Two parables for a publisher

Have you ever wondered what the crucial difference is between two rather similar ‘Parables of the Kingdom’ in Matthew chapter 13: I am thinking of the parable of the treasure hidden a the field and the merchant in search of fine pearls?

I have heard various theories, but the one that convinced me most was this: the treasure hidden in a field makes commercial sense whereas the merchant only makes sense spiritually.

For the investor who buys a field containing a hidden treasure is buying an instrument with a built-in profit or margin of security. In modern terms, he could be thought as having an informational edge. The bottom line is that he can always sell the field and keep the treasure.

On the other hand any normal jewel merchant only buys the pearl of great price if he thinks he can sell it on at a profit: but to put 100% of your capital into any one jewel is horribly risky at best and if you love it so much that you can never bring yourself to sell it that’s commercial suicide! This purchase is an act of passion.

The point is this: discovering the Kingdom of God has at the same time to make sense and to be an act of passion.

The application to a publisher is clear: Highland is a merchant in search of fine manuscripts: but the challenge is to keep in balance the commercial sense and the passion aspects of this calling. And when in doubt the passion must trump the commercial, because the other way round is just too dispiriting.