047 The Rejected Stone

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This page forms part of the resources for 047 The Rejected Stone in the Jesus Database project of FaithFutures Foundation

Crossan Inventory | 047 Literature | 047 Parallels | 047 Commentary | 047 Poetry | 047 Images


(1) GThom. 66
(2) Mark 12:10-11 = Matt 21:42 = Luke 20: 17-18
(?3a) Eph 2:20*
(3b) Acts 4:11*
(3c) 1Pet 2:7*
(4a) Barn 6:4
(?4b) Justin Martyr, Dial, 100*
(4c) Irenaeus, Against Heresies, III.5*
(4d) Irenaeus, Against Heresies, IV.33.1*
(4e) Irenaeus, Against Heresies, IV.36*
(4f) Tertullian, Against Marcion, IV.35*
(4g) Tertullian, Against Marcion, V.17*
(4h) Hippolytus, Refutation, V.2*
(4i) Cyprian, Treatises, IV.35*
(4j) Cyprian, Treatises, XII.2.16*
(4k) ApostConst, VII.17*
(4l) Origen, Against Celsus, VIII.19*
(4m) Origen, CommJohn, 23*

Note: Items marked with * are not listed in Crossan's inventory

Crossan analysis:
Item: 47
Stratum: I (30-60 CE)
Attestation: Triple
Historicity: -


(1) Thom 66

Jesus said, "Show me the stone that the builders rejected: that is the keystone." [Complete Gospels]

Original language text currently unavailable

(2) Mark 12:10-11

Have you not read this scripture: 'The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone' ; 11 this was the Lord's doing, and it is amazing in our eyes'?"

οὐδὲ τὴν γραφὴν ταύτην ἀνέγνωτε· λίθον ὃν ἀπεδοκίμασαν οἱ οἰκοδομοῦντες, οὗτος ἐγενήθη εἰς κεφαλὴν γωνίας· παρὰ κυρίου ἐγένετο αὕτη καὶ ἔστιν θαυμαστὴ ἐν ὀφθαλμοῖς ἡμῶν (Mark 12:10–11 GNT-T)

= Matt 21:42

Jesus said to them, "Have you never read in the scriptures: 'The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone' ; this was the Lord's doing, and it is amazing in our eyes'?

Λέγει αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς· οὐδέποτε ἀνέγνωτε ἐν ταῖς γραφαῖς· λίθον ὃν ἀπεδοκίμασαν οἱ οἰκοδομοῦντες, οὗτος ἐγενήθη εἰς κεφαλὴν γωνίας· παρὰ κυρίου ἐγένετο αὕτη καὶ ἔστιν θαυμαστὴ ἐν ὀφθαλμοῖς ἡμῶν; (Matthew 21:42 GNT-T)

= Luke 20:17-18

But he looked at them and said, "What then does this text mean: 'The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone'? 18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; and it will crush anyone on whom it falls."

ὁ δὲ ἐμβλέψας αὐτοῖς εἶπεν· τί οὖν ἐστιν τὸ γεγραμμένον τοῦτο· λίθον ὃν ἀπεδοκίμασαν οἱ οἰκοδομοῦντες, οὗτος ἐγενήθη εἰς κεφαλὴν γωνίας; πᾶς ὁ πεσὼν ἐπ᾿ ἐκεῖνον τὸν λίθον συνθλασθήσεται· ἐφ᾿ ὃν δ᾿ ἂν πέσῃ, λικμήσει αὐτόν.

(Luke 20:17–18 GNT-T)

(3) Psalm 118:22 in other NT texts

(3a) Ephesians 2:20

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, /20/ built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. 21 In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; 22 in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.

ἐποικοδομηθέντες ἐπὶ τῷ θεμελίῳ τῶν ἀποστόλων καὶ προφητῶν, ὄντος ἀκρογωνιαίου αὐτοῦ Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ, (Ephesians 2:20 GNT-T)

(3b) Acts 4:11

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, "Rulers of the people and elders, 9 if we are questioned today because of a good deed done to someone who was sick and are asked how this man has been healed, 10 let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that this man is standing before you in good health by the name of Jesus of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead. 11 This Jesus is 'the stone that was rejected by you, the builders; it has become the cornerstone.' 12 There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved."

οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ λίθος, ὁ ἐξουθενηθεὶς ὑφ᾿ ὑμῶν τῶν οἰκοδόμων, ὁ γενόμενος εἰς κεφαλὴν γωνίας. (Acts 4:11 GNT-T)

(3c) 1 Peter 2:7

Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God's sight, and 5 like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For it stands in scripture: "See, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame." 7 To you then who believe, he is precious; but for those who do not believe, "The stone that the builders rejected has become the very head of the corner," 8 and "A stone that makes them stumble, and a rock that makes them fall." They stumble because they disobey the words, as they were destined to do.

ὑμῖν οὖν ἡ τιμὴ τοῖς πιστεύουσιν, ἀπιστοῦσιν δὲ λίθος ὃν ἀπεδοκίμασαν οἱ οἰκοδομοῦντες, οὗτος ἐγενήθη εἰς κεφαλὴν γωνίας (1 Peter 2:7 GNT-T)

(4) Psalm 118:22 in Early Christian Texts

(4a) Barn 6:4

And again the Prophet says, "The Stone which the builders rejected, this is to become the head of the corner" , and again he says, "This is the great and wonderful day which the Lord made." [ANF]

λέγει δὲ πάλιν ὁ προφήτης· Λίθον ὃν ἀπεδοκίμασαν οἱ οἰκοδομοῦντες, οὗτος ἐγενήθη εἰς κεφαλὴν γωνίας. καὶ πάλιν λέγει· Αὕτη ἐστὶν ἡ ἡμέρα ἡ μεγάλη καὶ θαυμαστή, ἣν ἐποίησεν ὁ κύριος. (Barnabas 6:4 AF-T)

(4b) Justin Martyr, Dialogue, 100

For [Christ] called one of His disciples - previously known by the name of Simon - Peter; since he recognized Him to be Christ the Son of God, by the revelation of His Father: and since we find it recorded in the memoirs of His apostles that He is the Son of God, and since we call Him the Son, we have understood that He proceeded before all creatures from the Father by His power and will (for He is addressed in the writings of the prophets in one way or another as Wisdom, and the Day, and the East, and a Sword, and a Stone, and a Rod, and Jacob, and Israel); and that He became man by the Virgin, in order that the disobedience which proceeded from the serpent might receive its destruction in the same manner in which it derived its origin. [ANF]

Original language text currently not available

(4c) Irenaeus, Against Heresies, III.5

Such [a line of conduct] belongs not to those who heal, or who give life: it is rather that of those bringing on diseases, and increasing ignorance; and much more true than these men shall the law be found, which pronounces every one accursed who sends the blind man astray in the way. For the apostles, who were commissioned to find out the wanderers, and to be for sight to those who saw not, and medicine to the weak, certainly did not address them in accordance with their opinion at the time, but according to revealed truth. For no persons of any kind would act properly, if they should advise blind men, just about to fall over a precipice, to continue their most dangerous path, as if it were the right one, and as if they might go on in safety. Or what medical man, anxious to heal a sick person, would prescribe in accordance with the patient's whims, and not according to the requisite medicine? But that the Lord came as the physician of the sick, He does Himself declare saying, "They that are whole need not a physician, but they that are sick; I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." How then shall the sick be strengthened, or how shall sinners come to repentance? Is it by persevering in the very same courses? or, on the contrary, is it by undergoing a great change and reversal of their former mode of living, by which they have brought upon themselves no slight amount of sickness, and many sins? But ignorance, the mother of all these, is driven out by knowledge. Wherefore the Lord used to impart knowledge to His disciples, by which also it was His practice to heal those who were suffering, and to keep back sinners from sin. He therefore did not address them in accordance with their pristine notions, nor did He reply to them in harmony with the opinion of His questioners, but according to the doctrine leading to salvation, without hypocrisy or respect of person. 3. This is also made clear from the words of the Lord, who did truly reveal the Son of God to those of the circumcision � Him who had been foretold as Christ by the prophets; that is, He set Himself forth, who had restored liberty men, and bestowed on them the inheritance to incorruption And again, the apostles taught the Gentiles that they should leave vain stocks and stones, which they imagined to be gods, and worship the true God, who had created and made all the human family, and, by means of His creation, did nourish, increase, strengthen, and preserve them in being; and that they might look for His Son Jesus Christ, who redeemed us from apostasy with His own blood, so that we should also be a sanctified people, � who shall also descend from heaven in His Father's power, and pass judgment upon all, and who shall freely give the good things of God to those who shall have kept His commandments. He, appearing in these last times, the chief cornerstone, has gathered into one, and united those that were far off and those that were near; that is, the circumcision and the uncircumcision, enlarging Japhet, and placing him in the dwelling of Shem. [ANF]

Original language text currently unavailable

(4d) Irenaeus, Against Heresies,IV.33.1

A spiritual disciple of this sort truly receiving the Spirit of God, who was from the beginning, in all the dispensations of God, present with mankind, and announced things future, revealed things present, and narrated things past [such a man] does indeed "judge all men, but is himself judged by no man." For he judges the Gentiles, "who serve the creature more than the Creator," and with a reprobate mind spend all their labor on vanity. And he also judges the Jews, who do not accept of the word of liberty, nor are willing to go forth free, although they have a Deliverer present [with them]; but they pretend, at a time unsuitable [for such conduct], to serve, [with observances] beyond [those required by] the law, God who stands in need of nothing, and do not recognize the advent of Christ, which He accomplished for the salvation of men, nor are willing to understand that all the prophets announced His two advents: the one, indeed, in which He became a man subject to stripes, and knowing what it is to bear infirmity, and sat upon the foal of an ass, and was a stone rejected by the builders, and was led as a sheep to the slaughter, and by the stretching forth of His hands destroyed Amalek; while He gathered from the ends of the earth into His Father's fold the children who were scattered abroad, and remembered His own dead ones who had formerly fallen asleep, and came down to them that He might deliver them: but the second in which He will come on the clouds, bringing on the day which burns as a furnace? and smiting the earth with the word of His mouth? and slaying the impious with the breath of His lips, and having a fan in His hands, and cleansing His floor, and gathering the wheat indeed into His barn, but burning the chaff with unquenchable fire. [ANF]

Original language text currently unavailable

(4e) Irenaeus, Against Heresies, IV.36

Again does the Lord say: "Have ye never read, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the comer: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes? Therefore I say unto you, that the kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof." By these words He clearly points out to His disciples one and the same Householder � that is, one God the Father, who made all things by Himself; while [He shows] that there are various husbandmen, some obstinate, and proud, and worthless, and slayers of the Lord, but others who render Him, with all obedience, the fruits in their seasons; and that it is the same Householder who sends at one time His servants, at another His Son. [ANF]

Original language text currently unavailable

(4f) Tertullian, Against Marcion, IV.35

And if the heretics, in their audacity, should contend that the Lord did not give an answer about His own kingdom, but only about the Creator's kingdom, concerning which they had inquired, then the following words are against them. For He tells them that "the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected," before His coming, at which His kingdom will be really revealed. In this statement He shows that it was His own kingdom which His answer to them had contemplated, and which was now awaiting His own sufferings and rejection. But having to be rejected and afterwards to be acknowledged, and taken up and glorified, He borrowed the very word "rejected" from the passage, where, under the figure of a stone , His twofold manifestation was celebrated by David the first in rejection, the second in honor: "The stone," says He, "which the builders rejected, is become the head-stone of the corner. This is the Lord's doing." Now it would be idle, if we believed that God had predicted the humiliation, or even the glory, of any Christ at all, that He could have signed His prophecy for any but Him whom He had foretold under the figure of a stone, and a rock, and a mountain. [ANF]

Original language text currently unavailable

(4g) Tertullian, Against Marcion, V.17

He feared, no doubt, that our building was to stand in Christ upon the foundation of the ancient prophets, since the apostle himself never fails to build us up everywhere with (the words of) the prophets. For whence did he learn to call Christ "the chief corner-stone," but from the figure given him in the Psalm: "The stone which the builders rejected is become the head (stone) of the corner?"[ANF]

Original language text currently unavailable

(4h) Hippolytus, Refutation, V.2

The expression "rock", he says, he uses of Adam. This, he affirms, is Adam: "The chief corner-stone become the head of the corner. For that in the head the substance is the formative brain from which the entire family is fashioned. "Whom," he says, "I place as a rock at the foundations of Zion. [ANF]

Original language text currently unavailable

(4i) Cyprian, Treatises, IV.35

But for us, beloved brethren, besides the hours of prayer observed of old, both the times and the sacraments have now increased in number. For we must also pray in the morning, that the Lord's resurrection may be celebrated by morning prayer. And this formerly the Holy Spirit pointed out in the Psalms, saying, "My King, and my God, because unto Thee will I cry; O Lord, in the morning shalt Thou hear my voice; in the morning will I stand before Thee, and will look up to Thee." And again, the Lord speaks by the mouth of the prophet: "Early in the morning shall they watch for me, saying, Let us go, and return unto the Lord our God." Also at the sun setting and at the decline of day, of necessity we must pray again. For since Christ is the true sun and the true day, as the worldly sun and worldly day depart, when we pray and ask that light may return to us again, we pray for the advent of Christ, which shall give us the grace of everlasting light. Moreover, the Holy Spirit in the Psalms manifests that Christ is called the day. "The stone," says He, "which the builders rejected, is become the head of the corner. This is the Lord's doing; and it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day which the Lord hath made; let us walk and rejoice in it." Also the prophet Malachi testifies that He is called the Sun, when he says, "But to you that fear the name of the Lord shall the Sun of righteousness arise, and there is healing in His wings." But if in the Holy Scriptures the true sun and the true day is Christ, there is no hour excepted for Christians wherein God ought not frequently and always to be worshipped; so that we who are in Christ � that is, in the true Sun and the true Day � should be instant throughout the entire day in petitions, and should pray; and when, by the law of the world, the revolving night, recurring in its alternate changes, succeeds, there can be no harm arising from the darkness of night to those who pray, because the children of light have the day even in the night. For when is he without light who has light in his heart? or when has not he the sun and the day, whose Sun and Day is Christ? [ANF]

Original language text currently unavailable

(4j) Cyprian, Treatises, XII.2.16

16.That Christ also is called a Stone.
In Isaiah: "Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I place on the foundations of Sion a precious stone, elect, chief, a corner stone, honorable; and he who trusteth in Him shall not be confounded." Also in the 117th Psalm: "The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner. This is done by the Lord, and it is wonderful in our eyes. This is the day, which the Lord hath made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. O Lord, save therefore, O Lord, direct therefore. Blessed is He who cometh in the name of the Lord." Also in Zechariah: "Behold, I bring forth my servant. The Orient is his name, because the stone which I have placed before the face of Jesus; upon that one stone are seven eyes." Also in Deuteronomy: "And thou shall write upon the stone all this law, very plainly." Also in Jesus the son of Nave: "And be took a great stone, and placed it there before the Lord; and Jesus said unto the people, Behold, this stone shall be to you for a testimony, because it hath heard all the things which were spoken by the Lord, which He hath spoken to you today; and it shall be for a testimony to you in the last of the days, when ye shall have departed from your God." Also in the Acts of the Apostles, Peter: "Ye princes of the people, and elders of Israel, hearken: Behold, we are this day interrogated by you about the good deed done to the impotent man, by means of which he is made whole. Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye have crucified, whom God hath raised up from the dead, by Him he stands whole in your presence, but by none other. This is the stone which was despised by you builders, which has become the head of the corner. For there is no other name given to men under heaven in which we must be saved." This is the stone in Genesis, which Jacob places at his head, because the head of the man is Christ; and as he slept he saw a ladder reaching to heaven, on which the Lord was placed, and angels were ascending and descending. And this stone he designating Christ consecrated and anointed with the sacrament of unction. This is the stone in Exodus upon which Moses sate on the top of a hill when Jesus the son of Nave fought against Amalek; and by the sacrament of the stone, and the steadfastness of his sitting, Amalek was overcome by Jesus, that is, the devil was overcome by Christ. This is the great stone in the first book of Kings, upon which was placed the ark of the covenant when the oxen brought it back in the cart, sent back and returned by the strangers. Also, this is the stone in the first book of Kings, with which David smote the forehead of Goliath and slew him; signifying that the devil and his servants are thereby thrown down � that part of the head, namely, being conquered which they have not had sealed. And by this seal we also are always safe and live. This is the stone which, when Israel had conquered the aliens, Samuel set up and called its name Ebenezer; that is, the stone that helpeth. [ANF]

(4k) Constitution of the Holy Apostles VII.16

And by them He was rejected as an unprofitable stone, but by you was received as the corner-stone. Wherefore He says concerning you: "A people whom I knew not have served me, and at the hearing of the ear have they obeyed me." [ANF]

Original language text not currently available

(4l) Origen, Contra Celsum, VIII.19

And if, further, temples are to be compared with temples, that we may prove to those who accept the opinions of Celsus that we do not object to the erection of temples suited to the images and altars of which we have spoken, but that we do refuse to build lifeless temples to the Giver of all life, let any one who chooses learn how we are taught, that our bodies are the temple of God, and that if any one by lust or sin defiles the temple of God, he will himself be destroyed, as acting impiously towards the true temple. Of all the temples spoken of in this sense, the best and most excellent was the pure and holy body of our Savior Jesus Christ. When He knew that wicked men might aim at the destruction of the temple of God in Him, but that their purposes of destruction would not prevail against the divine power which had built that temple, He says to them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it again.... This He said of the temple of His body." And in other parts of holy Scripture where it speaks of the mystery of the resurrection to those whose ears are divinely opened, it says that the temple which has been destroyed shall be built up again of living and most precious stones, thereby giving us to understand that each of those who are led by the word of God to strive together in the duties of piety, will be a precious stone in the one great temple of God. Accordingly, Peter says, "Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ;" and Paul also says, "Being built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ our Lord being the chief cornerstone." And there is a similar hidden allusion in this passage in Isaiah, which is addressed to Jerusalem: "Behold, I will lay thy stones with carbuncles, and lay thy foundations with sapphires. And I will make thy battlements of jasper, and thy gates of crystal, and all thy borders of pleasant stones. And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children. In righteousness shall thou be established." [ANF]

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(4m) Origen, Commentary on GJohn, 23

And in the Psalms our Lord is called the stone, as follows: "The stone which the builders rejected is made the head of the comer. It is from the Lord, and it is wonderful in our eyes." And the Gospel shows, as also does Luke in the Acts, that the stone is no other than Christ; the Gospel as follows: "Have ye never read, the stone which the builders rejected is made the head of the corner. Whosoever falls on this stone shall be broken, but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will scatter him as dust." And Luke writes in Acts: "This is the stone, which was set at naught of you the builders, which has become the head of the corner." [ANF]

Original language text not currently available