be better for that man if he took his three obols and threw them in a pit.”

a Three obols is about twenty dollars.

b A Greek talent is about 57 pounds.

c Or pigeons.

d Greek elaiochutes, a gymnasium attendant who distributes oil.

e Or Aramaic.

f Some ancient mss read from Logos, while others read from Bibleworks.