Jesus and the Fig Tree (Mark 11:13)

Most of our modern Bibles of today (I checked 21 different translations), have Jesus looking for fruit when it was "not the season for fruit".

Mar 11:13 NET.  After noticing in the distance a fig tree with leaves, he went to see if he could find any fruit on it. When he came to it he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs.

One translation even goes much further.

Mar 11:13 NLT  He noticed a fig tree in full leaf a little way off, so He went over to see if He could find any figs. But there were only leaves because it was too early in the season for fruit.

Who is right?

Did Jesus know what He was doing?

Or do Bible translators know what they are doing?

They can't both be right.

A bigger problem.

As I will try to show, this verse highlights a major problem we have today with our English Bibles.

They contain errors - and some people have identified many of those those errors - but the publishers are  not willing to correct the errors.

The truth of the matter.

Take a look at the photo I took of a fig tree in early Spring (before the Spring equinox).

Figs appear before leaves.

I hope you can see that the fruit starts growing at the same time the leaves are starting to grow.

To put it another way, any fig tree old enough to bear fruit, should have immature fruit on it in Spring.

Time Mark 13:11 took place.

Chapter 11 starts with Jesus's triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and in chapter 14 Jesus is being anointed for His burial, so the fig tree story happens just a few days before Jesus is crucified.

We know that Jesus was crucified on the day the Passover lambs were killed, and that is always the 14th day of the first month in the Biblical calendar. The first month has to start after but within 30 days of the Spring equinox.

A round about way of saying that the fig tree story of Mark 11:13 occurred in early Spring.

Fig trees in early Spring.

As the photo shows, a productive fig tree of fruit bearing age, will always have both leaves and fruit at this time of the year. Jesus was absolutely correct in walking over to the tree expecting to find fruit. Sure, the fruit would not be ripe, but the early fruit should be there if there are leaves.

The immature fruit is "dry" but certainly tastes like figs.

So the comment about it not being the season for figs, should be translated to indicate it was not late enough in the season to find "ripe" figs on a tree.

Had it been the season for ripe figs, someone could have been there before Jesus and stripped the tree - and that would have been the reason for no fruit, not that the tree was unproductive.

The truth is known - but who will change?

The truth of the fig tree story in Mark is well documented (see "Treasury of Scriptural Knowledge"), and all people growing figs would know the time the first figs start to form - yet Bible translators would rather make Jesus look "ignorant" of when to get something to eat off a fig tree, rather than correct their mistake.

One can only wonder at how many other errors in the Bible have been left there, because it is easier to ignore errors, than to correct them.

Bob Orchard Sep 2011

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