if you want to experience what he meant
saying-93; bypass the willingly ignorant.
Do not give what is holy to dogs,
lest they throw them on the dung-heap.
Do not throw the pearls to swine,
lest they grind it [to bits].
Jesus probably instructs some followers to whom he entrusted teaching others.
He advises them to be selective who to address. Those unwilling to listen,
will not understand and therefore, it is better not to offer them the holy teachings.
What is holy refers to the consecrated sacrifice meat from the temple, that should not be
give to the dogs, who may take it to the dung-heap and desecrate it (Quispel, 2004;
Plisch, 2008). Likewise, the teachings, symbolized by the pearls, (Quispel, 2004) should not be
directed at those who do not value them.
Plisch (2008) points at the fact that the first saying is from daily life and realistic, whereas
the second cannot be taken literally: no one would ever think of throwing pearls to swine.
Perhaps the first statement, loaded with everyday reality, served to empower the
metaphorical interpretation of the second: just as consecrated meat is not given to stray
dogs, so should the teachings not be expounded to those unworthy of it.
The saying should not be taken as if Jesus proclaimed that his teachings should be treated
as esoteric in nature and were only meant for an initiated happy few, and therefore, to be
treated as "secret" (see also saying-92). Vermes (2004), reading from Matthew only while
considering Thomas of little or no value in interpreting Jesus, holds dogs and swine to refer
to the gentiles, and concludes that Jesus thereby clearly indicated that his teachings were
selectively for Jews. Vermes presents further arguments for this thesis, but it is rather
difficult to value the degree of historical veracity of the texts he quotes. The same holds
for Vermes' conclusion that Jesus was a Torah-abiding Jew, who actually preached Torah,
complying with traditional Judaism, be it with some personal interpretations similar as
in rabbinic teaching. However, Vermes, based on the NT, also remarks that the Old
Testament did not play an important role in the preaching of Jesus: he did not argue his
doctrine from the Bible; and furthermore: the New Testament never mentions that Jesus
prayed in the Temple, which is a bit weird in case Jesus was a Torah-abiding Jew!
Vermes (2004) argues that what is holy is a mistranslation, which should actually be translated
as a ring.
Plisch (2008) states that the
phrase "not to throw pearls to swine" was a common proverb that was not restricted to
Palestinian area. So, its interpretation defies an exclusive Hebrew significance.
There is simply no use in trying to convince those
who have willingly chosen
to remain ignorant.