3 things you should know about vines (Jn 15)

Nov 24 2020

Jesus told his closest followers, “I am the vine, you are the branches” (Jn 15:5) He talks about pruning as well. The metaphor rises and falls on our knowledge of growing and tending vines.

Here are three things to keep in mind from Pliny the Elder’s Natural History written in the first-century.

  • Vines require space but not too much space.

The space between every two vines in a soil of medium density should be 5 feet, in a rich soil 4 feet at least, and in a thin soil 8 feet at most. (Pliny the Elder, Natural History 17.35.171)

  • Vines are pruned and pruned again. And the pruning is drastic.

A quickset (a cutting of the vine) placed in a vineyard after two years is cut back right down to the ground, leaving only one eye above the surface. . . . In the following year also it is again lopped in a similar way, and it acquires and fosters within it sufficient strength to bear the burden of reproduction (italics added, 17.35.173).

  • There is a big difference between growth and bearing fruit.

…in its hurry to bear fruit [the vine] would shoot up slim and meagre like a bulrush and unless it were restrained with the pruning described would spend itself entirely on growth. No tree sprouts more eagerly than the vine, and unless its strength is kept for bearing, it turns entirely into growth (17.35.173).

Jesus was a carpenter by trade, but he knew something about vines in order to craft such a rich metaphor.

No responses yet

Leave a Reply