This study discusses the importance that the olive tree served in Paul's day.
According to Beerling and Chaloner, both botanists that published their research studies with Annals of Botany as they maintained their academic chairs in Scheffield’s University Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, they reason that “The distribution of Olea europaea is confined to a Mediterranean type climate” (Beerling and Chaloner 1992). Their research demonstrates that whenever we read in the Bible about olive trees or olive oil, we’re reading specifically about a particular species that these botanists identified and not any other speciation of olive trees. The Encyclopedia Britannica informs further that “Italy is the world’s biggest exporter of olive oil, although Spain dominates the more lucrative sector of table olives. While olives are traditionally grown in conjunction with other crops or livestock, nearly half the olive-producing land now excludes other types of cultivation, reflecting the demise of traditional peasant farming methods” (Britannica 2013).
How important was the Olea europaea to the Romans? The Global Gourmet, a site dedicated to the Olea europaea, reports, “Olive oil has been more than mere food to the peoples of the Mediterranean: it has been medicinal, magical, an endless source of fascination and wonder and the fountain of great wealth and power. The olive tree, symbol of abundance, glory and peace, gave its leafy branches to crown the victorious in friendly games and bloody war, and the oil of its fruit has anointed the noblest of heads throughout history. Olive crowns and olive branches, emblems of benediction and purification, were ritually offered to deities and powerful figures” (Web 2013). Gall, Polio and Visioli, academic professors holding chairs in the University of Milan’s Department of Pharmacological Sciences located in Italy, they reason that “[o]live oil is the principal source of fats in the Mediterranean diet, which has been associated with a lower incidence of coronary heart disease and certain cancers” (2001). Interestingly enough, recent studies performed by medical doctors in June 2008 came to detail the extensive medicinal properties that olive oil serves. Consider the detailed abstract that these medical practitioners have to say about olive oil:
“The Mediterranean Diet has been associated with greater longevity and quality of life in epidemiological studies, the majority being observational. The application of evidence-based medicine to the area of public health nutrition involves the necessity of developing clinical trials and systematic reviews to develop sound recommendations. The purpose of this study was to analyze and review the experimental studies on Mediterranean diet and disease prevention. A systematic review was made and a total of 43 articles corresponding to 35 different experimental studies were selected. Results were analyzed for the effects of the Mediterranean diet on lipoproteins, endothelial resistance, diabetes and antioxidative capacity, cardiovascular diseases, arthritis, cancer, body composition, and psychological function. The Mediterranean diet showed favorable effects on lipoprotein levels, endothelium vasodilatation, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, antioxidant capacity, myocardial and cardiovascular mortality, and cancer incidence in obese patients and in those with previous myocardial infarction. Results disclose the mechanisms of the Mediterranean diet in disease prevention, particularly in cardiovascular disease secondary prevention, but also emphasize the need to undertake experimental research and systematic reviews in the areas of primary prevention of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, infectious diseases, age-related cognitive impairment, and cancer, among others” (Estruch, Roman and Serra-Majem 2008).
Though the ancient Romans did not understand that the oral ingestion of olive oil as it was consumed with their diet was the root cause of the medicinal properties they’ve experienced, the ancient Romans did observe the longevity of life that its use presented. As a result, the ancient Romans came to revere the Olea europaea. For example, Roman culture allowed the use of its oil to be ritually smeared upon the bodies of athletes who entered competitions in hopes of rejuvenating their age as well as restoring the competitor’s strength during gladiatorial events. Believed to have magical properties in preserving the wearer from being struck by lightning, La Corona Radiata (i.e., Latin for the radiating crown which is the laurel wreaths made out of the branches of the Olea europaea) was fashioned in a round shape and donned upon the victor’s head so that the Roman deities would safeguard competitors, heroes, generals and Roman leaders a safe return to Rome. Also, Rome’s financial wealth depended heavily on its exports of olives, olive oils and lamp oils used to light Roman houses at night; thus, Roman culture prohibited the burning of its wood less it was offered up to the Roman deities.
The origins of smearing olive oil upon the entire body of the sick or Roman leaders actually stems from Roman occult practices, their veneration for the qualitative properties that the ancient Romans held towards the Olea europeaea possessed as well as part of the Roman rituals of calling upon spiritual forces to guide their leaders back to Rome.
Without a shadow of a doubt, the Olea europaea was considered to be a great value to the Romans. It’s unfortunate that many modern day assemblies continue to exercise Roman customs without actually knowing the reasons why the Romans did what they did. Instead of realizing the errors of their ways, many of these very same assemblies continue to practice Roman magic and express verbal incantations all in Jesus’ name under the assumption that their practice was something that was handed down to them from the apostles; sadly, they refuse to take notice that many of the denominations that they attend was of recent invention within the past 100-300 years since the Protestant Reformation and really doesn't have any ties with the First Century Believers of Messiah Yeshua. The sad fact of the matter is that many do not even know that what they’re actually practicing is something completely related to the Roman occult form of worship and even stems from Roman magic. To this day, many continue to perform these incantations without even noticing that what they’re doing is something that is completely unbiblical and/or a distortion of Scriptures as they fall prey to the psychological, emotional and financial abuse of false christs, anointed ones.
Contemporary Understanding of Paul's Olive Tree
An online academic paper that I read made me rethink what Paul may have meant with his one-time use of the grafting in process mentioned in Romans 11. D’Andria et al published with the Journal of Horticultural Science & Biotechnology an article which introduces their reader with a very simple idea.
“With the expansion of olive cultivation due to the increased oil consumption in the world, more research is being directed towards the use of intensive cultivation systems. The aim of such research is to increase production and reduce costs, while maintaining product quality and protecting the environment. The aim of new intensive olive cropping systems is to increase yield, reduce the number of alternate-year bearing plants and facilitate complete mechanization (Fontanazza, 1993; Fontanazza 1994). Under such systems, irrigation is essential to ensure optimum water application for tree growth and olive production. In areas with limited water availability[,] more attention is being focused on estimating the optimum water requirement which will ensure efficient water-use” (D’Andria et al 1999).
After understanding the importance that the Olea europaea served within the Roman Empire as well as after being provided the information that D’Andria et al published in 1999 in the Journal of Horticultural Science & Biotechnology, it made me entertain an idea that would have passed me upon initially reading Romans 11. Firstly, Paul is not introducing a new spiritual topic to those gathered in Rome; on the contrary, he’s discussing a topic that both he and his audience very well understood. Upon reading Paul’s letter, those assembled in Rome may have understood immediately certain news and details that was of great importance to them in their days. According to Paul's Roman audience, they may have understood that there was an [...]
· Increase of Roman military campaigns and presence throughout the Roman Empire;
· Increase of gladiatorial events throughout the coliseums (reference 1 Timothy 6:5-21, 2 Timothy 4:7-22);
· Increase use of olive oil in Roman occult practices and Roman temples (reference Romans 6:1-8:39, Acts 19:23-41);
· A shortage of olive oil for consumption, use and medicinal purposes (Hebrews 1:9, James 5:14);
· Limited exports of Olea europeaea throughout the empire (reference Luke 23:56);
· And the introduction of horticultural practices to the common people (reference Romans 11:17-36).
In Paul’s days, his message actually reveals more than what many would initially suspect. He actually was writing about how the Roman Empire that he traveled was trying to increase its production of the Olea europaea all throughout perhaps to increase the financial dividends that Rome was in much need of. Also, Paul’s letter could have been perceived as both bitter and sweet news since the Romans did not actually practice in defining themselves with any other culture outside of what Rome was expected to be, a complete contrast to what the international body of Messiah is observing today. If anything, Paul's message would have sounded more like a message of despair than good news as indicated in 2 Timothy 4:7-22.
Still, the “Grafting In” Process was mentioned with reason. Paul himself understood that one of the greatest ways to draw the attention of the Roman audience of his day was to speak to them about something that they were familiar with, and this was something that Paul was more than willing to do in order to reach out to his Roman audience. Previously in this study, we read that “olives are traditionally grown in conjunction with other crops or livestock,” (Britannica 2013) a practice that Torah prohibits the Israeli people of doing (reference Leviticus 19:19). Though the ancient Romans did mix their fields with all sorts of trees and vegetation to include livestock, Paul didn’t point to the errors of their Roman ways; instead, he spoke to the Romans about something that they would have been familiar to, the process of grafting in a wild olive shoot into the olive tree. By speaking about this “Grafting In” Process, Paul was able to demonstrate to the Romans the means by which they too were beneficiaries to the promises that Elohim made with Abraham (reference Romans 11:17-36). He in fact wrote that “Elohim was willing to do something contrary to nature by grafting you into his cultivated tree” (Romans 11:24), and it is this study that lays the foundation to the “Grafting In” Process.
This study discussed the identity of the actual species of olive tree that the Bible mentions. It also mentions the importance that the olive tree served in the Roman Empire and lays hold to the foundation of the “Grafting In” Process which we will later discuss. Also, this study identified Paul's Olive Tree and what it may have meant to his Roman audience.
1. Beerling, David J., Dr., and William G. Chaloner, Dr. "Annals of Botany." Stomatal Density Responses of Egyptian Olea Europaea L. Leaves to CO2 Change Since 1327 BC. Annals of Botany 71: 431-435; 1993, 16 Nov. 1992. Web. 29 Dec. 2013.
2. D'Andria, R., G. Fontanazza, P. Giorgio, G. Morelli, M. Patumi, and G. Sorrentino. "Yield and Oil Quality of Intensively Trained Trees of Three Cultivars of Olive (Olea Europaea L.) under Different Irrigation Regimes." Journal of Horticultural Science & Biotechnology 729-737 74.6 (1994): 729-37. ISSN 0022-1589 1999, 74 (6) : 729-737. Web. 29 Dec. 2013.
3. Estruch, Ramón, PhD, MD, Blanca Roman, MD, and Lluís Serra-Majem, PhD, MD. "Scientific Evidence of Interventions Using the Mediterranean Diet: A Systematic Review." Wiley Online Library. Medicinal Research Reviews, 28 June 2008. Web. 29 Dec. 2013.
4. Gall, Claudio, Andrea Poli, and Francesco Visioli. "Antioxidant and Other Biological Activities of Phenols from Olives and Olive Oil." Wiley Online Library. Medicinal Research Reviews, 30 Nov. 2001. Web. 29 Dec. 2013.
5. Heyhoe, Kate. "Olive Oil History." GlobalGourmet.com. Forkmedia, LLC, Nov. 2010. Web. 29 Dec. 2013.
6. Powell, James M. "Italy: Field Crops." Britannica.com. Encyclopedia Britannica, 29 Oct. 2013. Web. 29 Dec. 2013.
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