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Did John the Baptist really eat locusts?

vorgos

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Recently, over lunch, I was told by a 20 something relative that St John the Baptist did not in fact eat locusts or grasshoppers but a plant. It was news to me and so I did a little google searching...

So I came across the following article

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/standingonmyhead/2014/12/did-john-the-baptist-really-eat-grasshoppers.html

by an RC priest who mentions,

...others claim that the “locusts” refer to the pods and beans of the locust tree. However, these trees aren’t widespread in the region...
and mentioned another idea that it was a cake quoting someone else,

The Greek word for locusts is very similar to the Greek word for “honey cake” (enkris/εvκρις) that is used for the “manna” that the Israelites ate in the desert in the days of Moses...
which seems a stretch to me since the modern Greek word for locust is the very same old word found in Mark 1:6, ἀκρίδας.

So those of you seminary and learned folks, is there anything to this? And are there any patristic commentary about this? Do the fathers attach any symbolism to Mark 1:6? I dont suppose it changes anything really if it was honey cake but I am curious.
 

Porter ODoran

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It's just one of so many examples of the eighteenth-century Sceptical school of criticisms of Bible accuracy strangely persisting into the present day. As Dr. Johnson put it, the Sceptics' attempts to explain away exceptionalism and miracles from the Bible involved their own nearly-miraculous requirements of suspended disbelief. For examples, the argument that Christ "walked on water" by treading a part of the Sea of Galilee that somehow his disciples had forgotten was a shallows, basically, an extra-wet beach. Or the contention that Moses led the Hebrews far from the real Red Sea across a seasonal swamp. Or that Dorcas was in a faint or the 4,000 were fed with their own secreted lunches or manna was an invasion of strange plants ... The impulsion for such explanations is obviously faithlessness and impiety, and, while one or two such criticisms may seem rather like rationalism talking, taken as the whole project it was in the 1700s and 1800s, that is, to debunk every instance of every such story in both Old Testament and New, irrational obsession seems more accurate.

As our own, postmodern, era gradually assumes courage, less and less of these old canards are welcome in the academy, or, for that matter, in polite conversation. The small exception is, of course, the so-called Atheist Bibles and resources, which preserve all the most lurid old accusations from the height of the anti-Semitic Sceptical age.

I don't think the modern Christian with an understanding of eating habits around the world and thru time needs to doubt at all that St. John ate such desert forage as insects and honey.
 

vorgos

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Another interesting tidbit on a plant called carob I found at

https://www.csu.edu.au/special/accc/biblegarden/plants-of-the-garden/carob

The round leaved tree is a carob bean or locust bean, also sometimes known as St. John's Bread. It produces bean like pods that contain a sweet white pith around the seeds. It is certainly the source of the husks in the parable of the Prodigal Son. There is some doubt as to whether John the Baptist ate the fruit of this tree or the locust insects, which are eaten roasted in Palestine.
The Hebrew words for carob and locust were similar and may have been transposed.
Emphasis mine. Interesting that here the confusion is over the Hebrew word, not the Greek one...
 

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What?? Off course it was a plant. Someone who didn't even eat bread to live on meat?
 

Arachne

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Talmudic scholarship takes it for granted that it was actual, literal locusts.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kosher_locust
 

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nikolaj said:
What?? Off course it was a plant. Someone who didn't even eat bread to live on meat?
See, you're assuming the bases or motivations of St. John's asceticism. You might say he wore camelskin to chastise himself because it's rough, or that he ate the plants of the desert because he was fasting and peaceable. However, the picture in Scripture doesn't supply such details, and it seems to me as likely -- or much more likely -- that his asceticism simply corresponded to the practical circumstances of his mission of exile-prophet in the wilderness.
 

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nikolaj said:
What?? Off course it was a plant. Someone who didn't even eat bread to live on meat?
Locust is not meat. Meat has spinal cord.
 

Iconodule

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My lunch selfie:

 

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AFAIK, you can buy in Israel canned locusts with honey as a souvenir related to st. John. I tired it once. It was a long time ago so I do not remember how it tasted but IIRC it wasn't bad.

I ate insects at other 2 or 3 occasions, though. Not bad.
 

vorgos

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benjohn146 said:
And how it is suppose to affect our salvation if he did or didn't eat locust?
As I stated, I personally don't think it makes a difference, though I can see how people who see the Bible as infallible can have issues with it.

But, given that parchment space was precious it is an interesting detail. Again, I am really interested in what the fathers of the Church had to say about it since there is a school of thought that every word has layers of meaning.

PS: or are you asking because it I posted it in Faith Issues? I am happy for it to be moved elsewhere especially if responses focus only on the locusts vs plant part of it.
 

vorgos

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ialmisry said:
vorgos said:
Recently, over lunch
uh, what were you eating that this came up?
Sorry I don't recall what we were eating and if it even had anything to do with it. In fact, I had the event at the back of my mind for a while trying to remember that the 20 something had said and could not remember... getting old I suppose :(
 

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Gamliel said:
I believe that some cultures eat insects.  Although it seems strange to me in the culture I am in, I did find a web site that states that locusts are edible:  http://www.livestrong.com/article/549444-the-nutritional-value-of-locusts/
There is a growing movement that want us to look at other sources of food, like insects. These are the same people who think the planet is running out of food and that cow farts are killing the planet. Since this is Faith Issues I will not go into it any further...
 

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vorgos said:
benjohn146 said:
And how it is suppose to affect our salvation if he did or didn't eat locust?
As I stated, I personally don't think it makes a difference, though I can see how people who see the Bible as infallible can have issues with it.
Oh ok, I see where you going now. Good luck!  :)
 

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Maybe this, from Wikipedia, will shed some light on the subject:

"Kosher locusts are varieties of locust deemed permissible for consumption under the laws of kashrut (Jewish dietary law). While the consumption of most insects is considered to be forbidden under the laws of kashrut, the rabbis of the Talmud identified four kosher species of locust."

or maybe not:

"However, the identity of those species is in dispute."

source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kosher_locust
 

mcarmichael

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nikolaj said:
What?? Off course it was a plant. Someone who didn't even eat bread to live on meat?
Which locust are you talking about here? I was curious how they qualify, canonically.
 

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mike said:
AFAIK, you can buy in Israel canned locusts with honey as a souvenir related to st. John. I tired it once. It was a long time ago so I do not remember how it tasted but IIRC it wasn't bad.

I ate insects at other 2 or 3 occasions, though. Not bad.
I liked to eat ants from the floor when I was a child. The largest ones hurt so I prefered the tinies.
 

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RaphaCam said:
mike said:
AFAIK, you can buy in Israel canned locusts with honey as a souvenir related to st. John. I tired it once. It was a long time ago so I do not remember how it tasted but IIRC it wasn't bad.

I ate insects at other 2 or 3 occasions, though. Not bad.
I liked to eat ants from the floor when I was a child. The largest ones hurt so I prefered the tinies.
This is not a confession, Rapha.
 

ialmisry

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vorgos said:
ialmisry said:
vorgos said:
Recently, over lunch
uh, what were you eating that this came up?
Sorry I don't recall what we were eating and if it even had anything to do with it. In fact, I had the event at the back of my mind for a while trying to remember that the 20 something had said and could not remember... getting old I suppose :(
[you have to know that in Arabic we do not have a "p" so "Peter" is "BuTrus"]

Once I was eating hummus at the hospital and one of the counselors pointed out what it was. He said the first time he had seen it, a Syrian doctor was eating it and insisted he have some. When he asked what it was, the doctor said "It's good. It's made from bees." Not wanting to eat insects, he tried to resist, but was forced to have some. And he liked it.

A few weeks later, he saw another Syrian doctor eating hummus, but this doctor grew up in America. When he asked for some of the "bee dip," the doctor looked at him as if he was crazy.

"I know that. It's made from bees," he insisted.

After looking puzzled for awhile, the doctor replied, "No. Peas."
 

Justin Kolodziej

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ialmisry said:
vorgos said:
ialmisry said:
vorgos said:
Recently, over lunch
uh, what were you eating that this came up?
Sorry I don't recall what we were eating and if it even had anything to do with it. In fact, I had the event at the back of my mind for a while trying to remember that the 20 something had said and could not remember... getting old I suppose :(
[you have to know that in Arabic we do not have a "p" so "Peter" is "BuTrus"]

Once I was eating hummus at the hospital and one of the counselors pointed out what it was. He said the first time he had seen it, a Syrian doctor was eating it and insisted he have some. When he asked what it was, the doctor said "It's good. It's made from bees." Not wanting to eat insects, he tried to resist, but was forced to have some. And he liked it.

A few weeks later, he saw another Syrian doctor eating hummus, but this doctor grew up in America. When he asked for some of the "bee dip," the doctor looked at him as if he was crazy.

"I know that. It's made from bees," he insisted.

After looking puzzled for awhile, the doctor replied, "No. Peas."
...he IS human after all!  ;D
 

Justin Kolodziej

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More on topic:
vorgos said:
Recently, over lunch, I was told by a 20 something relative that St John the Baptist did not in fact eat locusts or grasshoppers but a plant. It was news to me and so I did a little google searching...

So I came across the following article

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/standingonmyhead/2014/12/did-john-the-baptist-really-eat-grasshoppers.html

by an RC priest who mentions,

...others claim that the “locusts” refer to the pods and beans of the locust tree. However, these trees aren’t widespread in the region...
and mentioned another idea that it was a cake quoting someone else,

The Greek word for locusts is very similar to the Greek word for “honey cake” (enkris/εvκρις) that is used for the “manna” that the Israelites ate in the desert in the days of Moses...
which seems a stretch to me since the modern Greek word for locust is the very same old word found in Mark 1:6, ἀκρίδας.

So those of you seminary and learned folks, is there anything to this? And are there any patristic commentary about this? Do the fathers attach any symbolism to Mark 1:6? I dont suppose it changes anything really if it was honey cake but I am curious.
I don't trust RC priests one bit anymore. I think I'll trust the guy who says they haven't changed the word for the insect in 2000 years  ;)
 

rakovsky

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vorgos said:
Recently, over lunch, I was told by a 20 something relative that St John the Baptist did not in fact eat locusts or grasshoppers but a plant. It was news to me and so I did a little google searching...

So I came across the following article

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/standingonmyhead/2014/12/did-john-the-baptist-really-eat-grasshoppers.html

by an RC priest who mentions,

...others claim that the “locusts” refer to the pods and beans of the locust tree. However, these trees aren’t widespread in the region...
and mentioned another idea that it was a cake quoting someone else,

The Greek word for locusts is very similar to the Greek word for “honey cake” (enkris/εvκρις) that is used for the “manna” that the Israelites ate in the desert in the days of Moses...
which seems a stretch to me since the modern Greek word for locust is the very same old word found in Mark 1:6, ἀκρίδας.

So those of you seminary and learned folks, is there anything to this? And are there any patristic commentary about this? Do the fathers attach any symbolism to Mark 1:6? I dont suppose it changes anything really if it was honey cake but I am curious.
It was probably referring to grasshoppers, referring to his lowly status. He wasnt baking honey cakes in an oven thats for sure, unless he was taking time off from being a wilderness habitant.
 

Jetavan

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If not locusts, then maybe crickets?

Eating crickets can be good for your gut, according to new clinical trial
....
It shows that consuming crickets can help support the growth of beneficial gut bacteria and that eating crickets is not only safe at high doses but may also reduce inflammation in the body.

"There is a lot of interest right now in edible insects," Stull says. "It's gaining traction in Europe and in the U.S. as a sustainable, environmentally friendly protein source compared to traditional livestock."
 

hecma925

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Fried crickets in soy sauce was pretty good, but I wouldn't go out of my way to eat them.
 
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