Ignorance of Agriculture is Ignorance of Scripture (Part 1)

By Tim Streiff on August 3, 2022

Ethical Food and Agriculture

In his commentary on the book of Isaiah, St. Jerome famously said “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.”  Sacred Scripture reveals Christ as the fullness of God’s revelation, God revealing Himself to us through the Incarnation.  The more we read and understand God’s Word in Scripture, the more we will come to know Christ.  However, ignorance of agriculture is ignorance of Scripture. In order to understand Sacred Scripture, we must be willing to learn about creation, agriculture, and rural life.  When we look at the parables in the Gospels, the places where Christ preached and performed miracles, and especially the places where Christ went to pray—many happened in an agrarian or rural setting.  Much of Christ’s ministry took place in the context of rural communities.  Capernaum, Emmaus, and Bethlehem were all rural towns in Israel.  Christ himself worked as a carpenter in the small town of Nazareth, which was likely much the same size as the rural communities that we call home.  He was known in his hometown by his work and through his family, and he had relationships with others which likely seemed commonplace before he began his ministry.

Even as far back as Christ’s birth, the Good News was first proclaimed to those working in the fields.  It was the shepherds watching over their flocks who were able to observe the signs in nature that heralded the coming of the Messiah.  Later, the Three Wise Men came from afar after seeing the star in the east which communicated the birth of the King of Kings.  Christ called fishermen to be his first disciples and to bring the Good News to others; these were men who understood a hard day’s work.  Their daily efforts prepared them for the dedication which the Christian life requires.  They were accustomed to rising early and going out to the areas they knew well to bring in a catch for their families and for their community.  Others whom Christ called during his life on earth to be great saints were also prepared by their rural life for Christ’s call.  St. Simon of Cyrene was a farmer who was accustomed to bringing in the harvest, and that work prepared him to pick up Christ’s Cross and follow him, first to Calvary, then as a disciple after the Resurrection.  

When Jesus spoke to his disciples, he used examples from agriculture.  It was no accident that Christ spoke in parables which included livestock and crops, landowners and tenants, employers and employees.  The stories that Christ told to convey the meaning of the Kingdom of God are stories which would be most understandable to farmers, shepherds, and fishermen.  Christ traveled between towns spreading the Gospel.  He met his followers in the open places and would go alone into nature to pray.  Christ preached in the mountains, fields, and the shore about the Kingdom of God.  He went to the desert to prepare for his Passion for 40 days and went to a garden to pray after the Last Supper.  

These are just a few of the examples of how knowledge of agriculture and living close to the land informs our understanding of Scripture.  If we want to understand Scripture more fully, we must take time to learn about the context in which Christ has communicated himself to us in Sacred Scripture.  

No comments yet

The comments are closed.

People love being members of the Catholic Rural Life community.

View member benefits

More from Ethical Food and Agriculture

Ethical Food and Agriculture

Weeds and Life

by Dr. John Cuddeback

Ethical Food and Agriculture

Crafting the Human by Slaughtering a Pig

by Dr. John Cuddeback

Ethical Food and Agriculture

Harvest Mass: A time to thank God and ask for mercy

by Janet Jones

Ethical Food and Agriculture

10 Reminders for Conscious Consumerism

by Catholic Rural Life