Matthew 13:31-32 - The Smallest Seed?

Recently, someone on the internet commented that there are "dozens of examples of non-factual statements in the Bible." This person cited Matthew 13:31-32 as an example of such a statement, since it records Christ as saying that the mustard seed is the smallest of seeds, even though there are many seeds which are smaller (the poppy seed, for example). Firstly, it should be noted that Jesus was telling a parable in order to make a point about faith, not giving an exhaustive lesson on botany! Secondly, the mustard seed may have been the smallest seed the people of 1st century Israel were familiar with, which is probably why the NIV has "the smallest of your seeds." But in any case, a closer examination of the Greek shows that Jesus did not claim any such thing. As in English, Greek adds different endings to adjectives (describing words) to indicate degree. In English, we use the term "smaller" (comparative) when making a size comparison between 2 objects and if no other object is as small as the object we are comparing, then we say it is the "smallest" (superlative). Now the Greek word translated "smallest" in Matthew 13:32 can also be translated as a comparative, so a better translation would be "one of the smallest" or "relatively small". As I have often found, many of the so-called "contradictions" or "errors" in the Bible are shown to be without substance when a thorough investigation is done, and many of the solutions are often quite simple.

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