T H E C H A L L E N G E O F JESUS'

PARABLES

MCMASTER NEW TESTAMENT STUDIES

The McMaster New Testament Studies series, edited by Richard N. Longenecker, is designed to address particular themes in the New Testament that
are of concern to Christians today. Written in a style easily accessible to
ministers, students, and laypeople by contributors who are proven experts
in their fields of study, the volumes in this series reflect the best of current
biblical scholarship while also speaking directly to the pastoral needs of
people in the church today.

The Challenge of
Jesus' Parables

Edited

by

Richard N. Longenecker

WILLIAM B. EERDMANS PUBLISHING COMPANY
GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN / CAMBRIDGE, U . K .

© 2000 Wm. Β. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
255 Jefferson Ave. S.E., Grand Rapids, Michigan 49503 /
P.O. Box 163, Cambridge CB3 9PU U.K.
All rights reserved

Printed in the United States of America
05 04 03 02 01 00

7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
ISBN 0-8028-4638 6

Contents

Contributors
Preface
Introduction
I. History, Genre, and Parallels
1. F r o m Allegorizing to Allegorizing: A History of t h e
I n t e r p r e t a t i o n of t h e Parables of Jesus
KLYNE R. SNODGRASS
2. T h e G e n r e of t h e Parables
ROBERT H. STEIN
3. Parables in Early J u d a i s m
CRAIG A. EVANS
II. Parables of the Kingdom
4. M a r k ' s Parables of t h e K i n g d o m ( M a r k 4:1-34)
MORNA D. HOOKER
5. M a t t h e w ' s Parables of t h e K i n g d o m ( M a t t h e w 13:1-52)
DONALD A. HAGNER

WRIGHT 11. FRANCE IV. Luke 14:28-33.GCONTENTS 6.. MARTENS 8. 16:1-13. LONGENECKER III. Luke 10:25-37) 263 SYLVIA C. 13:18-21) 125 RICHARD N. " P r o d u c e F r u i t W o r t h y of R e p e n t a n c e " : Parables of J u d g m e n t against t h e Jewish Religious Leaders a n d t h e N a t i o n ( M a t t h e w 2 1 : 2 8 . Luke 17:7-10. BARTON 10. KEESMAAT 13. Luke 13:6-9) 151 ALLAN W. Parables o n Prayer (Luke 11:5-13. Parables o n G o d ' s Love a n d Forgiveness (Luke 15:1-32) 199 STEPHEN C. " E v e r y o n e W h o H e a r s T h e s e W o r d s of M i n e " : Parables o n Discipleship ( M a t t h e w 7:24-27//Luke 6:47-49. 16:19-31) 217 STEPHEN I. KNOWLES Index of Subjects Index of Modern Index of Scripture 306 Authors 309 and Other Ancient vi Literature 312 . Parables of Warning and Preparedness 7. 18:1-14) 240 WALTER L. O n Being Ready ( M a t t h e w 25:1-46) 177 RICHARD T. LIEFELD 12. M a t t h e w 20:1-16) 286 MICHAEL P. Parables o n Poverty a n d Riches (Luke 12:13-21. Parables of the Christian Life 9. Strange N e i g h b o r s a n d Risky C a r e ( M a t t h e w 18:21-35. Luke 14:7-14. L u k e s Parables of t h e K i n g d o m (Luke 8:4-15.2 2 : 1 4 par.

Bishop's Castle.Contributors Stephen C. Hamilton. McMaster Divinity College. Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. California Morna D. BC Richard T. England Craig A. D u r h a m . University of Cambridge. Keesmaat Senior Member in Biblical Studies and Hermeneutics. Longenecker Distinguished Professor of New Testament. Ratlinghope. Hooker The Lady Margaret's Professor of Divinity Emerita. Myndtown. Ontario Walter L. Toronto. France Rector of the United Benefice of Wentnor. England Donald A. Shropshire. Deerfield. More. Ontario Michael P. Hamilton. Knowles G. Institute for Christian Studies. Pasadena. Norbury. Hurlburt Professor of Preaching. Langley. Cambridge. Lydham and Snead. Department of Theology. McMaster Divinity College. England Sylvia C. and Fellow of Robinson College. University of D u r h a m . Evans Professor of New Testament and Director of the Graduate Program in Biblical Studies. Barton Senior Lecturer in New Testament. Fuller Theological Seminary. McMaster University. Hagner George Eldon Ladd Professor of New Testament. Trinity Western University. F. Illinois Richard N. Liefeld Professor Emeritus of New Testament. McMaster University. Ontario vii .

Toronto. Martens A d j u n c t Professor of N e w Testament. College of Preachers. England viii . Wright Director.CONTRIBUTORS Allan W. Snodgrass Paul W. Kentucky Stephen I. Brandel Professor of New Testament Studies. Louisville. London. Illinois Robert H. O n t a r i o Klyne R. Chicago. N o r t h Park Theological Seminary. Stein Ernest and Mildred H o g a n Professor of New Testament Interpretation. Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Tyndale College and Seminary.

they will be styled to reflect the best of contemporary. theological students. In format. the teachings of Jesus' parables f o r m . T h e plan is to prepare and publish annual symposium volumes. but in a way that is able to be understood by and speaks to the needs of alert and intelligent people in the church today. of course. sponsored by McMaster Divinity College. b u t will also be written in a m a n n e r capable of capturing the interest of intelligent lay people. Canada. the heart of the Christian gospel. This fourth volume in the M N T S series focuses on the parables of Jesus as presented in the Synoptic Gospels. Each article included in these symposium volumes. and ministers. been treated extensively t h r o u g h o u t the hisix . in large part. however. The topic has. The series is designed to address particular themes in the New Testam e n t that are (or should be) of crucial concern to Christians today. with the contributors being selected because of their proven expertise in the areas assigned and their k n o w n ability to write intelligibly for readers who are not necessarily academics. It is a topic that is central for an understanding of Jesus and his ministry. and so are integral to all of o u r Christian lives and ministries.Preface T H I S IS T H E fourth volume in the McMaster New Testament Studies series. More than that. Ontario. It is also i m p o r t a n t for an appreciation of how the canonical evangelists treated the traditions about Jesus at their disposal. therefore. the articles will be both scholarly and pastoral. In purpose. constructive scholarship. will evidence first-class biblical scholarship. Hamilton.

It was at that colloquium that the a u t h o r s of the present volume presented their papers and received criticism f r o m one another. Brackney. Most heartily. before then reworking and polishing their papers. and f r o m others in attendance. and to the faculty. H. B. b o t h by scholars and preachers — with interest in these parables having actually increased in o u r day. we t h a n k those w h o have written articles for this volume. 1998. prior to final editing a n d the n o r m a l publication process. distilling f r o m their academic publications material of pertinence for t h e Christian church generally.A. Eerdmans Publishing C o m p a n y for their continued s u p p o r t of the series.. held d u r i n g June 22-23. T H E EDITOR χ . William H.Th. however. B. a noted Canadian Baptist minister and administrator of the previous generation. D. which has generously f u n d e d the f o u r t h annual " H . O u r heartfelt thanks are expressed to Dr. and thereby have a positive impact on the church at large. And we t h a n k Bill E e r d m a n s and the W m .. Bingham C o l l o q u i u m in New Test a m e n t " at McMaster Divinity College. Principal and Dean of McMaster Divinity College. administration. as necessary. we believe that Jesus' parables need a more responsible scholarly t r e a t m e n t and better personal applications t h a n they usually receive in either scholarly writings or the p o p u l a r press. for their e n c o u r a g e m e n t and s u p p o r t of the entire project.D. we express o u r deep appreciation to the family of H e r b e r t H e n r y Bingham.PREFACE tory of the Christian church. and boards of the college. B. So we have prepared this f o u r t h M N T S volume with the h o p e that it will prove to be of help to m a n y earnest Christians w h o seek to t h i n k and live in a m o r e Christian fashion. for they have taken t i m e out of busy academic schedules to write in a more p o p u l a r fashion — in many cases. f r o m the editor. Nonetheless.. b o t h o n the part of those w h o read t h e m academically and those w h o read t h e m devotionally. Likewise.

and the Christian religion will be more readily welcomed. however. The word "parable" (parabole) appears forty-eight times in the Synoptic Gospels (seventeen times in Matthew. though parabolic forms may underlie some of the Johannine discourses (e. 11:9-10. 10:1-5. and eighteen in Luke). 8:35. People can still be heard to say. John's Gospel. thirteen in Mark.g. told in an engaging manner and easily understood by almost everyone. not in sayings or parables. perhaps also 3:29..Introduction T H E PARABLES OF JESUS are commonly assumed to be simple stories. set before their modern readers a number of complex and significant challenges: challenges having to do with (1) Jesus' purpose in telling these parables. and (3) the depth and breadth of meaning that they possess — but also. and more easily assimilated. presents Jesus as speaking in extended discourses. (4) our being awakened anew to the radical message that they proclaim. The word has various shades of meaning in the Synoptic Gospels and can be understood to refer to a n u m b e r of ways in which Jesus both taught and ministered." But Jesus' parables. and probably more important. and 12:24). It is entirely absent in John's Gospel and is missing in the rest of the New Testament as well. while seemingly simple in their story lines. (2) how they were used by the canonical evangelists in their Gospels. more quickly understood. "Give us only the parables. What follows in this book are thirteen articles written by thirteen xi . except for two uses in Hebrews 9:9 and 11:19 that are without importance for a discussion of Jesus' parables.

INTRODUCTION first-rate New Testament scholars that attempt to u n d e r s t a n d the parables of Jesus as portrayed in the Synoptic Gospels o n their o w n terms and to set o u t the challenge of their teachings anew — all the while profiting f r o m the great a m o u n t of study that has already transpired and seeking to use the tools of c o n t e m p o r a r y New Testament scholarship in a responsible m a n n e r . and ministers. it is h o p e d that t h r o u g h their efforts the teaching of Jesus in his extant parables and the proclamation of the evangelists in their portrayals of those parables will be better presented than is usually the case. But they are presented in a m a n n e r that is intended to be u n d e r stood by intelligent lay people. are s o m e w h a t artificial. and such captions s o m e w h a t anachronistic. as well as the w o r d i n g of the captions for these groups.t y p e footnotes are held to a m i n i m u m . Christians will be instructed and challenged to live m o r e genuine lives as Jesus' followers and the Christian church will be benefited in carrying o u t the tasks of its God-given mission. is simply for pedagogical purposes. The articles build o n the scholarly expertise of their respective authors. theological students. however. T h e only criterion they have followed is that of greatest compatibility with the material being studied. N o r did the evangelists incorporate Jesus' parables into their Gospels to c o n f o r m to o u r m o d e r n analyses. and then only set in abbreviated f o r m in parentheses in the text when felt to be absolutely necessary. Nonetheless. Such groupings. More than that. Each article has a Selected Bibliography of no more t h a n sixteen entries for f u r ther study. Unabashedly. however. T H E EDITOR xii . All of the articles. it is hoped that — while the parables should u n d o u b t e d l y be u n d e r s t o o d as s o m e t h i n g of a "seamless g a r m e n t " in their general contours and t h r u s t — such groupings and captions will prove useful for a m o r e detailed analysis. admittedly. It is expected that their academic expertise will be evident in what they write. are devoid of discussion-type footnotes which either interact with c o m p e t i n g positions or bring in subsidiary m a terials. with many of the works cited being f o u n d a t i o n a l for the article itself. Even d o c u m e n t a r y . Jesus did not structure his teaching in terms of o u r m o d e r n categories. And what is prayed for is that by such a t r u e r and abler presentation. the authors of this volume have taken certain critical stances and used a variety of interpretive m e t h o d s in their respective treatments. The organization of Jesus' parables into particular subject groups.

and Parallels .PART I History. Genre.

.

and Stein in the bibliography). have proven to be anything but simple. S N O D G R A S S I N N O OTHER AREA of New Testament study is a history of interpretation so crucial as it is with the parables of Jesus. Perrin. It is a story that has been told repeatedly and in much greater detail by others than is possible here (see. people have read into t h e m various features of the church's theology. Here a history of interpretation is virtually a prerequisite for understanding (1) the issues that must be addressed and (2) the tendencies that appear in many of today's treatments. one cannot do a serious study of the parables without first setting out and interacting with such a history of interpretation. Kissinger. 1. for example. From the earliest days and t h r o u g h o u t most of the church's history. which are widely seen to be gems of articulation about life and God.CHAPTER 1 From Allegorizing to Allegorizing: A History of the Interpretation of the Parables of Jesus K L Y N E R. Nonetheless. the works by Blomberg. Jesus' parables have been allegorized — that is. 3 . For these seemingly simple stories of Jesus. Theological Allegorizing The primary interpretive issue with regard to Jesus' parables has always been the extent to which the details of the stories are to be taken as relevant for a proper understanding. Jones.

In the church this "Alexandrian exegesis" went h a n d in h a n d with the belief that Scripture could yield a fourfold meaning: a literal meaning. SNODGRASS with m a n y of those features often having little to do with Jesus' own intent. Such allegorizing of texts was not limited to the church. it is not surprising to find c o m m e n t a t o r s asserting with respect to t h e Parable of the H i d d e n Treasure (Matt 13:44) either t h a t Christ is the treasure. and a heavenly meaning. Similarly. (12) the innkeeper is the apostle Paul.2-10 (on Hab 2:17). The best-known example of such theological allegorization is Augustine's interpretation of the Parable of the G o o d Samaritan (Luke 10:3037). (3) Jericho is the m o o n . (5) the priest and Levite are the priesthood and the ministry of the Old Testament. It is f o u n d frequently in the writings of the Jewish philosopher-theologian Philo. C o m p e t i n g allegories could coexist w i t h o u t difficulty. Gregory the Great u n d e r s t o o d the three times that the owner came looking for fruit in the Parable of the Barren 4 .19). b u t also allegorically to m e a n "Let Christ be b o r n in the church. (8) the oil and wine are the c o m f o r t of h o p e and the e n c o u r a g e m e n t to work. which stands for o u r mortality. w h o strip the m a n of his immortality and beat h i m by persuading h i m to sin. (4) the robbers are the devil and his angels. an allegorical-theological meaning. for example. therefore. (2) Jerusalem is the heavenly city. or that the treasure is doctrine. and (13) the two denarii are the two c o m m a n d m e n t s of love." and with regard to heaven to m e a n "May we be conducted to glory t h r o u g h Christ" (see his Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians 4:7). like that of 1 Q p H a b 12. (7) the b i n d i n g of the w o u n d s is the restraint of sin." to refer literally to creation. which reflected f u t u r e bliss. which is h i d d e n in the field of the church. or the promise of this life and that which is to come ( s u m m a r y f r o m Quaestiones Evangeliorum 2. where virtually every item is given a theological significance: (1) the m a n is Adam. T h o m a s Aquinas t o o k God's statement of Gen 1:3. (9) the d o n k e y is the i n c a r n a t i o n . So. was used by various Hellenistic interpreters of H o m e r and Plato. "Let there be light. (10) the inn is the church. In the history of parable i n t e r p r e t a t i o n .Κ LYN Ε R. (6) the good Samaritan is Christ. w h o is h i d d e n in the field of Scripture. an ethical meaning. (11) the next day is after the resurrection of Christ. and appears in some of the pesharim or interpretive treatments of Scripture f o u n d in the Dead Sea Scrolls at Q u m r a n ." ethically to m e a n "May we be illumined in mind and inflamed in heart t h r o u g h Christ.

Allegorizing. ( The Gospel of Matthew. He also u n d e r s t o o d the vinedresser to represent those w h o rule the church. needs to be exercised in o u r evaluations of those who allegorized. Likewise. (2) his c o m i n g at the t i m e the law was written. and t h e n finds that t r u t h paralleled by the text being read — even if the text is about another subject. of course. "Calvin and the Irrepressible Spirit. Some C h u r c h Fathers and Reformers. are highly laudatory. they did not base their doctrinal f o r m u l a t i o n s on allegorical exegesis. Unfortunately.From Allegorizing to Allegorizing Fig Tree (Luke 13:6-9) to represent (1) God's c o m i n g before the law was given. b u t sought to establish controls in order to prevent excesses by limiting those w h o could participate in such interpretations and by setting u p b o u n d a r i e s within which that interpretation should operate (cf. however. of course. was the p r i m a r y m e t h o d for the interpretation of Jesus' parables f r o m at least the t i m e of Irenaeus to t h e end of the nineteenth c e n t u r y (for n u m e r o u s other examples. It obfuscates the message of Jesus and replaces it with the teaching of the church. at times. and the digging and d u n g to refer to the rebuke of u n f r u i t f u l people and the r e m e m b r a n c e of sins (see his Forty Gospel Homilies. "Calvin and the Irrepressible Spirit. to reap this. Chrysostom's c o m m e n t on the Parable of the Vineyard Workers is still good advice: The saying is a parable." Ex Anditu 12 [1996] 94-107). Such an interpretive procedure assumes that one knows the t r u t h before reading a text. wherefore neither is it right to inquire curiously into all things in parables word by word. 31). for people like Augustine were n o t ignorant. it still occurs all too o f t e n in m o d e r n preaching. Homily 64. Steinmetz. in fact.3) Some caution. D. Tertullian and Luther did. but when we have learnt the object for which it was composed. see Wailes. Steinmetz. Those w h o engaged in allegorical interpretation assumed (1) that life had a relation to the text and (2) that the text had power to direct their lives. 5 . and not to busy one's self about anything further. F u r t h e r m o r e . Medieval Allegories)." 97). Such ass u m p t i o n s . allegorizing is no legitimate means of interpretation. and (3) his c o m i n g in grace and mercy in Christ. Still. allegorizing continued to creep into their own t r e a t m e n t s (cf. at least to some degree. John Chrysostom and John Calvin voiced opposition to allegorical exegesis — t h o u g h . protested such allegorizing.

however. and Joachim Jeremias — even t h o u g h . Jesus' stories contained self-evident comparisons that did n o t need interpretation. which hide m e a n i n g and need to be decoded. they were not always consistent.A l l e g o r i z i n g A p p r o a c h e s Theological allegorizing of the parables came largely to an end in scholarly circles d u r i n g the latter part of the nineteenth century and t h r o u g h o u t most of the twentieth century. Paradoxically. D o d d .44-70 and 80-81). and t u r n e d t h e m into dark and mysterious sayings (Gleichnisreden Jesu. principally t h r o u g h the work of Adolf Jülicher. Jülicher retained confidence about the genuineness of the parable tradition. assumed that they had a concealing f u n c t i o n (e." 6 . 1.. and so are easily u n d e r s t o o d . Jülicher insisted. where allegory or allegorical traits do appear in the stories — such as in the Parable of the Sower or the Parable of the Wicked Tenants — the evangelists are to blame. F u r t h e r m o r e . Historical. Adolf Jülicher's two volumes o n the parables of Jesus in 1888 and 1899 s o u n d e d the death knell for theological allegorizing as a legitimate hermeneutical tool and radically affected the interpretation of Jesus' parables thereafter. For the evangelists m i s u n d e r s t o o d the parables. therefore. H. SNODGRASS 2. no "mixed forms. whereas an allegory is an expanded metaphor. however. they are to be seen as features of indirect speech.g. N o n . m u s t be viewed as being illegitimate. Rather. they say one thing and m e a n another. are non-literal.42). as we will see. Simile and parable are features of literal speech. All allegorizing interpretations of the parables. ibid.. C. and he knew that parables in "Hellenistic scribal learning" were s o m e t i m e s enigmatic (cf. Adolf Jülicher Although others before him had argued against the abuses of allegorizing.Κ LYN Ε R. 1. M e t a p h o r and allegory. a parable is an expanded simile. Therefore. In his war against allegorizing. M a r k 4:10-12). In Jülicher's view. Jülicher denied that Jesus used allegory at all (which he defined as a series of related metaphors) or incorporated any allegorical traits into his stories (where a point in a story "stands for" s o m e t h i n g else in reality). Allegory was too complex for the simple Galilean preacher. Jülicher allowed no mingling of parable and allegory.

m a n y scholars have called attention to the confusion that exists between "allegory" and "allegorizing" in Jülicher's t r e a t m e n t of the issues. He also distinguished between various types of parables: "similitudes" (as the Parable of the Leaven). t h o u g h there is considerable debate a b o u t whether allegory and example story are. even w h e n those who make t h e m complain a b o u t their hypothetical character. These distinctions — along with that of allegory — are still used today. 1912]).From Allegorizing to Allegorizing F u r t h e r m o r e . and so his parables c a n n o t be viewed as allegories. in Jülicher's u n d e r s t a n d i n g there could be no positing of several points of comparison between an image (Bild) and the object (Sache) portrayed. where allegorical parables and mixed f o r m s were c o m m o n (Altjüdische Gleichnisse und die Gleichnisse Jesu [Tübingen: Mohr-Siebeck. p e r h a p s more accurately said. Jesus' parables had only o n e point of contact (one tertium comparationis) between an image and its object. note also his admission that this parable has n u m e r o u s correspondences between image and object [ibid. F u r t h e r m o r e . Jülicher's impact o n the study of parables was n o t limited to his discussion of allegory. Die Gleichnisreden Jesu im Lichte der rabbinischen Gleichnisse des neutestamentlichen Zeitalters [Tübingen: Mohr-Siebeck. it may fairly be said that the more attention o n e pays to Jewish parables. some pious moralism a b o u t G o d and the world. Also.. 432]). w h o argued that Jülicher had derived his u n d e r s t a n d i n g of Jesus' parables f r o m Greek rhetoric rather t h a n f r o m the Hebrew world. 1904]. Such reconstructions are fairly c o m m o n a m o n g scholars today. And in c o n t e m p o r a r y treatments of the parables. Attacks on Jülicher's position came quickly and have continued right to the present. In fact. His p u r p o s e was n o t to obscure. A m o n g the first was Paul Fiebig.431. "parables" proper. and "example stories" (as the Parable of the G o o d Samaritan). Hans-Josef Klauck (Allegorie und Allegorese in synoptischen 7 . scholars who focus on a Jewish background for the parables object to Jülicher's reductionistic views and reject the idea that any literature is self-interpreting. see Gleichnisreden Jesu. by arguing that the evangelists had altered Jesus' parables. in fact. Rather. as h a p p e n s with allegory. 11. the less impressed o n e is with Jülicher's explanations. Jesus' parables should be seen as enunciating only one s o m e w h a t general religious m a x i m — or. as we will see. legitimate categories. Jülicher opened the d o o r for attempts to reconstruct the original version of the parables (for his reconstruction of the Parable of the Banquet in Matt 22:1-14 and Luke 14:15-24.

. in fact.g. R a y m o n d Brown. And even when aware of the inadequacy of Jülicher's arguments. Even so. Die Gleichnisse Jesu als Metaphern [Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. particularly against his treatments of m e t a p h o r and allegory (cf. It is as if once the seeds of the attack on the allegorizing of the church were scattered. despite the inadequacy of his views. "Towards the Restoration of Allegory. to roughly 1970 — 8 .g. 1978]). 1978]). Dodd and Joachim Jeremias The D o d d and Jeremias era of parable studies extends f r o m 1936. Vladimir's Theological Quarterly 34 [1990] 162-63). SNODGRASS Gleichnistexten [Münster: Aschendorff. which is a literary f o r m . Blomberg. Weder. m a n y scholars are still caught in the vortex of his procedures and conclusions. they c a n n o t be collected again for réévaluation b u t must be allowed to germinate w i t h o u t hindrance. Few today accept Jülicher's definition of parable. And others have m o u n t e d f r o n t a l attacks against many of Jülicher's views (e. for most view a parable as an expansion of a m e t a p h o r and n o t a simile (e. People often still speak of a parable as having only o n e point and are suspicious of any feature that may have allegorical significance. b u t a way of thinking that can be present in various genres. have pointed out that Jülicher's reaction against allegory only reflects a nineteenth-century distaste for the allegories that were written d u r i n g the sixteenth t h r o u g h the eighteenth centuries (e. speaks of Jülicher as having t h r o w n o u t allegory. which is an interpretive procedure of reading into material a theology not originally intended. Jülicher's conclusions have had surprising staying power — c o n t i n u i n g o n in the scholarly and p o p u l a r psyches right d o w n to the present.g.. 1990]). Interpreting the Parables [Downers Grove: InterVarsity. C. M a x i m e H e r m a n i u k . have argued that allegory is n o t a literary genre at all. and Craig Blomberg). And virtually no one accepts his claim that the parables present us with only rather general religious maxims. whereas the real p r o b l e m is that of allegorizing. Mary Ford. Several scholars. 1977]) and John Sider (Interpreting the Parables [Grand Rapids: Z o n d e r v a n . And others. for example. 1995]). esp.. John Drury. H.Κ LYN Ε R. C. particularly Madeleine Boucher ( T h e Mysterious Parable [Washington: Catholic Biblical Association of America. M a t t h e w Black. L." St. H. with the appearance of Dodd's The Parables of the Kingdom.

conclusions. invariably. Likewise. Both viewed the parables as realistic first-century peasant stories and sought to explain the cultural setting of the individual parables. n o n .o r i g i n a l matters having to do. even t h o u g h they differed in their respective understandings of eschatology. Jeremiase work was an extension of Dodd's. Both tried to understand the parables in their historical and eschatological contexts. introductions. with the contexts. 146-53). the Parable of the Talents (Matt 25:14-30//Luke 19:11-27) was originally a b o u t the c o n d u c t of the Pharisees. Almost a third of his b o o k discusses ten areas where changes m a d e by the church need to be addressed and rectified in order to r e t u r n to the original utterances of Jesus — these secondary. such as that of the Ten Virgins (Matt 25:1-13) and those regarding the harvest (Mark 4:26-29. and b o t h were d e p e n d e n t o n Jülicher. But D o d d believed t h a t later Gospel t r a d i t i o n h a d . were n o t originally a b o u t a c o m i n g end time. His t r e a t m e n t s of the parables are relatively brief and often quite straightforward. D o d d u n d e r s t o o d Jesus' message in t e r m s of "realized eschatology" — t h a t is. For example. a collection of sayings of Jesus that probably dates f r o m the second c e n t u r y (although the question of date is debated). At least a third of D o d d ' s small b o o k is n o t explicitly o n the parables. b u t is concerned m o r e generally with Jesus and the k i n g d o m .From Allegorizing to Allegorizing t h o u g h Jeremiase The Parables of Jesus (1963) is still influential. b u t a b o u t the crisis of Jesus' earthly ministry. that the k i n g d o m of G o d h a d already arrived. obscured Jesus' original message by reorienting his original realized eschatology to ethical issues and a futuristic eschatology. 9 . b o t h D o d d and Jeremias also tried to remove the allegorical features f o u n d in the evangelists' presentations of the parables. But in seeking to recover the original situations in which Jesus spoke. deallegorized versions of Jesus' parables are close to the versions of the parables f o u n d in the Gospel of Thomas. guided by the c a n o n s of f o r m criticism. and interpretive c o m m e n t s connected with the stories as they now a p p e a r in the Synoptic Gospels. Such s h o r t e n e d . at certain points. He provided historical and cultural evidence for u n d e r s t a n d i n g the parables a n d . s o u g h t to ascertain a parable's original f o r m by s t r i p p i n g away the allegorical features and other additions that had been supplied by the early church. M a t t 13:24-30). Jeremias extended D o d d ' s work in detail. b u t was changed to address matters of moral responsibility and to speak a b o u t the second advent of Christ (Parables. parables a b o u t the end time.

b u t that he may. while significant. T h u s the parables are often viewed as a vindication of Jesus' offer of the gospel to the poor. Jeremias held that Jesus could n o t have uttered the Parable of the Banquet (Luke 14:7-14) as an allegory of the feast of salvation. Such inconsistency often occurs a m o n g those who overreact against allegory. 10 . and Initial Literary A p p r o a c h e s Since a b o u t 1970 a m o o d has prevailed a m o n g New Testament scholars that feels the historical. In his parables Jesus presented people with a crisis of decision and invited t h e m to respond to God's mercy. for s o m e of t h e m will n o t stand u p to investigation. Existentialist.Κ LYN Ε R. m a n y c o n t e m p o r a r y scholars hold that just as Jülicher's work was f o u n d a tional. so Jeremias's work. Jeremias described Jesus' message as an eschatology that was in the process of realization. Rather. SNODGRASS While granting the presence of the k i n g d o m in Jesus' ministry. Jeremias's influence has been so strong that N o r m a n Perrin once asserted that all f u t u r e interpretations of the parables would have to be interpretations of t h e m as Jeremias analyzed t h e m (Jesus and the Language of the Kingdom. b u t aberrant. nonetheless. most of these approaches still follow their predecessors in m e t h o d by first stripping off those features of the parables that are t h o u g h t to be allegorical or interpretive additions. For example. Artistic. The beauty and the power of Jesus' parables is considered to have been lost. would make such a claim. b o t h of t h e m also b r o u g h t allegorical interpretations back into consideration w h e n they discussed the m e a n i n g of the parables. eschatological approaches of people like D o d d and Jeremias to be insufficient. Yet while seeking s o m e t h i n g m o r e t h a n the merely historical. Attention has t u r n e d to hermeneutical and aesthetic concerns. or at least seriously curtailed. well have had it in m i n d (Parables." Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 42 [1960] 283). o n e m u s t double-check all of Jeremias's claims. 3. however. Several persons and m o v e m e n t s have attempted to go beyond the work of D o d d and Jeremias. O n e f u r t h e r p o i n t should also be made. At the very least. 101)! Few today. 69)! Such duplicity led Matthew Black to accuse D o d d of r u n n i n g with the allegorical hare and yet h u n t i n g with the Jülicher h o u n d s ("The Parables as Allegory. While b o t h D o d d and Jeremias attempted to remove allegory f r o m Jesus' parables. is fatally flawed.

T h e parables are verbalizations of Jesus' u n d e r s t a n d i n g of his situation in the world. ." and so they placed heavy emphasis on u n d e r s t a n d i n g Jesus and his mission. Language does n o t merely describe. an analogy f u n c t i o n s to shape one's attitude. Understandably. M u c h can be said by way of evaluating the views of Fuchs. To call s o m e o n e a brother. and in analogy lies the very language power of existence. . and he asserts that "the real content of language . is . b r o u g h t the concerns of existentialism and the insights of a particular understanding of language to bear on the interpretation of the parables. For Fuchs. T h e p u r p o s e of an analogy is not to increase the knowledge that one has. The parables are such "language events" (Sprachereignisse).. are not principally important in the study of the parables because of their exegesis of specific parables. they are significant because of their application of their u n derstanding of language to the interpretation of the parables generally. Rather. . along with his students Eta Linnemann and Eberhard Jüngel. 209-10)." which emphasizes the power of language to accomplish and enact." Ernst Fuchs. . Jesus' u n d e r s t a n d i n g of his own situation enters language in a special way so that his existence is available to his hearers. In his parables. therefore. Fuchs and his colleagues were also p a r t of "the new quest for the historical Jesus. for example. 220). but it admits that person as a b r o t h e r and establishes c o m m u n i t y (ibid. 211). The parables. one must allow oneself to be laid hold of by Jesus' existence (ibid. and Jüngel with respect to the parables of Jesus. Linnem a n n . however. and to respond. For Fuchs. are a s u m m o n s to this existence. Rather.From Allegorizing Existentialist to Allegorizing Approaches As part of the "New Hermeneutic. This concept is similar to the idea of "performative utterances. one of the main features of L i n n e m a n n ' s Parables of Jesus ( L o n d o n : SPCK. does not make him one.. which stands as m u c h in the Jeremias tradition as it does in the new hermeneutic. is her attempt to hear the parables as Jesus' original audience would have heard t h e m . He argues for what he calls "the language-character of existence" (Studies of the Historical Jesus. parables are analogies. T h u s Jesus' parables have the power to b r i n g to expression the reality to which they point. 1966). Fuchs and Jüngel. It enacts. existence is essentially linguistic. therefore. 222).. being itself" (ibid. it imparts! Language has the power to b r i n g into being s o m e t h i n g that was n o t there before the words were spoken. Pertinent critiques 11 .

" T h e Parables of Jesus in Current Research.. Thiselton ("The Parables as Language-Event. 195)." Dialog 11 [1972] 101-7) and A n t h o n y C. in fact. w h o was heavily influenced by existentialist interpreters like Fuchs. Many interpreters in the past have c o m m e n t e d on the artistic character of the parables." Scottish Journal of Theology 23 [1970] 437-68).Κ LYN Ε R. He attempted to distinguish between symbol and allegory. 141-43). For the parables of Jesus are. H. however. For my part. including C. sought to widen the relevance of the parables by e m p h a sizing their artistic and literary character and to highlight the way that they m i r r o r h u m a n experience — that is. and accepted that Jesus told allegorical stories. he considered only eight of the fifty parables he studied to be candidates for a wider interpretation — viewing nineteen of t h e m . "to transpose t h e m into the field of symbols of o u r p e r m a n e n t h u m a n experience" ( A r t and Truth of the Parables. SNODGRASS have been set forth by Jack Dean Kingsbury ("Ernst Fuchs' Existentialist Interpretation of the Parables. But they had n o t m a d e this a m a j o r factor for interpretation. in fact." Lutheran Quarterly 2 [1970] 380-95. language events that create b o t h new worlds and the possibility of a changed existence. xi). Geraint Vaughn Jones in 1964. idem. to be strictly limited by their historical reference (ibid. the form e r being present in the parables. They address the present because in their patterns is an u n d e r s t a n d ing of existence that calls for decision. his The Parables). 12 . Parables. They m u s t be viewed as being a u t o n o m o u s . The parables are aesthetic works that should be interpreted as texts in their own right. Existential concerns still rank high on the agenda of current artistic approaches. the same c a n n o t be said for those w h o today emphasize the artistic character of the parables. I believe the i m p o r t a n c e of their stance is in forcing people to consider language and its effect more seriously than before. But a focus o n the historical situ a t i o n of Jesus has been deemphasized. Yet despite seeking a wider relevance for the parables. Artistic Approaches If Fuchs and his colleagues were still concerned with the situation of the historical Jesus. argued in 1967 that the parables are not b o u n d by their author's intent (cf. and so expressed less interest in Jesus' original situation. Dan Via. D o d d (cf. as well as by N o r m a n Perrin and Warren Kissinger (see bibliography).

. Yet even Via granted that parables may have allegorical correspondences and argued against a "one point" approach. Quite the opposite: if similes illustrate. however. (2) that the metap h o r or simile is d r a w n f r o m c o m m o n life. Hermeneutic. 133). Parables. And this understanding. C o n t r a r y to Jülicher. b u t as an extension of a metaphor. whereas Via spent considerable effort (as m a n y had before h i m ) trying to distinguish parable and allegory. a n d (4) that the application is left imprecise to tease the hearer into making his or her own application (ibid. His p r o cedure for t h e i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of the parables has three divisions: (1) historico-literary criticism. and (3) existential-theological interpretation. Adapting Dodd's definition of parable. Via divided the parables of the Gospels into "tragic" and "comic" parables. But are we really to believe that the Parable of the Wicked Tenants is only a parable of "unfaith" that teaches that sin is a person's self-centered effort to reject any and all limitations that God imposes (cf.From Allegorizing to Allegorizing Both Jones and Via sought to recover the h u m a n i t y of the parables and to highlight their universal appeal to the h u m a n condition. which is usually the longest section. which may remain simple or be expanded. Jones. was willing to say that some of Jesus' parables were allegories. and Word of God is perhaps the most influential work o n the parables of the last few decades (though only pages 124-222 deal directly with the parables themselves). m e t a p h o r s create meanings 13 . as we will see. The lessons he draws f r o m the parables sometimes seem strikingly similar to Jülicher's pious maxims. b u t he b r o u g h t a literary focus that they did n o t have. 32-56). (3) that the m e t a p h o r arrests the hearer by its vividness or strangeness. F u r t h e r m o r e . with "comic" c o n n o t i n g a sense of positive movement. (2) literary existential analysis. has b e c o m e increasingly i m p o r t a n t in m o r e recent studies. 137)? Initial Literary Approaches Robert Funk's 1966 Language. he did n o t view m e t a p h o r s as inferior to similes in their communicative abilities. he emphasized four basic points: ( 1 ) that a parable is a simile or metaphor. Parables. t h o u g h with an existential twist. however. He too was heavily influenced by the G e r m a n existentialist theologians. Funk u n d e r s t o o d a parable not as an extension of a simile. Via also emphasized that parables c a n n o t be completely translated into a n o t h e r f o r m (cf.

Funk. The stated p u r p o s e of Crossan's book is to render explicit all that is contained in a phrase d r a w n f r o m G ü n t h e r B o r n k a m m : that "the parables are the preaching itself and are not merely serving the p u r p o s e of a lesson quite i n d e p e n d e n t of t h e m " (cf. 137). however. is n o t arguing for an unbridled creation of meaning. Crossan. and so had the capacity for various ideas. Funk's emphases on "everydayness" and "vividness or strangen e s s " — which were the second and third points in Dodd's definition — may seem somewhat contradictory. Metaphors — and therefore parables — remain open-ended with a potential for new meanings.Κ LYN Ε R. and a parable is an extended metaphor. Likewise. But Funk shows that everydayness points to the ways that parables address h u m a n existence. F u r t h e r m o r e . is to be seen as sometimes superior to the canonical Gospels. as Jülicher claimed in reducing the lessons of the parables to pious moralisme or as D o d d and Jeremias did in distilling a single eschatological point. 1960]. Following the direction of Funk's work is John D o m i n i c Crossan's In Parables: The Challenge of the Historical Jesus (New York: Harper & Row. therefore. parables cannot be reduced to ideas and are not expendable once their m e a n i n g has been derived. T h a t parables are extended m e t a p h o r s and that they c a n n o t be translated into ideas and then discarded are c o m m o n p l a c e themes a m o n g c o n t e m p o rary interpreters. Furthermore. is intrinsic to Jesus' parables. a m e t a p h o r cannot be closed off to only one particular meaning. Even in their original contexts they were heard by diverse audiences. a parable cannot be reduced to a single m e a n ing. For since m e t a p h o r s are bearers of the reality to which they refer. which renders the allegory useless. his focus o n reader response and his insistence o n paradox are accepted by many. For in his understanding. Therefore. whereas strangeness points to the ways in which parables shatter the familiar. 14 . In asserting a potential for new meanings in the parables. N o t surprisingly. whereas myth and m e t a p h o r cann o t be reduced to "clear language" (Parables. as is also his high valuation of the Gospel of Thomas. Paradox. SNODGRASS (ibid. the original telling had an intent that served as a control over every reinterpretation. B o r n k a m m ' s Jesus of Nazareth [New York: H a r p e r & Row. 1973). 69). since it is incomplete until the hearer is drawn into it as a participant. 11).. distinguishes between an allegory and a parable — arguing that an allegory can always be translated into a text that can be u n d e r s t o o d by itself. following Paul Ricoeur. And the Gospel of Thomas. Several of Funk's points have been well-received by scholars today. as Funk views it.

Via. and (3) parables of action. f u n c t i o n s . At times structuralist analyses have been suggestive. 26). F u r t h e r m o r e . he divides the parables into three categories that correspond to the "three modes of the kingdom's temporality": (1) parables of advent. motives. 5).. is a stated presupposition of Crossan's work (cf. are u n derstood to have been changed into example stories by the early church. especially in the "Parables Seminar" of the Society of Biblical Literature and the early issues of Semeia (which is appropriately subtitled An Experimental Journal for Biblical Criticism and published by the SBL). the interpretations. however. Most of the time. He argues against a linear view of time and for a p e r m a n e n t eschatology — that is. for an eschatology that emphasizes "the p e r m a n e n t presence of God as the o n e w h o challenges the world and shatters its complacency repeatedly" (ibid. a n d the conclusions that he thinks were added by the church. In the decade between 1970 and 1980. structuralist studies only dripped with technical jargon and provided little additional insight. structuralists seek to compare b o t h the surface and the deep structures of the texts themselves. and they have continued to be active in m a n y of the later developments of parables research as well. oppositions. b u t those in which participation precedes i n f o r m a tion. usually favoring the Gospel of Thomas and ending u p with shortened versions. Rather. and the Great Fish (Gospel of Thomas..From Allegorizing to Allegorizing The m e t a p h o r s that Crossan is interested in are n o t ones that simply illustrate i n f o r m a t i o n . b u t at other times are quite u n c o n v i n c i n g — for example. Crossan offers detailed analyses of the parables. for they show the deep structure of the k i n g d o m : the Treasure (Matt 13:44). and so necessitates the work of scholarly reconstruction. after eliminating the introductions. in fact. Funk. highlighting m a t t e r s having to do with m o v e m e n t s . Also. Creative reinterpretation of Jesus' parables by the primitive church. A structuralist approach to the parables is n o t concerned with historical m e a n i n g or the author's intent. the Pearl (Matt 13:45). The meanings that Crossan assigns to the parables are sometimes creative and helpful. he believes there are three parables that provide us with a key to the u n d e r s t a n d i n g of all the others. his suggestion that the Parable of the Wicked Tenants is an i m m o r a l story a b o u t people who acted quickly o n an o p p o r t u n i t y (ibid. for example. and resolutions within those texts. 96). Parables. Logion 8). and Crossan were all participants in the Parables Seminar. 15 . T h e parables of reversal. (2) parables of reversal. "structuralist" approaches d o m i n a t e d the study of the parables.

g. The work of Madeleine Boucher in The Mysterious Parable (1977). and a helpful t r e a t m e n t of Mark's supposed theory o n the p u r p o s e of parables in M a r k 4. that allegory is not a literary genre at all. therefore. SNODGRASS N o t surprisingly.p r o d u c t of an emphasis o n the irreducibility of m e t a p h o r and parable. Such questioning is almost a b y . She finds. For f r o m her expertise in literary criticism.. In my estimation. see also 181). structuralism quickly faded f r o m the scene. as well as the search for a tertium comparationis (cf. n o t h i n g inherently objectionable about the presence of allegorical features in the parables of the Gospels. she has provided a devastating critique of Jülicher. In one fell swoop. b u t m u s t be participated in. 1978]. N o r m a n Perrin's negative assessment was fully justified: " T h e contribution this [the literary-structuralist approach] may make to the u n d e r s t a n d i n g and interpretation of this or any parable is by no means either obvious or i m m e d i ate" (Jesus and the Language of the Kingdom. 1903]) and Paul Fiebig (Altjüdische Gleichnisse und die Gleichnisse Jesu [Tübingen: Mohr-Siebeck. cf. as does John Sider (see his Interpreting the Parables [1995]) and a n u m b e r of other literary specialists. sane discussions of parable and allegory. Die Gleichnisse Jesu als Metaphern [Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. 97). she sets aside all previous discussions that have attempted to distinguish between a parable and an allegory. but a way of thinking. Bugge (Die Haupt-Parabeln Jesu [Glessen: Ricker'sche Verlagsbuchhandlung. o n e c a n n o t set aside an image to find its object.Κ LYN Ε R. however. e. For if a m e t a p h o r c a n n o t be reduced to n o n . this brief b o o k is one of the most significant t r e a t m e n t s of the parables ever written. for parables can be either simple or complex and are often mysterious. And her explanation of the redactional shaping of M a r k 4 and of the theology operative in that chapter is superb.. 4. Boucher argues.m e t a phorical language. Weder. 1904]. S t u d i e s E m p h a s i z i n g Palestinian C u l t u r e a n d t h e Jewish Parables From at least as early as C. O t h e r literary approaches today question the legitimacy of the distinction between an image and its object in the parables. A. H. 180. in fact. also his Die Gleichnisreden Jesu im Lichte der rabbinischen Gleichnisse des 16 . is quite unlike the m a i n s t r e a m of studies that take a literary approach.

1976]. Nonetheless. Bailey's work is valuable. employer-employee relations. though. 1992]. b u t also f r o m what he learned of the Palestinian mindset as a missionary in Lebanon and f r o m examining Arabic and Syriac translations of the parables. Bailey interprets the parables not only f r o m research in ancient Jewish sources. o n e c a n n o t always assume that the attitudes and practices of m o d e r n . who also engages in a detailed analysis of the literary structure of each parable that he treats (cf. 1980]).From Allegorizing to Allegorizing neutestamentlichen Zeitalters [Tübingen: Mohr-Siebeck. J. and social relations — that is. the conclusions he draws sometimes stretch credulity. 310-12) or that the Parable of the Banquet is an artistic midrash on Zeph 1:1-16 (cf. The material he presents is always helpful. for example. a specialist in ancient oriental law. [Leiden: Brill. it needs to be also noted. also his Studies in the New Testament. Unfortunately. He brings information f r o m the rabbinic material and f r o m a variety of other ancient sources in order to display attitudes and presumptions of the ancient Jews about such things as contracts. Another scholar w h o draws attention to Palestinian cultural features is Kenneth Bailey. 2 vols. Longman and Todd. or that such m o d e r n contexts should be taken as keys to the interpretation of Jesus' parables. Derrett has published a n u m b e r of articles — many of t h e m on the parables — which seek to show the significance of first-century Jewish culture for an understanding of the New Testament generally (see his Law in the New Testament [London: Darton. is one scholar w h o has drawn attention to the importance of Palestinian culture for interpreting Jesus' parables. Derrett's studies are never boring. see also his Poet and Peasant: A Literary Cultural Approach to the Parables in Luke [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. 17 . D u n c a n M. Their Culture and Style [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. 1978]). Derrett. Nonetheless. ownership issues. Law. would accept his view that the Parable of the Wicked Tenants alludes to the story of the expulsion from the garden in Genesis 3 (cf. Law. and his Through Peasant Eyes: More Lucan Parables. And in the last three decades this focus has received m a j o r attention f r o m several directions. Few. Louis: Concordia. Finding the Lost: Cultural Keys to Luke 15 [St. 1912] ). 1976]. 126-29). peasant life in either Lebanon or Palestinian are the same as they were in Jesus' day. s o m e scholars had argued for the i m p o r t a n c e of recognizing the Jewish origin of Jesus' parables. even t h o u g h it must be used with caution. 1977. about the everyday situations from which the parables were formed. so m u c h background material for the parables is brought together by Derrett that his work should not be ignored.

MA: Harvard University Press. that while Jesus' parables build on the features of everyday life. ( The Gospel Parables in the Light of Their Jewish Background [New York: Macmillan. a m o n g others. b u t he is nonetheless optimistic about the reliability of the parables as they are set o u t in the Gospels. 1936]). realistic features in making their points. Oesterley. He views the Gospel of Thomas as d e p e n d e n t on the Synoptic Gospels and as being u n i m p o r t a n t for researching the words of Jesus. argues directly against Jülicher's n o t i o n . he asserts that the parables are not realistic. the most i m p o r t a n t (in English) are those by Brad H. of reader-response approaches. challenges the conclusions n o t only of Jülicher. in fact. F u r t h e r m o r e . b u t also of Jeremias. at least 1. Harvey Κ. as well as that of the other scholars who focus o n parables within Judaism. He argues (1) that the contexts of the parables are usually correct. and of m u c h of contemporary New Testament scholarship. did preliminary work in this area. 1924]) and W. Asher Feldman ( The Parables and Similes of the Rabbis [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. and (2) that the introductions and conclusions to the parables are b o t h necessary and usually derive f r o m Jesus himself. Stern. of course. 1981]) being the most significant. Flusser acknowledges that a t h o r o u g h going editing of Jesus' parables by the evangelists has taken place. Of the other studies that have recently been published analyzing Jewish parables vis-à-vis the parables of Jesus. E.Κ LYN Ε R. b u t pseudo-realistic — that is. Johnston (They Also Taught in Parables [Grand Rapids: Zondervan. with that of David Flusser (Die rabbinischen Gleichnisse und der Gleichniserzähler Jesus. and David Stern (Parable in Midrash: Narrative and Exegesis in Rabbinic Literature [Cambridge. C o m p a r i n g the structure of Jesus' parables with the structure of the rabbinic parables reveals that explanations usually accompany not only the parables of Jesus b u t also those of the rabbis — which. Teil 1: Das Wesen der Gleichnisse [Bern: Peter Lang. raises questions a b o u t the ease with which New Testament scholars have deleted the explanations in the Gospels. Young (Jesus and His Jewish Parables [New York: Paulist. 1990]). And in the last two decades at least eight books have appeared that analyze these rabbinic parables and their relevance for an u n d e r s t a n d i n g of the parables of Jesus. Flusser's work. they go well beyond those everyday.500 rabbinic parables have been collected. 1989]). which has 18 . 1991]). Ο. To date. M c A r t h u r and Robert M. SNODGRASS Quite different in their focus on Jewish origins are several works that directly c o m p a r e ancient Jewish parables with those of Jesus.

T h o m a and M. however. unlike Jesus' parables they were used to s u p p o r t the rabbis' exegetical interpretations and explanations of Scripture. T h e most obvious problem. is the late date of the rabbinic parables. 1989]. "Parables in Early Judaism. Wyschogrod [New York: Paulist.From Allegorizing to Allegorizing often been adopted by others. can be demonstrated to be older than the parables of Jesus. ed. 5. For while comparison with the rabbinic parables is absolutely necessary. O n e other c o m m e n t needs here also to be made. this is not surprising and may be necessary. of course. or vice versa. Evans." in Parable and Story in Judaism. a n d P o l y v a l e n c e From approximately 1980 to the present. Given the insensitivity and hyperbole of some Christian scholars. Suggestions of dependence between the rabbis and Jesus. Two words of caution. relatively little has been d o n e by way of studying G r a e c o . for direct d e p e n d e n c e in either direction is unlikely (see f u r t h e r the article by Craig A. F u r t h e r m o r e . A l l e g o r i z i n g . C. need to be expressed with regard to this "Jewish" approach to the study of t h e parables. while the rabbinic parables are similar in f o r m and content to those of Jesus. 45-51). n u m e r o u s pitfalls exist in using the rabbinic materials. T h e R e t u r n o f Allegory. other than those in the Old Testament and o n e found to date in the Dead Sea Scrolls.R o m a n parables and their relevance for our u n d e r s t a n d i n g of Jesus' parables. as if they were inferior." in the present volume). 19 . should probably be ignored. This is a serious lacuna that needs to be filled. For while n u m e r o u s studies exist o n the relation of the Gospel parables to Jewish parables. He rightly insists that no literature is self-interpreting (cf. his "Jesus' Parables f r o m the Perspective of Rabbinic Literature. Sometimes studies focusing on the Jewish parables find it necessary to go out of their way to defend against either an anti-Semitism or a disparagement of the Jewish parables. several discernible shifts have taken place in the study of the parables. A second word of caution regarding m e t h o d needs also to be expressed. Most of these have been influenced principally by literary criticism. The first has to do with some of the conclusions reached. Virtually no Jewish parables. that parables do n o t require an interpretation. and so with rabbinic parables we are dealing with material that is later t h a n the Gospels.

1976]. can be expected to have at least as many correspondences as it has main characters. Jones.Κ LYN Ε R. Nonetheless. b u t also notes that sometimes the Gospel writers themselves place the same parable in different contexts (ibid. 30)." and John W. For since they can be read in multiple contexts. T h u s an interpreter of parables m u s t be one who plays with a narrative in its various contexts. Patte [Pittsburgh: Pickwick. if one accepts that allegory is a literary genre. to s o m e degree. In Perspectives on the Parables (Philadelphia: Fortress. SNODGRASS Somewhat surprisingly." in Semiology and the Parables. John Dominic Crossan has radically altered his earlier views on the parables and advocated a much m o r e positive view of allegory. which has b e c o m e p o p u l a r in the last few decades. and Paradox. For Crossan's concern is less with the question of correspondences and more with issues having to do with readerresponse. ed.. it is better to view allegory as a literary m o d e rather than a genre. In several of his later writings. Polyvalent narration reveals the play of the various plots across m a n y levels of reality. Increasingly Crossan has emphasized that parables are paradoxes and that they are polyvalent. and the possibilities are witho u t limit. Allegory.. capable of multiple meanings. She admits that the specific contexts of the Gospel parables limit their interpretation. His appreciation for the usefulness of allegory. by G. 271-78). is quite different from that of Blomberg. and "Parable. argues that we need to recognize that Jesus' parables are allegories. She does not disparage 20 . Sider. Craig Blomberg in Interpreting the Parables (1990). A parable. who use the same methods. V. Mary Ann Tolbert offers a defense of polyvalent interpretation that assists us in understanding the movement. and that a parable may have m o r e than one correspondence between an image and the reality depicted. in which a text's meaning is determined by the interaction of the reader with the text (see his Cliffs of Fall [New York: Seabury. 9697. "Towards the Restoration of Allegory. for example. D. is the fruit of seeds planted by Robert Funk and Dan Via. they possess the capability of multiple meanings. I agree that parables may be allegorical and have m o r e t h a n one point. esp. however. as well as. 1979). This emphasis on polyvalence. have reached equally valid but different interpretations (ibid. In my opinion. 247-81. 52-55). in fact. 1980]. His a r g u m e n t is legitimate. For in that work she argues for multiple meanings on the basis of the fact that competent scholars. and so to view parables as p r o p o r t i o n a l analogies (as argued by Mary Ford. allegory has resurfaced in a m u c h m o r e positive light. Interpreting the Parables). however. esp.

and are not reducible to simple explications are valid observations. Tolbert interprets the Parable of the Prodigal Son as speaking to the wish of every individual for h a r m o n y and unity within. 63-64). T h e younger son corresponds to Freud's id.From Allegorizing to Allegorizing the allegorizing exegesis that existed prior to the Enlightenment. She also seeks to preserve the integrity of the parables. For in adapting and retelling the parables in new contexts. on one reading. as an art rather than a skill. the elder b r o t h e r to the superego. 102-7). use "polyvalence" to refer to multiple meanings the reader may assign parables f r o m reading t h e m in various contexts. n o t been reflective e n o u g h about their practice. 68-71) in order to "exploit" the polyvalency of the parable (ibid.. Craig Blomberg uses the t e r m to point to a depth of m e a n i n g that is present in the parables. and P r o p o r tional Analogy in the Parables. b u t in his estimation equally valid. but at the same time to allow the interpreter to choose the particular context in which each of the parables is to be read (ibid.. She views interpretation as a creative act." Horizons in Biblical Theology 18 [1996] 123). interpretations of the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant ("Bringing O u t of the Gospel-Treasure W h a t Is New and W h a t Is Old: Two Parables in Matthew 18-23. b u t he m e a n s by it reading the parables f r o m the multiple perspectives of the characters within the stories. and the father to the ego (ibid. That Jesus' parables have depth.. Clearly we have moved a long way f r o m Jülicher. while the anger of the elder brother is displaced o n t o the father. The excessive love of the father betrays hostility toward the prodigal. 21 . it seems to me." Quarterly Review 10 [1990] 79-108). While Augustine might n o t have u n d e r s t o o d the interpretive conclusions. But those w h o argue for polyvalent readings in various non-Gospel contexts have. far-reaching implications. He is not interested in reading the parables in contexts other t h a n those provided by the Gospel writers (see his "Poetic Fiction. This is quite different f r o m the way others. Subversive Speech.. For example. he would certainly have enjoyed the process! A word of caution is necessary. she calls attention to the challenge and excitement that it provided ancient preachers (ibid. for people use "polyvalence" in different ways. using the terms of Freudian psychology. Or to take another example. Both interpretations she views as being legitimate. 93). on the contrary. b u t still in line with Freud. she sees the parable as speaking a b o u t the painful nature of emotional ambivalence. Daniel Patte offers three competing. they have ceased being hearers of the parables and have become tellers of the parables instead. Alternatively. like Tolbert.

w h a t is demonstrated here is the ability to semantically alter a parabolic sign by e m b e d d i n g it within another belief-system and validating the new significance by reference to those beliefs" ("A T h e o r y of Polyvalent Reading. which is one of the m o r e comprehensive treatments of the parables of the 22 .Κ LYN Ε R. Indeed. E m b e d d i n g parables in another belief system was exactly what Augustine was doing. reflecting on the significance of his parables in a n o t h e r system. Her a r g u m e n t is: " F r o m another. however. Part of the difficulty is." Encyclopedia Biblica [New York: Macmillan. O n e such example is Bernard B." and that they had only been given m o r e theological meanings by the evangelists (see his "Parables. And tendencies to reduce the parables to the level of banality c o n t i n u e today. But it is far different f r o m discerning the intent of Jesus. and N o r m a n Perrin spoke of the surprising banality of D a n Via's conclusions (cf.. of course. Meditating on the parables is perfectly legitimate. 177). of reducing the parables of Jesus to w o r n . G. o u r multiple uses of the word "meaning. SNODGRASS Susan Wittig's advocacy of polyvalent readings reveals what really is happening.. MacRae [Missoula: Scholars. It was leveled against Jülicher's pious religious maxims. R e d u c t i o n to Banality The charge of banality against m a n y m o d e r n treatments of the parables — that is. Perrin. 3566). one is no longer interpreting the parables of Jesus. which leads to multiple meanings. 169-83. Still.o u t conventions or simplistic statements. III. W h e n one does this. O n e is. with their messages being drearily predictable — is not new.e. 6. 154). 2. however close or far away. vol. other t h a n the author's]. quotation f r o m p. ed. 1902]. She grants that the original teller of the Gospel parables had a m e a n i n g system in m i n d and that f r o m the sender's [i. the author's] perspective multiple signifieds are wrong. 1975]. Jesus and the Language of the Kingdom. she argues that what was originally signified by the parable becomes a secondary signifier. more objective point of view [i." And it is for this reason that I prefer to talk a b o u t the " f u n c t i o n " of the parables in the teaching of Jesus and of the "significance" of that f u n c t i o n for us today.e. Jülicher himself claimed that Jesus' parables were originally a b o u t "trifling matters." in SBL 1975 Seminar Papers. rather. Scott's Hear Then the Parable (1989).

however. and third. people did n o t m e m o r i z e words. And the Parable of the Wicked Tenants is understood to question whether the k i n g d o m will go to the promised heirs. he asserts. he analyzes h o w the originating structure effects meaning. His interpretations. The first part of Scott's b o o k offers a n u m b e r of helpful insights regarding parables in general. he views the Gospel of Thomas as an early and often superior source of the Jesus tradition. He argues that parables are n o t metaphors/symbols. he does n o t seek the original words or ipsissima verba of Jesus. Rather. In his o p i n i o n . 1994]). and that they were poetic fictions that Jesus taught to s t i m u 23 . Like Jülicher. Second. he analyzes the parable's juxtaposition to the kingdom to discover how the parable challenges conventional w i s d o m . italics his). the intent of the parables was so evasive and general — why the stories were ever remembered. Likewise. o n e wonders — if. regularly reduce the parables to rather simplistic statements. that they do n o t reference the kingd o m of God. In the end. Scott stands in the Jeremias tradition of reducing the parables to an earlier form. Scott accepts that the parables as originally given had a n u m b e r of allegorical features. the original structures or ipsissima structura of the parables. it subverts the system that sees the k i n g d o m of God in terms of the temple.. which are often reminiscent of Jülicher's reduction of the parables to pious moralisme. for the father rejects n o o n e and b o t h are chosen (ibid. and so places the holy outside the kingdom and the u n h o l y inside the k i n g d o m (Hear Then the Parable.From Allegorizing to Allegorizing Synoptic Gospels in recent years.. Charles Hedrick explicitly says that Jesus' parables were banal and that it was the evangelists w h o inserted theological and kingd o m significance into t h e m in an attempt to make t h e m relevant (cf. Hedrick's views o n the parables r u n counter to virtually all previous works. Allegorical features in the parables. rather. since "in the plot the kingdom fails and the inheritance is in doubt" (ibid. when first hearing the parables they m e m o rized structures. o p e n t h e m u p to polyvalence. his Parables as Poetic Fictions [Peabody: Hendrickson. it must be asked. 125). Like Jeremias. the Parable of the Prodigal Son subverts the idea that the k i n g d o m decides between the chosen and rejected. t h o u g h he seeks to remove the allegorical additions that he believes have been inserted by tradition. it is not an example story and has no lesson. was the Parable of the Pharisee and the Toll Collector ever remembered? In Scott's view. Why. 253. however. indeed. His m e t h o d is first to analyze the " p e r f o r m a n c e " of a parable by each evangelist as he works back to the simplest form. but. 97). Unlike Jeremias.

233-35). The vineyard owner does n o t correspond to 24 . a t h e o r y derived f r o m his work o n the Parable of the Vineyard Workers. 35). T h e reader is left with a frightening glimpse of two possible alternatives. b u t political and economic ones.. The specific circumstances of their original narration in the life of Jesus is irretrievably lost.. m e a n ing. neither of which is satisfying. SNODGRASS late t h o u g h t . For Herzog it is the context of exploitation. the prayer of the toll collector assumes that o n e may rely on God's mercy w i t h o u t confession. The parables. He sees Jesus using parables to present situations that were familiar to the rural p o o r and to encode the systems of oppression that controlled their lives and held t h e m in bondage. The parable is ultimately nihilistic and offers no hope. 1994) is quite different f r o m the works of Scott and Hedrick. b u t of stimulating social analysis (ibid. and does n o t know in the end which person it is that God accepts (ibid.. b u t the procedure and the results are m u c h the same. Herzog assumes that the parables are not theological or moral stories. and that is why the "conclusions" are often unsatisfying (ibid. in fact. Hedrick proposes that the Parable of the G o o d Samaritan offers two responses to the injured m a n : the first. The Parable of the Rich Fool. The work of Paulo Freire. a new context m u s t be f o u n d in which they are to be read. the second is an impossible ideal.. a parody of the ideal of the righteous person in late Judaism (ibid. that of callous indifference. 27. or restitution.. or theology (ibid. And with regard to the Parable of the Pharisee a n d the Toll Collector. The parables. 87). The scenes they present are codifications a b o u t how exploitation expressed itself in the ancient world. outlandish benevolence. repentance. The original stories were brief fictions that portrayed realistic aspects of first-century Palestinian life and were m e a n t to be open to a range of possible meanings (ibid. is the lens that Herzog uses to read the New Testament parables. therefore. With these assumptions. They were discussion starters. is a b o u t the laughingly inappropriate action of a rich m a n w h o tears d o w n his barns w h e n he should be harvesting.Κ LYN Ε R. were n o t a means of comm u n i c a t i n g theology and ethics. 259-61). the twentieth-century Brazilian pedagogue of the oppressed. The parable is. the second... 115-16). T h e first is wrong. therefore. 113. Since the parables are to be separated f r o m their Gospel contexts. William Herzog's Parables as Subversive Speech (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox. he believes. are "potentially radical poetic fictions that competed with Judaism's paradigmatic narrative rigidity" (ibid. 3-8. 158-61). 27-28).

Bernard Scott focuses o n the widow's continued wearing d o w n of the judge. 1976]. And Charles Hedrick argues that the parable presents the judge as a thoroughly honest m a n w h o in the end compromises his integrity for his own c o m f o r t . The widow refuses to be silent. Thus. for example. 175-87). viewing it as a m e t a p h o r for the k i n g d o m — that is. Dan Via. William Herzog interprets the scene as a clear violation of Jewish legal practice. H e r m a n Hendrickx applies the parable to the red tape and bureaucracy of today's society and to the bribery and venality of judges. and by her shameless behavior she achieves a just verdict. the oppressed must collude in their oppression for the system to work — a n d . D. they are the original landowners w h o lost their land t h r o u g h u s u r p a t i o n and their action is an attempt to reassert their h o n o r a b l e status as heirs. Herzog concludes. More radically. a n u m b e r of recent studies have m a d e helpful m e t h o d ological contributions to an u n d e r s t a n d i n g of Jesus' parables. by implication. and may even c o m e u n d e r the guise of shamelessness (Hear Then the Parable.. 215-32). More radically still. 96). rather. since only one judge is present. The parable proposes that neither the messianic h o p e n o r the tradition of p o p u l a r kingship can resolve the people's dilemma (ibid. 1-32). 231-32). 148-49). the tenants are not wicked. it teaches that the k i n g d o m keeps coming. The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant points to the hopelessness of looking for a messianic ruler and to the critical role played by "retainers" in an oppressive system. taking a Jungian approach. which should lead readers to reflect on the integrity of their own compromises (Parables as Poetic Fictions. Robert Price argues that this parable was originally an 25 . In the Parable of the Wicked Tenants. views this parable as presenting a problem in male psychology: The male ego refuses to respond to the a n i m a . as a result of which Christians should seek justice (The Parables of Jesus [San Francisco: H a r p e r & Row. Undeniably. Nonetheless. 187-207). suggests that they should refuse to a c c o m m o d a t e to the system (Parables as Subversive Speech." in Semiology and Parables. the extent to which m a n y m o d e r n critical approaches and assumptions have caused problems for parable interpretation is displayed by some recent interpretations of t h e Parable of the W i d o w and the Judge — all of which are liable to the charge of banality. the archetype of a w o m a n in a man's unconscious ("The Parable of the Unjust Judge: A Meta p h o r of the Unrealized Self. ed.. keeps battering d o w n opposition regardless of h o n o r or justice.From Allegorizing to Allegorizing God. In the end the parable codifies the futility of violence (ibid. Patte [Pittsb u r g h : Pickwick. 112-13). 1986].. b u t is a m e m b e r of an oppressing elite class (ibid.

The u n j u s t judge is the pastor. With the removal of the theology of the evangelists there has been introduced the ideology or sociology of the interpreter. 46). For if the patristic and medieval interpreters allegorized the parables by reading into t h e m their own theologies. W h a t is obvious in all of these attempts to interpret the Parable of the W i d o w and the Judge is that the m o r e one cuts a parable f r o m its contexts in the Gospels. for in many ways m u c h good work has been d o n e and m a n y insights have been achieved — particularly. more radical interpreters are correct. the average person surely c a n n o t read the parables and come to an u n d e r standing of t h e m . 1997]. SNODGRASS exemplary story and that it has been adulterated by Luke to keep w o m e n in submission. t h e life of Jesus. C o n c l u d i n g R e f l e c t i o n s We have come full circle. But while. for all o u r m o d e r n insights into how figu26 . and the theology of Israel. by scholars w h o have paid attention to the context of Jesus' ministry and to parallels that exist in the Jewish parables.p a r a bolic teachings of Jesus. In fact. 7. it seems far more naive to think that interpreters can a b a n d o n the Gospel contexts and ever h o p e to find the message of Jesus — particularly when correspondences exist between the parables and the n o n . m o d ern scholarship is no less guilty in reading into t h e m its own agenda. If the message of the parables is what many m o d ern studies suggest. This is not to castigate everything d o n e by interpreters today. the Gospel parables have been redactionally shaped by the evangelists. straying today even f u r t h e r f r o m hearing t h e voice of Jesus. We have gone f r o m allegorizing to allegorizing — in some cases. one w o n d e r s why the stories were ever originally told and — even more — why they were ever remembered. and the parable advises widows to get justice by the terrorism of nuisance (The Widow Traditions in Luke-Acts: A Feminist-Critical Scrutiny [Atlanta: Scholars. the m o r e there exists a lack of control and the m o r e subjectivity reigns. 191-201). Herzog asserted that it is "naive to ass u m e that the f o r m of any parable f o u n d in the Gospels coincides with the parable spoken by Jesus" (Parables as Subversive Speech. in his view. u n doubtedly. attests the bitterness of widows who have been mistreated by church officials. we believe. The parable.Κ LYN Ε R. We stand at a time when. if s o m e of the ass u m p t i o n s of o u r contemporary.

we should give u p attempts to reconstruct a parable's original f o r m . O n e of the i m p o r t a n t questions for current interpreters concerns the contexts in which the parables of Jesus have been placed by the evangelists. the parables do point beyond themselves to other realities and can be explained in n o n figurative speech — which is what all scholars a t t e m p t to do in writing books and articles o n the parables. But also several questions of m e t h o d deserve better answers t h a n we have been given. At the same time. H o w can we legitimately appreciate their "field of m e a n i n g " within the intent of Jesus without t u r n i n g t h e m into polyvalent modeling clay? T h a t the parables are artistic and poetic m u s t never be denied. The b l u n d e r that Jülicher m a d e in his assessment of allegory needs to be set aside. So we should probably not think of only one specific occasion for the telling of each of the parables. is needed against the sociological and ideological allegorizing of today. A n d to the degree that this is true. or were his parables left imprecise and w i t h o u t any clear indication of their intent? Do we hear in these explanations the voice of the church or the voice of Jesus? C o n t e m p o r a r y New Testament scholarship rightly resists the idea that the parables are reducible to abstract explanations. we need to readdress issues of m e t h o d . Is this c o m m o n feature of Old Testament and Jewish parables t r u e also of Jesus' parables. therefore. I see little h o p e of finding the intent of Jesus. many of Jesus' parables (but not all) would have been told several times. as if the stories could be distilled and then discarded. t h o u g h they also have been f r a m e d by the evangelists to speak to the situations that they addressed. The parables are stories with an intent in the context of Jesus' ministry. however. is the conviction that they are also historically and contextually based. It is legitimate. to ask: To what degree in reading the parables do we see Jesus' intent and to what degree do we see the situation of the early church? But if the general contexts in which the evangelists have placed the parables are totally unreliable. and yet u n d e r s t a n d the theology they express w i t h o u t reducing t h e m to pious (or not so pious) moralisme? T h e parables have an unquestionable depth. Equally i m p o r t a n t . In 1977 Madeleine Boucher had the good sense to 27 . however.From Allegorizing to Allegorizing rative speech works. A similar reaction. retain their force. Jülicher was certainly correct to react to the theological allegorizing of the church. Equally i m p o r t a n t are the explanations that often come at the conclusion of the parables. Clearly. How do we do justice to the "language event" character of the parables.

SNODGRASS say: "If the poetic structures in the parables became d o m i n a n t . their power to achieve an effect in the hearer would then be lost" (Mysterious Parable. if many f u r t h e r lines of interpretation can be explored than those which have already been established" (Art and Truth of the Parables. Sadly. however. and to what degree are they pseudo-realistic. Can interpreters do justice to the variety of f o r m s in Jesus' parabolic teaching? Frequently the category "parable" has been defined by a small n u m b e r of examples. that have been omitted f r o m o u r present survey — for example. and num e r o u s others. or unrealistic? If p r e d e t e r m i n e d to be realistic. " T h e Parables of Jesus: C u r r e n t Trends and Needs in Research. extravagant. The parables derive their m e a n ing f r o m Jesus who told t h e m . Interpreting 1990. Downers Grove: InterVarsity. Jahrhundert. Craig L. Perhaps. O n e might be tempted to say. as Geraint Jones did in 1964. b o t h general and specialized. that has happened all too often. An e n o r m o u s a m o u n t of work has been done o n the parables. moreover." Theologische Zeitschrift 45 [1989] 347). however." in Studying the Historical Jesus: Evaluations of the State of the Current 28 . Related to this is the question of realism: To what degree are the parables realistic. for work will and should continue. x). the six volu m e s o n the parables p r o d u c e d in 1835 by Edward Greswell (Jülicher was n o t the first to do a serious study of the parables). John D o n a h u e . Charles Carlston. Jan Lambrecht. "I d o u b t . and they cannot legitimately be u n d e r s t o o d apart f r o m the context of his ministry. 16). Peter Dschulnigg is correct to complain that previous parable theories have been shaped too little f r o m the parables of Jesus themselves ("Positionen des Gleichnisverständnisses im 20. Such a practice. predetermines h o w other f o r m s are assessed and interpreted. or m o d e r n studies by Jack Kingsbury. But that would be as w r o n g now as it was then. I a m painfully aware of studies. Selected B i b l i o g r a p h y Blomberg. . the Parables. any item not fitting the n o r m will be f o u n d offensive and excluded. we have provided e n o u g h perspective so as n o t to repeat the errors of previous interpreters and to appreciate m o r e fully s o m e t h i n g of the depth of Jesus' intent in these relentlessly engaging stories.Κ LYN Ε R. everyday occurrences.

The Parables. Hermeneutic. Philadelphia: Fortress. Berkeley: University of California Press. L o n d o n : SCM. David. Kissinger. 1994. 1963. 29 . Freiburg: Akademische Verlagsbuchhandlung von J. 1899. D. Leiden: Brill. Flusser. Hear Then the Parable: A Commentary on the Parables of Jesus. Minneapolis: Fortress. 2 vols. An Introduction Westminster. 1989.From Allegorizing to Allegorizing Research. 1936. Stephen L. Studies of the Historical Jesus. Jülicher. 1966. Jr. London: SPCK. Die Gleichnisreden Jesu. Robert H. to the Parables of Jesus. 1987. Adolf. Evans. 1976. Die rabbinischen Gleichnisse und der Gleichniserzähler Teil 1: Das Wesen der Gleichnisse. Jesus. Scott. Robert W. 1967. 23154. 1888. N e w York: H a r p e r 8c Row. NJ: Scarecrow. N e w York: Scribner's. Madeleine. Wailes. Fuchs. 1977. Geraint Vaughn. Warren S. ed. 1964. The Parables of Jesus. Β. A. M e t u c h e n . N o r m a n . D o d d . The Mysterious Parable. 1979. Joachim. Washington: Catholic Biblical Association of America. Mohr. Bernard Brandon. 1981. Jones. Dan Otto. Medieval Allegories of Jesus' Parables. B. Boucher. Philadelphia: Via. 1964. Naperville: Allenson. 1981. Language. Chilton and C. H. Funk. Perrin. The Parables of Jesus. London: Nisbet. Jeremias. Philadelphia: Fortress. Stein. The Art and Truth of the Parables. C. and Word of God. The Parables of the Kingdom. Jesus and the Language of the Kingdom. Ernst. C. Bern: Peter Lang.

and Matt 24:32-33 ("the Fig Tree"). and developed a n u m b e r of diverse methodologies. Mark 4:26-29 ("the Seed Growing by Itself"). and Matt 25:14-30 ("the Talents"). therefore. and (3) "exemplary story" (Beispielerzählung). Unlike similitudes. parables are usually told in the past tense. Examples of this he found in Luke 15:11-32 ("the Prodigal Son"). which is usually told in the present tense. Matt 20:1-16 ("the Workers in the Vineyard"). focused on a n u m b e r of issues. 1. Luke 15:4-10 ("the Lost Sheep and the Lost Coin"). Examples of this he found in Mark 4:2122 ("the Light Hidden u n d e r a Basket"). to understand how the genre "parable" has been defined during the past century and to clarify the nature of the parables as they appear in the Synoptic Gospels.CHAPTER 2 The Genre of the Parables ROBERT H. real-life event. one-time event or situation. He defined a parable as a fictitious narrative involving a particular. An example story Jülicher de30 . In treating Jesus' parables. It is important. Jülicher followed Aristotle's Rhetoric in dividing this literary form into (1) "similitude" (Gleichnis). STEIN T H E STUDY OF T H E PARABLES of Jesus has gone through a n u m b e r of phases. T h e M o d e r n D i s c u s s i o n The m o d e r n discussion of parables and of the genre "parable" was introduced by Adolf Jülicher in 1888 in his two-volume Die Gleichnisreden Jesu. A similitude he defined as a brief narrative of a typical. (2) "parable" in the narrow sense (Parabel).

"Parable and Fable. Jülicher concluded that it could contain only a single point of comparison. or inanimate objects. Some similitudes could easily be classed as parables. then equating fables with parables in the New Testament is illegitimate. they both should be considered as such. while s o m e parables could be labeled similitudes. Luke 12:16-21 ("the Rich Fool").98).20) in equating fables with parables (Gleichnisreden Jesu 1." 473-98). if we determine o u r definition and u n d e r s t a n d i n g of the genre of the parables f r o m the New Testament. an allegory incorporates n u m e r o u s m e t a p h o r s that possess various m e a n ings." For if o n e defines a fable broadly as a narrative that sheds light on h u m a n experience or behavior. They do not possess m e a n i n g in themselves. Details in a parable simply provide local color and interest. whereas an allegory was a series of extended metaphors. since there are no such animal or plant stories in the teachings of Jesus. He f o u n d four of these in the Gospels: Luke 10:30-35 ("the G o o d Samaritan"). in Judg 9:8-15 and 2 Kings 14:9. O n the other h a n d . then fables are very m u c h like parables (cf. b u t only contribute to the m e a n i n g of the text. and Luke 18:10-14 ("the Pharisee and the Tax Collector"). are to be f o u n d in the Old Testament. Nonetheless. 31 . are Matt 7:24-27 ("the Wise and Foolish Builders") and Luke 11:5-8 ("the Friend at M i d n i g h t " ) similitudes or parables? C o m m o n to all of Aristotle's three subspecies of this literary genre is the c o m p a r i s o n m a d e between two unlike things. And each of these m e t a p h o r s with its respective m e a n i n g can and should be interpreted. Luke 16:19-31 ("the Rich M a n and Lazarus"). however. But if o n e uses the m o r e c o m m o n definition of a fable as being a story about animals. For example. of course. plants. Because a parable was an extended simile. then fables c a n n o t be included.The Genre of the Parables fined as a story that functions as a model for correct behavior. A m a j o r c o n t r i b u t i o n of Jülicher involved his discussion of the difference between parables and allegories. Two clear examples of fables. This sharp distinction between similitudes and parables. Consequently. T h e issue of w h e t h e r fables should be included in the genre of parables ultimately centers o n h o w o n e defines "fable. b u t for the meaning. one should not search for various meanings. Jülicher also followed Aristotle (Rhetoric 2. therefore. has rightly been called into question as being s o m e w h a t arbitrary. In interpreting a parable. He defined a parable as being an extended simile. they contain no point of c o m p a r i s o n . And t h o u g h neither is specifically referred to as a mashal or parable. Beavis.

W h a t we find. 2 Sam 14:6-7 [8-21]. the fact of the presence of such allegorical details in some of the Gospel parables indicates that "parables" and "allegories" — at least in the m i n d of the early church — were n o t viewed as being radically different or separate literary forms. T h u s there is n o need to interpret t h e m . 1 Kings 20:39-40 [41-42]. 7:14-15 [18-23]. The Old Testam e n t contains a n u m b e r of such riddle parables that are t h e n explained (cf. Literature. have to be decoded. Parables are f u r t h e r m o r e to be u n d e r s t o o d as being self-explanatory. 2 Sam 12:1-4 for the parable and 12:5-13 for the explanation). see also Judg 9:7-15 [ 16ff. which. he attributed t h e m to the early church and not to Jesus.73). 4:24 [25]. 18:23-34 32 . 47-48 [49-50]. 13:24-30 [37-43]. Jülicher himself acknowledged that some parables in the Gospels possess allegorical details. as Nathan's parable in rebuke of David illustrates (cf. are also not simple parables. we need to note that the teasing n a t u r e of some parables suggests that at times they f u n c t i o n as riddles. 1.ROBERT H." In between there exist parables and story-like comparisons that contain allegorical details. As for the claim that parables are self-explanatory and antithetical to interpretations. and so would totally fail in its p u r p o s e (ibid. They are t h e m selves interpretations. allegories disguise. arbitrary categories. b u t he attributed all of these details to the work of the early church. For whereas parables illuminate. the parables of Jesus are to be seen as extended similitudes that possess only a single p o i n t of c o m p a r i s o n or tertium comparationis. Allegories. Matt 11:16-17 [18-19]. M a r k 3:23-26 [27]. 2 Kings 14:9 [10]). a n d so should be seen as aids to u n d e r s t a n d i n g (Gleichnisreden Jesu 1. Isa 5:1-6 [7]. 17:2-10 [ 11-21 ]. In fact. STEIN For Jülicher. Jülicher's absolute distinction between parables and allegories is generally not accepted today. like reality. 13:28 [29]. while n o t detailed allegories.. 12:1-9 [10-11].].3537]. on the other h a n d . Nevertheless. instead. Nonetheless. Likewise. parables serve well as riddles even w h e n they have to be explained. Ezek 15:25 [6-8].74). the New Testament has many parables that appear with an acc o m p a n y i n g interpretation (cf. is a c o n t i n u u m between "single point parables" and "detailed allegories. Riddles are not always selfevident. 4:21 [22]. 34 [32-33. does n o t fit into neat. And there is no reason to assume that Jesus saw t h e m as separate and mutually exclusive literary f o r m s either. therefore. W h e n he came across allegorical details in the parables. any parable that requires interpretation would be an extremely p o o r one. 4:3-9 [13-20].

"the Seed Growing Secretly".g. M a r k 4:21-22. Luke 4:23b [23c]. M a r k 13:28-29. 20:1-15 [16]. Bultmann's final two categories are "parables" (e. 15:4-6 [7]. "a City Set on a Hill". "a City Set on a Hill"). Luke 16:19-31.. and "parables p r o p e r " (e. 13:25-27 [28-30].g. unnecessary. C. used Jülicher's categories. 33 . 25:1-12 [13]. Matt 7:13-14. Matt 25:14-30. and "similitudes" proper (e. Luke 18:10-14. "the N a r r o w Gate"). Thus the view that interpretations are antithetical to the genre of parables t u r n s out to be a theoretical bias that has been belied in practice.. 8-9 [10]. "the Speck and the Log". 16:l-8a [8b-13]. In fact. " m e t a p h o r s " (e. "similitudes" (e. Matt 5:14. For t h e m .28-30 [33]. Regardless of w h e t h e r one views some. 9-14a [9. often need to be — followed by interpretations. 35-38 [40]. Luke 15:4-10. 19:12-27 [11]). These categories correspond exactly with those of Jülicher.g. 10:30-35 [36-37]." "parables" in the n a r r o w sense.g. Luke 15:11-32. Luke 12:33. "the Speck and the Log").The Genre of the Parables [35]. "the Workers in the Vineyard".31-32 [33]. H. "the Prodigal Son". "the Fig Tree". 11:5-7 [8]. 14b]. it should be noted that rabbinic parables frequently are — a n d . "the Lost Sheep and the Lost Coin". "Purses that D o N o t Wear O u t " ) . "the Talents") and "exemplary stories" (i. it seems. M a t t 20:1-16. or all of the interpretations in the Gospels as secondary. Furthermore. "the Rich Fool". most. Matt 7:3-5..g. D o d d also followed Jülicher and grouped the parables of the Gospels into three m a i n categories: "figurative sayings" or simple metaphors (e. although he subdivided the first (i. 7-8]. in fact. "the Pharisee and the Tax Collector"). for example. B u l t m a n n . Matt 15:14. Luke 12:16-21. m a n y of the parables listed by B u l t m a n n as examples of these two last categories are the same as listed by Jülicher (History of the Synoptic Tradition. "the Light H i d d e n u n d e r a Basket". M a t t 7:3-5. 14:8-10 [11].39 [40]. The threefold division of parables into "similitudes. Luke 10:30-37.e. 22:11-13 [14]. their presence indicates that at least some early interpreters of Jesus' parables saw such a p p e n d e d interpretations as not being impossible. "the Good Samaritan"... M a r k 4:26-29. a n d "exemplary stories" has been followed by a n u m b e r of writers.. 17:7-9 [10]. Luke 15:4-10. they were integral parts of the parables. similitudes) into three parts: "figurative sayings" or Bildwörter (e. Mark 4:21-22. "the Rich M a n and Lazarus". 21:28-31a [31b-32]..e. or contrary to the genre of parables. 18:2-6 [1. "the Lost Sheep and the Lost Coin").g. 7:41-42 [43-47].. 166-79). "the Light H i d d e n u n d e r a Basket".g. 12:16-20 [21].. "a Blind M a n Guiding a Blind Man". M a t t 5:14.

7).. So he argued that the categories drawn f r o m Aristotle do n o t fit well the parables of Jesus. which the Greek Old Testament (the Septuagint) and the Greek New Testament translate as "parable. And redaction critics had studied t h e m in light of the situation of the evangelists (i. 20).e. All such attempts result in forcing on t h e m a different and foreign literary genre. this new approach was wedded to an existential philosophy and to a deconstructionist a n d / o r reader-oriented hermeneutic. F u r t h e r m o r e . STEIN Luke 15:11-32. which advocated a literary rather t h a n a historical paradigm. with every p r o p o s e d category possessing a degree of fluidity. Although D o d d refers to these three categories of parables in the same way as Jülicher and B u l t m a n n ." 27). the first Sitz im Leben). D o d d clearly saw that the categories or classes into which one divides the parables were s o m e w h a t arbitrary. he defines t h e m a bit differently and sometimes includes in o n e category materials that Jülicher and B u l t m a n n included in another." Jeremias viewed any attempt to fit Jesus' parables into the categories of Greek rhetoric as "fruitless labour in the e n d " (Parables of Jesus. B u l t m a n n .. M o r e t h a n Jülicher.e.ROBERT H. "the Workers in the Vineyard"). Consequently. or D o d d . D o d d and Jeremias had focused attention o n the study of the parables in light of the situation of Jesus (i. Whereas D o d d accepted a certain a m o u n t of arbitrariness in the classification of the parables according to the categories of Greek rhetoric. and parables p r o p e r " (ibid. the genre of the para34 . even using the G e r m a n names Gleichnis and Parabel for the latter two (Parables of the Kingdom. But these historical interests were swept aside by the new approach. And because of the broad nature of the Hebrew mashal. 5-7). Jeremias recognized that the parables of Jesus were rooted in a Jewish milieu. A N e w A p p r o a c h In the latter third of the twentieth century the historical p a r a d i g m governing parable study gave way to a new approach. n o t i n g that "it c a n n o t be pretended that the line can be drawn with any precision between these classes of parable — figurative sayings. As Richard Eslinger notes: " T h e watershed in parables research derived f r o m m o d e r n literary analysis which located parable within the range of metap h o r " ("Preaching the Parables. 2. "the Prodigal Son". it was Joachim Jeremias w h o q u e s t i o n e d this w h o l e p r o c e d u r e . M a t t 20:1-16. the third Sitz im Leben). similitudes..

Speaking in Parables. being dead illustrations that presuppose understanding. O n the contrary. when people are confronted by a parable they find that it "shatters their world.6. they interpret their readers! They create m e a n i n g by forcing the reader to participate in the parabolic event. which were claimed to operate on a lower level. can be reduced to literal and abstract interpretations. because they deal with what is expressible. For when one enters into the world of a parable. They do not enhance or convey meaning. Now. As metaphors. Previously. one experiences a language event in the reading of a parable. Metaphors and parables. Simile and allegory. one is confronted with a reversal of expectations and compelled to respond. Thus similes and allegories. Thus because of its almost ontological power. they are the way (cf. being almost divine-like in quality.The Genre of the Parables bles was u n d e r s t o o d not as a vehicle that served to bear the m e a n i n g of its author. however. an e n o r m o u s chasm was seen as separating these two literary forms. rather. Metaphor and parable are f u r t h e r m o r e not simply one way of h u m a n knowing.406b). But m e t a p h o r a n d parable are u n t r a n s l a t a b l e because they deal with the inexpressible. 8.. Understood in this manner. O n e "loses control" and is "torn apart" by a parable. O n e can only experience it. 52). which were claimed to be living and transforming entities. They are not simply illustrations or bearers of meaning. they are irreducible. 1. In this new approach a m e t a p h o r and a parable are attributed u n usual power. for there is very little difference" (The Art of Rhetoric. 62). with each of them functioning in radically different ways. on the other h a n d . A person cannot study or seek to understand a parable. were viewed as actually creating understanding and meaning.8). For as ontological entities." 35 . b u t as an ontological entity that could n o t be interpreted or broken d o w n into a m e a n i n g c o m p o n e n t . In fact." "calls existence into question. parables could n o t be reduced to an interpretation or an illustration. McFague TeSelle. O n e "risks" it. And Quintilian asserted: " O n the whole m e t a p h o r is a shorter form of simile" (Institutio Oratoria. little difference had been seen between metaphors and similes other than the use of the particles "like" or "as." and "causes t h e m to risk all. were seen as merely describing and bearing information. one does not simply read a parable." Aristotle had said: "The simile is a metaphor. "Metaphors" and "parables" (the latter understood as a subset of metaphor) were also sharply distinguished from "similes" and "allegories" (the latter understood as a subset of simile). They are the basic forms of all t h o u g h t and language (ibid.

" "polyvalent. " "autotelic. M u c h of the m o d e r n discussion of m e t a p h o r and parable is a d o r n e d with so m u c h hyperbole and existentialist terminology that it is difficult to u n d e r s t a n d w h a t is actually being said or meant." A parable. therefore. Frequently m o d e r n discussions reveal a great deal m o r e a b o u t the p r o p o n e n t s of these views t h a n a b o u t the n a t u r e of a m e t a p h o r or a parable — or a b o u t h o w the original authors iised t h e m . as Claus Westermann observes. STEIN A n o t h e r consequence of this new approach to parables is the rejection of the idea that a parable possesses a single meaning. Even an accountant's most sterile analysis and statistical report of people killed 36 .ROBERT H. No f o r m of c o m m u n i c a t i o n is simply informative or purely affective. impacts o n a reader. b u t each parable t h r o u g h its regenerating power p r o d u c e s m a n y different. And whereas the f o r m e r seeks mainly to convey i n f o r m a t i o n . As literary works. by still a n o t h e r m e t a p h o r ("personified metaphor")? M u c h of the confusion in past discussions of the parables of Jesus appears to be due to the dual nature of c o m m u n i c a t i o n . . 178-79). This i n d e p e n d e n t nature of the parables is often described by such terms as " a u t o n o m o u s . correct meaning. O n the other h a n d . c a n n o t be limited to a single. Whereas the f o r m e r is primarily informative in nature. . if we explain the statement " m e t a p h o r s interpret us" as a "personified metaphor. For all c o m m u n i cation. "the simplicity of the parables is often no longer recognizable in the lofty heights of the abstract language of [the] . They possess power and beauty within themselves i n d e p e n d e n t of their origin and are capable of creating m a n y new "meanings" or language events." or "plurisignificant. which we have used to explain a n o t h e r m e t a p h o r (which in the case of the biblical parables is far less abstruse). the latter seeks to convey e m o t i o n and bring a b o u t decision. then. parables are self-standing works of art that possess lives of their own." what do we m e a n by this new metaphor? Are we not. explaining one abstruse m e t a p h o r ("parables interpret us"). whether oral or literary. the latter is primarily affective. the ability to interpret. involves b o t h referential and commissive dimensions. b u t equally acceptable. interpretation" (Parables of Jesus. As a result. Yet is a parable really able to interpret us? H o w can an inanimate text interpret anyone or anything? W h a t does it m e a n "to interpret?" Is interpretation n o t an aspect of t h o u g h t and thinking? Can inanimate texts do this? The new approach clearly has attributed to an inanimate literary f o r m an exclusively h u m a n characteristic — that is.

Presently. Such b a r r e n and sterile referential language c a n n o t convey the persuasive nature of the f o r m of that message. to attribute to this f o r m itself the abilities and powers that traditionally have been associated with G o d himself. On the other h a n d . affective nature of this literary form. As Mary Ann Tolbert insists. and as such it possesses both informative and affective dimensions. . how t h e n can we have "dead" m e t a p h o r s and parables? Why do n o t all m e t a p h o r s and parables." if correct. informative aspect is ignored and even denied. . They appear. W h a t is being confused is the meaning of a joke a n d / o r a parable (the referential d i m e n s i o n ) and its affective nature (the commissive dimension). A parable is b o t h a vehicle and a message. however. Yet s o m e advocates of the m o d e r n approach seem to be saying far m o r e than that m e t a p h o r and parable are powerful literary forms." to force t h e m to participate in a language event? If a parable or a metaphor. like a joke. It has been said that a parable. since they possess this same 37 . metaphorical love p o e m does not only affect the reader b u t it also conveys i n f o r m a t i o n — at least this: that the poet loves the addressee of the poem! The new approach is correct. when it asserts that a parable c a n n o t be reduced to an interpretation. As John D o n a h u e aptly observes: " T h e impression arises that at times salvation comes f r o m m e t a p h o r alone!" (Gospel in Parable. in part. affective dimension of a parable is being so emphasized by the new approach that the former. N o r do they simply clarify and illustrate. b u t it c a n n o t convey its affective d i m e n s i o n . can convey the m e a n i n g of a parable. the most hyperbolic. this latter. Yet can a parable really "transform?" Can it force its hearers to "risk" the parable. in fact. An interpretation that begins "This parable m e a n s . Similarly. the new approach is incorrect w h e n it claims that we c a n n o t interpret a parable. Parables do n o t simply convey meaning. in and of itself. . c a n n o t be explained. the effectiveness of any joke is lost w h e n it needs to be explained. to "respond. 11). can do this. what a joke is seeking to say and do can be explained.The Genre of the Parables in automobile accidents d u r i n g a certain period can affect people deeply. Nevertheless. Interpreters in the past have often so concentrated on the informative dimension that they lost sight of the powerful. we can and must interpret the parables (Perspectives on the Parables. It o m i t s the commissive aspect and simply elucidates the parable's message in a didactic manner. particularly if they have suffered a personal loss t h r o u g h o n e or more such accidents. But a joke can be explained! Of course. 42).

g.. Rom 3:21-31) — as long as the t r u t h f u l nature of the message encapsulated in a particular literary f o r m and the convicting w o r k of God's Spirit working t h r o u g h that vehicle a n d message are present! Parables f u n c t i o n in two ways. All of these factors in c o m b i n a t i o n b r i n g about t r a n s f o r m a t i o n and "event. T h e Basic Issue Discussion of the genre of a parable in the abstract can lead only to arbitrary definitions of what one thinks a parable is and how it should function. with his teeming flocks. They p e r f o r m the latter by disarming their hearers and by piercing t h r o u g h defenses and resistance... and (4) a h u m a n response. such effects are the result of the combination of (1) the persuasive and disarming nature of the literary f o r m .ROBERT H. the literary f o r m m u s t be judged to be the most dispensable. They can do this because the analogy in a parable is different f r o m the sensitive reality with which it is dealing. Josh 24:15). an allegory (e. they possess a referential dimension and a commissive dimension.g. enabled the p r o p h e t to speak to David a b o u t both his adultery and his murder. And he found o u t too late that he was the m a n — that he was the one who. for the reality part of the parable was only recognized after the parable had been told and explained..g. John 3:lff. H o w far would N a t h a n have gotten if he had said to David: " O King. equally t r a n s f o r m and interpret their hearers? And why does n o t the s a m e parable p r o d u c e exactly the same effect o n each hearer? It is n o t a literary f o r m per se that t r a n s f o r m s hearers or produces in t h e m a response. Rather. (2) the t r u t h of the divine message encapsulated in that f o r m . T h r o u g h a parable N a t h a n was able to discuss the issue of David's m u r d e r of Uriah and his adultery with Uriah's wife. a prose p o r t i o n (e. or didactic material (e." And of these factors. had stolen a n o t h e r man's o n e ewe lamb! 3. O n the other hand. (3) the convicting w o r k of God's Spirit working t h r o u g h the particular vehicle a n d message. I would like to talk to you a b o u t your adultery with Bathsheba and your m u r d e r of Uriah"? T h e n a t u r e of a parable. STEIN literary f o r m . however. For t r a n s f o r m a t i o n and "event" can also take place t h r o u g h such f o r m s as a c o m m a n d (e.g. For disa r m e d by the i n n o c u o u s nature of the parable.). David was open to judge honestly t h e issue at h a n d . M a r k 12:1-12). if we seek to define the genre more objectively along the lines 38 . They enhance c o m m u n i c a t i o n and they assist persuasion — that is.

is mashal. aesthetic works of art totally ignores their intimate tie with the one who told these parables." 493). 13:28. investigated. Beavis. Luke 4:23). the most direct influence o n Jesus' understanding of the genre of the parables came from the Old Testament. Certainly to speak of the New Testament parables as a u t o n o m o u s . studied. b u t which m e a n s "to rule.The Genre of the Parables of how such classical writers as Aristotle or Quintilian understood a parable. Christians over the centuries have not been interested in Jesus' parables because they have been enamored with anything so abstract as their literary genre. 4. T h u s to u n d e r s t a n d Jesus' use of parables we m u s t focus o n the Aramaic t e r m that Jesus used. In the Old Testament a mashal can refer to: 39 .") It becomes immediately a p p a r e n t w h e n o n e observes how mashal is used in the Old Testament that any simple definition of this genre ignores its b r e a d t h of m e a n i n g . they have read. and come to appreciate h o w the genre described by that t e r m functioned. T h e G e n r e o f Parable i n t h e O l d T e s t a m e n t The t e r m used in the N e w Testament to describe the parables of Jesus is the Greek t e r m parabole. to this Old Testament influence that we m u s t now t u r n . and prayed over these parables precisely because they are the parables of Jesus! Once we decide that we are interested in investigating the parables of Jesus. Yet while Jesus probably both u n d e r s t o o d and spoke Greek. u n d e r s t a n d its semantic range. which lies b e h i n d t h e Greek t e r m parabole f o u n d in the Gospels. We k n o w this because whenever the t e r m parabole appears in the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament it translates the Hebrew mashal. we will again arrive at somewhat arbitrary definitions. rather than by the Greco-Roman fabellae (cf. Rather. "Parable and Fable. except in Eccl 1:17. It is. T h e A r a m a i c t e r m t h a t Jesus used (as in M a r k 4:30. it becomes apparent that we are investigating the parables of one who lived and t h o u g h t in a world governed by the Old Testament. (In 2 Sam 23:3 and Ezek 19:14 the translators of the Septuagint apparently erred in using parabole to translate a different Hebrew w o r d that has the same c o n s o n a n t s [mashal]. therefore. And even if we grant a strong Hellenistic influence o n the Palestinian culture of Jesus' day. his m o t h e r tongue was Aramaic. Jesus' u n d e r standing of this genre was shaped by the Old Testament and early rabbinic mashalim.

A Riddle "I will open my m o u t h in a parable [mashal in the sense of a riddle]. Prov 1:1. and Ezek 14:8. are: Job 13:12. Jer 24:9. Ps 69:11 (69:12 in the Hebrew Bible. 68:12 in the LXX). I will utter dark sayings f r o m of old.ROBERT H." (Ps 78:2 [77:2 in the LXX]) "I will incline my ear to a proverb [mashal used in the sense of riddle] . also 1 Sam 10:12. STEIN A Maxim or Proverb "Like mother. 25:1. 10:1. Mic 2:4. b u t which nevertheless help us u n d e r s t a n d this use of mashal." (Ps 44:14 [44:15 in the Hebrew Bible and 43:15 in the LXX]) O t h e r examples are: 2 C h r o n 7:20." (Deut 28:37) "You have m a d e us a byword [mashal] a m o n g the nations. 26:7." (Ps 49:4 [49:5 in the Hebrew Bible and 48:5 in the LXX]) Cf. O t h e r examples of a mashal serving as a m a x i m or proverb in which the term is n o t translated by parabole in the Septuagint. also Prov 1:6 and Ezek 17:2ff. A Byword or Taunt "You shall b e c o m e an object of horror. and Hab 2:6." (Ezek 16:44) " O u t of the wicked comes forth wickedness. I will solve my riddle to the music of the harp.'" (1 Sam 24:13 [24:14 in t h e Hebrew Bible and the LXX]) Cf. a laughingstock a m o n g the peoples. Additional examples in which mashal is n o t translated by parabole in the Septuagint are N u m 21:27-30. LORD will lead you. 1 Kings 9:7. Eccl 12:9. 9. 40 . Isa 14:3-4. 1 Kings 4:32 (5:12 in the Hebrew Bible and the LXX). where mashal is a synonym for riddle. a byword / t a u n t and a thing of ridicule a m o n g all the peoples where the [mashal]. like daughter. Ezek 12:22-23. 18:2-3.

it is clear that the following parables are examples of mashalim:2 Sam 12:1-4 (5-7). odes or p o e m s (cf. An Allegory Examples of allegory that are described by mashal and parabole in the Hebrew and Greek Bibles are Ezek 17:2-10 (11-21). 25:1-13.18-24. T h e Parables o f Jesus The parables of Jesus in the Gospels exhibit a similar breadth and semantic range of m e a n i n g as found in the Old Testament mashal.. 24:3-9. and "fables" (cf. Matt 5:17) and the Jewish world of the first century as shaped by those Scriptures.2 2 . As in the case of many of Jesus' parables where the term parabole is not used (cf. it is only natural that Jesus' u n d e r s t a n d i n g of a parable would follow 41 . it is what we should expect. Judg 9:7-15 [16ffi].2 4 ) . 5. and Ezek 21:9-17. 23:2-21. In the last two examples the terms mashal and parabole do n o t appear. 14:6-7 (8-21). Ezek 15:1-5 (6-8). 20:1-16. which can also be defined as a riddle. Nevertheless. Additional Dimensions of the Term 'Mashal' A mashal in the Hebrew Old Testament. Isa 5:1-6 (7). Matt 18:23-35. 10-14. 15:11-32.The Genre of the Parables A Parable We find n u m e r o u s examples of parables in the narrow sense in the Old Testament. and 24:2-5. also designates "figurative discourses" (cf. 16:1-8).. Ps 49:4 [49:5 in t h e Hebrew Bible. 2 1 . 2 0 . This is hardly surprising. Luke 10:30-35. 78:2 [77:2 in the LXX]). 1 Kings 20:39-40 (41-42).151 9 . 20:45-49 [21:1-5 in the Hebrew Bible and the LXX]. e. N u m 23:7-10. 28:24-28. 2 Kings 14:9 [10]). 48:5 in the LXX]. Rather. so here the term mashal does not appear. 2 3 . O t h e r examples in which mashal and parabole are n o t used b u t which nevertheless b e l o n g to this genre are Ezek 19:2-9. as well as a parabole in the LXX. For since the most formative influences in the life of Jesus were t h e Hebrew Scriptures (cf.g.

this does not mean that every proverb can be classified as a parable. there seems to be little difference between a simile and a metaphor. went a b o u t healing t h e sick" and " T h e G o o d Physician went a b o u t healing the sick" is only the words "Jesus. 7:12." T h e lack of these words does not cause the m e t a p h o r to "interpret" us or make us experience a "language event" any m o r e t h a n if these two words were present and the saying was a simile. 22." "as." "seems. Despite the claims made by the new approach for the separateness of these two literary forms. 'Doctor. 15:11. the following could easily be referred to as parables: 42 . cure yourself]'" (Luke 4:23) Additional examples can be f o u n d in M a r k 3:23-25 and 7:15-17. STEIN the lines of the Old Testament mashal. while assuredly proverbs.ROBERT H. and M a r k 6:4. Although we do not find any similes or metaphors specifically called parabole in the Gospels. Cf. Whereas a parable can be a proverb. M a r k 2:21. Only those proverbs in which a comparison of unlike things is f o u n d should be included in the genre "parable. as. the only literary difference between t h e m is that in a simile there is an explicit c o m p a r i s o n m a d e that uses "like. Similes and Metaphors In the Gospels we encounter n u m e r o u s examples of similes and metaphors on the lips of Jesus. 16:25. T h e difference between "Jesus. 17-18. Although the new approach to parables has attributed a significant ontological difference to these two literary forms. T h u s we find that the parables of Jesus include the following: Maxims or Proverbs " H e also told t h e m a parable: ' C a n a blind person guide a blind person? Will not b o t h fall into a pit?"' (Luke 6:39) "Doubtless you will quote to m e this proverb [parabole]. 34. also Matt 6:22-23. whereas in a m e t a p h o r the c o m p a r i s o n is implicit. are not parables. and Luke 9:62 where the t e r m parabole does n o t appear. b u t which are nevertheless parables." "as if." etc. as the G o o d Physician." T h u s such passages as M a t t 6:21..

The Genre of the Parables (1 ) Simile "See. Riddles There are no examples in the Gospels of bywords or taunts such as f o u n d in the Old Testament. 14-17). and similes and m e t a p h o r s are comparisons of unlike things! Leaving aside similitudes. Method and Message of Jesus' Teachings. "We heard h i m say. so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves" (Matt 10:16). which are extended similes. the riddle-like nature of some of Jesus' parables is quite apparent.'" (Mark 14:58) The t e r m parabole is n o t used in this example. 43 ." (Mark 7:15) The lack of strict b o u n d a r i e s between the various classifications of parables in the Gospels can be seen by the fact that this passage is frequently classified as a proverb or figurative saying. Ί will destroy this temple that is m a d e with hands. (2) Metaphor "You are the light of the world." (Matt 5:14) Should we include a m o n g the parables of Jesus every simile and every meta p h o r that he uttered? Basic to the genre of mashal and parabole is the idea of a comparison between unlike things. it may therefore be said that there are over sixty-seven examples of similes and metaphors in the Gospels (cf. Nonetheless. b u t the things that come o u t are what defile. "There is n o t h i n g outside a person that by going in can defile. and in three days I will build another. n o r in Matt 13:52 or Luke 13:32-33. Stein. I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves. and that it fits each of these classifications. not m a d e with hands.

Introduction to the Parables of Jesus. STEIN Similitudes A distinction is often m a d e between similitudes and parables. he calls together his friends and neighbors. Story Parables U n d e r this classification we refer to to extended. whereas parables are comparisons involving stories of singular events (cf. for I have found my sheep that was lost. In general this distinction is helpful. And when he comes home. The f o r m e r are defined as simple comparisons involving pictures of typical occurrences of daily life. 13:34-35). "Which one of you. 11:16-19. M a r k 4:21-22. saying to them. does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? When he has found it. 17:7-10. he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. 4:33-34)." (Matt 13:33) O t h e r examples are Matt 13:31-32. 44. 12:39.'" (Luke 15:3-7) Likewise in Matt 13:33 there is portrayed a typical experience of a w o m a n making bread: He told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened. 'Rejoice with me. having a hundred sheep and losing one of them. M a r k 2:19-20. Luke 5:36-38. 1981). Stein. in story form that refer generally to a u p the most f a m o u s of Jesus' sayings. 12:35-38. 15:3). Story parables make An example is the story parable of parables in the narrow sense — that is. T h u s in Luke 15:3-7 we find a c o m p a r i s o n that involves s o m e t h i n g typical of a shepherd's life: So he told them this parable. the persistent widow: 44 . 45-46. C o m p a r e also the following passages where. Luke 7:41-43. fictional comparisons u n i q u e event. 13:28-29. however. as long as it is n o t seen as rigid and absolute. and 30-32 (cf.ROBERT H. 26-29. and 52 (cf. the t e r m parabole does not occur: Matt 7:24-27. 15:8-10 (cf.

and there I will store all my grain and my 45 . when the Son of Man comes.The Genre of the Parables Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. will he find faith on earth?" (Luke 18:1-8) O t h e r examples that use the t e r m parabole include Luke 13:6-9 ("the Barren Fig Tree") and Luke 19:11-27 ("the Pounds"). Luke 15:11-32 ("the Prodigal Son"). Example Parables The distinction between story parables and example parables is s o m e w h a t arbitrary. M a t t 25:1-13 ("the Wise and Foolish Maidens"). the analogy p r o p e r — lies m u c h nearer to the surface and corresponds m o r e closely to the reality that the analogy is teaching. In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying 'Grant me justice against my opponent. "Listen to what the unjust judge says. M a t t 25:14-30 ("the Talents"). And yet. he will quickly grant justice to them." As a result. And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? I tell you." an example parable f u n c t i o n s as an example that says either "Go and do likewise" (Luke 10:37) or "Go and do not do likewise. And he thought to himself. the m e a n i n g of the picture part of an example parable — that is. I will grant her justice. Whereas a story parable functions as "an earthly story bearing a heavenly meaning. however. "In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people.' For a while he refused. This can be seen in the parable of the rich b u t foolish farmer: Then he told to them a parable: "The land of a rich man produced abundantly. yet because this widow keeps bothering me. are Matt 20:1-16 ("the Gracious Employer"). so that she may not wear me out by continually coming. But later he said to himself. 'Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone. O t h e r even m o r e familiar story parables that do not use the t e r m parabole. and Luke 16:1-8 ("the Shrewd Manager"). 'What should I do. for I have no place to store my crops?' Then he said.'" And the Lord said. He said. Ί will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones. Luke 14:15-24 ("the Great Supper").

whose will they be?' So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God. "A man planted a vineyard. Allegory is a literary f o r m f o u n d in both the Old Testament mashal and the New Testament parabole. w h o both used this literary f o r m and intended their hearers to interpret the f o r m as an allegory. for the reader would violate the intention of the author. This would b e to "allegorize" these parables. be merry. "Allegorizing" is an exegetical m e t h o d that originates with a reader who interprets an author's words in a m a n n e r that the a u t h o r did not intend. for this would likewise violate the intention of the author. Again he sent another slave to them. In the Gospels there are several stories that in their present f o r m are allegorical in nature. also Luke 10:30-35 ("the good Samaritan"). 46 . we are referring to allegory as a literary f o r m . 'You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. he sent a slave to the tenants to collect from them his share of the produce of the vineyard. and sent him away empty-handed. and built a watchtower. But they seized him.ROBERT H." (Luke 12:16-21) O t h e r examples in the Gospels where the term parabole is f o u n d are Luke 14:7-11 ("the places at a feast") and Luke 18:9-14 ("the Pharisee and the publican"). Allegories W h e n we speak of the genre "parable" as including allegory. you have ample goods laid up for many years. And I will say to my soul. Allegorie und Allegorese). O n the other h a n d . Then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. and possibly Matt 18:23-35 ("the unforgiving servant") in which the term is not f o u n d . n o t as an exegetical m e t h o d . It is therefore w r o n g to interpret story parables and example parables as allegories. STEIN goods. Luke 16:19-31 ("the rich m a n and Lazarus"). dug a pit for the wine press. Klauck." But God said to him. When the season came. "Soul. This distinction between the literary f o r m of allegory and the hermeneutical m e t h o d o l o g y of "allegorizing" m u s t be kept clear (cf. put a fence around it. Cf. It originates with the original authors. it would also be w r o n g n o t to interpret an allegory as an allegory. relax. And the things you have prepared. The Parable of the Tenants is a p r i m e example: Then he began to speak to them in parables. and beat him. drink. eat.

implicit (as in a m e t a p h o r . story. this was the Lord's doing. saying. It is n o t the f o r m of this genre 47 . and others they killed. heal y o u r s e l f " (Luke 4:23) or to a lengthy story parable such as the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32). riddle." 6. He had still one other. So they left him and went away. C o n c l u s i o n T h e t e r m "parable" in the Bible possesses an extremely b r o a d s e m a n t i c range. they wanted to arrest him. Then he sent another. and Matt 21:1-10 ("the Marriage Feast"). come. And so it was with many others — some they beat.w o r d proverb "Physician. What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others.' But those tenants said to one another. It can refer to the t h r e e .The Genre of the Parables This one they beat over the head and insulted. and that one they killed. but they feared the crowd. Finally he sent him to them. T h e metaphysical-like distinctions attributed to certain of these f o r m s are n o t only exaggerated b u t u n w a r r a n t e d . T h e c o m p a r i son can be brief or extended. In all of these examples t h e t e r m parabole is used to describe the allegory. the fact would remain that the genre "parable" f o u n d in the New Testament includes "allegory. Lying at the core of the Old Testament mashal and the New Testament parabole is a c o m p a r i s o n of two unlike things. and the inheritance will be ours. and threw him out of the vineyard. and it is amazing in our eyes'?" When they realized that he had told this parable against them. Matt 13:24-30 ("the W h e a t and the Tares"). Yet even if every allegorical feature f o u n d in these parables and their interpretations were to be attributed to the early church and n o t to Jesus. or allegory). the allegorical details f o u n d in the parables of "the Wicked Tenants" and "the Marriage Feast" — are authentic is greatly debated. 'This is the heir. killed him.' So they seized him. similitude. The issue of whether the allegorical interpretations associated with the parables of "the Soils" (Mark 4:13-20) and "the W h e a t and Tares" (Matt 13:36-43) — as well. or example parable) or explicit (as in a simile. (Mark 12:1-12) O t h e r allegories are f o u n d in M a r k 4:3-9 ("the Soils"). let us kill him. 'They will respect my son. a beloved son. Have you not read this Scripture: 'The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.

usually before people are able to defend themselves against its message. Additional expressions used to distinguish the affective picture or m e t a p h o r f r o m its i n f o r m a t i v e c o n t e n t are: figurative m e a n i n g vs. Rather. subsidiary subject vs. because this d i m e n s i o n can be expressed in n o n . Although the new approach has been helpful in bringing to o u r attention the affective n a t u r e of the parabolic genre. Sachhälfte. T h e parables of the Bible possess a twofold nature. STEIN that t r a n s f o r m s the reader. however. principle subject. T h u s the " m e a n i n g " of Jesus' parable of the prodigal son can be expressed as follows: "Jesus was saying to the Pharisees and scribes. It neglects and loses entirely. For Jesus a parable served as a s u p e r b means of c o m m u n i c a t i o n . b u t it was never an end in itself. if correct. b u t the divine t r u t h t h a t they contain. signifier vs. the arrow-like. They contain b o t h an informative d i m e n s i o n (the reality p a r t ) and an affective o n e (the picture p a r t ) . f r a m e vs. illustrated. the affective dim e n s i o n of this parable. vehicle vs. it served as a vehicle by which Jesus sought to teach 48 . signified. interpret the informative d i m e n s i o n of the parable. We find a similar use of parables by Jesus in his attempt to disarm his hearers (cf. M a t t 20:1-16. ' W h y are you so u p s e t t h a t G o d is s h o w i n g mercy to outcasts and sinners in my ministry? W h y are you not entering into the joy of the occasion? T h e k i n g d o m of God has c o m e ! ' " Such an explanation can. focus.ROBERT H. T h u s before David could defend himself against the informative dimension of Nathan's parable (2 Sam 12:1-4). 15:11-32). the extravagant nature and the m a g n i t u d e of its claims for this genre m u s t be rejected. literal m e a n i n g . illustrat i o n vs. 10:30-35. tenor. Parables not only c o m m u n i c a t e i n f o r m a tion. W h a t the new approach has clearly observed a b o u t the parabolic genre is its affective dimension. T h e fact t h a t n o t just parables. T h a t is because its riddle-like nature requires involvement by the hearers and because the informative content it bears comes suddenly. b u t also similitudes and allegories f o u n d in the Bible. have been used by God to t r a n s f o r m lives indicates t h a t it is n o t primarily the f o r m b u t the content that G o d uses to t r a n s f o r m those w h o hear and respond. affective nature of the parable had already pierced his heart. and a parable consists of b o t h t h e message and the persuasive vehicle.m e t a p h o r i c a l language. It is not easy to resist the message of a parable. or Bildhälfte vs. they also disarm and persuade. Luke 7:41-43. We can interpret into referential language the informative content of a parable.

New York: Scribner's. Münster: Aschendorff. Jeremias. M a r y Ann. Adolf. an error to equate the m e a n s by which Jesus taught the word of G o d — that is. Louisville: Westminster. 1963 (from 6th G e r m a n edition). "A Definition of Parable. "Preaching the Parables and the Main Idea." It is also. E. Sallie. John P. 1994. Mogens Stiller. New York: Siverns.. A Marginal Jew: Rethinking Doubleday. . Joachim. New York: Scribner's. "With many such parables he spoke the word to t h e m . 1986. D o d d . 1968. D o n a h u e . The Method and Message of Jesus' Teachings. Brosend. H." Theological Review 9 (1988) 60-75. J. Metaphor and Parable. 1991. " T h e Limits of Metaphor. 49 . however. Jülicher. Die Gleichnisreden Jesu. Eslinger. C. as they were able to hear" (Mark 4:33). History of the Synoptic Tradition. London: SCM. Philadelphia: Fortress. H.The Genre of the Parables the divine message. Speaking in Parables: A Study in Metaphor and Theology." Catholic Biblical Quarterly 52 (1990) 473-98. It is. Hans-Josef. 1988. 1961. trans. by the use of parables — with the t r a n s f o r m i n g power and n a t u r e of that "word. Robert H. S. Hooke. Leiden: Brill. trans. an error for those w h o today proclaim that " w o r d " not to make use of such an affective genre in their proclamation! Selected B i b l i o g r a p h y Beavis. The Parables of the Kingdom. Philadelphia: Westminster. 1910. John R. This is clearly Mark's u n d e r s t a n d i n g w h e n he states. B u l t m a n n . L. Richard L. Tübingen: Mohr. therefore. Klauck. Rudolf. It should be noted that the phrase "with many such parables" reveals that parables served as i n s t r u m e n t s or means by which Jesus taught the word of God. Meier. 1981. New York: H a r p e r 8c Row. McFague TeSelle. the Historical Jesus. An Introduction to the Parables of Jesus. Kjargaard. 1978. 1975. The Parables of Jesus. Stein. Allegorie und Allegorese in synoptischen Gleichnistexten. London: SCM. "Parable and Fable." Perkins Journal 37 (1983) 24-32. William F. Marsh." Perspectives in Religious Studies 21 (1994) 23-41. II. The Gospel in Parable.

1990. Claus. F. Logan. The Parables of Jesus in Light of the Old Testament. H. Mary Ann. 1979. Golka and A.ROBERT H. Westermann. STEIN Tolbert. Philadelphia: Fortress. W. Minneapolis: Fortress. B. Perspectives on the Parables: An Approach to Multiple Interpretations. trans. 50 .

Our task in this article. there are very few that can with certainty be dated to this period. to deal with matters having to do with the origins. however. are immediately in order. the character of the parables derived from the Jewish world — whether from shortly before the time of Jesus. forms." It may be inferred from this statement. makers of parables ceased. For if by "early Jewish parables" we mean parables of the first century. apart from the parables of Jesus. Two major caveats. for the bulk of Jesus' teaching in the Synoptic Gospels is presented in the form of parables. "When Rabbi Meir [a fourthgeneration Tannaitic rabbi. is to set out the data regarding parables in Early Judaism — in particular. Furthermore. and functions of early Jewish parables. who taught about 150 CE] died. Most of the articles in the present volume will be devoted to analyses of the meaning of those parables. during his time. however. Nonetheless. we should not assume that Jesus was the only Jewish teacher of his day whose teaching style was characterized by parables. An interesting statement in the Mishnah lends support to such an assumption. EVANS A C C O R D I N G TO MARK 4:33-34a. or afterwards — are not exactly comparable to those of Jesus in the Synoptic Gospels. as they were able to hear it. It seems wisest to assume that at least some of the rabbis who taught during the time of Jesus made use of parables as well. then. Jesus "spoke the word to them with many such parables (parabolai).CHAPTER 3 Parables in Early Judaism C R A I G A. According to Mishnah Sotah 9:15. he did not speak to them without a parable (parabole)" The Gospels give credence to Mark's claim. as well as from the 51 .

the king of M o a b f r o m the m o u n t a i n s of the East: "Come.." Indeed. those occurrences where the m e a n i n g is "to rule over") is f o u n d in N u m 21:27: "For this reason they that speak in meshalim say. N u m 23:18. for he renders the passage: "For this reason the enigmatists will say (dia touto erousin hoi ainigmatistai). defy Israel". w h o is cited shortly afterwards in the same passage. and come.. Both mashal and parabole are words that have a broad range of meaning. f r o m the Scriptures of Israel. the LXX.h i r e Balaam "took u p his parable and said" s u c h . "to speak a parable"). In every instance it translates the Hebrew n o u n mashal (with the verb mashal being rendered by parabolēn eipein." at least as we tend to u n d e r s t a n d t h e m ." Here meshalim may be rendered "proverbs. t h o u g h other factors for a fuller u n d e r s t a n d i n g will need to be taken into consideration as well. b u t an u n d e r s t a n d i n g of the origins. forms. and f u n c t i o n s of parables in Judaism. 52 . The more pressing concern.e. for example.a n d . The first occurrence of mashal in the Hebrew Bible (excepting. 23)." "parables." or even "riddles. If Jesus did not invent the parable.s u c h (cf. was well k n o w n for his deeds of power and whose death saw a decline in the " m e n of deeds"). 21. 'From Aram has Balak b r o u g h t me. and said.f o r . T h e L i n g u i s t i c D a t a The n o u n parabole ("parable") occurs forty-five times in the Greek Old Testament. EVANS context of gloom and d o o m in which it is f o u n d . they do n o t constitute "parables. Let the city of Sihon be built and established'. Yet t h o u g h the prophet's oracles are poetic.. of course.. 1. ' C o m e to Heshbon. whether directly or indirectly.CRAIG A." The next occurrence of mashal is in N u m 23:7: "And he t o o k u p his parable. 24:3. This observation provides us a good start in o u r study of parables. however. the LXX translator seems to have u n d e r s t o o d it in this latter sense. is not the identification of other parable-telling rabbis f r o m the time of Jesus. that rabbis who lived earlier t h a n Rabbi Meir composed and told parables — and that Rabbi Meir was particularly well k n o w n for his parables (just as Rabbi Hanina ben Dosa. 20. where did it come from? An answer to o u r question suggests itself immediately: Jesus derived the parable form of teaching. In all of these occurrences mashal is rendered by parabole. curse Jacob for me.'" Several times we are told that the p r o p h e t . i. 15.

parabole connotes the idea of a riddle (cf. Hab 2:6. see also LXX 2 Chr 7:20). The prophet says that the Lord is a speaker of parables (Ezek 21:5 = LXX 20:49). 53 . "A heart of discernment will appreciate a parable. Moses predicts dire consequences for sin and disobedience: "And you shall become an astonishment. b u t these parables appear to be oracles of j u d g m e n t (24:3. 68:12. to know wisdom approximates the knowledge of parables (Eccl 1:17). paroimia.Sirach 39:1-3. I will o p e n my dark saying u p o n the harp". "In the treasuries of w i s d o m are parables of knowledge" (Sirach 1:25). and ainigma can have overlapping meanings and that their usage is no certain indication of genre (cf. 17:2.e. TDNT 5." which is a meaning it has elsewhere in the Greek Scriptures (cf. on the eve of their entry into the promised land. cf. Hauck. t h o u g h it may have been m e a n t as a t a u n t . Mashal and its Greek equivalent parabole s o m e t i m e m e a n no m o r e than a saying. parabole.17). Indeed. Here again mashal is rendered by parabole. In the LXX it reads: "as an enigma and a parable and a story" (en ainigmati kai parabolç kai diēgēmati. 18:2. I will utter dark sayings of old" (cf. In Ezekiel. Jer 24:9.e. 3). and again.. as seen in Ps 49:4 (= LXX 48:5): "I will incline my ear to a parable. Ezek 12:22. the b o o k of Proverbs. not the expected paroimiai. So parabole can mean a "byword" or "taunt-song. According to t h e Preacher of Ecclesiastes. But parabole can also mean an enigma or riddle. paroimia. O u t of the wicked comes forth wickedness'" (1 Sam 24:13). i.Parables in Early Judaism Warning the second generation of Israelites. where we are told that Solomon "spoke three t h o u s a n d proverbs. F. From this brief survey it seems that parabole. the b o o k of meshalim). as seen for example in 1 Sam 10:12: "Is Saul also a m o n g the prophets?" In this case there is n o t h i n g metaphorical about the saying. 47:15.. and a byword. But what is interesting is that parabole is here juxtaposed with other words that were evidently considered to be roughly synonymous. Tobit 3:4." in the Greek we have parabolai. Likewise in 1 Kgs 4:32 (= LXX 5:12). a m o n g all the peoples to w h o m the Lord shall lead you away" (Deut 28:37). as well. Prov l:6. 23. Ps 43:15. Jesus b e n Sira held a similar view. or Ps 78:2 (= LXX 77:2): "I will open my m o u t h in a parable. "proverb"). LXX Dan 12:8). b u t the Greek translator curiously chooses parabole instead of paroimia (i. a proverb. Later in 1 Samuel we encounter an obvioris example of a proverb: "As the proverb of the ancients says. In Hebrew it is appropriately designated a mashal (cf. idem. there is n o t h i n g especially enigmatic a b o u t it. Wisdom 5:4). 16:44. saying.744-61. and an ear of attentiveness is the desire of a wise person" (Sirach 3:29). Mic 2:4. as one might have expected.

" And the vine said to them. which cheers God and man.g. then come and take refuge in my shade. and if not. W." But the fig tree said to them. "Reign over us. With h i m I speak face to face — clearly. LXX: dl' ainigmatön)·. TDNT 1. "If in truth you anoint me king over you. let fire come out of the bramble. N o t so with my servant Moses. 59-66. "Come. "Should I leave my sweetness and my good fruit. O l d T e s t a m e n t Parables There are approximately ten parables in the Old Testament that loosely resemble those spoken by Jesus (cf. M a n s o n has rightly observed (cf. I the Lord make myself k n o w n to t h e m in visions." But the olive tree said to them. This is seen. M a t t 13:24-30+ 13:36-43. and reign over us. "Narrative Meshalim in the Synoptic Gospels. O n e thing they have in c o m m o n is that they are the opposite of plain speech. is f o u n d in Judg 9:8-15 and has been called t h e Parable of the Trees. "Should I leave my new wine. as T.. vines. for example. and reign over us. and go to wave to and fro over the trees?" And the trees said to the fig tree. M a n s o n . Nevertheless. Teaching of Jesus. n o t in riddles (MT: behidoth. and go to wave to and fro over the trees?" And the trees said to the vine. and he beholds the f o r m of the Lord. and reign over us. Gerhardsson." And the bramble said to the trees. and possibly the oldest. by which God and m a n are honored. Kittel." 2. and brambles are portrayed as speaking. it is interesting to observe that the fable is explained in verses 16-21 that follow. M a r k 4:2-9 + 4:13-20. 54 . "Come. EVANS TDNT5. he is entrusted with all my house.854-56. Teaching of Jesus." 339-63).CRAIG A. T h e first parable that appears in Scripture. and devour the cedars of Lebanon. G. 7:14-15 + 7:17-23). and they said to the olive tree. this material is probably m o r e of the nature of a fable than a parable." Because trees. This f o r m may parallel those instances in the Gospels where parables are followed by explanations (e. "Come. "Should I leave my fatness. I speak to t h e m in dreams.178-80). aìnigma. It reads: The trees once went forth to anoint a king over them. and go to wave to and fro over the trees?" Then said all the trees to the bramble. in N u m 12:6-8a: " W h e n there are prophets a m o n g you. 62-63).

which N a t h a n the p r o p h e t told against King David. the one rich. And a traveler came to the rich man. his predecessor." he avers. David confesses: "I have sinned" (v 13).Parables in Early Judaism The Fable of the Trees is supposed to interpret the slaughter of the seventy sons of Gideon at the h a n d s of his son Abimelech and the m e n of Schechem. "deserves to die!" (v 5). and he was reluctant to take of his own flock and of his own herd. But whereas the fable speaks of being devoured by fire. Therefore trouble will overtake the king's h o u s e ( w 7-14). it used to eat of his own food. The Parable of the Ewe Lamb is a juridical parable (cf. Simon. and lie in his bosom. The deaths of David's sons 55 . T h e first is the Parable of the Ewe Lamb in 2 Sam 12:lb-4. editing. and compilation in Judges 9 — Jotham's interpretation anticipates that j u d g m e n t will befall Abimelech. and drink of his own cup. and so he will be c o n s u m e d by fire (9:20). Unsatisfied with all of that he struck d o w n Uriah the Hittite and took his wife. save one little ewe lamb. Two parables appear in 2 Samuel. and the other poor. and with his children. after he had c o m m i t t e d adultery with Bathsheba and then arranged the death of her h u s b a n d Uriah. Like the Fable of the Trees considered above. the narrative itself draws an even closer parallel between what Abimelech did to the sons of Gideon and what would befall h i m . to dress for the wayfaring man who had come to him. he took the poor man's lamb. But then N a t h a n explains the parable: "You are the m a n ! " The Lord had given David everything. For Abimelech had p u t to death the sons of Gideon "on o n e stone" (9:5). David is outraged w h e n he hears this parable. many flocks and herds. and dressed it for the man who had come to him. and it was like a daughter to him. Instead. including the daughters of Saul the king. " T h e m a n w h o has d o n e this." 207-42). To his credit. "Poor Man's Ewe-Lamb. but the poor man had nothing. Although David confesses his sin and so avoids a j u d g m e n t of death o n himself. and it grew up with him. He brought it up. Whatever its original m e a n i n g — and interpreters dispute it. which he had bought. the p r o p h e t foretells bloodshed within the king's family. along with questions of sources. saying t h a t Abimelech suffered a m o r t a l i n j u r y w h e n a w o m a n crushed his skull with a millstone (9:53-54). The rich man had many. this parable is interpreted as a p o r t e n t of j u d g m e n t . The parable reads as follows: There were two men in one city.

a ruse m e a n t to deceive David (cf. is. Only t h e n did David realize that the story was fiction. she fell on her face to the ground. but the one struck the other. Ο king. As such. And. that we may kill him for the life of his brother whom he slew. and there was none to part them. in the ensuing conversation. And your servant had two sons. the Parable of the Two Brothers of 2 Sam 14:4-7. David assures her that "not o n e hair of y o u r son shall fall to the g r o u n d " (ν 11). 1220). and said. and they say. Later. David assumed that the widow's dilemma was a real one. "What is your trouble?" And she answered." In this instance the hearer of the parable did n o t k n o w that it was a parable. "Of a truth I am a widow. he cried to 56 . in reality. the w o m a n reveals that the king has convicted himself. however.' Thus will they quench my one remaining ember. and my husband is dead. The second parable of 2 Samuel. behold. and will leave to my husband neither name nor remnant on the face of the earth. the whole family is risen against your servant. designed to p r o m p t h i m to reconsider his thinking. The parable and its explanation read as follows: The prophet departed. he learns that it concerns his son Absalom. for his determination to p u t to death his son Absalom is inconsistent with his j u d g m e n t . w 1-3. and did obeisance. and killed him. EVANS A m n o n . A parable and a fable are f o u n d in 1 Kgs 20:38-43. king of Israel. and waited for the king along the road. of this prophecy's fulfillment. Absalom. disguising himself with a bandage over his eyes. this parable is another example of a juridical parable. "Help. a p r o p h e t waits on the road for Ahab. and Adonijah offer the most shocking tokens. After being w o u n d e d a n d bandaged. David assumes that the story is factual (as he initially did in response to Nathan's Parable of the Ewe Lamb). After this p r o n o u n c e m e n t . where we have the Parable of the Escaped Prisoner." And the king said to her. a m o n g others. even if we destroy the heir as well. she begs the king not to allow the avenger of blood to do any m o r e killing. As the king passed by. Indeed. and they two strove together in the field.CRAIG A. The situation and portrayal of the Parable of the Two Brothers reads ( w 4-7): And when the woman of Tekoa spoke to the king. 'Deliver him that struck his brother.

king of Judah and cocky over his recent success against E d o m . and the king of Israel recognized that he was one of the prophets. even you. 57 . that you should fall. "Your servant went out into the midst of the battle.' You have indeed struck Edom. The thistle's p r e s u m p t i o n will get h i m t r a m pled by the big players in the d r a m a . saying." And the king of Israel said to him.' And as your servant was busy here and there. and abide at home. This parable is similar to the one told to David by the w o m a n of Tekoa. and your people for his people. 'Keep this man: if by any means he be missing. the marriage proposal hinted at in the fable itself probably does n o t reflect an actual detail in the historical d r a m a ) . saying. and came to Samaria. king of Israel.Parables in Early Judaism the king and said.'" And the king of Israel went to his house heavy and displeased. and there passed by a wild beast that was in Lebanon. Jehoash tells h i m to stay h o m e and enjoy his recent victory. wishes to meet with Jehoash. The p o i n t is driven h o m e with the Fable of the Thistle and the Cedar. then shall your life be for his life. and. only to be told that he has passed j u d g m e n t o n himself. behold. he was gone. and your heart has lifted you up: glory in it. let us look one another in the face. the king of Israel passes j u d g m e n t . The Fable of the Thistle and the Cedar given in 2 Kgs 14:8-10 is another instance of a fable in the Old Testament: Then Amaziah sent messengers to Jehoash. "So shall your judgment be. And he said to him. perhaps to negotiate payments to mercenary t r o o p s f r o m Israel (see the explanation given in 2 Chr 25:616. or else you shall pay a talent of silver." And Jehoash the king of Israel sent to Amaziah king of Judah. the son of Jehoahaz son of Jehu. king of Israel. Ahab assumes that he is being told a factual story. a man turned aside. As David before him. and Judah with you?" Amaziah. you have decided it. and said. and brought a man to me. "The thistle that was in Lebanon sent to the cedar that was in Lebanon. therefore your life shall go for his life. 'Give your daughter to my son for marriage. "Thus says the Lord. "Come." And he quickly took the headband away from his eyes. and trod down the thistle. for why should you meddle to your hurt. saying. 'Because you have let go out of your hand the man whom I had devoted to destruction.

" 22-41). Yee. I pray you. judge. and built a tower in its midst. a cry. Ο inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah. and planted it with the choicest vine. like several already considered. and it shall be devoured. " T h e Form-Critical Study of Isaiah 5:1-7. when I looked that it should bring forth grapes. What could have been done more to my vineyard that I have not done in it? Why. and it shall be trodden down. whereby the p r o p h e t alludes to Israel's sacred tradition b u t finds in it g r o u n d s for j u d g m e n t . But if justice and righteousness are lacking. brought it forth wild grapes? And now I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away its hedge. "Thus says the Lord God: A great eagle with great wings and long pinions." Catholic Biblical Quarterly 43 [1981] 30-40). The Riddle (or Parable) of the Eagles and the Vine in Ezek 17:2-10 reads: Son of man. behold. but there shall come up briers and thorns. Israel may very well be likened to a chosen vine that God has planted o n a m o u n t a i n and lovingly cared for. And now. A. put forth a riddle. Willis. and it brought forth wild grapes. It reads: Let me sing for my beloved a song of my beloved concerning his vineyard. J. And he looked for justice.CRAIG A. which had various colors. and took the top of the cedar. and I will lay it waste. and also hewed out a winepress in it. most c o m m e n t a t o r s agree that it is a parable — a n d . T. My beloved had a vineyard on a very fruitful hill. between me and my vineyard. " H e r m e n e u t i c s in True and False Prophecy. He looked for it to bring forth grapes. for righteousness. n o t assurance (cf. It shall not be pruned nor hoed. a juridical parable (cf. and say. and he digged it. one should expect j u d g m e n t . and speak a parable to the house of Israel. he cropped off the topmost of 58 . I will break down its wall. oppression. We have in this song an instance of t h e hermeneutics of prophetic criticism. The remainder of the Old Testament parables are f o u n d scattered a m o n g the oracles in the first half of the b o o k of Ezekiel. and gathered out the stones from it. but. For the vineyard of the Lord is the house of Israel and the men of Judah his pleasant plant. Sanders. EVANS O n e of the classic biblical parables is Isaiah's Song of the Vineyard in Isa 5:1-7. Although it is a song. I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain u p o n it. but. G. behold. full of feathers. came to Lebanon. " T h e Genre of Isaiah 5:1 -7" Journal of Biblical Literature 96 [1977] 33762.

and carried it to a land of commerce. And she brought up one of her whelps. and say. For like the older song. The nations also heard of him. "Thus says the Lord God: Shall it flourish? Shall he not pull up its roots and cut off the fruit f r o m it. he became a young lion. Yea. and they brought him with hooks to the land of Egypt. he set it in a city of merchants. and they spread their net over him. whose branches turned toward him. and the roots of it were under him." Say. And. And it grew and became a spreading vine of low stature. and he learned to catch the prey. he became a young lion. he set it as a willowtree. and its fullness. There was also another great eagle with great wings and many feathers. that it might bring forth branches and bear fruit and be a goodly vine. he devoured men. in the midst of the young lions she nourished her whelps. Then the nations set against him on every side from the provinces. and her hope was lost. that it may wither — that all its fresh springing leaves may wither? And not by a strong arm or many people can it be raised from its roots. He took also of the seed of the land and planted it in a fruitful soil. "Shall it flourish?. Now when she saw that she had waited. because of the noise of his roaring. this vine did bend its roots toward him and shot forth its branches toward him. being planted. then she took another of her whelps and made him a young lion. It was planted in a good soil by many waters. behold. he was taken in their pit." Parts of this extended parable are reminiscent of Isaiah's Song of the Vineyard. So it became a vine and brought forth branches and shot forth sprigs. he placed it beside many waters. and the land was desolate. And he knew their palaces and laid waste their cities. The rhetorical question of verse 9." recalls the rhetorical question of Isa 5:4: " W h a t m o r e was there to do for my vineyard that I have n o t done in it?" Another parable in Ezek 19:1-9 reads: Moreover. he devoured men.Parables in Early Judaism the young twigs of it. And he went up and down among the lions. Ezekiel's Riddle of the Eagles and the Vine envisions j u d g m e n t . shall it flourish? Shall it not utterly wither when the east wind touches it? It shall wither in the beds where it grew. 59 . "What was your mother? A lioness: she couched among lions. from the beds of its plantation. that he might water it. behold. he was taken in their pit. take up a lamentation for the princes of Israel. and he learned to catch the prey.

This is a lamentation and shall be for a lamentation." This is a funeral lament that is presented as a parable. and they were seen in their height with the multitude of their branches. in your blood. Yet it is more of an allegory t h a n a simple parable. planted by the waters: it was fruitful and full of branches by reason of many waters. But it was plucked up in fury.e..CRAIG A. T h o u g h "planted by waters" and "fruitful. EVANS And they put him in a cage with hooks and brought him to the king of Babylon. Ezekiel provides two more parables." The dynasty has been u p r o o t e d and replanted in the desert. "Your m o t h e r was like a vine" is a reference to the Davidic dynasty. it has devoured its fruit. and their stature was exalted among the thick boughs. The Parable of the Lionness is immediately followed by t h e Parable of the Vine in Ezek 19:10-14. the Babylonian Empire) "dried its fruit. it was cast down to the ground. its strong rods were broken off and withered. The east wind dried up its fruit. that his voice should no more be heard upon the mountains of Israel. And it had strong rods for the scepters of them that rule. Ezekiel s parables are beginning to exhibit features as e n c o u n tered in such later apocalyptic works as Daniel and 1 Enoch. the fire consumed them. where symbolism is employed. and drop your word toward the south. they brought him into strongholds. this t i m e with an obvious allusion to Isaiah's Song of the Vineyard. "Son of man. so that there is in it no strong rod to be a scepter to rule. it is n o t a fable. And now it is planted in the wilderness. It no longer rules. And fire is gone out of the rods of its branches. which is a lament that takes u p again the imagery of the vine: Your mother was like a vine. and prophesy 60 . the point of the Parable of the Vine conveys a message of j u d g m e n t . As in many of the parables reviewed above. Here we have another highly allegorical parable. in a dry and thirsty land. Although animals play a part. Its is fruit devoured. Indeed. set your face toward the south." it was "plucked u p in f u r y " and "cast d o w n to the g r o u n d " where the "east w i n d " (i. O n e is the Parable of the Forest Fire in Ezek 21:1-5 ( M T = 20:45-49): And the word of the Lord came to me. saying.

and say to them. that is. 61 . write the name of the day. there is no plot. have kindled it. therefore. This is metaphor. which is found in Ezek 24:2-5. where the p r o p h e t p e r f o r m s various symbolic actions that p o r tend a c o m i n g siege and hardship). T h e p r o p h e t enjoins the Babylonian king to cook rebellious Jerusalem. Ezek 4:1-5:17. Behold. Say to the forest of the South. God's j u d g m e n t is likened to a c o n s u m i n g fire. and also a pile of wood for the bones under the caldron. at least by inference. and there is no moral or lesson to the story. It is." Then said I. which t h r o u g h symbolism conveys a message of j u d g m e n t . make it boil well. as a parable.. And all flesh shall see that I.e. and it shall devour every green tree in you and every dry tree. the Lord. The flaming flame shall not be quenched. taking care n o t to leave out the "choice" parts. fill it with the choice bones. there is no indication in this case that the p r o p h e t actually acted o u t what he describes in his parable." Ezekiel's mashal here is m o r e of an object lesson than a parable (cf. not a parable (or a fable) in the m o r e technical sense. and also pour water into it. m o r e of a metaphor. ν 8). the thigh and the shoulder. set it on. gather its pieces into it. for it lacks a plot.Parables in Early Judaism against the forest of the field in the South. "Thus says the Lord God: Set on the caldron. Take the choice of the flock. and all faces from the south to the north shall be burnt by it. not the Negev. the allegorical features that were observed in the previous parables of Ezekiel are still in evidence. T h e parable reads: Son of man. and that represents j u d g m e n t . 'Is he not a speaker of parables?'" The last verse identifies the text. which will destroy the "south" (i. cf. A fire b u r n s a forest. It shall not be quenched'. 'Hear the word of the Lord: Thus says the Lord God. let the bones of it be boiled in the midst of it. Yea. "Ah. the ruling elite w h o have p r o m o t e d rebellion. Judah. But there are no t r u e characters. Ezekiel's final parable is the Parable of the Seething Pot. I will kindle a fire in you. even of this very day: "the king of Babylon drew close to Jerusalem this very day. Lord God! They say of me. Nevertheless. even every good piece." And utter a parable to the rebellious house. Nonetheless. however.

there is one other genre of parabolic material that should be considered briefly. Daniel himself d r e a m s his "night visions" and sees the f o u r beasts. in which the cake of barley t u m b l e d into the c a m p of Midian and caused a tent to collapse. looking for Israel's r e d e m p t i o n and restoration. m o o n . The other dreams in the Bible that contain parabolic details include Jacob's dream of the staircase (Gen 28:12-15). Moreover. Ezek 31:3-14). and stars b o w i n g d o w n to h i m (Gen 37:5-7. For there are approximately o n e dozen dreams that are s o m e w h a t parallel to the parables and fables that have already been reviewed." and the great struggle between t h e holy ones and the f o u r t h k i n g d o m of the earth (Daniel 7).k n o w n dreamers or dream-interpreters of the Bible. Both of these dreams are allegories. they are relatively simple. T h o u g h allegorical. the presentation of the k i n g d o m to "one like a son of man. Joseph and Daniel are the b e s t . Daniel's d r e a m s are m o r e involved. thereby signifying Midian's certain defeat (Judg 7:13-14). are similar. So also Pharaoh's dream of the seven fat cows eaten by seven emaciated cows and the seven fat ears of corn eaten by seven withered ears of corn. Rather.CRAIG A. The dreams of Pharaoh's baker and cupbearer. Daniel's stature as an interpreter of d r e a m s is as impressive as t h a t of Joseph's.I n t e r p r e t a t i o n s Before leaving the biblical data. they are u n derstood as media t h r o u g h which G o d reveals things to h u m a n beings. w h i c h mostly c o n c e r n Joseph's fate. A l t h o u g h s o m e w h a t similar to the d r e a m s of Joseph. requiring interpretation. for the m e a n i n g of these dreams was quite plain to t h e m . Likewise. Daniel's d r e a m s are n o t c o n c e r n e d with Daniel himself. EVANS 3. t h o u g h in very brief f o r m . which Joseph interpreted (Gen 40:5-19). It comes as no surprise that they represent seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine (Gen 41:1-7). And like the prophetic meshalim. He successfully interprets N e b u c h a d n e z z a r ' s d r e a m of the great statue (Daniel 2) and N e b u c h a d n e z z a r ' s d r e a m of the great tree (Daniel 4. 62 . Joseph's dreams of first the sheaves bowing d o w n to his sheaf and then of the sun. the convening of the heavenly c o u r t . Jacob's dream a b o u t the goats and the flock and its m e a n i n g relative to his father-in-law Laban (Gen 31:10-13). and the d r e a m that Gideon overheard. cf. m o r e highly charged with symbolism. Daniel's d r e a m s are national and eschatological. All of t h e m are symbolic. unlike Joseph's d r e a m s . 9-10) offended his parents and brothers. D r e a m s a n d D r e a m .

. For f r a g m e n t 1. thereby to leave the date-palm by itself.] and in thirst. The date-palm. which grows high. . e. reads as follows (cf.] and its mass of branches [. and Cook.] to multiply the boughs of [.] of the soil. Early Postbiblical Parables In the early writings of postbiblical Judaism there appear also s o m e other Jewish parables. Dead Sea Scrolls 79): I. . .P a l m . Wise. In my dream. Abram's d r e a m is very similar to the dreams related in the Old Testament. a passage that in rabbinic literature is sometimes associated with A b r a h a m and Sarah (cf. The elements of Abram's dream are drawn f r o m Ps 92:13. guiding the patriarch and his wife t h r o u g h the perils they will encounter in Egypt. "Do not cut the cedar down.13-16 reads as follows (cf. which is identified as 4Q302a or 4Qpap Parable. . and C o o k .. Three of these early postbiblical parables are particularly significant here.1 [on Gen 12:17]). particularly in Genesis and Daniel. O n e more parable f r o m Q u m r a n is attested in fragments f r o m cave 4.Parables in Early Judaism 4. A b r a m r e c o u n t s his D r e a m of t h e C e d a r a n d D a t e . . objected. I saw a cedar tree and a date-palm growing from a single root.] and guard it [. . which was written a b o u t 50 BCE-50 CE.] from its shoot. As in the biblical dreams. Abram. . . Like fables. for the two of us grow from but a single root.. . column 2 of the Parable of the Fruitful Tree. however. . to increase [. for date-palms do n o t talk to woodcutters any m o r e t h a n emaciated cattle devour fat cattle. Abegg. In the Genesis Apocryphon.].g. you who are wise: If a man has a fine tree. Abegg. Then people came intending to cut down and uproot the cedar. Abram's D r e a m of the Cedar and Date-Palm conveys a message f r o m God. Genesis Kabbah 41. these dreams are surreal. ibid.. will he not [. and was not cut down. . and it produces succulent fruit [every year] with a u t u m n rains and the spring rains [." So the cedar was spared because of the datepalm. IQapGen 20. 63 . Wise. . all the way to heaven [. and said. 296): Please consider this. had a dream the night of my entry into the land of Egypt..

and I will be your eyes. the bishop of Salamis in Cyprus and an early historian. "Take hold and come along the rope to me. where it is attributed to Judah ha-Nasi. And they reported these things to the king.70. t h o u g h this word must be partially restored. saying. be [my] feet and carry me. being lame and unable to crawl?" And the blind one spoke. "In what way?" And he said. "Apocryphon of Ezekiel. T h e longer. 315-403). Now the king had a garden and the blind man called out from a distance to the lame man." 492.CRAIG A. Sanhédrin 91a-b. Furthermore. where it is attributed to Ishmael). "Everyone in 64 . Epiphanian version of this parable reads (cf." Plucking the grass near him and braiding a rope. Epiphanius (c. whether they damaged or did not damage [anything]. It may even m e n t i o n God's k i n g d o m . also Lev Rabbah 4. he said. "How much would our crumb of bread have been among the crowds who were invited to the party? So come on." And he did as he [the lame man] had urged [and] when he approached. and each one sat by himself and lived by himself. just as he did to us. let us retaliate (against) him. guiding you from above to the right and left. "Come to me. but he snubbed the two civilians. b. the lame man and the blind man. And they were indignant within themselves and resolved to carry out a plot against the king. T h e parable also appears in briefer f o r m in rabbinic literature (cf. Mueller and Robinson. Now when the partygoers dispersed from the wedding feast. he invited all those in his kingdom.5 and the Mekilta on Exod 15:1." And doing this they went down into the garden. we may consider a postbiblical parable that is associated with Ezekiel." But the other asked. "But how can I. going down into the garden they were amazed to find the footprints in the garden. saying. EVANS Fragment 2. And when the king was preparing a wedding feast for his own son. "Let us go into his garden and there destroy the things of the garden. cites the Parable of the Lame M a n and the Blind M a n (Panarion or Against Heresies 64. 494): A certain king had everyone in his kingdom drafted." But he said. 1). he threw [it] to the blind man and said.5-17) and says that he took it f r o m the Apocryphon of Ezekiel (= frag. and had no civilians except two only: one lame man and one blind man. "What am I able to do myself. nevertheless the footprints were visible in the garden. unable to see where I am going? But let us use subterfuge. c o l u m n 1 possibly constitutes the interpretation of this parable. Finally.

that is. blessed be he." Then approaching the lame man. the p o i n t is the same. you know that I cannot see where I walk. Mueller and Robinson.Parables in Early Judaism your kingdom is a soldier and no one is a civilian. "O lord. "Did you yourself not become my eyes?" In the same way the body is connected to the soul and the soul to the body. And the judgment becomes final for both body and soul. brings the spirit and placing it in the body. he asked him also. saying to the blind man. "Did you not come down into the garden?" And he replied. to convict [them] of [their] common deeds. for the works they have done whether good or evil. The king judges the blind m a n and the lame m a n as one. and so may have provided h i m with the themes. are there footprints of civilians in the garden?" And he was astounded. ibid. 488) — were in circulation in Jesus' day. he said. The features of the biblical and postbiblical parables may be s u m m a rized as follows: 1. "Who. In the briefer. And they are unable to deny. they each convict the other. the moral is drawn: "So the Holy O n e . and content o u t of which he could have constructed his own parables. 14:1-20. he also judges t h e m as one" (Mueller and Robinson. he places the lame man on the blind man and examines both under the lash. ibid.. He summoned the lame man and the blind man. "Did you come down into my garden?" And answering. The lame man. 65 . Features of t h e Biblical a n d Postbiblical Parables All of the materials surveyed above — with the possible exception of the last parable cited f r o m the Apocryphon ofEzekiel. What then does the just judge do? Realizing in what manner both had been joined. "Did you not carry me and lead me away?" And the blind man to the lame.. M a n y parables are juridical. the hearer p r o n o u n c e s j u d g m e n t o n himself. do you wish to embitter my soul in the matter of my inability?" And finally the judgment was delayed. simpler rabbinic version of this parable. 5. This is evident in 2 Sam 12:1-4. me. So how. 493). 1 Kgs 20:35-43. lord? You see our inability. forms. From this. which has been dated between 50 BCE and 50 CE (cf. and he asked the blind man. on the one hand. then.

most are addressed to his followers. Although s o m e of Jesus' parables are addressed to the leaders of Israel. H o w do the parables of Jesus c o m p a r e to these features? Many of Jesus' parables are juridical. Some parables are told as fact. however. dreams are not devised for pedagogical purposes. S o m e parables contain allegorical elements. even if they do n o t expressly draw the hearer into passing j u d g m e n t o n himself. most of the parables. b u t are never told to deceive anyone (that is. Certain stylistic features and themes c o m m o n to Jesus' parables are not f o u n d in the biblical and early postbiblical parables. Unlike the parables and fables. And so it is to those parables that we must now t u r n . The fables appear to serve similar functions as the parables. to make s o m e o n e think an actual event is being described). which roughly parallels the first two 66 .CRAIG A. EVANS b u t particularly so in Isa 5:1-7. and his parables contain a relatively small a m o u n t of allegorical features. Jesus' parables are t r u e to life. t h o u g h this is n o t the case with fables or dreams. F u r t h e r m o r e . The parables are t r u e to life. what is intended in this section is to show how the parables of the rabbis of the Tannaitic period. thereby initially deceiving the hearer. especially those in Ezekiel. All of the parables and fables are addressed to m o n a r c h s or leaders of the people. 5. Rather. 7. 3. Jesus neither dreams (though he may have had visions) nor interprets dreams. are to be f o u n d in the early rabbinic parables. at least. which are in need of decipherment. C o m p a r i s o n s w i t h Early R a b b i n i c Parables O u r p u r p o s e here is not to treat in any detailed m a n n e r Jesus' parables. Closer approximations. 6. 4. T h a t is the task assigned to those writing chapters 4-13 of the present volu m e . to draw their own conclusions. are j u d g m e n t a l in perspective. inviting the hearers to judge themselves — or. Jesus tells no fables. 6. however. The dreams are viewed as messages f r o m God. This device may have been intended to prevent the hearer f r o m putting himself o n guard against the parable's principal point. 2.

More than half of Jesus' parables speak of the " k i n g d o m of God. T h e recognition of these four features serves. Midrash Prov 16:11. c. Matt 5:23-24. attributed to Rabbi Meir. c. attributed to Rabbi Simon ben Eleazar. and the King's Two Administrators (Mekilta on Exod 20:2 [Bahodesh §5]. cf. the Parable of the King's Wise and Foolish Servants (b. m o r e t h a n half of which feature a king. w h o almost always represents G o d (cf. 170 CE. 150 CE. in fact. "Les canons du Mashal rabbinique"). Shabbath 153a. 70-80 CE. also Eccl Rabbah 9:8 §1. (3) that the characters in the parables often behave in illogical ways. cf. Luke 17:7-10). A m o n g these we have the Parable of the Forgiving King [b.6. Nathan 14. 90 CE. in particular. c. 67 . and (4) that rabbinic parables use terminology and themes that are often to be f o u n d also in parables attributed to Jesus. cf. the Parable of the King's Banquet Guests {Semahot 8:10. offer valid and instructive points of comparison to the parables of Jesus. For to u n d e r s t a n d the early rabbinic parables is to be able to u n d e r s t a n d better the parables of Jesus. God as King in the Rabbinic Parables There are some 325 extant Tannaitic parables. Although the rabbinic parables usually speak of God as king and Jesus' parables speak of the k i n g d o m of God. M a t t 22:1-10: Luke 14:15-24). cf. Matt 24:4551. M a t t 25:21 // Luke 19:17).Parables in Early Judaism centuries of Christianity. to clarify in various ways the parables of Jesus. attributed to Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakkai. the Parable of the King's Steward (Aboth de R. 1. attributed to Rabbi Eleazar ben Arak. R." which Jesus seemed to have u n d e r s t o o d in terms of God's powerful presence. (2) that " k i n g d o m " is usually defined as God's sovereign reign over his d o m i n i o n . c. 18:21-35). attributed to Rabbi Yose the priest. The next p o i n t should make this evident. Four features. 90-100 CE. need here to be highlighted: (1) that the rabbinic parables frequently speak of a king. cf. these expressions are closely related and merit comparison. O t h e r parables could be m e n t i o n e d . b u t these are a m o n g the most illustrative. M a t t 25:14-30 // Luke 19:12-27). Pautrel. Rosh ha-Shanah 17b. c.

yes. divided the sea for them. "Am I the Lord. In all probability this material is related to the above parable. out of the house of bondage)'" [Exod 20:2]. "Am I the one whose dominion [literally. he brought in the water supply for them. which is the m e a n i n g that the term probably has in Jesus' parables. "Yes. B. W. M a n s o n noted that in a few rabbinic passages the term " k i n g d o m " sometimes means God's d o m i n i o n (cf. 'my kingdom']. That is what is said here: "I am the Lord your God. yes. He brought the Israelites out of Egypt. whose sovereignty [literally. see also C. " R e g n u m Dei Deus Est" and "Kingdom of G o d in Recent Discussion"). "Yes." meaning. They accepted my decrees: 'You will have no other gods before'" [Exod 20:3]. Blomberg." A n o t h e r illustrative passage is f o u n d in Sifra Lev §194 (on Lev 18:130). and he fought their battles. Rabbi Simeon ben Yohai says." So it is with God. Then when he said to them: "May I rule over you?" They said to him: "Yes. M a n s o n ." "Indeed you have accepted my dominion [literally. L." "Indeed you have accepted my dominion [liter68 . "Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them: Ί am the Lord your G o d ' " [Lev 18:1-2]. b u t its fictive conversation between God and the wilderness generation is parable-like. D. sent down manna for them. The Lord spoke to Moses saying. Teaching of Jesus 130-32. EVANS 2. It is n o t formally introduced as a parable. brought the quails for them.CRAIG A. 'kingdom'] you took upon yourself in Egypt?" They said to him. A parable f o u n d in the Mekilta o n Exod 20:2 (Bahodesh §5) is illustrative: Why were the Ten Commandments not said at the beginning of the Torah? They give a parable. To what may this be compared? To the following: A king who entered a province said to the people: "May I rule over you?" But the people said to him: "Have you done anything good for us that you should rule over us?" What did he do then? He built the city wall for them. yes. "Parables of Jesus". Kingdom as God's Sovereign Reign over His Dominion Years ago T. brought up the well for them. Chilton. He fought for them the battle with Amalek. "This is in line with what is said elsewhere: Ί am the Lord your God (who brought you out of the land of Egypt. yes. Then he said to them: "May I rule over you?" And they said to him: "Yes. 'kingdom'] you accepted at Sinai?" They said to him.

The parable f o u n d in Seder Elijah Rabbah §28. What did the guardian do? He proceeded to destroy the king's city. This second passage coheres with the first one cited in declaring that God rules over Israel as a king. concerned a mortal king who had set out for a city far across the sea. his son slain with the sword. Illogical Characters in the Rabbinic Parables Tannaitic parables present their characters as sometimes acting in illogical ways. 'my kingdom']. do not entrust your son to this wicked guardian. When he saw his city destroyed and desolate." Nevertheless the king. he pulled out the hair of his head and his beard and broke out into wild weeping. have his house consumed by fire. entrusted his city. instead of the more literal "kingdom. as told by Rabbi Yose the Galilean. As he was about to entrust his son to the care of a wicked guardian. for example. his house consumed by fire. how senselessly I acted in this kingdom of mine in entrusting my son to a wicked guardian!" In Rabbi Yose's parable we have a m a n w h o appears utterly to lack c o m m o n sense. entrusted his son to the wicked guardian. They accepted my decrees: 'You shall not copy the practices of the land of Egypt where you dwelt. and slay his son with the sword. After a while the king returned. ignoring the counsel of his friends and servants. palace. against the sensible advice of his friends. his friends and servants said to him: "My lord king. 3. Furthermore. saying: "Woe is me! How [foolish] I have been. The definition of "kingdom" as God's kingly rule in this passage is quite clear — as the use of "sovereignty" and "dominion" in Jacob Neusner's translation (quoted above). Against the advice of friends and counselors he entrusts 69 . And this idea of God as a king who reigns sovereignly over the d o m i n i o n of his people approximates Jesus' proclamation of the kingdom of God. The parable reads: The parable. or of the land of Canaan to which I am taking you." points up. describes a remarkably foolish and incautious king who. and young son to a guardian who was an utter rascal. this second passage understands the people's acceptance of To rah as their acceptance of God's royal sovereignty.Parables in Early Judaism ally. nor shall you follow their laws'" [Lev 18:3].

We are n o t told that he stole anything or profited in any way by his actions. the Parable of the Wicked Tenants — because they appear to be allegories based o n the fate of Jesus or. together with the questions they raise.CRAIG A. and a better application of its intended lesson or lessons. W h a t could he possibly have h o p e d to gain? Did he imagine that he could get away with these crimes? Would not every hearer of this parable suppose that the king would send t r o o p s after the guardian and have h i m executed? These are the same kinds of questions that critics have raised. b u r n s d o w n his house. N o r should the folly of the vineyard owner or its tenants cast d o u b t on the authenticity of Jesus' parable. even m u r dered? W h a t could the tenants have h o p e d to gain? Did they not k n o w that the owner had the power to come and destroy them? Did they really imagine that they could inherit the vineyard? And one may ask similar questions with respect to the rude behavior of the invited guests in the Parable of the Great Banquet (Luke 14:15-24) or the eccentric behavior of the vineyard owner in the Parable of the Laborers (Matt 20:1-15). EVANS his son to a m a n k n o w n to be a "wicked guardian. a better appreciation of its issues. Questions such as these do not constitute valid objections against the authenticity of any particular parable. The presence of allegory should n o t alone decide the question of authenticity. it is alleged. Sometimes objections are raised against the authenticity of certain parables of Jesus — most notably. But these shocking details. f r o m t i m e to time. H o w could the owner have been so foolish and so reckless with the lives of his servants? H o w could he have been so stupid as to send his son to the vineyard after his servants had been maltreated. are there to lead hearers and readers alike to a better grasp of the story-line of the parable. and m u r d e r s his son. on the experience of the early church. 70 ." But the actions of the guardian are just as difficult to c o m p r e h e n d . He destroys the king's city. such details provoke these kinds of questions — b o t h for ancient hearers and for m o d e r n readers. But rabbinic parables are also sometimes allegorical. against the authenticity of the Parable of the Wicked Tenants (Mark 12:1-12). Indeed. The incomprehensible folly of the king in Rabbi Yose's parable — particularly since Yose applies the parable to God's trusting Nebuchadnezzar! — need n o t cast d o u b t on the question of the parable's authenticity. again.

the Greek houtös). saying. . " T h u s it h a p p e n e d to the Egyptians . "It compares to a king w h o s u m m o n e d his servants to a b a n q u e t . " H e set b e f o r e t h e m a n o t h e r parable. " (b. " T h u s it will be also with this evil generation" (Matt. " W h a t is the k i n g d o m of God like and to what shall I c o m p a r e it? It is like a mustard seed . The Terminology and Themes of the Rabbinic Parables vis-à-vis Those of Jesus The parables of the rabbis and those of Jesus frequently use c o m m o n terminology. These i n c l u d e the H e b r e w n o u n mashal (cf. To what does this matter compare? To a m a n w h o lent his neighbor a mina . . Shabbath 153a). . . 12:45). " T h u s is the k i n g d o m of G o d " (Mark 4:26). . . . the Greek hömoioun or homoia einai). which calls for a c o m p a r i s o n (cf. the H e b r e w verb mashal (cf. " T h u s did Moses speak to Israel . a n d . " (b. which applies t h e parable (cf. the Parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-32 contains m a n y of these features. . "Cursed is the m a n w h o raises swine" (b.Parables in Early Judaism 4. Baba Kamma 7:7). . . "And he longed to be filled with the pods which the swine were eat71 . many of Jesus' parables contain within t h e m certain vocabulary and themes that can be paralleled in rabbinic literature. Some examples of i n t r o d u c t o r y w o r d i n g to the parables are as follows: "I will give you a parable. "No Israelite may raise swine anywhere" ( M i s h n a h . which sets u p a c o m p a r i s o n (cf." (Mekilta o n Exod 14:5 [Beshallah 2]). and the Hebrew adverb cak. Rosh ha-Shanah 17b). " ' (Matt 13:24). the Greek interrogatory p r o n o u n tint). Likewise. Baba Kamma 82b). . the Hebrew t e r m domah. ' T h e k i n g d o m of Heaven may be likened to a m a n w h o sowed good seed ." ( S i f r e Deut §53 [on Deut 11:26]). . For example. t h e Greek parabole)." (Luke 13:18). the Greek parabolēn paratithenai). the Hebrew interrogatory p r o n o u n lemah. "And he sent h i m into his fields to feed swine" (Luke 15:15b) — cf.

24 [on Deut 4:30]). . 120 CE). attributed to Rabbi H a n i n a b e n Gamaliel. a n o n y m o u s ) and according to a n o t h e r version was m e t halfway by his father (Pesikta Rabbati 44. the Parable of the King's Youngest Son ( S i f r e Deut §352 [on Deut 33:12). the Parable of the Father w h o divided his inheritance a m o n g his sons (b. he r e m e m b e r s the c o m f o r t of his father's h o u s e " ( L a m Rabbah 1:7 §34). a n o n y m o u s ) .CRAIG A. 7. . Kiddushin 61b. w h o according to o n e version returned to his "inheritance" (Sifre Deut §345 [on Deut 33:4]. c. "I am no longer worthy to be called y o u r son" (Luke 15:19) — cf. " W h e n a son [abroad] goes b a r e f o o t [through poverty].4 [on Lev 11:2]). Their emphasis on the kingdom of God roughly parallels the rabbis' emphasis on God as king. beginning with such introductory 72 . Jesus' parables are similar in form. " W h e n Israelites are reduced to eating carob-pods. the Parable of the King's Twelve Sons. the Parable of the Prodigal Son gives expression to several themes c o m m o n l y found in rabbinic parables. C o n c l u s i o n O u r survey of early jewish parables makes it clear that Jesus' parables are right at h o m e in first-century Jewish Palestine. b u t I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father' . t h o u g h with i m p o r t a n t differences. O n e thinks. " ' H o w many of my father's hired servants have bread e n o u g h and to spare. "I a m n o t worthy" ( T a r g u m Neofiti o n Gen 32:11).6 [on Gen 30:1]). 150 CE). of the Parable of the King's Errant Son (Deut Rabbah 2.9. and. and he who has b e c o m e impoverished" (Gen Rabbah 71. the Parable of the Repatriated Prince.6 [on Gen 49:8] . the blind. a n o n y m o u s ) . and is now alive again" (Luke 15:24) — cf. for example. F u r t h e r m o r e . EVANS ing" (Luke 15:16a) — cf. finally. c. he w h o is childless. "Four are regarded as dead: the leper. o n e of w h o m the king loved m o r e t h a n the others (Gen Rabbah 98.24 [on Deut 4:30]. "This my son was dead. attributed to Rabbi Meir. In most respects Jesus' parables are not unique. a n o n y m o u s ) . they repent" (Lev Rabbah 13. "I [the son] am ashamed to come before you [the father]" ( D e n t Rabbah 2. ' p u t shoes on his feet!'" (Luke 15:17) — cf.

Parables in Early

Judaism

phrases as "to what may this be compared?" or "the kingdom of God is like."
They are about the same length as the rabbinic parables. Sometimes allegorical features are present. Kings, banquets, travels, and business dealings are
c o m m o n themes. Parables are usually used to illustrate or defend an interpretation of Scripture or a point of doctrine. The logic behind this is akin to
the idea that nature and everyday life teach us the ways of God.
The Old Testament parables and related materials probably supplied
the basic forms and contents o u t of which Jesus and his contemporaries
fashioned their parables. But comparison with the parables of the rabbinic
literature makes it clear that a certain a m o u n t of formalization had taken
place between the c o m p o s i t i o n and circulation of Israel's Scriptures, on
the o n e h a n d , and the later highly formulated parables of the rabbis, o n the
other. David Stern has rightly observed that "Jesus used the parable (insofar as the gospel narratives tell us) in essentially the same way as the Rabbis
employed the mashal— in public contexts (sermons or preaching), and as
an i n s t r u m e n t for praise and blame, often directed at the persons present
in the audience" (Parables in Midrash, 200). But that is not to say that there
are no i m p o r t a n t differences in emphasis and theology between the parables of Jesus and those of the rabbis, particularly with regard to matters of
purity, election, and the n a t u r e of the k i n g d o m of God (cf. Blomberg, Interpreting the Parables, 65-68).
O n e f u r t h e r p o i n t should also be m e n t i o n e d here. For there is in
Jewish lore an interesting association of parables with Solomon and with
the proper interpretation of Torah. A rabbinic midrash reads:
You will find that until Solomon came there was no p a r a b l e . . . . So until
Solomon arose no one who could properly understand the words of the
Torah, but when Solomon arose, all began to comprehend the Torah
So proceeding from one thing to another, from one parable to another,
Solomon penetrated to the innermost meaning of the Torah . . . through
the parables of Solomon we master the words of the Torah. Our rabbis
say: "Let not the parable be lightly esteemed in your eyes, since by means
of the parable a man can master the words of the Torah." (Song Rabbah
1:1 §8)
H o w early this tradition may be is difficult to determine. Perhaps it is quite
old, for surely the claim of Jesus, the teller of parables, that "one w h o is
greater t h a n Solomon is here" (Matt 12:42 = Luke 11:31) — indeed, o n e
73

CRAIG A. EVANS
w h o interprets Torah with greater authority (cf. M a t t 5:21-48; M a r k 2:27)
— points to a similar tradition and association.
W h a t at first blush, therefore, appear to be disparate traditions —
that is, the identification of Jesus as the son of David (Mark 10:47-48) and
as a Solomonic figure w h o speaks parables, interprets Torah, casts out dem o n s , and proclaims the k i n g d o m of God — may, in fact, be essential features of a first-century Jewish messianic expectation. T h e telling of parables may be m o r e t h a n merely another indication that Jesus u n d e r s t o o d
himself as a rabbi. It is quite possible that Jesus developed a teaching style
consistent with his message and with his mission: that the proclaimer of
God's k i n g d o m proclaimed the k i n g d o m in the m a n n e r and style expected
of the son of David.

Selected B i b l i o g r a p h y
Blomberg, Craig L. Interpreting
1990.

the Parables. Downers Grove: InterVarsity,

. " T h e Parables of Jesus: C u r r e n t Trends and Needs in Research," in
Studying the Historical Jesus: Evaluations of the State of Current Research (NTTS 19), ed. B. D. Chilton and C. A. Evans. Leiden: Brill,
1994,231-54.
Chilton, Bruce D. " R e g n u m Dei Deus Est," Scottish Journal of Theology 31
(1978) 261-70.
. " T h e Kingdom of God in Recent Discussion," in Studying the Historical Jesus: Evaluations of the State of Current Research (NTTS 19),
ed. B. D. Chilton and C. A. Evans. Leiden: Brill, 1994, 255-80.
Drury, John. The Parables in the Gospels: History and Allegory. London:
SPCK; New York: Crossroad, 1985.
Evans, Craig A. Jesus and His Contemporaries: Comparative Studies (AGJU
25). Leiden: Brill, 1995, esp. 252-62.
Gerhardsson, Birger. "The Narrative Meshalim in the Synoptic Gospels. A
C o m p a r i s o n with the Narrative Meshalim in the Old Testament,"
New Testament Studies 34 (1988) 339-63.
M a n s o n , T. W. The Teaching of Jesus: Studies of Its Form and Content. C a m bridge: Cambridge University Press, 1948.
Mueller, James R., and Stephen B. Robinson. "Apocryphon of Ezekiel," in
74

Parables in Early

Judaism

The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, 2 vols., ed. J. H. Charlesworth.
New York: Doubleday, 1983, 85, 1.487-95.
Oesterley, W. O. E. The Gospel Parables in the Light of Their Jewish Background. London: Macmillan, 1936.
Pautrel, R a y m o n d . "Les canons du Mashal rabbinique," Recherches de science religieuse 26 (1936) 6-45 and 28 (1938) 264-81.
Sanders, James A. "Hermeneutics in True and False Prophecy," in Canon
and Authority (W. Zimmerli Festschrift), ed. G. W. Coats and B. O.
Long. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1971,22-41.
Simon, Uriel. " T h e Poor Man's Ewe-Lamb: An Example of a Juridical Parable," Biblica 48 (1967) 207-42.
Stern, David. Parables in Midrash: Narrative and Exegesis in Rabbinic Literature. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1991, esp. 188-206.
Wise, Michael O., M a r t i n G. Abegg, Jr., and Edward M. Cook, The Dead
Sea Scrolls: A New Translation. San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1996.
Young, Brad H. Jesus and His Jewish Parables. New York: Paulist, 1989.

75

PART II

Parables of the Kingdom

of course. H O O K E R W E R E I TO TAKE my brief to discuss Mark's parables of the kingdom literally. In fact. We do not know whether the parables included by Matthew and Luke were available to Mark or not. that he includes much less of Jesus' teaching. from the interpretation that the evangelist inserts between the parable and its explanation in verses 10-12.CHAPTER 4 Mark s Parables of the Kingdom (Mark 4:1-34) M O R N A D. This is not because he regards that teaching as unimportant. in his portrayals of Jesus Mark uses the noun "teaching" (didachē) five times and the corresponding verb "to teach" (didaskö) seventeen times. and we would be in danger of getting the wrong answer if we were to guess. And we will. for he tells us frequently that Jesus taught and presents him as teaching with authority. this article would be very short indeed. If they were. One of the reasons why Mark's Gospel is shorter than the others is. It is clear. discover that the Parable of the Lamp in 4:21-23 has a close connection with the same theme. All we can properly do is see what picture is built up by the material that Mark included. that he understands the Parable of the Sower in 4:1-20 as also having something to do with the kingdom. But we do not know. for the Gospel of Mark has only two "parables of the kingdom" — the Parable of the Growing Seed in 4:26-29 and the Parable of the Mustard Seed in 4:30-32. 79 . I think. however. that might tell us something very significant about Mark's choice.

and (4) the parallel between parables and miracles in Mark. to set t h e m in context by considering four m o r e general matters. In response to his critics. And if a household is divided against itself." The parable is clearly u n d e r s t o o d to refer to Jesus himself. and w h e n that day comes. In w h a t follows. otherwise. (3) Mark's a r r a n g e m e n t of the m a i n blocks of Jesus' teaching. he cannot stand. T h e M a r k a n C o n t e x t In order to appreciate the significance of the parables in M a r k 4:1-34." The second. (2) references to the k i n g d o m in Mark. and makes a bigger hole. But the t i m e will come w h e n the b r i d e g r o o m is taken away f r o m t h e m . they c a n n o t fast. first of all. HOOKER 1. then indeed he can plunder his house. But no one can break into a strong man's house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man. In 3:23-27 we have what is explicitly said to be a "parable": Then he summoned them and spoke to them in parables (en parabolais): "How can Satan drive out Satan? For if a kingdom is divided against itself. And if Satan has rebelled against himself and is divided. the wine will burst the skins." Both of these sayings. therefore. it is necessary.MORNA D. that household will not be able to stand." 80 . This parable is immediately followed by two parabolic sayings. then they will fast. is a b o u t m e n d i n g a garment: "No o n e sews a patch of u n washed cloth onto an old garment. in 2:22. in 2:21. T h e first. is a b o u t storing wine: " N o one p o u r s new wine into old wineskins. point to the significance of what is taking place in Jesus. otherwise. The Other Markan Parables The first of the M a r k a n parables occurs in 2:19-20. and b o t h the wine and the skins will be lost. that kingdom cannot stand. the new f r o m the old. for he is the " b r i d e g r o o m " whose presence — or absence — makes all the difference to his disciples. as recounted by Mark. Jesus says: "Can the friends of the b r i d e g r o o m fast while he is with them? As long as the b r i d e g r o o m is with t h e m . that is the end of him. New wine goes into fresh wineskins. I want to consider briefly (1) the i m p a c t of the other parables included by Mark. the patch tears away f r o m it.

is the fact that once again Mark's c o m m e n t s make it clear that he u n d e r stands the parable to be about Jesus himself. in addition to the so-called "parables of the kingdom. that of the Fig Tree in 13:28-29." The final parables of Mark's Gospel are presented as having been given in Jerusalem. were it not for the explicit reference to it as such in verse 17 ( " W h e n he had left the crowd and entered the house. which Jesus' o p p o n e n t s recognized as an attack o n t h e m (see the discussion of this parable in Chapter 7 of this b o o k ) . then. in due course. however. an allegory. the master of the house w h o is expected to return is clearly u n d e r s t o o d to be Jesus himself. Most i m p o r t a n t for o u r purposes here. 1:12-13). Then at the end of chapter 13. In 12:1-12 we have the Parable of the Vineyard and the Wicked Tenants. the p o i n t is that the End — or. we have two parables about the End. Leaving aside the parables in 4:1-34 (which we will be examining later). that such other parables as Mark has included. is addressed to Jesus' opponents. And if it is described as a parable. The c o m m e n t at the end of verse 19 ( " T h u s he declared all foods clean!") makes it plain that it is the word and authority of Jesus that are crucial in "making all foods clean. like the earlier ones. which consists of private teachings to four of the disciples. Satan) has been b o u n d is a clear reference to the work of Jesus himself. when you see these things happening. that is perhaps because its radical m e a n i n g was difficult to accept. b u t the things that c o m e o u t are what defile. is it Jesus himself? — will soon be at the door: "Learn a lesson f r o m the fig tree: when its branch becomes tender and puts out leaves. that of a Householder Ret u r n i n g f r o m a Journey in 13:33-37 (see the discussion of this parable in Chapter 8 of this b o o k ) . We will discover.e." We m i g h t well have failed to recognize this saying as a parable. at the very door. we come to the saying in 7:15: "There is n o t h i n g outside a person that by going in can defile.. In the same way. This parable. you k n o w that s u m m e r is near. In fact. The parable is." the saying seems to be a fairly straightforward o n e a b o u t w h a t it is that defiles." focus o u r attention on the person of Jesus. t h o u g h it plays o n the double m e a n i n g of "what comes o u t of a person. you will k n o w that he is near. 81 . We see. In the first. his disciples asked h i m a b o u t this parable" [ten parabolēn] ).Matthew's Parables of the Kingdom The suggestion that the strong m a n (i. that the same is t r u e of the parables in 4:1-34. who confronted Satan in the wilderness (cf. in effect." In the second.

for it is preceded by the first clear prediction of Jesus' death and resurrection in 8:31. 10:14-15. Jesus' third declaration that the k i n g d o m is c o m i n g occurs in 14:25: "Truly I tell you.p o i n t of the Gospel (9:7). these crucial references to the kingdom focus o u r attention on the person of Jesus. and as his final words at the Last Supper (14:25). there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the k i n g d o m of God come with power. I am intrigued to discover that the three references to the f u t u r e c o m i n g of the k i n g d o m should also occur in very similar places: as Jesus' first words in the Gospel (1:15). therefore. For it is only after Jesus has died that the centurion remarks in 15:39: "Truly this m a n was a son of God." It has often been pointed out that these three declarations of Jesus as "Son of G o d " occur at three strategic points in the narrative — that is. at its t u r n i n g point (9:1). w h o proclaims and embodies its coming.MORNA D. O t h e r references to the k i n g d o m in Mark's Gospel are f o u n d in chapter 4 ( w 1 1 . And like the parables. where Jesus a n n o u n c e s its i m m i n e n t arrival: " T h e time is fulfilled. 15:43). In every case in the later chapters 82 . T h e close c o n j u n c t i o n of b o t h these a n n o u n c e m e n t s of the kingdom's coming with the heavenly revelations of Jesus' identity suggests that Mark saw a close link between these two ideas. This time we have to read o n to the end of the Passion Narrative to find the declaration that Jesus is God's Son." His subsequent words and actions demonstrate that its effects are already being felt. 3 0 ) and in various later chapters." T h e implication seems to be that his death is necessary before the k i n g d o m can arrive." Mark's positioning of this saying is significant. that for the evangelist M a r k there was a very close connection between the c o m i n g of the k i n g d o m and Jesus' identity as Son of God. 12:34. 2 6 . at the t u r n i n g . I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the k i n g d o m of God. HOOKER The Kingdom of God The k i n g d o m of God is first referred to in Mark's Gospel in 1:15. 23-25. where they all refer to entering or receiving the k i n g d o m . or to being either far f r o m it or near to it (so 9:47. and the kingd o m of God is at h a n d . at the very beginning (1:1). and at the m o m e n t of Jesus' death (15:39). I suggest. and immediately following it we have the story of the Transfiguration in 9:2-13 in which Jesus is acknowledged by a heavenly voice to be God's Son — a scene reminiscent of the story of Jesus' baptism at the very beginning of Mark's Gospel. In 9:1 he makes a n o t h e r a n n o u n c e m e n t : "Truly I tell you. repent and believe the good news.

occurs toward the beginning of the Gospel. while the teaching in chapter 13 is addressed to only four disciples. the effect of Jesus' teaching t h r o u g h o u t chapter 4 is to n a r r o w d o w n the real hearers of his message to those w h o are c o m m i t t e d disciples. Similarities between these two passages suggest that M a r k may have t h o u g h t of t h e m as balancing each other in s o m e way. in chapter 4 the explanation in verses 11-20 is taught privately to the disciples. The Teaching of Jesus Although the Gospel of M a r k does n o t contain a great deal of sustained teaching by Jesus. . the other. as we will observe in o u r examination of this chapter below. Moreover. how hard it is to enter the k i n g d o m of God! It is easier for a camel to go t h r o u g h the eye of a needle t h a n for s o m e o n e w h o is rich to enter the k i n g d o m of G o d " ) are linked with Peter's remarks a b o u t leaving everything to follow Jesus in verses 2831. Truly I tell you. The reference to the k i n g d o m in 9:47 ("If your eye causes you to stumble. Nevertheless. T h e c o m m e n t in 12:34 ("You are not far f r o m the k i n g d o m of G o d " ) is addressed to a scribe who gives wholehearted e n d o r s e m e n t to Jesus' teaching. whoever does not receive the k i n g d o m of God as a little child will never enter it") is f o u n d in the context of children being b r o u g h t to Jesus to be blessed by h i m . is f o u n d toward the end. while the audience for verses 21-32 is uncertain. The saying in 10:14-15 ("Let the children come to me. For it is to such as these that the k i n g d o m of G o d belongs. do n o t stop t h e m . the overall audience is different. for the Parable of the Sower in 4:1-10 is addressed to the crowd. . chapter 13. pluck it out! It is better for you to enter the k i n g d o m of God with o n e eye t h a n to have two eyes and be t h r o w n into Gehenna") occurs in the context of teaching about what it m e a n s to be Jesus' disciple. 83 . the k i n g d o m is linked in some way with the authority of Jesus. And this same linkage of the k i n g d o m with the authority of Jesus will be seen in the sayings of M a r k 4. the parable chapter of 4:1-32. The sayings in 10:23-25 ("How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the k i n g d o m of God! . consisting of eschatological teaching delivered o n the M o u n t of Olives. it does set out two m a i n blocks of teaching material: the first.Matthew's Parables of the Kingdom of Mark's Gospel. Children. To be sure. In 15:43 it is the fact that Joseph of Arimathea "was himself waiting expectantly for the k i n g d o m of G o d " that leads him to pay h o n o r to Jesus.

once again. the plucking of grain in the field (2:2328). W. the dispute a b o u t fasting (2:18-22). Parallel to the accusation regarding his exorcisms in 3:20-35 we have the question about Jesus' authority in 11:27-33: "By what authority are you doing these things? W h o gave you this authority to do them?" (v 28). This time. over against the negative reaction of those w h o reject it. Jesus is shown in several of the incidents as on the offensive: in (1) the cleansing of the temple (11:11.15-19). The healing of the paralytic (2:1-12). R. b u t at the m o m e n t when the Messiah comes looking for fruit to eat (cf. in the settings of the two passages where we see parallels.20-25) — and that means. where the leaders are c o n d e m n e d for their failure to h a n d over the p r o d u c e of the vineyard.MORNA D. HOOKER It is. which. (3) the Parable of the Vineyard and Wicked Tenants (12:1-12).3 . and 3:7-19. however. w h o are contrasted with the p o o r widow who gave everything she had to the treasury (12:41-44). The Barren Temple and the Withered Tree). b u t Mark's readers will by now be in no d o u b t regarding the correct answer! In this section there are also deliberate attempts to trip h i m u p in the questions about tribute to Caesar (12:13-17) and the resurrection (12:18-27). and finally the accusation that he is possessed by Satan (3:20-35) — all of these episodes present the challenge of Jesus' authority and the refusal of his o p p o n e n t s to recognize it. we have those who respond positively to Jesus: the crowd that greets him as he enters Jerusalem on the 84 . the meal with tax collectors and sinners (2:15-17). (4) the question about the Messiah being son of David and his Lord (12:35-37). which recounts t h e call of Levi. for Mark. where we again find the religious leaders rejecting Jesus' authority. the healing of the m a n with a withered h a n d (3:1-6). These two passages contrast vividly with the rest of the material in chapters 2 . n o t d u r i n g the usual season for figs. C h a p t e r 4 follows a series of c o n f r o n t a t i o n s between Jesus and the religious authorities in the previous two chapters. and (5) the cond e m n a t i o n of the scribes (12:38-40). showing the positive response made by those who recognize the authority of Jesus. Telford. A similar picture is f o u n d in the context of chapter 13. In contrast. (2) the cursing of the fig tree that fails to produce fruit at the p r o p e r time (11:12-14. Only two passages in these chapters give a different picture: 2:13-14. which describes the response of the crowds to Jesus and his a p p o i n t m e n t of twelve disciples. however it is interpreted. Both incidents focus o n the vital question of the basis of Jesus' authority: Is it f r o m Satan or f r o m the Holy Spirit? From God or man? His o p p o n e n t s are unable to reply. however. is a c o n d e m n a t i o n of the nation's insincere worship.

But it will also b r i n g final vindication. As Mark's readers. t u r n f r o m these incidents to the material in chapters 4 and 13. It is hardly surprising. the healing of the Gerasene d e m o n i a c (5:1-20). on the other h a n d . when the Son of M a n gathers his elect f r o m the far corners of the earth. Parables and Miracles The final matter we need to consider regarding the context of the k i n g d o m parables in 4:1-34 concerns the parallel that exists between parables and miracles in Mark's Gospel. therefore. and the healing of the w o m a n with a h e m o r r h a g e (5:25-34). they hear in those chapters teaching that is given with authority. too.Matthew's Parables of the Kingdom back of a colt (11:1-10) and the scribe w h o approves his teaching (12:2834). and the truth of his initial proclamation that the kingdom of God is at hand has been demonstrated in the crumbling of Satan's power. In chapters 11 and 12. but we now know that its coming is firmly linked with the authority of the one who proclaims it. N o r is it surprising that this teaching. As we have seen. that Jesus' teaching in chapter 13 concentrates o n the coming j u d g m e n t . who are c o n d e m n e d for their failure to hand over fruit to God. Jesus' attack has been launched against those w h o have failed to p r o d u c e a harvest. We expect in Jesus' teaching to learn more about this kingd o m . who have failed to worship God with sincerity or to produce ripe figs for the Messiah to eat. we have a series of miracles: the stilling of the storm (4:3541). For the incidents leading u p to chapter 4 have focused o n Jesus' ability to heal the sick and to exorcise demons: Jesus has attacked the kingdom of Satan. which is intercalated into the acc o u n t of the raising of Jairus's daughter (5:21-24 and 35-43). His rejection will inevitably bring suffering for his followers. m a n y of t h e m exorcisms. Furthermore. the parables in chapter 4 are preceded by various healing miracles. is linked with his own authority. that those who respond positively to his message will produce a b u m p e r harvest. therefore. therefore. We are not surprised. It is launched against the leaders of the nation. in both cases that teaching is closely related to the context in which it appears. After the stories of Jesus' rejection in his h o m e t o w n and the beheading of John the 85 . I m m e d i ately following. when the parables of chapter 4 seem to tell us as much about our response to Jesus as about the nature of the kingdom itself — that is. and against the people in general.

we have the feeding of the five t h o u s a n d (6:3-44). we have Jesus' teaching a b o u t what is clean and u n clean (7:1-23. In these miracles." There then follows the healing of a m a n w h o was deaf and d u m b (7:31-37). and power to provide food for his people. in particular. " W h o can this be?" (4:41). which b o t h offer inadequate attempts to answer the question of Jesus' identity. Yet Jesus emerges in t h e m as greater 86 ." which spells out the significance of a preceding miraculous "sign" (cf. or "a prophet. Once again. too. including the "parable" of ν 15) and the miracle of the healing of the Syro-Phoenician woman's daughter (7:24-30). and are not his sisters here with us?" (6:3). a "sign" has. And following those incidents. in fact. with questions about whether he was "John the Baptist" raised from the dead. which is refused (8:11-13). and the request of the Pharisees for a sign.MORNA D. we should have labeled it "discourse + sign. HOOKER Baptist. power to give life to the dead. These miracles of 4:35-8:26 appear to have been carefully arranged by Mark to carry o n the t h e m e of the parable chapter. the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon. "Is not this the carpenter. there are echoes of the Old Testament narratives a b o u t Moses and Elijah. like one of the prophets of old" (6:14-16) — questions that are finally answered (though inadequately!) at Caesarea Philippi: "You are the Messiah" (8:29b). to pick u p the key sayings in 4:10-12 about ears and eyes that are deaf and blind to the truth. the walking on the water (6:45-52). which is closely followed by the account of the opening (or semi-opening!) of the disciples' eyes to the t r u t h a b o u t w h o Jesus is at Caesarea Philippi (8:27-33). and that was picked u p in the hopelessly inept question posed by his former neighbors. The connection between the teaching of verses 1-23 and the miracle of verses 24-30 is clear — indeed. if this passage had occurred in the Fourth Gospel. and. the very similar pattern of a miracle and a subseq u e n t discussion in John 9). Finally in this section we have the healing of the blind m a n at Bethsaida (8:22-26). In these miracles Jesus is revealed as the one w h o has power over wind and waves. "Elijah" returned. been given in the two feeding miracles. the feeding of the four t h o u s a n d (8:1-10). T h e discussion between Jesus and his followers in the boat (8:14-21) indicates that for those with eyes to see and ears to hear. we have here the equivalent of a Johannine "discourse. and a s u m m a r y of healings (6:53-56). Several of t h e m hint at the true identity of Jesus — the issue that was openly raised at the beginning of this section in the disciples' cry. And this same issue is reiterated in the story of the Baptist's death.

the m e a n i n g of which is spelt out (7:24-30). For b o t h parables and miracles.2 0 ) This first block of teaching in Mark's Gospel begins with the Parable of the Sower. he follows Jesus "on the way. while in between these latter two stories there is a repetition of the miracle of the feeding of the crowd (8:1-13). b u t also serve the same p u r p o s e as the parables. T h e Parable o f t h e S o w e r (Mark 4 : 1 . M a r k regards this introductory parable as the key to u n d e r s t a n d i n g the rest. In the rest of Mark's Gospel there are few miracles. The healing of a child in 9:14-19 is used as a lesson o n the m e a n i n g of faith. D. In his a r r a n g e m e n t of his materials. the miracles are stories told about Jesus. the last four miracles suggest symbolic meanings: first. like the account of the blind m a n at Bethsaida. This is m a d e clear in the explanation of the parable in verses 13-20. as the subsequent discussions make clear. the story of the cursing of the fig tree is. which begins with the words: " D o n ' t you u n d e r s t a n d this parable? Then how will you u n d e r s t a n d any of the parables?" Clearly. The Signs of a Prophet. therefore. which is u n d e r s t o o d by the evangelist to be a parable a b o u t parables. Hooker. a "sign" of the failure of Israel and her consequent fate. present the message of Jesus in a d r a m a t i c f o r m (cf. M . Bartimaeus recognizes Jesus as Son of David. 2. but when he receives his sight. are d r a m a t i c presentations of the gospel. F u r t h e r m o r e . then the o p e n i n g of deaf ears (7:31-37) and blind eyes (8:22-26). He prefers to set incidents side by side and to leave it to his readers to make the necessary connections. which for the evangelist is a b o u t Jesus himself. a story with a double m e a n i n g — for although he is blind." Finally. emphasizes the refusal of Jesus' enemies to see the t r u t h and the obtuseness of his own disciples (8:14-21). D.Matthew's Parables of the Kingdom t h a n b o t h . But it is clear that for him miracles not only c o n f r o n t us with the significance of Jesus' teaching. however. which. as we have already seen. Stacey. Unlike the Fourth Evangelist. The parables are stories told by Jesus. in their own way. M a r k rarely spells out the m e a n i n g of Jesus' miracles. Both parables and miracles. also W. M a r k uses b o t h parables and miracles — like his references to the k i n g d o m — to focus his readers' attention on the figure of Jesus. the healing of the Syro-Phoenician woman's daughter. 87 . Prophetic Drama in the Old Testament). while the healing of blind Bartimaeus in 10:46-52 is.

as presented to us by Mark. Those w h o respond. that the people of Israel had failed to respond to him because they had not u n d e r s t o o d his teaching. in fact. HOOKER Mark's Use of the Parable The clue to Mark's o w n use of the parable is f o u n d in verses 10-12. By the t i m e that Mark was writing. A second reason why M a r k would be conscious of the parables' obscurity was the shift in the situation f r o m Jesus' t i m e to his o w n . Applications to new situations would necessarily involve s o m e f o r m of allegorization. and they had not u n d e r s t o o d his teaching because they had not been able to decipher the parables. 88 . which is a matter of life and death. T h u s to accept or reject his teaching a b o u t the kingdom is to accept or reject both the k i n g d o m itself and the o n e w h o brings it. the significance of these verses for Mark's u n derstanding of Jesus' ministry is often overlooked. which are intercalated between the parable itself and its explanation — t h o u g h because of their difficulty. making sense to those w h o are prepared to accept their challenge. Alt h o u g h Jesus does n o t a n n o u n c e or proclaim himself as the Christ. For those w h o have ears to hear. For Mark. it is clear that he saw in the parables some explanation for Israel's rejection of Jesus — that is. therefore. w h o m Satan has in his power. In the explanation of 4:14-20. Inevitably. however. their message is obscure. once the parables seemed u n d u l y puzzling. means "proverb" or "riddle" as well as "parable. the effect of this parable. to add explanatory c o m m e n t s . For o n e thing. parables took o n new meanings in new situations — and inevitably. for those w h o refuse to listen. w h o hear and follow Jesus. Parables spoken by a w a n d e r i n g teacher in Galilee s o u n d e d very different w h e n recited as words of the Master w h o m the c o m m u n i t y acknowledged as risen Lord. is to do precisely that. The Hebrew word mashal. their relevance s o m e t i m e s seemed obscure. In his teaching Jesus c o n f r o n t s m e n and w o m e n with an a l l ." and M a r k may n o t b e w r o n g in believing t h a t Jesus' parables contained a certain enigmatic quality. are those to w h o m the secret of the k i n g d o m is given. It was natural. Those who do not respond are those whose hearts are hardened. Jesus c o n f r o n t s the reader as the o n e w h o brings salvation. they convey the good news of God's k i n g d o m .i m p o r t a n t decision. in the process.MORNA D. The parables are in some ways similar to crossword clues. the parables of Jesus b o t h reveal and conceal. which is translated into Greek as parabole. the enigma seemed m u c h greater.

let t h e m hear!" (akouetö) — a n d then c o m m e n t e d on in verse 12 in words quoted from Isa 6:10 to the effect that the people "listen and listen. Birger Gerhardsson has argued that we have here echoes of the Shema. John 1:1). Taken together. this language does. the tenants' failure to respond to the messengers leads ultimately to the death (and resurrection!) of the son of the owner of the vineyard. N o n e theless. the Parable of the Vineyard and Wicked Tenants after that of 11:27-33 — suggests that Mark regarded b o t h of t h e m as allegories of Israel's response to and rejection of Jesus. "Listen!" (akouete). the response of m e n and w o m e n to h i m . In chapter 12. the crop. "Those w h o have ears to hear. it might well have evoked in the m i n d s of Mark's readers the c o m m a n d to hear — and therefore to obey — the d e m a n d s of the speaker. The symbolism of bearing fruit is c o m m o n in both the Old Testa89 . His evidence is m u c h stronger for Matthew's version of the parable t h a n it is for Mark's. providing not simply the key to u n d e r s t a n d i n g the teaching of Jesus' parabolic teaching (cf. This is b r o u g h t o u t in the exposition of the parable in verses 14-20: the seed represents the word proclaimed by Jesus. yet u n derstand n o t h i n g " (akouontes akouösin kai me suniösin).Matthew's Parables of the Kingdom we find an allegorical interpretation that s o u n d s very m u c h like an early preacher's exposition of the parable. they encapsulate the whole story of his ministry. And it will take only one short step for the evangelist John to identify that word with Jesus (cf. the parable of Jesus calls for wholehearted response to Jesus himself. just as he had once looked for a harvest in his field. Jesus' first word of the parable in verse 3. Ο Israel" (cf. where we find the Lord d e m a n d i n g grapes f r o m his vineyard. The fact that each of these parables is placed immediately after a direct challenge by the Jerusalem religious authorities concerning the nature of Jesus' authority — the Parable of the Sower after the challenges recounted in 3:20-35. The " w o r d " that he sows is the word a b o u t himself. For the end of the story we have to t u r n to the Parable of t h e Vineyard and the Wicked Tenants in 12:1-12. warning Christians of the dangers that might overcome their faith. indicate the authority with which Jesus is said to have spoken. his " T h e Parable of the Sower and Its Interpretation"). Mark seems to have u n d e r s t o o d the Parable of the Sower as f u n d a mental. the traditional Jewish confession d r a w n f r o m Deut 6:4-5 that begins "Hear. But whereas Deut 6:4-5 required its hearers to love God with heart and soul and strength. is echoed in his final exhortation in verse 9. F u r t h e r m o r e . at the very least. ν 13) b u t also the explanation of his whole ministry.

the rejection by Israel of her Messiah. However. to w h o m everything comes in parables. and so it is possible that Jesus himself used the parable to c o n f r o n t the people with God's d e m a n d for obedience to his will. It m u s t be noted. HOOKER m e n t and the teaching of Jesus. then it must have been the will of God that this should h a p p e n . It is those w h o are responsive and obedient to God's will w h o belong to his Kingdom. T h o u g h they see and hear h i m . stand in contrast to those who were about him with the Twelve. To t h e m the secret of God's k i n g d o m is given (cf. together with t h e closing words "Those w h o have ears to hear. the m e a n i n g of the parables is explained. as well as the continued obduracy of the Jewish nation when confronted by the Christian gospel. For the Christian c o m m u n i t y . however. M a r k shares the f u n d a m e n t a l Jewish conviction that God is at work b o t h in historical events and in people. The contrast between fruitful and b a r r e n soils represents the contrast between those w h o are responsive to God's c o m m a n d s . however. whose actions are ultimately the result of his decree. looking back on the ministry of Jesus.MORNA D. M a t t 11:25-27 // Luke 10:21-22 for a similar saying regarding hiddenness and revelation). If m e n and w o m e n had refused to accept Jesus. therefore. insofar as Jesus' teaching represents a final challenge to Israel to respond to God's d e m a n d s . The Purpose of the Parables Verses 10-12 are perhaps the most difficult and most discussed verses in the whole of Mark's Gospel. that there is for Mark another aspect to this picture. there can be no d o u b t that this was his meaning. Mark has correctly interpreted the parable in terms of the response m a d e to Jesus himself. his parables inevitably remain n o t h i n g m o r e t h a n parables. Those outside. is clear e n o u g h . r e m i n d us of the need to pay careful attention to Jesus. could only be explained as p a r t of God's mysterious p u r p o s e . and those w h o fail to obey his will. But to those w h o respond. In spite of att e m p t s to soften the harshness of Mark's words. Yet though the choice between being a disciple or an outsider is such a 90 . To those w h o refuse to accept the challenge of the teaching of Jesus. let t h e m hear" in verse 9. The o p e n i n g c o m m a n d to "listen" in verse 3. Their m e a n i n g for the evangelist. they are totally w i t h o u t comprehension — and so w i t h o u t the salvation he brings. and therefore t r u e m e m b e r s of his people.

it is possible to exaggerate the difference. the w o m a n w h o anoints Jesus (14:3-9) and — m o s t remarkable of all — the centurion at the cross (15:39). But to those outside. 10:32. 35-41) — and they fail h i m at the crucial h o u r (cf. faith is given: to the w o m a n with a h e m o r r h a g e (5:34). As the story unfolds it becomes clear that the secret of the k i n g d o m of God is inextricably linked with the person of Jesus himself. their obtuseness stands in contrast to the remarkable faith of others. the Syro-Phoenician w o m a n (7:29). the children who are b r o u g h t for blessing (10:13-16). these verses seem to reflect a time when the parables had become somewhat puzzling to the early church. In their present form and context. 6:37. Whether or not it was necessary for Jesus to spell out their meaning to his disciples. 47. The q u o t a t i o n in verse 12 comes f r o m Isa 6:9-10. there is no rigid line between the two groups. 14:32-42. It seems likely that Jesus' intention in teaching in parables was to challenge his listeners and make t h e m think for themselves. Although it is customary to contrast the self-evident character of Jesus' original parables with the attempts of the early c o m m u n i t y to extract meaning f r o m what had become obscure. yet u n d e r stand nothing") proves to be true. probably because their original context had been lost. The invitation of Jesus to listen in verses 3 and 9 is addressed to everyone. 7:18) — especially o n the need for suffering (cf.49-52.Matthew's Parables of the Kingdom vital one. But Mark is certainly right in picturing the disciples as representing those for w h o m — through their response to Jesus — the parables had become meaningful. we do not know. T h e disciples fail to u n d e r s t a n d the power of Jesus (cf. as Mark suggests. prepared us for this by including a reference in verse 10 to others besides the Twelve who are with Jesus. the father of the epileptic boy (9:24). 8:32-4. perhaps. As for the Twelve. 50. 66-72). and the secret of God's kingdom is given to anyone who is prepared to receive it. it seems probable that they rep91 . while those f r o m w h o m it is hidden grasp it? This is the enigma of Mark's Gospel. H o w is it that those to w h o m the secret of the k i n g d o m is revealed fail to comprehend. while for those outside the Christian c o m m u n i t y their significance was lost because their challenge was rejected. Indeed. 9:32-34. b u t the identity of those to w h o m the secret is given provides s o m e surprises — t h o u g h M a r k has. The statement in 4:12 ("they listen and listen. Although the words occur in the account of Isaiah's call. 4:40-41. 1421). 8:4. they are rebuked in verse 13 for their failure to understand! Mark will later show them behaving with no greater understanding than the crowds. they are mystified by his teaching (cf.

Certainly Mark u n d e r s t o o d Isaiah's words to have been fulfilled in Jesus' ministry (see M. therefore. 76-80)." as a reference to Jesus' parables. Jesus' words and actions are for M a r k a unity. however strange this appeared..MORNA D." and that M a r k misunderstood the Greek phrase en parabolais. Mark's Audience. But as we have already seen. But even this failu r e he saw as part of God's p u r p o s e . of course. and the signs of its c o m i n g are present for all to see. the most likely expla92 . HOOKER resent the prophet's u n d e r s t a n d i n g of his ministry to Israel at the end of his life rather t h a n at the beginning — that is. T. to his parabolic teaching in particular. e. whether these verses were originally a general saying about the effect of Jesus' ministry as a whole. It is less easy to see. So his words would have seemed highly appropriate to early Christians wrestling with the problem of Israel's rejection of Jesus as its Messiah. A. suggesting. W. The fact that the version of Isa 6:910 given here is closer to the Targum than to the LXX suggests that it may go back to an Aramaic source. what place these words could have had in the ministry of Jesus himself. for we may confidently assume that the p u r p o s e of his teaching was to stimulate response. For Mark there is no d o u b t that the paradoxical result of Jesus' m i n istry — and so its p u r p o s e — was that m a n y failed to c o m p r e h e n d the t r u t h even when they saw and heard it. If Jeremias was correct. M a n s o n . or referred. If Jesus used the quotation. what h a p p e n e d m u s t be his will. that Jesus himself c o m m e n t e d on his failure to convert Israel (with so few exceptions) in words reminiscent of Isaiah. It was suggested by Joachim Jeremias (Parables of Jesus. then it was this m i s u n d e r s t a n d i n g that led to verses 11 and 12. that it is a mistranslation of the Aramaic (see. Beavis. for example. being linked to the t h e m e of parables. Teaching of Jesus. Jewish t h o u g h t tended to blur the distinction between p u r p o s e and result. which originally m a d e u p a separate saying. 14-18) that the original Aramaic of the words "all things are in parables" of verse 11 m e a n t "everything is obscure. then. n o t prevent it. however. as M a r k believed.g. o n the i m p o r t a n c e of this saying for M a r k ) . Therefore. the power of God's k i n g d o m is breaking into the world. for if G o d was sovereign. C o m m e n t a t o r s have made i n n u m e r a b l e attempts to tone d o w n the m e a n i n g of the expression "in order that" (hina) at the beginning of verse 12. b u t only his followers grasp the t r u e significance of what is happening. this saying s u m s u p Mark's u n d e r s t a n d i n g of the events that he describes: in Jesus. as he looked back o n what seemed to him a complete failure to convert his people. It is possible. m e a n i n g "in riddles.

and. was balanced by the triple success. This seems especially likely here. The interpretation seems to presuppose a fairly long period during which the faith of Christians was tested in various ways. rather t h a n f r o m Jesus. The triple failure in production. For the parable is a b o u t the proclamation of the gospel and how it is received — that is. everything comes in parables. that the people were as unresponsive to his mission as they had been to that of the p r o p h e t Isaiah. it has perhaps not distorted the original parable as much as is sometimes suggested. b u t in the explanation. since the explanations suit the period of Christian mission better than the lifetime of Jesus. although the story describes four different kinds of soils. a b o u t the response that is made to Jesus himself. The Explanation of the Parable Most commentators believe that the explanation of the parable in verses 1320 originated in the early Christian c o m m u n i t y and represents an early "exegesis" of it. the allegorization of details is often a sign of later attempts to expound the parables. so that there is now far more emphasis on the failures than there was in the original story in verses 1-9. we detect at each point the warning of an early preacher: "This could mean you!" W h y does M a r k ascribe such i m p o r t a n c e to this parable and see it as the key to u n d e r s t a n d i n g all of the parables? The answer lies in verse 14. The proclamation of Jesus divides those w h o hear h i m into two camps. b u t to those outside. Rather. Yet t h o u g h the interpretation may come f r o m the church. The elaboration of the misfortunes of the u n f r u i t f u l seed in verses 15-19 has shifted the balance of the parable.Matthew's Parables of the Kingdom n a t i o n is that he felt Isaiah's words were being fulfilled in his o w n ministry — that is. "To you has been given the secret of God's k i n g d o m . T h e parable conveys the same message as the saying in verse 11. and to reflect the harsh experience of Christian preachers and communities. t h o u g h recounted there in some detail. the various difficulties seem overwhelming." T h u s . t h o u g h there is no reason to deny (as some have done) that Jesus ever used allegory. and the n u m b e r of those w h o are "outside" is large by c o m p a r i s o n with the circle of those w h o accept h i m . The authorities whose hearts are hardened and w h o reject Jesus' 93 . The setbacks encountered by the seed are allegorized. its ending shows that the essential division is between that which produces fruit and that which does not. as with the account of Nathan's parable in 2 Samuel 12.

T h e Parable of the Lamp appears also in the Gospel of Thomas (Logion 33). Those w h o bear fruit are those to w h o m the k i n g d o m is given. 12:2. in each of which the second saying is linked to the first by the explanatory c o n j u n c t i o n "for" (gar). 6:38. M a t t 5:15. 3. and c a n n o t do so if it is hidden. for another parable a b o u t the two possible responses to Jesus). three of these sayings appear in their M a r k a n context (cf. w h o have gathered together to listen to the parable and to its explanation. for a l a m p is m e a n t to give light. b u t the four sayings are also f o u n d scattered t h r o u g h o u t Matthew and Luke (cf. s o m e o n e before h i m — has arranged these four sayings into two pairs. those m e n and w o m e n whose concerns are centered on themselves to the exclusion of t h o u g h t s a b o u t God's k i n g d o m — all these groups stand in opposition to the small band of disciples who hear the word and accept it. b u t to be p u t on a lampstand. T h e challenge to the m e m b e r s of Mark's community. The f o r m of the question in Greek indicates that the answer expected is "No": "Of course. 13:12. 10:26. and Luke 11:33.2 3 ) Mark brings together four sayings in 4:21-25 that seem originally to have been separate. as well as sayings similar to those in Mark 4:22. Probably their appearance in this context is m e a n t to suggest that even the disciples were in danger of failure. and 25. 19:26). It is n o t clear w h e t h e r M a r k u n d e r s t a n d s Jesus to be addressing the disciples or the crowd. It would be absurd to hide it. they are n u m b e r i n g themselves with t h e outsiders (cf. Luke 8:16-18). T h e Parable o f t h e L a m p a n d A s s o c i a t e d S a y i n g s (Mark 4 : 2 1 ." 94 . HOOKER teaching. In Luke's Gospel. a lamp is n o t m e a n t to be concealed. 7:2. t h o u g h the injunctions to listen in verses 23-24 rem i n d us of earlier c o m m a n d s that are addressed to the crowd. Matt 7:24-27. repeated at 25:29. The t h e m e of this section — the contrast between what is hidden and what is revealed — suggests that the audience consists still of the disciples. at the close of the S e r m o n on the M o u n t .MORNA D. And if the disciples c a n n o t u n d e r s t a n d this parable a b o u t their o w n response. 23. The evangelist M a r k — or. It is because it expresses the same t r u t h as that f o u n d in verse 11 that the parable is prim a r y for Mark. perhaps. the crowds w h o hear Jesus gladly b u t are n o t prepared to accept the way of discipleship. is clear: they m u s t ensure that they are f o u n d in the last group.

however. to be a "parable of the kingdom. that of verse 25 ("For to those who have. by linking the Parable of the Lamp in verse 21 with the saying of verse 22 ("For n o t h i n g is hidden. identified. so the lamp is m e a n t to give light. where t h e t h e m e is that of judging others — b u t were presumably intended in Mark's context to m e a n that those w h o listen to Jesus will receive according to their response. M a r k shows that he believes that the light was. absurd. as expressed this time in the identification of "the Lamp" with "the Lamb" (cf. The first in verse 23 repeats the c o m m a n d in verse 9 almost verbatim: "Those w h o have ears to hear. or concealed in order to be b r o u g h t into the o p e n . hidden d u r i n g the ministry of Jesus. like the Parable of the Sower. and n o t h i n g is concealed. The t r u e p u r p o s e of the light will finally be achieved. is. in effect. this was an anomaly and of only a t e m p o r a r y nature. except to be revealed. and from those who have nothing. seem to have little connection with the M a r k a n context — verse 24 ("the measure by which you give will be the measure by which you receive. But it is in keeping with Mark's u n d e r s t a n d i n g of the Messianic Secret — for the concealment of Jesus' t r u e identity was a necessary part of God's p u r p o s e . The notion that things are deliberately hidden in order to be revealed. let t h e m hear!" The second in verse 24 (literally: "Look what you hear") echoes the c o m m e n t in verse 12 about looking and listening. which embraces b o t h his crucifixion and his resurrection." Nevertheless.Matthew's Parables of the Kingdom However. except to be b r o u g h t into the open"). in fact. it is clear that for Mark the l a m p is n o n e other t h a n Jesus himself ! He and the k i n g d o m are. Neither the Parable of the Sower in verses 1-9 n o r the Parable of the Lamp in verse 21 is specifically said to be a b o u t the k i n g d o m . The two pairs of sayings in verses 21-23 and 24-25 are linked together with two more injunctions to listen. The final verse of this section. for example. And once again Mark's presentation is close to a Johannine declaration a b o u t Jesus. more will be given. The sayings in verses 24-25 themselves. seems m u c h m o r e at h o m e in the context given it by M a t t h e w (7:1-2) and Luke (6:37-38). T h e responsibility of m e n and w o m e n to respond to the word of Jesus remains. Rev 21:23). Yet the fact that the ideas in verses 21-25 are so similar to those in verses 11-12 suggests that Mark understood the Parable of the Lamp. and m o r e besides"). even what they have 95 . on the face of it. Nevertheless. The image of the l a m p reminds us of the contrast set out in verses 11-12 between the secret given to s o m e and the t r u t h hidden f r o m many. For just as the seed is intended to grow.

but find out too late that they have lost that privilege. but those who do not have this secret will lose even what they had — that is. it seems clear f r o m verses 33-34 that he t h o u g h t of these parables as being once again addressed to the crowd and then explained in private to the disciples. is. Paradoxically. Nonetheless. imagine that they are within the c o m m u n i t y of Israel. its m e a n i n g in those contexts is closer t h a n in Mark to that of t h e Parable of the Sower. 4. T h e Parables o f t h e G r o w i n g Seed a n d t h e M u s t a r d Seed (Mark 4 : 2 6 .MORNA D. specifically the word of the law). o n the other. must respond by allowing the seed to grow and the light to shine. perhaps. Luke 11:33." for the l a m p was a recognized image for "the w o r d " (cf. M a r k makes no m e n t i o n at all of Jesus' audience in his original telling of these parables. Those who accept the word — that is. the Parable of the Growing Seed. the word of Jesus and about Jesus — and to w h o m the secret of the kingdom is therefore given. will receive all the joys of the kingdom. M e n and w o m e n . and the Gospel of Thomas 33 — the Parable of the Lamp appears to have been u n d e r s t o o d in terms of the light that Jesus urged his hearers to spread. intended to s u m u p the ideas in verses 120. and n o t to conceal. therefore. the sayings in verses 24-25 perhaps refer to those who. for the messages of the two parables are t h e n remarkably similar: "Bear fruit! Shed light!" This may well have been the original m e a n i n g of the parable. and those who. The first. however. Ps 119:105. In its n o n . the light is set on a stand for all to see. Many different interpretations have been given to these two parables. in M a t t 5:15. O r perhaps Jesus t h o u g h t of the light as the equivalent of the seed. HOOKER will be taken away!"). Prov 6:23. O n e suggestion is that they teach that there is to be a long period between 96 . respond to God's call and possess the k i n g d o m . the word that was offered and rejected. Within the setting of the ministry of Jesus.3 2 ) And so at last we come to the two parables in Mark's Gospel that are specifically a b o u t the k i n g d o m of God: the Parable of the Growing Seed in verses 26-29 and the Parable of the Mustard Seed in verses 30-32. which represents "the word. has no parallel in the other Gospels (though Matthew's Parable of the Tares in 13:24-30 may be an elaboration of it).M a r k a n contexts — that is. o n the one h a n d . T h e word is spoken by G o d himself — the seed is sown.

The fact that M a r k has placed these two parables together as a pair suggests that he u n d e r s t o o d t h e m both to be conveying the same message. Matt 13:32 // Luke 13:19). with the tree symbolizing a great kingdom that gives protection to subject nations. and in the second it is quite inappropriate. G o d was. the greatness of the plant and the birds that nest in its shade in verse 32. is n o t stressed in the first parable. not m a n . Matt 11:12// Luke 16:16). O n e would expect that the k i n g d o m would be spoken of in terms of f u t u r e j u d g m e n t and of setting things right. the i m p o r t a n t point seems to be the contrast between the almost invisible seed and the e n o r m o u s bush. The early Christian c o m m u n i t i e s may well have taken c o m f o r t f r o m the belief that. Therefore. as found in Ezek 17:23 and 31:6. Others emphasize the harvest as a symbol of the Eschaton — either as a still f u t u r e event or as dawning in the ministry of Jesus. in fact. The Parable of the Mustard Seed in verses 30-32 lays emphasis on the power of God and the scale of the final outcome. or nest in its branches. perhaps. as in Dan 4:12. If the Markan parable is interpreted allegorically. This point. however. the parables are assurances of the c o m i n g of God's kingdom. in fact. even t h o u g h they did not u n d e r s t a n d w h a t was taking place. Instead. These words echo Old Testament imagery of a tree in whose shade birds take shelter. it springs u p and grows bigger than any other plant (though Matthew and Luke exaggerate in describing it as a tree). "roost" in its branches). the birds may represent the Gentiles. it could have been used by Jesus to teach that the kingdom will come when God's purpose is complete. in Mark's day were perhaps already flocking in. Mustard seed was apparently proverbial for its smallness (cf. that the birds of the air can build nests in its shade (or.Matthew's Parables of the Kingdom sowing and maturity. we have here parables that imply that the k i n g d o m is present and yet not present — and that continue the t h e m e of the previous paragraph of the contrast between what is now hidden and what will assuredly be revealed. O n this reading. indeed. they could be confident that the harvest would eventually appear. b u t when it is sown. and 21 (cf. who will one day have a place in God's kingdom — and. 97 . Both of t h e m end in language reminiscent of Old Testament references to the final u n f o l d i n g of God's p u r p o s e — a final reaping and harvest in verse 29. Matt 17:20 // Luke 17:6). But for Mark. It grows so large. still in control. and cannot be hastened by violence (cf. since m u s t a r d is a fastgrowing plant that springs u p at a great pace. t h o u g h response to the gospel was often indiscernible. Since the Parable of the Growing Seed in verses 26-29 stresses that the growth of the seed is due to God.14.

o n the result a n t harvest and the m a t u r e m u s t a r d plant. is on the final result — that is. Jesus taught. w 9. Jesus explained their full significance to his disciples (cf. In verses 33-34. Nevertheless." These words have seemed to s o m e to be inconsistent with verses 1112. The emphasis in t h e m both. M a r k tells us. however. ν 34). Just as the harvest comes f r o m grain s o w n in the earth. they show us clearly Mark's u n d e r s t a n d i n g of that section: the parables are a challenge. But what the k i n g d o m will finally be is a very different matter. To t h o s e in Jesus' t i m e w o n d e r i n g what had happened to God's promises. implying that there were many more. since they were a m o n g those w h o had responded to Jesus' challenge.MORNA D. HOOKER For M a r k . b u t it is displayed like seed t h r o w n o n t o the earth: you do not k n o w that it is there unless you are let into the secret. In fact. however. "as they were able to hear. Its greatness comes a b o u t by the power of G o d . It was hardly sur98 . so the k i n g d o m will follow f r o m the ministry of Jesus. Mark's readers would presumably identify themselves with this smaller grcmp. and the m u s t a r d b u s h springs f r o m almost invisible seed. Unlike the Parable of the Sower. M a r k tells us that Jesus regularly taught in parables. M a r k seems to be delivering a message of h o p e to his c o m m u n i t y . and 24). which lives in the period between the initiation of the k i n g d o m and its final c o n s u m m a t i o n . and the parables of Jesus provided ample scope for this m e t h o d . b u t response to t h e m lies within the power of those w h o hear (cf. T h u s by m e a n s of these two parables. as silent and mysterious and inevitable as the power of growth. Presumably the evangelist has selected those parables that were most appropriate for his p u r p o s e in the c o m p o s i t i o n of his Gospel. Later I n t e r p r e t a t i o n s Later expositors used allegory constantly as a m e t h o d of exegesis. 23. the k i n g d o m of G o d is displayed already in the life of Jesus. because to t h e m the secret of the kingdom had been given. these parables would have conveyed the assurance that his kingdom would come. So Mark's readers would be able to c o m p r e h e n d everything. The question as to what these two parables might have m e a n t in the m o u t h of Jesus is enormously complicated because of the uncertainty regarding his u n d e r s t a n d i n g of the nature of the kingdom of God. 5. there is no h i n t here of even partial failure.

which is a far cry f r o m an electric light bulb. Three of the four parables in Mark 4 are about sowing seeds — s o m e t h i n g very few of us now do — and the f o u r t h is a b o u t a wick floating in oil. Already. and every time they lit 99 . if comm e n t a t o r s assumed the parables to be allegories that required a special u n derstanding in order to unravel their hidden meanings. well-known images like those of harvest and light may well have struck instant chords with their first hearers. they took o n a different meaning. or to be surprised by the notion of hiding a l a m p u n d e r a bed. and with presuppositions quite different f r o m ours. however. they suffer f r o m the p r o b l e m of over-familiarity. Mark's parables were a call to action in the particular situation of the evangelist's ministry — a call m a d e to m e n and w o m e n of a particular religious and cultural b a c k g r o u n d . when retold in Mark's c o m m u n i t y . and certainly would not have been as obscure as M a r k suggests. for they would all have been familiar with the allegory a b o u t a fruitless vineyard in Isaiah 5. A b o o k by T h o m a s Taylor. consists of a discourse of some 450 pages o n the Parable of the Sower! It was this approach that Adolf Jülicher challenged at the end of the nineteenth century. Those w h o originally heard Jesus would have been challenged by his message every t i m e they sowed or harvested their crops. for example. or whenever they saw their crops growing in the field. At the same time. has proved to be too rigid. maintaining that the parables of Jesus were not allegories at all and should n o t be interpreted as such. t h e imagery of the stories belongs to a world very different f r o m o u r own. published in 1621. Preachers were able to extract innumerable meanings — and s e r m o n s — f r o m one parable in this way. While it is easy to see the difference between extremes — as between a simple parable and an artificial allegory (e.Matthew's Parables of the Kingdom prising. But Jülicher's basic assumption that the parables of Jesus were not intended to be allegories. W h e n Jesus told a story a b o u t a vineyard. and that each one contains only one point. Retold in o u r m o d e r n world. for now they were being heard by those w h o had a comm i t m e n t to Jesus as Lord and w h o accepted his authority to speak in God's name. Similarly. for example. in view of Mark's handling of the Parable of the Sower.g.. a fable in which animals or plants are substituted for people) — the line between parable and allegory is not always so simple to draw. his hearers would immediately assume that he was telling a story about Israel. We know t h e m too well to be puzzled by the confused explanation of the different kinds of soil.

J." New Testament Studies 14 (1968) 165-93. and that God will ultimately be acknowledged as King. the harvest is already being gathered and the k i n g d o m is already present in the hearts and lives of those w h o respond to God's call. If the word spoken by Jesus has b e c o m e for the believing c o m m u n i t y the word about Jesus. Hooker. b u t a b o u t d o i n g his will and acknowledging his kingship over o u r daily lives. D o d d . HOOKER a l a m p and set it o n a lampstand. they r e m i n d us that God c o n f r o n t s us with his d e m a n d s and his salvation in the person of Jesus himself. The k i n g d o m of G o d is not a b o u t sitting a r o u n d waiting for G o d to act. 100 . whether the k i n g d o m of God will ever come in its fullness. D u n c a n M. The Message of Mark. L o n d o n : D a r t o n . Madeleine. The Parables in the Gospels: History and Allegory. H.MORNA D. 1980. they c o n f r o n t us with the d e m a n d to respond and to bear fruit. L o n g m a n and Todd. " T h e Parable of the Sower and Its Interpretation. Birger. But we are no longer reminded in this way of his words. Mary Ann. C. these parables assure us that the harvest is certain. The Parables of the Kingdom. 1970. let t h e m hear!" Second. John. 1983. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press. 1935. that the hidden will be revealed. Drury. then. Mark's Audience: The Literary and Social Setting of Mark 4. Boucher. Gerhardsson. London: Epworth. Selected B i b l i o g r a p h y Beavis. London: Nisbet. The Mysterious Parable. Third. this is because that c o m m u n i t y has recognized in what he said and did the voice and activity of God. Washington: Catholic Biblical Association of America. And since the l a m p is n o t totally hidden b u t is already shedding light. since Christians today may well find themselves wondering. these parables suggest also that for those with eyes to see. Derrett. London: SPCK. 1977. Those w h o belong to his k i n g d o m m u s t accept his authority and obey him. is the message of Jesus' parables for today? First.11-12. M o r n a D. 1989. Law in the New Testament. What. like first-century Jews. This is why the parables are interspersed with the warnings "Listen!" and "Those who have ears to hear.

The Mystery of the Kingdom of God. Mark. Joel. Joachim. 1935. W. The Barren Temple and the Withered Tree. The Signs of a Prophet. London: Black. London: SCM.Matthew's Parables of the Kingdom . The Teaching of Jesus. The Gospel according to St. D. New York: Scribner's. Prophetic Drama in the Old Testament. Stacey. William R. M a n s o n . L o n d o n : SCM. . Jeremias. Harrisburg: Trinity Press International. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Sheffield: JSOT. Telford. T. 101 . London: Epworth. S. trans. 1997. Hooke. 1992. 1986. Atlanta: Scholars. 1997. H. 1989. 1991. Peabody: Hendrickson. Marcus. 1963 ( f r o m 6th G e r m a n edition). W. The Parables of Jesus. 1990.

the Parable of the Growing Seed. and to whom the promise is made that they will in the future have even greater understanding — in fact. he indicates that it is because of their unreceptive hearts. cf. But he does include Mark's third parable. the Parable of the Mustard Seed 102 . a statement on the purpose of the parables ( w 10-13. Yet even they are unclear about the meaning of the parables.CHAPTER 5 Matthew s Parables of the Kingdom (Matthew 13:1-52) D O N A L D A. will have understanding "in abundance" ( w ll-12a). the story of the sower and seed ( w 3-9. those who have received the kingdom — have. Somewhat surprisingly. Mark 4:13-20). the evangelist Matthew devotes the third and central discourse of his five discourses to a series of seven parables that concern "the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven" (ta mystēria tes basileias tön ouranön. v i l ) . cf. Mark 4:1). they are the ones who have "the knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. The disciples — that is. by implication. Mark 4:10-12). and so must ask about the Parable of the Weeds and the Grain (v 36)." to whom more understanding is given. Nevertheless. When the disciples ask Jesus why he teaches the crowds using parables. Matthew builds the first part of his discourse on Mark 4. Mark 4:2-9). from which he borrows his introductory material ( w 1-2. inserting instead the Parable of the Weeds and the Grain ( w 24-30). cf. cf. understood the mysteries of the kingdom more directly. he omits Mark's second parable. H A G N E R IN CHAPTER 13 of his Gospel. and the interpretation of the Parable of the Sower and the Seed (vv 18-23.

P. Heil in Carter and Heil. The changes in wording are minor. The structure of this central M a t t h e a n discourse has been m u c h discussed and need not detain us here. with the story being given openly to the people ( w 24-30) and the interpretation given privately to the disciples ( w 36-43).) We t u r n now to an analysis of each of the seven M a t t h e a n parables of the k i n g d o m in t u r n .2 3 ) The Story (vv 3-9) Matthew follows M a r k very closely in setting out the story of the sower and the seed. (3) a m o n g t h o r n bushes. and (2) Matthew's reversing of the order of the yield f r o m Mark's "thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a h u n d r e d f o l d " to an e n u m e r a t i o n t h a t begins with t h e largest yield first: " s o m e a h u n d r e d f o l d . see J. which is c o m m o n l y designated by the letter "M. This transition divides the discourse of chapter 13 into two m a i n sections: that f o u n d in verses 3-35 and that of verses 36-52. Matthew's Parables. The only significant changes are (1) Matthew's use of the plural in referring to "seeds." rather t h a n Mark's singular (except for the plural in Mark 4:8). In that division the Parable of the Weeds and the Grain is separated into two parts. some thirtyfold" (v 8). Each of these is given a corresponding secondary ele103 . M a r k 4:30-32). 1. T h e Parable o f t h e S o w e r a n d t h e S e e d ( 1 3 : 3 . 64-95. cf. The lack of s y m m e try in its structure prevents any satisfying analysis of the whole." It is clear that the first part of Matthew 13 depends on the order of the material in M a r k 4. But that division is part of the narrative strategy of the text. is the clear transition that is caused by the narrative insertion at verse 36. however. where Jesus t u r n s f r o m the crowds to teach his disciples.Matthew's Parables of the Kingdom ( w 31-32. as we will observe again later. and (4) on good g r o u n d . s o m e sixtyfold. The story speaks of sowing seed in four different circumstances: (1) along the path. with many of t h e m being simply the result of Matthew's characteristic abbreviation of Mark's Gospel. (On the narrative progression of this Matthean discourse. (2) o n rocky g r o u n d . W h a t is significant. Apart f r o m the fulfillment q u o t a t i o n in verse 35 applied to the p u r p o s e of Jesus teaching in parables. the remainder of the material in Matthew 13 is f r o m the evangelist's own oral tradition source.

ν 43). an imperfect tense) fruit. with spectacular to very good results. and t h o r n s . The concluding words of verse 9. as paralleled partially in M a r k 4:10-12. (2) the sun rises and withers the seedling. the seed does n o t bear fruit. a passage that deals with the p u r p o s e 104 . The question arises w h e t h e r the parable requires us to imagine a situation where the seeds were actually sown in such places. T h e high yield may also be an allusion to eschatological fulfillment. On the Purpose of the Parables (vv 10-17) Between the story and its interpretation. Such a practice could possibly explain the instances of sowing seed "along the path" or "on rocky ground. And the point is that u n d e r certain circumstances. O r does the imagery of the parable merely refer to what may be conceived of as happening. with the accounts set out in an escalating fashion in those two chapters. Since the parable follows accounts of unbelief in Jesus and his message in Matthew 11 and 12. it is most natural to conclude that the parable alludes to the mixed success of Jesus' ministry. we encounter in verses 10-17. For the heart of the parable concerns the fact that seeds that are sown s o m e t i m e become u n f r u i t f u l and s o m e t i m e are fruitful. The issue is success or lack of success. t h o u g h in that case one might have expected even m o r e fantastic n u m b e r s than these. alert the reader to the fact that the parable points beyond itself to a matter of deep concern. It a m o u n t s to an appeal to hear positively and to respond appropriately (cf. "Let the person w h o has ears hear!". At least the n u m b e r s p o i n t to the high success of the k i n g d o m . (3) t h o r n s choke the seed. For a variety of reasons. N o r is it pertinent to the point of the parable.DONALD A. The story has to do with receptivity. scorching sun. Yet s o m e seed falls o n good soil and it "kept p r o d u c i n g " (edidou. seeds that are sown in a field are subject to hostile realities such as birds. and (4) the seed bears fruit in varying a m o u n t s . Jesus becomes the sower and the seed represents his message of the k i n g d o m . In that case. And this application is made unmistakable in the interpretation of the parable given i n v e r s e s 18-23. u n u s u a l t h o u g h it might be? Some evidence can be cited f r o m ancient agricultural practice to suggest that a field was ploughed after it was sown." But such an explanation is hardly necessary. HAGNER ment: (1) birds come and eat the seed.

which is the very concern of the Parable of the Sower and the Seed. This intervening material is i m p o r t a n t because of its references to positive and negative responses to the message of Jesus. are attributed to the hardheartedness of those w h o do n o t respond (hence the full q u o t a t i o n of Isa 6:9-10). Matthew replaces Mark's i n t r o d u c t o r y words. Belief and receptivity. For those w h o have responded positively to Jesus' proclamation of the k i n g d o m . "Parable of the Sower. 11:25-27). which is so characteristic of the biblical writers o n the subject. with the simple exhortation: "You. C." 192. the parables have the effect of only darkening the subject further. But for those w h o have rejected Jesus and his message. therefore. Therefore belief and c o m m i t m e n t lead to f u r t h e r knowledge. on the one h a n d . while u n b e lief leads to f u r t h e r ignorance. Gerhardsson. listen to the parable of the sower" (v 18). as well as their receptivity to that knowledge (cf. Davies and D. "to k n o w the mysteries of the k i n g d o m has been given to you" — which occur in the f o r m of a divine passive — indicate that G o d is the source of the disciples' knowledge. D. makes quite good sense in the m o u t h of Jesus (cf. are attributed to the grace of God. Unbelief and u n receptivity. For the words of verse 11. which imply criticism of the disciples ("Do you not u n d e r s t a n d this parable? Then how will you u n d e r s t a n d all the parables?"). But while later meanings can be read into the story. This is p e r h a p s the c o u n t e r p a r t to M a t t h e w ' s omission of the verb "listen" (akouete) at the beginning of the story in M a r k 4:3. It is simply unjustifiable prejudice to conclude that Jesus never allegorized a parable. A n d parables f u n c t i o n similarly in such a dual manner. even with its slightly unusual vocabulary. who accomplishes his will w i t h o u t at any time violating a person's freedom of choice or the responsibility that goes with it. see also W.Matthew's Parables of the Kingdom of the parables. we encounter the mysterious sovereignty of God. Β. In the interpretation. Also to be noted is the 105 . Allison. it is not necessary to do so. The Interpretation (vv 18-23) The interpretation of the Parable of the Sower and the Seed is t h o u g h t by many New Testament scholars to be an allegorized addition of the early church to a simple story of Jesus. The interpretation as it is. In this obvious lack of symmetry. the parables convey f u r ther insight and knowledge. 397-99). Matthew. on the other h a n d .

the carefully f o r m e d parallelism of the passage is n o t e w o r t h y and suggests that it was designed for catechesis and easy m e m o r i z a t i o n . and (4) the o u t c o m e . however. ν 4). w 19. however. In the first instance. 12:41-42). the problem is described in verse 19 as a failure to u n d e r s t a n d . In the first instance. As in Mark. G. Those who will not receive the message do n o t u n d e r s t a n d it. This state of affairs may be due to cross-fertilization in the oral transmission of the materials. here in the interpretation the reverse is the case. T h e explanation of the last three instances of sowing is given in parallelism u s i n g the following elements: (1) the i n t r o d u c t o r y f o r m u l a " w h a t was sown o n . see also 11:21. where the seed was sown "along the p a t h " (cf. ." Matthew's expression "the word of the k i n g d o m " (ton logon tes basileias) makes it clear that it is the word of Jesus that is in view. could easily have applied the parable to their own failures and successes in preaching the gospel. Also.DONALD A. A n d precisely for this reason the seed m e t a p h o r can refer b o t h to the message itself and to the person receiving or n o t receiving the message (cf. vv 13-15. (3) f u r t h e r description of the circumstances. the a n n o u n c e m e n t of the dawning of "the k i n g d o m of heaven. HAGNER oddity that whereas in the story M a t t h e w consistently refers in the plural to "seeds" and M a r k usually uses the singular (except in 4:8). The word of the k i n g d o m is the equivalent of Matthew's favorite phrase "the gospel of the k i n g d o m " (cf. 24:14) — that is." This places the parable squarely within the life setting of t h e Jesus of history. 23. 22. The birds that eat u p the seed are identified as "the evil one" (ho ponēros) who "snatches away what is sown in the heart." an expression s y n o n y m o u s with "the k i n g d o m of God." This also immediately identifies the sowing as a matter of hearing the word. This is not the result of an inadequate presentation of the message. 20." 106 .". with Matthew using the singular and M a r k the plural. T h e person is like the particular instance of sowing seed in the described soil. 4:23. enabling M a t t h e w in verse 19 to p u t emphasis o n h e a r i n g " t h e word of the kingdom. what is sown is identified as "the word. b u t rather of the hardheartedness of the hearer and his or her refusal to receive (cf. where it would have been used to depict the varied responses of people to Jesus and his preaching (cf. " S i t z im Leben of the Parables of Matthew 13"). (2) the description formula "this is the o n e h e a r i n g the w o r d " . Matthew's community. 9:35. the first of these elements ("this is w h a t was s o w n o n the path") is placed last. Ladd. a n d 23). . Ε.

and the interpretive c o u n t e r p a r t in verse 21 speaks of the experience of "trouble or persecution on account of the w o r d " — that is. however. In the second instance. 23:34-36. This is explained in verse 20 as the one who. to see how these things can b e c o m e obstacles to genuine discipleship and so thwart an appropriate response to the message of the kingdom. 24:9-13). is the seed truly productive (v 8). of suffering for the message of the k i n g d o m . Jubilees 11:11-12. which eventually choke the seedling (v 7). 6:19-34. the word " u n d e r s t a n d " (sunieis) implies receptivity. In this case the word is heard and. the seed fell o n stony g r o u n d and i m m e d i ately p r o d u c e d shoots (cf. the eagerness of the new disciple is not matched with e n d u r a n c e u n d e r trial. The third instance refers to seed that falls a m o n g t h o r n bushes. Rather. it is because they have rejected the message that the evil one is enabled to snatch away the seed. reference to the activity of the evil one in no way lessens the culpability of those who reject the message. "Fruit" here is probably to be u n d e r s t o o d as the pattern of c o n d u c t described in the Sermon on the M o u n t : the living out of 107 . see 19:23-24). So the good soil represents the hearer who receives the seed of the word. Only in the fourth instance. as in verse 19. there has been a hearing and a receiving that p r o d u c e a measure of growth before the t h o r n s do their destructive work. The interpretation in verse 22 identifies the t h o r n s as "the anxiety of the world and the seduction of riches. It is not difficult. The follower of Jesus m u s t be prepared for this eventuality and be ready to e n d u r e to the end (cf. in direct contradiction to the first instance. Furt h e r m o r e ." Both anxiety and wealth are subjects dealt with in the Sermon on the M o u n t (cf. This shows that the initial response of the hearer is not deep. receives it "immediately" and "with joy. T h e story. too." lambanān) rather t h a n failure." At first this response seems to be an example of success ("receiving. In the present case. 5:11-12. Apocalypse of Abraham 13:3-7). the hearer "understands. u n d e r s t a n d i n g results in a response of p r o p e r conduct." Here in verse 23. and so the result is that the seed does not bear fruit that lasts. on hearing the word. and bears fruit (karpophorei) in spectacularly a b u n d a n t measure. where the seed falls on good soil. n u r t u r e s that seed in discipleship. Here.Matthew's Parables of the Kingdom In Jewish literature birds are sometimes identified with the devil (cf. Here. ν 5). 10:16-25). T h a t the disciples were to expect persecution has already been emphasized in Matthew's Gospel (cf. refers to a b u r n i n g h o t sun that withered the shoots in the shallow soil (v 6). on riches.

addresses a m a j o r concern of the whole discourse — that is.DONALD A. But there is also the possibility of an initial positive response that proves to be less t h a n adequate. the Parable of the Weeds and the Grain. T h e Parable of t h e W e e d s a n d t h e Grain (13:24-30. it also contains a strong element of ethical exhortation. the concern a b o u t God's delay in j u d g m e n t . the response of discipleship is cut short by the o r d i n a r y cares of life (cf. Here is one of the most innovative and dif108 . John 15:8. T h e word of the k i n g d o m w h e n received fully and without reservation results in an unqualified. of course. 176). This person has t h o u g h t only of the blessings of the k i n g d o m . The key issue of the parable is responsiveness or non-responsiveness to the message of the kingdom. t h o u g h it would not be difficult to think of others.). Lambrecht. Gal 5:22f. a b a n d o n s his or her faith and c o m m i t m e n t . remains a d o m i n a n t factor in the m o d e r n world with its r a m p a n t materialism. and a b u n d a n t l y fruitful discipleship (cf. T h e pull of the latter. 8:21 ) and the sed u c t i o n of wealth (cf. therefore. having made a simple equation between the e n j o y m e n t of t h e m and being a disciple. Out of the Treasure. It also contains an ongoing challenge to Christians and the church today. constant. HAGNER the k i n g d o m of God here a n d now. t h o u g h the parable addresses particularly the p r o b l e m of unbelief (cf. 36-43) Matthew's second parable. Two instances are given. We are. J. The parable contained a challenge to Matthew's church (cf. T h e shallowness of such discipleship underlines the appropriateness of the m e t a p h o r of shallow soil. see also 1 Tim 6:9-10). and so is unable to cope with the reality of c o n t i n u i n g evil in the world. In the second instance. It is i m p o r t a n t to u n d e r s t a n d this shift of focus in the Parable of the Sower and the Seed — a shift where the nature of the soil is highlighted — in its context (where both sower and seed play principal parts) and with the original p u r p o s e of the parable in m i n d (where the problem of u n b e lief is addressed). In the first instance we encounter a fair-weather disciple who. vv 10-15). 6:24. reminded in this passage of the absolute claim of discipleship. 16. And thus. u n d e r the pressure of adverse circumstances. 2. It is in this sense that one either u n d e r s t a n d s (v 23) or does not u n d e r s t a n d (v 19).

Yet despite some c o m m o n features. . the point in Matthew's Parable of the Grain and the Weeds is not the miraculous growth of the seed. " A similar formula introduces each of the remaining five parables ("the kingd o m of heaven is like [homoia] . . b u t rather the growing of the grain and the weeds together. w h o came by night to sow weeds (zizania.. . W h e n the plants came u p . particularly as manifested in Rom a n rule over the people of G o d . a c o m m o n weed) a m o n g the good grain. represents Jesus — a p o i n t that is furthered by the address Kyrie. here too is a story of one w h o sows seed with the end result being mixed. In the narrative section we learn of two sowings: the first by a m a n w h o sowed good seed in his field. There is some similarity here with Mark's Parable of the Growing Seed (cf. This second parable is p u t alongside the preceding parable because of their c o m m o n agricultural motifs. . it may be inferred. Indeed. The m a n w h o sowed good seed is identified as "the master of the h o u s e " (ho oikodespotēs)." which Matthew's readers would have u n d e r s t o o d as "Lord. it is truly one of the mysteries of the kingdom! The immediate and natural reaction of the people to Jesus' ann o u n c e m e n t of the presence of God's k i n g d o m was to w o n d e r a b o u t the c o n t i n u i n g presence of evil in the world. . a dialogue in verses 27-30 wherein the m a i n point of the parable is made.. "Sir. This reflects an underlying Aramaic construction that is to be u n d e r s t o o d as "it is the case with . The first part of the story of this parable consists of a narrative in verses 24-26." (ν 24).Matthew's Parables of the Kingdom ficult aspects of Jesus' doctrine of the k i n g d o m . M a r k 4:26-29)..")." W h e n the servants (hoi douloi) ask how the weeds appeared. who. they are i n f o r m e d that "an enemy has d o n e this" (v 28). 109 . which is n o t repeated by Matthew. b o t h the grain and the weeds appeared. . the second by his enemy. The dialogue section brings out the point of the narrative section. the second part. The remaining parables of Matthew 13 deal with one aspect or a n o t h e r of the paradoxical n a t u r e of the presently dawning k i n g d o m of God. The Story (vv 24-30) The parable begins with the formula "the k i n g d o m of heaven may be compared to (hömoiöthe) . as w i t h . For as in the first. despite the fact that the two parables have entirely different purposes.

In the latter passage it is said that Jesus spoke to the crowd only in parables— a c o m m e n t drawn f r o m Mark 4:33-34.DONALD A. there is no compelling reason to conclude that this interpretation is the p r o d u c t of the church and n o t something that Jesus himself could have given. which will be developed further in the remaining parables of Matthew 13. Again. HAGNER To the servants' question about whether they should pull u p the weeds. as well as a s u m m a r i z i n g c o m m e n t that brings the first section to an end ( w 34-35). The j u d g m e n t motif of this imagery is clear. between the story and its interpretation two other parables of the k i n g d o m are presented. The Interpretation (vv 36-43) Like the first parable." 110 . In this second parable. This could well h a p p e n n o t because of any difficulty in distinguishing between the two. there is a shift in the audience. And as in the previous parable. the story of the grain and the weeds also receives an allegorizing interpretation. And it will receive considerable elaboration in the interpretation of the parable given in verses 36-43: The kingdom of God has indeed come. a negative answer is given o n the g r o u n d s that the grain might accidentally be pulled u p with the weeds. and so not yet the time for separating the grain from the weeds. The key point here. but it involves a surprising delay in the coming of the eschatoiogical j u d g m e n t . Both are to be allowed to grow together until the harvest t i m e w h e n the two will be separated — the weeds to be b u r n e d and the grain to be p u t into the granary. F u r t h e r m o r e . b u t rather because of the proximity of the two and the stronger roots of the weeds. It is a motif that is found frequently in Jewish literature. which he introduces by a fulfillm e n t formula: This was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet: "I will open my mouth to speak in parables. however. is that it is not yet the time of harvest. the interpretation is separated f r o m the story rather t h a n placed i m m e d i ately after it. I will proclaim what has been hidden from the foundation of the world. And to that remark Matthew a p p e n d s a quotation of Ps 78:2. that of the Mustard Seed (vv 31-32) and that of the Leaven (v 33). with Jesus in verse 36 portrayed as leaving the crowd and going into a house where he can address his disciples privately.

"the servants" with the disciples. it should also be noted that two of the items identified (i. The gathering and b u r n i n g of the weeds refer to the eschatological j u d g m e n t (cf. who is referred to also in verse 19 as t h e o n e w h o snatches away the seed of the word that was sown on the path. Joel 3:13. which is explicitly identified as "the w o r l d " (ho kosmos). his The Parables of Jesus. Such an identification of the field as the world.o n e identification in parallel f o r m of seven key features in the story: the sower = the Son of M a n (i. c a n n o t have been u n d e r s t o o d as the church by either the evangelist or his readers (contra R. At "the close of the age" the wicked will be judged.] ). 24:14.Matthew's Parables of the Kingdom This quotation becomes at once the raison d'être of the M a t t h e a n parables discourse (cf. f u r t h e r m o r e . w h o sowed the weeds in the field. Likewise. It is. explain the central point of the parable. trans. which were called by Joachim Jeremias a "little apocalypse" (cf. This will be 111 . Hooke [London: SCM. 51:33. Verses 37-39 contain a o n e . however. 1972 rev.e. " T h e harvest" (ho therismos) in verse 39b is a c o m m o n m e t a p h o r for the time of eschatological j u d g m e n t (cf. is explicitly allegorized. " T h e evil one" (ho poneros) of verse 38. "the angels" were c o m m o n l y believed in Jewish tradition to be administrators of t h e will of God in accomplishing the eschatological j u d g m e n t (cf.t o . Not every element of the parable. the world and the Devil) are not m e n tioned again in the continuation of the interpretation. unclear w h e t h e r the reference to "everyone sleeping" in verse 25 is merely an incidental i n t r o d u c t o r y statement or was intended to reflect a failure to be watchful. And while the extent of the explicit allegorical identifications is impressive. and the harvesters = the angels. S. the field = the world. the harvest = the end of the age. The field. "Parable of the Weeds a m o n g the Wheat"). Verses 40-43. is in verse 39a equated with "the Devil" (ho diabolos).. the enemy = the Devil. "the master" could be identified with Jesus. Mclver. For example. 1 Enoch 46:5. and "the bearing of fruit" with righteousness. K. H. ed. New York: Scribner. the weeds = those of the evil one. A n d what would a p r e m a t u r e "rooting o u t " refer to? Possibly church discipline? N o t every detail can or should be pressed for meaning. 63:1). Jesus). 3:10). the good seed = those w h o belong to the kingdom.e. the revealing of "the mysteries of the k i n g d o m of heaven" in ν 11) as well as a f u r t h e r c o n f i r m a t i o n of Jesus as the fulfiller of the Old Testament Scriptures. 28:19). however. Jer. does cohere with Matthew's u n d e r s t a n d i n g of the worldwide mission of the church in the spread of the gospel (cf.. 2 Apocalypse of Baruch 70:2).

" And while verse 41 speaks of "the k i n g d o m of the Son of M a n " and verse 43 "the k i n g d o m of their Father." therefore. There has n o t been. "They will glimmer like the sun in the k i n g d o m of their Father. Here the angels are sent." these two phrases refer to the same reality and are not to be distinguished. So they were even in the visible church. those guilty of lawlessness — that is. and so. It occurs again in verse 50. The present age is therefore o n e in which h u 112 . The dramatic contrast of the fate of "the lawless" and that of "the righteous. as does also the formulaic language a b o u t the weeping and grinding of teeth (cf. 22:13. In this world. and by his angels (cf. 8:12. People guilty of these offenses will be collected "out of his kingdom.DONALD A. Nor does the k i n g d o m exactly equal the field/world. HAGNER accomplished by the Son of M a n . a d r a m a t i c separation of the lawless f r o m the righteous until the harvest at the end of the age. concludes with the pointed exhortation: "Let the person w h o has ears. hear!" — an exhortation that is also f o u n d verbatim in verse 9 and 11:15. 25:31-33. to gather "everything that causes stumbling" and "those guilty of lawlessness" — which are two of the most grievous offenses depicted in Matthew's Gospel (on "causing to s t u m b l e " [skandalizö]. which is a favorite term of Matthew for those who respond positively to Jesus. ideally. 25:30). The wicked are gathered "out o f " or " f r o m " the k i n g d o m not in the sense that they were actually a part of the church. This probably refers to where the seed had been sown. who are the people of God's k i n g d o m . 23:28. The same imagery is used also in Dan 12:3. and 24:30-31). people who belong to the evil one — c o n t i n u e to coexist with the righteous. even after the a n n o u n c e m e n t of Jesus that the eschatological k i n g d o m has already begun." that is. which says that those raised to everlasting life "will shine like the brightness of the firmament. has in mind the whole world." This language is almost exactly the same as that used in describing the transfiguration of Jesus in 17:2. but are to be finally distinguished and separated f r o m the righteous. f r o m the k i n g d o m of the Son of Man. The imagery of a furnace of fire is drawn f r o m Dan 3:6. ν 30). 24:12). so "the righteous" (hoi dikaioi). 16:27. see 18:6-7. and so suggests the experiencing of the glory of God. 24:51. But the wicked are gathered f r o m the kingd o m in the sense that they were in the world and had existed alongside the righteous (cf. w h o is the sower of the good seed in the parable. n o r will there be. will be rewarded. As the lawless will receive p u n i s h m e n t . see 7:23. on "lawlessness" [anomia].

From this "smallest" of seeds (it matters not that we know of smaller seeds) an amazingly large 113 . for the righteous. So the hearers (and readers) are left o n their own to work o u t the implied interpretation. Evil people will be shown for w h a t they are. will there be a clear demarcation between these two classes of people. too. In the ancient world the mustard seed was k n o w n for its smallness. unmistakable fashion in which it was expected. in fact. But here its presence is in secret f o r m — that is. and with the end of the age it. extravagant blessedness.3 2 ) The third parable of Matthew 13. But the righteous. This is the first parable in the discourse of Matthew 13 that does not receive an interpretation. The catchwords "sowing." and "field" provide continuity between the first three parables. But the ambiguity of the present situation is a t e m p o r a r y one. will b e c o m e conspicuous. Indeed. the kingdom is likened to the situ a t i o n of a m a n w h o planted a m u s t a r d seed in his field. F u r t h e r m o r e . this is one of the "mysteries of the k i n g d o m " given to disciples of Jesus (cf. ν 11). its presence. t h o u g h real. N o n e of the remaining parables. which follows in verse 33. too. will be b r o u g h t to an end. T h e Parable o f t h e M u s t a r d Seed ( 1 3 : 3 1 . T h e n . this is the last parable that Matthew draws f r o m Mark. 3. thereby setting before his readers b o t h warning and encouragement. t h o u g h the a m o u n t of agreement between the evangelists in their wording is small. In this third parable the kingd o m is again portrayed as a present reality. To this f u t u r e expectation Matthew returns again and again in his Gospel. T h e k i n g d o m has come. a dreadful p u n i s h m e n t . which may have contained the parable as well — t h o u g h those agreements may also be due to the influence of oral tradition on both Matthew and Luke.Matthew's Parables of the Kingdom m a n society — and so even the church — is a mixture of those of the evil o n e and those of the kingdom. especially w h e n the wicked seem to prosper and the righteous suffer. continues the portrayal of the k i n g d o m of G o d using the imagery of seed that is sown. can be easily overlooked. b u t n o t in the spectacular. the Parable of the Mustard Seed in verses 31-32. Several verbal agreements between Matthew and Luke against Mark suggest the possibility of the influence of Q. with each receiving their eschatological due: for the lawless. In the Parable of the Mustard Seed. This can result in a confusing situation. That same point will be m a d e in the Parable of the Leaven. and only then." "seed. receives one.

at the beginning. This fact was so remarkable that it seems to have taken on a proverbial character." agrees nearly verbatim with Dan 4:21 (LXX. did not overwhelm the world in its coming. as it now is. 31:2-13. which refers to t i m b e r f r o m a mustard tree sufficient in quantity to cover the roof of a potter's h u t ) and large e n o u g h to a c c o m m o d a t e the nests of birds. has remarkably fulfilled the parable. This parable. The p o i n t of the parable is simply the miracle of n a t u r e symbolized by a mustard seed. and the church universal. with that hyperbole suggesting a symbolism that points beyond agriculture to a greater reality or kingdom (as is often the case in the OT. T h e o d o t i o n version) and Ps 103:12 (LXX. then the contrast between Jesus with the Twelve.DONALD A. But Matthew's use of the word "tree" (dendron) to describe the mustard plant probably involves hyperbole. cf. b u t one b o t h foreign to the context and unnecessary for a straightforward reading of the text. the usual interpretation of the birds in the branches as referring to Gentiles (with O T s u p p o r t ) introduces an allegory that is n o t intrinsic to the parable itself. For t h o u g h the k i n g d o m of God has h u m b l e beginnings. which speaks of the miracle of the growth of seed as a m e t a p h o r for the growth of the kingdom. For the birds are m e n t i o n e d only to indicate the remarkable size of the plant. It is the contrast between a tiny m u s t a r d seed and the large size of a mustard plant at maturity that is determinative in the parable of verses 31-32. when compared to its size at its beginning. If we restrict the analogy only to size. Ketuboth 111b. with these two passages alluding to the great tree of Belshazzar's d r e a m and the cedars of Lebanon. will provide as amazing a contrast as that between a mustard seed and a full-grown mustard plant. 114 . indeed. Matthew's final clause. HAGNER bush-like plant emerged. which develops f r o m the smallest of beginnings to an astonishing fullness. takes the place in Matt h e w 13 of the parable of M a r k 4:26-29. Ezek 17:22-24. which at m a t u r i t y was eight to ten feet in height (cf. respectively. even t h o u g h its m a i n p o i n t is a b o u t contrast rather than growth. Yet it has begun! And in the end its greatness. the k i n g d o m has b e g u n inconspicuously. It is impossible to rule out an allusion in this parable also to growth. which in English translations is 104:12). and can be easily overlooked. The point is the same: The kingdom's mysterious growth is the work of God. it is destined to bec o m e an impressive entity. Babylonian Talmud. In the same way. Although not impossible. Dan 4:20-21). "the birds of the sky dwell in its branches.

or leaven. Lev 23:17). "he spoke another parable to t h e m " (cf. The Parable of the Yeast is d r a w n f r o m Q (cf. Matthew. giving rise to the proverb "a little leaven leavens the whole l u m p " (cf. the same change in ν 31). For although at its beginning it may look unimpressive." But beyond these changes." the opening words "the kingdom of heaven is similar to. this parable. T h e Parable o f t h e Yeast (13:33) The fourth parable of Matthew 13. the Parable of the Yeast in verse 33. w 24. For the three remaining parables are addressed to the disciples.Matthew's Parables of the Kingdom 4. and t u r n s what was probably a question in Q to an indicative statement (cf. the agreements with Luke are quite close. For it. has an eventual. 19). which is imperceptible when first mixed into d o u g h (note the verb "hid"). however. Although leaven in the Old Testament usually symbolizes the corr u p t i n g influence of evil (though not always. 31). 11-12 to refer to the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. The k i n g d o m of God is like yeast in this way. Luke 13:20-21). the initial reference to "another parable. despite its change of imagery. Matthew changes " k i n g d o m of G o d " (cf. and astonishing effect o n the whole batch of d o u g h . there is no indication that it is to be viewed in this parable as s o m e t h i n g evil. Gal 5:9). cf. F u r t h e r m o r e . introduces it with his own formula. 115 . W h a t is portrayed here is the d y n a m i c power of leaven whereby a small a m o u n t . inevitable. speaks of the initial unimpressiveness of the kingd o m c o m p a r e d to what it will eventually become. There are a n u m b e r of formal similarities between this parable and the preceding one — most obviously. which a w o m a n took and mixed" and "a seed (of mustard) which someone took and sowed." Yeast. Both speak of that which appears initially to be insignificant and of no consequence. Its special character of gradual fermentation made it a particularly suggestive m e t a p h o r for describing similar processes in the moral sphere. it will have an effect that is out of all p r o p o r t i o n with that beginning. too. and so was to be purged entirely f r o m Israelite households at Passover (Exod 12:15. Beyond its appearance here in chapter 13. In this sense. b u t which in t i m e produces an astonishing and d r a m a t i c effect. Matthew again uses yeast metaphorically in 16:6. was a c o m m o n and i m p o r t a n t ingredient in Palestinian households. Luke 13:20) to " k i n g d o m of heaven. Likewise." and the parallelism in the clauses "yeast. is closely related to the preceding parable. is the last of Jesus' public parables in the M a t t h e a n parabolic discourse. this parable is parallel to the i m m e d i ately preceding Parable of the Mustard Seed. 1 Cor 5:6.

" these two parables have the same five elements in the same order: (1) a reference to s o m e t h i n g very valuable. the effect will b e c o m e visible and d o m i n a n t — just as surely as yeast has its effect. it does not look altered. T h e Parable o f t h e H i d d e n Treasure (13:44) The fifth of the parables of Matthew 13. certainly the content of the parables is quite parallel — which suggests an early linking of these two parables. t h o u g h it may express itself in seemingly hidden ways in the beginning. (4) selling everything. the parable suggests. that of the Parable of the H i d d e n Treasure in verse 44 — together with the sixth. are linked with the preceding parables by the c o n t i n u i n g motif of hiddenness and smallness. HAGNER The dynamic power of the k i n g d o m of G o d — which. w o r t h n o t i n g that an exceptionally large a m o u n t of d o u g h is indicated by the expression "three measures" (sata tria). however. The first parable has the additional features of hiding a treasure in a field and the m e n t i o n of joy at its discovery.DONALD A. So. 5. will eventually permeate everything — is the m a i n point of the Parable of the Leaven. Although the syntax is n o t altogether parallel. Such an inflated figure may suggest eschatological fulfillment. the yeast takes its effect and the d o u g h rises. and (5) buying it (in the first parable. that of the Parable of the Pearl in verses 45-46 — has as its focus the glorious character of the kingd o m instituted by Jesus. With the passing of time. t h o u g h probably not the messianic b a n q u e t . or the whole batch of d o u g h itself. at least in the oral tradition and perhaps even f r o m the beginning. the three measures. These two parables. It is. 116 . which a m o u n t s to nearly 40 liters or 50 kilograms of bread and would be enough to feed a b o u t 150 people. Similarly. In addition to the same opening f o r m u l a . the pearl of great value). t h o u g h the initial c o m i n g of the kingd o m of God does not look as t h o u g h it has had any effect. in effect. W h e n a batch of d o u g h is first leavened. (2) finding it. N o r is there need to allegorize such details as the w o m a n . however. (3) going. "the k i n g d o m of heaven is like. in the second. however. the hidden treasure (v 44) corresponds to the hidden leaven (v 33) and the smallness of the pearl ( w 45-46) to the smallness of the mustard seed ( w 31-32). It is unlikely that the growth in view points to the work or influence of the disciples. the field. which justifies the cost of absolute discipleship.

even m o r e t h a n gold.4 6 ) The Parable of the Pearl in verses 45-46. 8:11 for background). the k i n g d o m can be present and yet not perceived. The question of the ethical propriety of buying a field with hidden treasure is n o t addressed in the parable. 29. But the person w h o does discover the treasure goes with joy to sell everything in order to obtain that field and its hidden treasure. 6. self-denying and costly discipleship is in view (cf. as we have seen. F u r t h e r m o r e . Similarly.Matthew's Parables of the Kingdom It was n o t at all u n u s u a l in the ancient world to hide treasure in the g r o u n d . t h o u g h no explanation of the parable is provided. suggests that s o m e t h i n g of t r e m e n d o u s w o r t h can be present and yet n o t k n o w n to others w h o may have frequently traversed the same field. for it is rather unlikely that any m e r c h a n t would sell everything that he or she had in order to acquire any single pearl. like the re-hiding of a treasure by a person who finds it. however. it is obvious that a rigorous. There is deliberate hyperbole in verse 46. is probably to be f o u n d in Israel's W i s d o m literature (cf. The sole point being m a d e is that the k i n g d o m of God is w o r t h everything. like its c o m p a n i o n parable following. The parable. which is w o n d e r f u l beyond price. The analogy here. such as t h e rehiding of the treasure and the buying of the field. O t h e r features. This is the basic message of the parable. 19:21. T h e Parable o f t h e Pearl ( 1 3 : 4 5 . see also Luke 14:33. But in the case of the k i n g d o m . such an analogous action of a disciple in full and unreserved c o m m i t m e n t is m o r e t h a n justified! 117 . is a b o u t the reality of the k i n g d o m and its absolute worth in terms of personal sacrifice. are merely supportive details and need n o t be allegorized. T h e b a c k g r o u n d of this phrase. Prov 2:4. This m e r c h a n t finds one supremely precious pearl and sells everything he has in order to buy it (cf. is parallel to the preceding parable. the W i s d o m texts of Job 28:18 and Prov 3:15. The pearl in the story clearly represents the kingdom. although many folk tales also deal with this t h e m e . because its present form does not overwhelm the world or overcome resistance to it. In this parable the kingdom is likened to the circumstance of a pearl m e r c h a n t in search of fine pearls. Phil 3:7). Sirach 20:30). Pearls were very highly valued in the ancient world. b o t h in f o r m and basic message.

once discovered." Furthermore. which in Greek is called a 118 .DONALD A. T h e Parable o f t h e N e t ( 1 3 : 4 7 . cf. they find in the k i n g d o m all they need (6:33). returns to the motif of the eschatological separation of the righteous and the evil. The k i n g d o m of God is the greatest of treasures. is on the occurrence of j u d g m e n t only "at the end of the age" (v 49. t h o u g h like a small.5 0 ) The seventh and last parable of Matthew 13. paradoxically. Selling and buying together point to the response of the disciple. They k n o w that the k i n g d o m is a reality w o r t h everything. And the stress here. T h o u g h its w o r t h is immeasurable by any standard (cf. Yet those w h o find the k i n g d o m — that is. 7. the Parable of the Net in verses 47-50. in r o u n d i n g o u t his collection of parables in chapter 13. W i s d o m of S o l o m o n 7:7-9. sacrificing all to it. 4:18-22. Like a pearl that can be held in one's h a n d . Here in verses 49-50 an interpretation is provided alongside the narrative imagery of verses 47-48. and so they joyfully make it their o n e priority in life (cf. in fact. there people will weep and gnash their teeth. Rather. proclaiming the j u d g m e n t of the latter. ν 40). there is one striking difference. Yet for all the similarities between this parable and the preceding parables. is of incalculable value. 14 concerning w i s d o m ) . as it was earlier. The parable is reminiscent of the second parable. and so. For verse 50 of this parable is a verbatim repetition of verse 42 of that earlier parable: "and throw t h e m into the furnace of fire. it is now present only in veiled f o r m and can be possessed by s o m e w i t h o u t the knowledge of those near t h e m . The appropriateness of this parable for the several disciples who had been fishermen is obvious. the Parable of the Weeds and the Grain in verses 24-30 and 36-43. Matthew returns to one of his favorite themes: the j u d g m e n t of the unrighteous. calls for unrestrained response in the f o r m of absolute discipleship. They seek first the k i n g d o m . have to reckon with reciprocal influence between these two parables — perhaps even in the pre-Matthean tradition. what is highlighted in the parable is that the kingdom of G o d . but at the same time. those w h o receive Jesus' message and respond in discipleship — have begun to experience the w o n der of the kingdom's presence. HAGNER As in the Parable of the H i d d e n Treasure. inconspicuous pearl. the k i n g d o m is k n o w n only to its joyful possessors. the supportive imagery of "buying" is n o t to be allegorized. We may. 10:39). The net in question.

hence "of every k i n d " (ek pantos genous). 22:9-10: " b o t h bad and good." of verse 48 is used also to describe bad trees or bad fruit in 7:17-18 and 12:33. They will separate the evil ones " f r o m the midst of the righteous" (ek meson tön dikaiön). The evil ones. After the reference to that separation. and therefore hints at eschatological fulfillment. Here it is again the angels w h o are the agents of eschatological j u d g m e n t (cf. the Parable of the Net makes that point quite clearly. This final parable focuses again on the reality of eschatological judgm e n t at the end of the age. evil persons are allowed to live together with the righteous — in fact. The exaggerated inclusiveness of this phrase may be an intentional reflection on the universality of the invitation to accept the good news of the k i n g d o m (cf. This last phrase highlights the present mixture of good and evil in the k i n g d o m . thereby departing f r o m the imagery of the parable itself. the disciples had b e c o m e "fishers of m e n and w o m e n " (cf." ponērous te kai agathous). T h e net of the 119 . "the bad ones. will experience eschatological j u d g m e n t . W h e n the net was t h r o w n into the water it encircled the fish and then was dragged u p o n the shore. And "to throw o u t " or "away" in verses 48 and 50 echoes the language of 8:12. The clause " w h e n it was full" (hote eplēmthē) of verse 48 corresponds to "at the end of the age" (en tē synteleia ton aiönos) of verse 49. The expression ta sapra. 18:17). 4:19: halieis anthröpön). It would have been a very c o m m o n experience at C a p e r n a u m . The net naturally gathered fish indiscriminately. there will be those w h o do not live u p to the standards of the church (cf. So while the Parable of t h e Weeds and the Grain may only have implied a mixture of the unrighteous and the righteous in the church. was a seine-net with floats at the t o p edge and weights at the bott o m . and so points to the church as it n o w exists being a corpus permixtum. or false disciples within the church. in their midst — even within that manifestation of the k i n g d o m k n o w n as the church. In their proclamation of the k i n g d o m . going t h r o u g h the day's catch. The determinative clause is at the beginning of verse 49: "So it will be at the end of the age. to see fishermen sitting on the beach. 7:21-23.Matthew's Parables of the Kingdom sagēnē. 25:41)." The separation of the evil f r o m the righteous will occur only then. ν 41). In the present era. for example.18-23). keeping the good fish and throwing away the bad ones. 13:3-8. the j u d g m e n t of the wicked is described in terms of the standardized fire imagery (cf. A m o n g those w h o respond are many who will n o t persevere in their initial c o m m i t m e n t (cf.

The evangelist Matthew never tires in warning his readers of the reality of j u d g m e n t .DONALD A. only "seek out the wisdom of all the an120 . presupposes the wider context of the j u d g m e n t of the world. For only if the disciples have u n d e r s t o o d these things will they be in a position to be fruitful for the k i n g d o m (cf. those w h o have received the k i n g d o m with an appropriate response in the f o r m of discipleship — will survive. And t h o u g h there is still m u c h ahead of t h e m to learn. w o r t h calling one of "the mysteries of the kingdom. no d o u b t . a b o u t the preceding parables of the k i n g d o m . This concluding analogy throws light o n the seven parables of the discourse by focusing on o n e of the basic tensions inherent in their message: the continuity and discontinuity of old and new. b u t also the content of the entire discourse as Matthew has constructed it. A focus o n j u d g m e n t within the church. ν 23). Yet at the time of eschatological j u d g m e n t . HAGNER k i n g d o m includes a mixture of b o t h good and evil. indeed. T h a t such circumstances could exist in the era of the k i n g d o m of God is n o t h i n g less t h a n astonishing — something. and t h o u g h they will still stumble in ignorance on more than one occasion." A "scribe" (grammateus) in Judaism was a scholar-teacher w h o was trained in the interpretation of the Torah. Such a scribe is described in Sirach 39:2-3 as one w h o will not. 8. with that final c o m m e n t being given in the f o r m of yet another parabolic analogy. of course. It is a warning that both the world and the church need today. only the righteous — that is. A Scribe Trained for t h e K i n g d o m : The End of the Discourse (13:51-52) The end of Matthew's parables discourse in chapter 13 is formed by a question concerning the disciples' u n d e r s t a n d i n g in verse 51 and a comm e n t regarding those who teach this doctrine of the k i n g d o m in verse 52. they are able — at least with regard to these parables — to answer with a s o m e w h a t deceptively confident "Yes. and hence of the i m p o r t a n c e of a genuine discipleship. The reference to u n derstanding the parables recalls the discussion o n the p u r p o s e of the parables in verses 10-17. Those w h o are evil will experience their p u n i s h m e n t ." T h a t good and evil could be located within the net of the k i n g d o m seemed equally strange. Jesus asks the disciples if they have u n d e r s t o o d "all these things" — that is.

For the parables. The Christian scholar or "scribe. w h o is trained in the knowledge of the kingd o m . refers to a new kind of scribe: one w h o is instructed (mathēteutheis. It is remarkable the extent to which New Testament theology is char121 . (Later in 23:34 Matthew again refers to Christian scribes. these "new things" presuppose and are f u n d a m e n t a l l y loyal to the "old things" (cf.. indeed. 20:1.e. is one trained in the mysteries of the k i n g d o m . is by its very nature a blend of continuity and discontinuity with the old (i. however. the key to the parables themselves — is the combination of new and old." Jesus here. w h o brings o u t of his storeroom "new things and old things" (kaina kai palaia). must be able to use the old and the new together to b r i n g clarity and u n d e r s t a n d i n g to the message of the k i n g d o m in its application to the present."but also one who will "penetrate the subtleties of parables" and "be at h o m e with the obscurities of parables. believed in by the disciples." therefore. At its heart the gospel consists of "new things." and that newness m u s t never be underestimated. The gospel of the k i n g d o m as announced by Jesus. and so is able to maintain a balance between the continuity and discontinuity that exists between the era inaugurated by Jesus and that of the past. instructed as a disciple concerning the nature of God's k i n g d o m as elucidated by Jesus t h r o u g h his parables. M a r k 1:27) — that is. So. which were h i d d e n f r o m the beginning b u t now are being made k n o w n (cf. b u t there the reference is probably to Christian scholars of t h e Torah. The key here — as. involve old and familiar things juxtaposed with new elements.Matthew's Parables of the Kingdom cients. The old things and the new things of the Christian scribe are b o t h indispensable to the gospel. is likened to a "master of a h o u s e h o l d " (oikodespotēs. Jesus had here in m i n d the disciples w h o m he has been teaching. T h e Christian scribe.) This new type of scribe. N o r is it simply new applications of old sayings of Jesus. the O T as ordinarily u n d e r s t o o d ) . it seems evident. Rather. like Jesus' other teachings a b o u t the k i n g d o m . cf. But for Matthew. 5:17-19). what is in view is the relation of the Torah to the genuinely new reality of the k i n g d o m of G o d (cf. the "mysteries" concerning the purposes of God. literally: "having been made a disciple") in the kingdom of heaven — that is. ν 35). w h o is trained and prepared to teach others. and established as the f o u n d a t i o n of the church. 21:33). In view here are not merely new hermeneutical applications of the Torah in new situations — s o m e t h i n g the Jewish scribes were always concerned with.

the k i n g d o m a d o u b t f u l reality. the third and f o u r t h parables with the present apparent insignificance of the k i n g d o m . and final j u d g m e n t an idea of the past. he makes use of teaching devices that could both conceal and reveal the mysteries of that kingdom. and the fifth and sixth with the incalculable value of the k i n g d o m . To be t r u e to the teaching of the parables of Jesus and to the presentation of those parables by the evangelist Matthew. address realities that continue 122 . with a loyalty to both. u n k n o w n to those who do not possess it. If the church today is to carry o n the work of the disciples. these parables retain their significance. w h o wrote for a Jewish Christian congregation that probably had its o w n Christian scribes (the c o u n t e r p a r t of the Jewish rabbis). Christians today m u s t represent a Christianity that encompasses b o t h Testaments. Faced with the mystery of a k i n g d o m that is b o t h present and future. there is a sense in which n o t only biblical scholars b u t also every Christian must bring o u t of his or her storeroom b o t h new things and old things. C o n c l u s i o n The evangelist Matthew has placed his discourse of collected parables in the middle of his Gospel — in particular. In an increasingly secular day. HAGNER acterized by this tension between the old and the new. Jesus here in chapter 13 begins to articulate the Gospel of the Kingd o m t h r o u g h the m e d i u m of parables. Christians living between the times need these truths. at a m a j o r t u r n i n g point in the ministry of Jesus. And for Matthew. it is no w o n d e r that this was an especially i m p o r t a n t theme. Following the people's widespread rejection of his message.DONALD A. Some have even taken the description of the scribe in verse 52 as a self-description of the evangelist. in particular. But the parables of Matthew 13 are n o t just to be u n d e r s t o o d as teachings p e r t i n e n t for disciples of that day. In so doing. But whatever the exact referent of the passage. for all of the issues treated rem a i n current today. in short. the second and seventh parables with the problem of the delay of the expected j u d g m e n t . when the success of the gospel seems questionable. certainly Matthew would have t h o u g h t of himself as included a m o n g those scribes who had been trained in the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. The parables of Matthew 13. The first parable is concerned with receptivity and non-receptivity. 9.

Dahl. But they do so only if we have ears to hear! Selected B i b l i o g r a p h y Blomberg. They c o n f i r m to us the reality of God's k i n g d o m and motivate us in o u r discipleship. Washington: Catholic Biblical Association of America. " T h e Parable of the Weeds a m o n g the W h e a t (Matt 13:24-30. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. Jack D. George Eldon. Downers Grove: InterVarsity. Ladd. " T h e Parable of the Sower and Its Interpretation. Eschatology and the Parables. " T h e Seven Parables of Matthew XIII. Gerhardsson. " T h e Parables of Growth. Birger. Warren." New Testament Studies 19 (1972) 16-37. and Allison. St. Dallas: Word. Lambrecht. Dale C. John Paul. Interpreting the Parables." New Testament Studies 37 (1991) 321-35. 1963. " T h e Sitz im Leben of the Parables of Matthew 13: The Soils. The Matthean Parables: A Literary and Historical tary. 13:52). Marshall." Studia Theologica 5 (1952) 132-66. "If We Do N o t Cut the Parables O u t of Their Frames. vol. Ivor H.. Craig L. Robert K. (CBQMS 30). Hagner. London: Tyndale. and Heil. I. Commen- Kingsbury. 1992. Matthew. The Parables of Jesus in Matthew 13. Jan. Jr. 2. Mclver. 1969.Matthew's Parables of the Kingdom to be of great i m p o r t a n c e for the church today." Studia Evangelica 2 (1964) 203-10. Out of the Treasure: The Parables in the Gospel of Louvain: Peeters. Nils A. 1990. . Howard." Expository Times 109 (1998) 329-34. Matthew's Parables: Audience-oriented Perspectives. 1993. . 1998. . Jones. "New Things f r o m the Scribe's Treasure Box (Mt. D. Louis: Clayton. A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According to Saint Matthew (ICC). Davies. 1995. 1991.. Carter.36-43) and the Relationship between the Kingdom and the 123 . Edinburgh: Τ & Τ Clark." New Testament Studies 14 (1968) 165-93 (a translation and revision of an article in Svensk Exegetisk Arsbok 31 [1966] 80-113). W. Donald A. Matthew 1-13 (Word Biblical C o m m e n t a r y 33A). Leiden: Brill.

The Parables of Jesus. David. W e n h a m . 1989. Downers Grove: InterVarsity." Journal of Biblical Literature 114 (1995) 643-59. 124 . HAGNER C h u r c h as Portrayed in the Gospel of Matthew.DONALD A.

diverse redactional features stand out rather clearly. therefore. but also alert us to possible ways of contextualizing the parables of Jesus today. and the Parable of the Leaven (13:2021). LONGENECKER T H R E E PARABLES IN Luke's Gospel parallel the kingdom parables of Mark 4 and Matthew 13: The Parable of the Sower (8:4-15). Mark and Matthew). and all three apply the metaphors contained in the stories in a m a n n e r relevant for the audience being addressed. 13:18-21) RICHARD N. 13:18 and 20). for it highlights a somewhat different use by one evangelist (i. In form and content. All three contain the same stories as f o u n d in Mark and/or Matthew. however.e. these three parables may rightly be called "kingdom parables. the Parable of the Mustard Seed (13:18-19). all three include the phrase "the kingdom of G o d " (8:10 [see also ν 1]. Such a difference is not always apparent when dealing with parables that appear in only one Gospel or in the "double tradition" of two Gospels. But in "triple tradition" parables.." In the way Luke uses t h e m in the development of his Gospel. 125 .CHAPTER 6 Luke s Parables of the Kingdom (Luke 8:4-15. they function differently and serve other purposes than they do in Mark and Matthew. Consideration of these three Lukan parables is partiailarly rewarding for a study of how the parables of Jesus were used in the early church. Luke) visà-vis that of the other two evangelists (i.e. And such redactional features not only aid us in identifying the various levels of understanding in the early church..

. passim). as Charles Talbert has pointed out (Literary Patterns. This p h e n o m e n o n of s y m m e t r y in Luke's writings may be explained. with his perception of the interests and appreciation of his audience. by an appeal to the Jewish rubric that testimony.RICHARD N. 2 vols. and ( m o s t significant for o u r p u r p o s e s here) the parables of Jesus. which are b r o u g h t together as the S e r m o n o n the M o u n t in Matthew 5 . and 16. T h e K i n g d o m Parables i n t h e S t r u c t u r e o f Luke's G o s p e l Luke's two volumes. It may. O n e i m p o r t a n t way is t h e p r o m i n e n c e given to s y m m e t r y or "the principle of balance" in their s t r u c t u r i n g . 1). be rooted.." which Talbert defines as "his tendency to balance some feature of his work with a n o t h e r which corresponds or is analogous to it in s o m e way" (ibid. miracle stories. 12. 67-88). 1949] ). comes most obviously into view in the Third Gospel in the parallels set u p between the Galilee Ministry of 4:14-9:50 and the Travel Narrative of 9:51-19:27. to be accepted. 23-58) — with such parallels evident n o t only in the architecture of each of his two volu m e s . 15-23. however. to s o m e extent. Deut 19:15). ibid. Literary Patterns.7 . For n o t only are there significant s t r u c t u r a l parallels between Luke's Gospel and his Acts (cf. which make u p a b o u t thirty percent of o u r New Testament. it should probably be viewed as simply reflecting a "principle of balance" (or. in the traditions used by the evangelist in writing his two volumes — t h o u g h its extensive use t h r o u g h o u t Luke-Acts should probably be u n d e r s t o o d m o r e as signalling Luke's own literary proclivities. there are also striking parallels b o t h within his Gospel and within his Acts (cf. Two p r o m i n e n t examples of symmetrical paralleling in these sections are (1) the presentations of certain of Jesus' teachings. This "facet of Luke's artistry. narratives. [Zurich: Zwingli. as coupled. In most cases. at least to some extent. 5. must be validated by at least two witnesses (cf. ibid. 23. LONGENECKER 1. which seems to be primarily "due to deliberate editorial activity by the a u t h o r of Luke-Acts" (Talbert. but also is to be f o u n d in various Near Eastern artistic traditions and Jewish writings. therefore. are distinctive in m a n y ways. of course.. 14. and 126 . b u t appear in the first section of Luke's Gospel in chapter 6 and in the second section in chapters 11. "law of duality") that n o t only pervaded Greek classical literature and Greco-Roman art and architecture. 58-65). as Robert Morgenthaler has argued (Die lukanische Geschichtesschreibung als Zeugnis: Gestalt und Gehalt der Kunst des Lukas. b u t also in the evangelist's repeated paralleling of significant words.

2. T h e Parable o f t h e S o w e r (8:4-15): O n Hearing and Responding to the Word of God The context of the Parable of the Sower in Luke's Gospel is set by the statem e n t of 8:1: "After this. For redactional analysis and exegesis. "cannot be d o n e in a satisfactory way w i t h o u t attention to the formal patterns that make u p the architecture of a writing" (Literary Patterns. with the emphasis being on hearing and responding to that word (cf. particularly for our p u r p o s e here. it is imp o r t a n t to note how they appear within the structure of Luke's Gospel. In what follows. allowing such considerations to i n f o r m b o t h o u r redaction-critical analyses and o u r exegesis. is the fact that when Luke treats the k i n g d o m parables of Jesus. which appear as unified bodies of material in M a r k 4 and M a t t h e w 13. 9:31-37. 8:8b. 5).Matthew's Parables of the Kingdom (2) the setting o u t of the three Passion Predictions of Jesus. Before any detailed study of the Lukan k i n g d o m parables. 15. 127 . therefore. as Talbert reminds us. he does so by including the Parable of the Sower in the first section of his narrative at 8:4-15 — pairing it with "A Lamp on a Stand" and other exhortations in 8:16-18 — and then presenting the Parable of the Mustard Seed and the Parable of the Leaven in the second section. and 10:32-34. Also i m p o r t a n t . the third in 18:31-34. which are closely related in M a r k 8:31-38. the Parable of the Sower in 8:4-15 and the pericope a b o u t p u t t i n g a lamp on a stand (with its associated exhortations) in 8:1618 — are given as examples of that preaching. at 13:18-19 and 13:20-21 respectively. which depicts the reactions of Jesus' m o t h e r and brothers to his preaching. we will need constantly to keep in m i n d the contexts into which Luke has placed these three k i n g d o m parables and the ways he has paired t h e m . brings to a climax all that is presented in the section with the statement of verse 21: "My m o t h e r and brothers are those who hear and put into practice God's word" (hoi ton logon tou theou akouontes kai poiountes). The concluding episode in 8:19-21. The focus in these two units of material is o n Jesus' proclamation of "the word of G o d " (cf. 18). Jesus traveled about f r o m o n e city and village to another. 15). The two units that follow this statement — that is. b u t widely separated in Luke: the first two in 9:22-26 and 9:43-48. 8:11. proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God" (kērussān kai euaggelizomenos ten basileian ton theou).

the omissions of "did not bear fruit" in 8:7 (cf.e.RICHARD N. to be credited to another source other t h a n Mark. There are. N o n e of these matters. cf. of the parable." ton sporon autou). Luke omits details about the shallowness of the soil and the scorching sun (8:6. and the r e d u n d a n t expression "growing u p and increasing" (8:8. and the participial f o r m "the one who has" (ho exön) in 8:8 (cf. But these are such m i n o r and rather standard ameliorations of wording that it may be postulated that both Matthew and Luke. with that "sown seed" t h e n being the focus of the explanation given in 8:11-15 (cf. But these are matters most easily explained in terms of Luke's redactional purposes. Mark 4:7c). thereby driving h o m e the m a i n p o i n t . (2) Luke's d r o p p i n g of Mark's "thirtyfold. climactic statement of the parable — which statement Luke seems to have wanted to highlight. m a d e such changes quite independently. cf. For example. and so probably not. M a r k 4:9). Matt 13:3b). the 128 . a few verbal agreements of Luke and Matthew against M a r k in the parable. and (3) the stress laid by Luke on the motif of "hearing and responding" to the word of G o d by the addition of the i n t r o d u c t o r y phrase "he [Jesus] called out" (8:8b). Mark 4:1-20 is probably the source for the parable in Luke 8:4-15. are of any m a j o r importance. There are. in separate attempts to improve the style of Mark's Greek. cf. Matt 13:9). LONGENECKER Literary Relations Assuming a two-source theory of synoptic relationships. M a r k 4:8b). Matt 13:7) and "growing u p and increasing" in 8:8 (cf. sixtyfold. Mark 4:5b-6). of course. as witness his addition of "he called o u t " (ephönei) in introducing it: " T h e one w h o has ears to hear. in Luke's view. which some scholars have taken as evidence of some sort of literary dependence between Luke and Matthew: the articular infinite "to sow" (tou speirai) in 8:5a (cf. O n the other h a n d . let that person hear!" (8:8b. however. Matt 13:8). admittedly. and a h u n d r e d f o l d " language to read simply "it yielded grain a h u n d r e d f o l d " (8:8a). Luke is exactly in line with Mark in the wording of the main.. 8:11: " T h e seed is the word of G o d " ) . More significant differences between Luke and Mark are (1) the greater emphasis that Luke gives to the seed (8:5: "A sower went out to sow his seed. a n u m b e r of omissions in Luke's version when compared with that of Mark. The fact that the infinitive "to hear" (akouein) is omitted in the better manuscripts of M a t t 13:9 (i. M a t t 13:4). the use of the personal p r o n o u n " h e " (auton) as the subject of the second articular infinitive in 8:5b (cf. the failure of the seed a m o n g the t h o r n s to "bear fruit" (8:7.

D. Luke's placement and s t r u c t u r i n g of the parable are s o m e w h a t different f r o m Mark's.e.e. Redactional Features Source criticism gives rise to redaction criticism. 4:1-20 and 4:21-25. 15:8-10. 18:2. Luke states t h a t Jesus addressed a large crowd f r o m various cities and villages — with that crowd including not only the Twelve. see the principle stated in vv 3334. suggests that Luke — despite his omissions. a feature of Jewish rhetoric (cf. 18:1-8. 23:49. And the fact that Luke pairs Jesus' teaching a b o u t a Lamp o n a Stand (and its associated exhortations) in 8:16-18 with the parable of the Sower in 8:1-15 also suggests his literary dependence on Mark.. w h o m Jesus addressed while sitting in a boat ( w 1-9. respectively). "vertical redaction criticism"). "Public Retort and Private Explanation. for it is always necessary to propose explanations for the differences as well as for the agreements that appear in the various Gospels. respectively). For these units are similarly paired in Mark's Gospel (cf. whereas Mark distinguishes between an open declaration to the crowd and a private explanation to the disciples — a distinction that was. cf. Elizabeth. For whereas M a r k set the parable first in the setting of a large crowd gathered by the sea. b u t not in Matthew's Gospel (cf. Matt 13:1-9). it seems. and Anna in Luke 1 . b o t h with respect to data observable between the Gospels (i. 16:14-15.Matthew's Parables of the Kingdom f o u r t h . 18-19a.2 . 9:36-42. stylistic revisions. b u t included in M a r k 4:9. b u t also s o m e n a m e d w o m e n and " m a n y others" (Luke 8:1-4). his focus o n Mary. cf. 55-56. 13:1-23 and 5:15. Such an inclusion of w o m e n in the purposes and p r o g r a m of God is p r o m inent t h r o u g h o u t Luke's two volumes (cf.c e n t u r y codicies Sinaiticus [uncorrected] and Vaticanus). 2:17-18. F u r t h e r m o r e . see also Luke 10:38-41. and then in the context of the Twelve and a few other followers. 24:1-11. "horizontal redaction criticism") and to data of significance within the Gospel itself (i. Matt 13:10-23). 13:10-17." The New Testament and Rabbinic Judaism [Lon129 . And Luke's version of the Parable of the Sower offers fertile g r o u n d for such a redactional treatment. D a u b e . 17:34b. and redactional alterations — was basically d e p e n d e n t o n M a r k for his version of the Parable of the Sower. and Acts 1:14. 11:27-28.. 26). to w h o m Jesus explained the parable w h e n he was alone (kata monas) with t h e m (vv 10-20.

as also omitted in M a t t 13:18). cf. 1965]. sixtyfold and a h u n d r e d f o l d " (Mark 4:8. and s o m e thirty") to simply "a hundredfold. however. cf. the Twelve and a n u m b e r of w o m e n who "were helping to s u p p o r t t h e m o u t of their own m e a n s " ( w 2-3). 4 . kai agathē) in the explanation of 8:15 — neither of which additions appears in Mark (or in Matthew).RICHARD N. 15. A n d whereas in M a r k 4 the Parable of the Sower appears in the context of Jesus a t t e m p t i n g to withdraw f r o m the crowd to prepare his disciples for what they will face in the f u t u r e (cf. Chief a m o n g his additions are (1) his insertion of "he [Jesus] called out" (ephönei) in the introductory words of 8:8b." Luke signals that his m a i n interest in setting o u t the parable for his readers is to t r u m p e t the challenge of Jesus: " T h e o n e w h o has ears to hear. Matt 13:8: "some a h u n d r e d f o l d . esp. For by int r o d u c i n g Jesus' words with the emphatic "he called out. For Luke ( 1 ) omits the possibility of a varied response on the part of those who represent the good soil.18. b u t n o t with the Twelve or those w o m e n being primarily in view. Matthew 13). 8 b . the omissions of Luke are also significant. thereby m a k i n g his portrayal m o r e cohesive and understandable for a Gentile audience. condensing Mark's "thirtyfold. Its appeal is for people 130 . 141-50). O n the other h a n d . in Luke 8 it is presented as a p r o m i n e n t example of Jesus' preaching to a large crowd of people gathered f r o m various cities and villages a r o u n d and of his proclamation to t h e m to "hear the word of God and p u t it into practice" (cf." he implies that these are the type of people he wants to address. vv 1 . a n d 21). Evidently Luke excised these matters because he did not consider t h e m to be appropriate for either his own p u r p o s e or his audience's edification. Of greatest significance in evaluating Luke's redactional t r e a t m e n t of the Parable of the Sower. Its focus is on Jesus' proclamation of the word of G o d . LONGENECKER d o n : Athlone. and (3) says nothing a b o u t the disciples' lack of u n d e r s t a n d i n g (Mark 4:13. The Parable of the Sower in Luke 8:4-15 is. and (2) his characterization of "good soil" as being "people with a noble and good heart" (hoitines en kardi(i kale. and therefore carried o n by b o t h M a r k and Matthew — Luke lessens that distinction. are those matters that the evangelist himself emphasizes by his rather subtle additions and that he tones d o w n by his omissions. of course. let that person hear!" And by speaking of "good soil" as being "people with a noble and good heart. which calls o n the reader to take with great seriousness the statement that follows." (2) deletes the q u o t a t i o n of Isa 6:10b. therefore. s o m e sixty. "otherwise they might t u r n and be forgiven" (Mark 4:12. Matt 13:15). addressed principally to people at large — including.

Luke has no interest in such a varied response as suggested by the "thirtyfold." as in M a r k 4:9. Green [Atlanta: John Knox. Yet the four rather discrete elements of Mark 4:21-25 — the imagery of a l a m p o n a stand (v 21). it becomes clear why he paired this parable in 8:4-15 with Jesus' teaching a b o u t a Lamp o n a Stand (and its associated exhortations) in 8:16-18. 1984]. in large measure." as in M a r k 4:23 — which is. Pairing with Additional Gospel Material U n d e r s t a n d i n g Luke's use of the Parable of the Sower in this m a n n e r . But it is not. let that person hear!. D. and s o m e thirty" of Matt 13:8). 143) — is that "people with a noble and good heart" hear "the word of G o d " and respond to it positively in a " h u n d r e d fold" fashion. Rather. Certainly the imagery of a l a m p on a stand is parabolic in nature. exhortations to " h e a r " and "hear carefully" ( w 131 . s o m e sixty. and so "hold it fast" (8:8. E. let that person hear!. conversely. trans. what Luke is pleading for in his reproduction of the Parable of the Sower — which in his handling should probably more accurately be called " T h e Parable of Those W h o Hear the Word. Evidently he viewed these two units of material as having already been paired by Mark because of their c o m m o n emphases on "hearing" and "responding": " T h e one w h o has ears to hear. whoever does not have. the first in a series of parables given to explicate certain enigmatic features regarding the reign or " k i n g d o m " of God — t h o u g h it carries on. and the words of M a r k 4:25 ("Whoever has will be given more. It may be. 15). "If anyone has ears to hear. that Luke (perhaps also Mark) considered the teachings and exhortations of M a r k 4:21-25 to constitute a f u r t h e r parable." as Eduard Schweizer titles it (The Good News according to Luke. "some a h u n d r e d f o l d . the discussion between Jesus and his disciples f o u n d in M a r k 4:10-20. a n d . even what he has will be taken f r o m him") appear in Matt 13:12 (in expanded fashion) in connection with Matthew's version of the parable of the Sower. sixtyfold and a h u n d r e d f o l d " w o r d i n g of M a r k 4:8 (or. N o r is it concerned with the identity of the sower or the intrinsic quality of the seed. of course.Matthew's Parables of the Kingdom to hear and respond positively to Jesus' preaching. the a p h o r i s m about what is hidden being disclosed (v 22). F u r t h e r m o r e . as in M a r k 4 and Matthew 13. of course. what Luke highlighted by inserting "he called o u t " (ephönei) into his introduction to the statement in Luke 8:8b.

2:5-7. 39. and he reproduces that second acc o u n t in 8:19-21. 6:38. 19:26. where it speaks again of the reactions of Jesus' family to his ministry. Luke treated t h e m as a unified b o d y of teaching material that served to buttress his m a i n point: "Consider carefully how you listen" (8:18). with m o r e given to those w h o have and less to those w h o have n o t (vv 24b-25) — also appear as individual sayings scattered t h r o u g h o u t Matthew and Luke (cf. 12:2. It has more t h a n e n o u g h conceptual and stylistic features to justify confidence in its dominical status. 1:26-56. Luke 11:33. Jubilees 11:11). Dominical Status and Intent T h a t the Parable of the Sower was originally given by Jesus is fairly easy to establish. 22. and statements a b o u t being measured. viewed the evangelist M a r k as the one who first b r o u g h t t h e m together into a pairing relationship with the Parable of the Sower. 33-35. Luke evidently had no desire to reproduce M a r k 3:20-21 a b o u t Jesus' family (hoi par autou. But whatever these sayings might have m e a n t in their original contexts. 41-51) and a b o u t Jesus' m o t h e r and brothers being a m o n g the first Christians in Acts (1:14). LONGENECKER 23-24a).RICHARD N. Logia 3 3 . it seems. see also Gospel of Thomas. 5 . and however they were b r o u g h t together. This fact makes it seem likely that these four somewhat different elements were originally separate proverbial or w i s d o m sayings of Jesus. Likewise. Given what he said a b o u t Mary in the Infancy Narrative of his Gospel (cf. Matt 5:15. It may also suggest that Luke. It reflects a Palestinian agricultural practice of sowing seed in a field — whether the field was left u n p l o u g h e d after the previous year's harvest or given a first rough ploughing — and then t u r n i n g in the seed by a final ploughing or disking (cf.6 . M a t t 12:46-50) about the reactions of Jesus' m o t h e r and brothers and used it for his own p u r p o s e in 8:19-21 to close off this section regarding Jesus' preaching. 7:2. 132 . "those w h o were his own") coming to take him away because they t h o u g h t he was "out of his mind. 10:26." But Luke does reach back to that same narrative in M a r k 3. simply because Mark 3:31-35 enunciates quite clearly the point he has been making t h r o u g h o u t his recitals of the Parable of the Sower in 8:4-15 and Jesus' teachings in 8:16-18: that "those with a noble and good heart" (v 15) are to "hear God's word [as proclaimed by Jesus] and p u t it into practice" (v 21). at least. 25:29. 4 1 ) . 19. it needs to be noted that Luke has taken material f r o m Mark 3:31-35 (cf. And he does this.

Ezek 17:1-24. and t h o u g h the seed is spoken of simply as "the w o r d " (Mark 4:14. with the first parable evidently m e a n t as the key for their u n d e r s t a n d i n g of the rest — it may be proposed that Jesus intended this parable to signal s o m e t h i n g of great i m p o r t a n c e a b o u t his ministry and a b o u t the reign or " k i n g d o m " of God in his disciples' lives and in the world. its setting in Luke's Gospel provides no clue as to its original intent. Matt 13:8) — would." as 133 . have been jarring to the sensibilities of the majority of Jesus' hearers. it is difficult to imagine that Jesus in giving the parable did not also imply that he himself. was to be seen by his disciples as that sower. despite the seeming insignificance of its beginning. But while the authenticity of the parable on Jesus' lips can be defended. Luke 8:5-8a. But in that b o t h M a r k and Matthew place the parable in the context of Jesus clarifying for his disciples the nature of his ministry and how they should u n d e r s t a n d the kingd o m of God — being. vivid images. see also Gospel of Thomas 9). its u n a d o r n e d and uncomplicated plot. it evidences marks of oral composition in its tight. cf. But to c o m p a r e the k i n g d o m of God to seed that is devoured by birds (along the path). the first of the explicit k i n g d o m parables in both of these Gospels. sixtyfold. Probably more telling in s u p p o r t of the parable's authenticity. m a n y believe that any a t t e m p t to determine Jesus' own intent in giving the parable to be p u r e speculation.Matthew's Parables of the Kingdom F u r t h e r m o r e . it should probably be concluded that Jesus' intent was to use the m e t a p h o r of "sown seed" to reveal s o m e t h i n g of importance regarding his own ministry and the nature of the reign of God in people's lives. as God's agent. undoubtedly. o r choked by weeds ( a m o n g t h o r n s ) — and even w h e n falling o n good soil produces variously a crop that yields "thirtyfold. lean and compressed style. is the shocking nature of the m e t a p h o r used. which compares the eschatological k i n g d o m to the top of a noble cedar of Lebanon that is transplanted onto a high and lofty m o u n t a i n in Israel). For to c o m p a r e the c o m i n g k i n g d o m of G o d to s o m e t h i n g great or imposing was what was expected by most Jews d u r i n g the period of Second Temple Judaism (cf. however. Admittedly. withered by the sun (on rocky places). in fact. Likewise. M a t t 13:3b-8. A n d in that the focus of the parable in all three Gospels is on the seed that is sown (Mark 4:3-8. t h o u g h the sower in the parable is never identified. It seems evident o n any reading of the parable that a large part of Jesus' intent was to assure his disciples that the reign or " k i n g d o m " of God would come about. or "the word of the kingdom. and its concrete. or a h u n d r e d f o l d " m o r e (Mark 4:8.

particularly vis-à-vis the u n d e r s t a n d i n g of contemporary Judaism regarding Messiahship and the Messianic Age. it appears. accepted. In contradistinction to the d o m i n a n t Jewish views of the day that the Messiah would be all-glorious and the Messianic Age would come a b o u t victoriously and with overw h e l m i n g power. for various reasons." as in Luke 8:11). and that his disciples u n d e r stood his words in that way. Like a d i a m o n d cut with n u m e r o u s facets. It was necessary. will manifest various degrees of response. derivatively. therefore. Matt 13:11. however. Furthermore. it seems. have been shocking to Jesus' disciples. there seems also to be a challenge given by Jesus in the parable for his disciples to revise in quite a radical fashion their views about the work of the Messiah and their u n d e r standing of the reign or " k i n g d o m " of God. and even when accepted. Such a teaching would. on the face of it. taught his disciples that his ministry and the reign of God should be compared to seed sown in a field — which. to 134 . rejected. also of their ministries — and how they should u n d e r s t a n d the reign or " k i n g d o m " of God. LONGENECKER in Matt 13:19. to have been intended for a n u m b e r of reasons: (1) to offer words of h o p e and assurance regarding the future (the kingdom of God would come). therefore. Luke 8:10) is evidently this: that God's reign in people's lives and in the world does n o t come about with overwhelming power and majestic glory. t h o u g h in varying degrees. Acts 1:6). it is difficult to think that Jesus had in mind anything other than his teaching and ministry. for Jesus to clarify for t h e m the n a t u r e of his ministry — and. it was seen. Jesus' Parable of the Sower. can be rejected. Yet underlying these m o r e obvious features. or "the word of God. (2) to assert the importance of his person and ministry (he is the sower and his teaching and ministry the seed). Jesus. For they expected "the k i n g d o m of G o d " to come in glory and power. in other cases. Varied Uses The Parable of the Sower appears to have been used variously in the early church. which experiences various responses — in m a n y cases.RICHARD N. and (3) to issue a call to respond positively (to bear fruit). indeed. with Israel being its chief beneficiary (cf. b u t is more like seed that is sown. seems. it seems evident that in giving the parable Jesus was calling for a positive response to his teaching and ministry. The enigma or "mystery/mysteries" of the gospel proclamation (Mark 4:11.

evidently. u n d o u b t e d l y felt the force of these questions. and ever hearing b u t never understanding. as Mark's Gospel suggests. Jesus. A m o n g the earliest Jewish believers in Jesus. we have postulated. And he did this. b u t never perceiving. Matt 13:19-22). F u r t h e r m o r e . it appears. stems f r o m people's desire to avoid trouble or persecution. the evangelists M a r k and M a t t h e w were able to suggest additional nuances or overtones of m e a n i n g that. and as a call for response. by bringing closely into association with this parable m a n y other parables of the k i n g d o m spoken by Jesus. however. derivatively. also their ministries — and how they should conceptualize the reign or " k i n g d o m " of God in people's lives and in the world. and used that m e t a p h o r to define the nature of his ministry and the character of the reign of God. the near juxtaposition of the call of the Twelve in 3:13-19 and the Parable of the Sower in 4:1-20). would have resonated well within early Jewish Christianity.Matthew's Parables of the Kingdom cast reflections of t r u t h in many directions. he seems to have focused on the "sown seed" in the parable. used the parable generally as a message of h o p e for the f u t u r e realization of the reign or " k i n g d o m " of God. and (3) that rejecting Jesus is the work of Satan. which is exp a n d e d in M a t t 13:13-15). at the very beginning of his time with t h e m (cf. T h u s Mark includes with this parable the Parable of the Growing Seed (4:26-29) and the Parable of the Mustard Seed (4:30-32). (2) that a lack of spiritual u n d e r s t a n d i n g b r o u g h t it a b o u t (Mark 4:13). otherwise they might t u r n and be forgiven!". So while carrying on the imagery of the Parable of the Sower and reflecting s o m e t h i n g of how Jesus himself used it in teaching his disciples. thereby allowing the Parable of the Sower to be read with an u n d e r s t a n d ing of the instrinsic quality of the seed ("the seed sprouts and grows" on its 135 . cf. the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things" (Mark 4:15-19. in contradistinction to their inherited views. they highlighted. as a means of self-identification. as Jewish followers of Jesus. questions regarding Israel's rejection of Jesus and the m i n o r i t y status of believers in Jesus became d o m i n a n t : W h y did the nation reject its Messiah? W h y are believers in Jesus in the minority in the Messianic Age? T h e evangelists M a r k and Matthew. More particularly. a n d / o r arises f r o m "worries of this life. the implicit rationale for Israel's rejection that they f o u n d in the parable: (1) that Isa 6:9-10 foretold such a rejection (Mark 4:12: "Ever seeing. It was certainly a radical u n d e r standing of ministry and God's reign that he set before t h e m . His intent was principally to clarify for his disciples how they should u n d e r s t a n d his ministry — and.

LONGENECKER o w n ) and the growth of the seed f r o m a state of insignificance to one of great i m p o r t a n c e ("the smallest of seeds" to "the greatest of plants"). 136 . Luke's Gospel. (2) that in carrying o u t that prophetic ministry. and he uses it as the p r i m e example of such preaching. Luke seems to have had little interest in assuring his readers of the coming of God's promised kingdom. passim). Rather. Neither was he concerned with Jesus' instruction to his disciples about the nature of his or their ministries. the Parable of the Leaven (13:33). as do also prophets within the church (cf. the separation in Luke between Jesus' call of his disciples in 6:12-16 and the Parable of the Sower in 8:4-15). Acts passim). 15. 7:16. however. what Luke wants to present to his Gentile audience is (1) that Jesus' ministry was a prophetic ministry (cf. Luke 4:43. and the Parable of the Dragnet (13:47-50) — with these parables supplying their own h a r m o n i c overtones to what was heard originally in the first of these parables. also w 18 and 21). n o r a b o u t how they should u n d e r s t a n d the reign or kingd o m of G o d (cf. 16:16..g. the Parable of the Hidden Treasure (13:44). passim). And thus Matthew adds the Parable of the Weeds (13:24-30). the Parable of the Pearl of Greatest Value (13:45-46). and (3) that such preaching calls for a wholehearted response on the part of those to w h o m it is directed. does not have the same concerns as the Gospels of M a r k or Matthew.. the Parable of the Mustard Seed (13:31-32). T h u s Luke sets the Parable of the Sower in t h e context of Jesus traveling a b o u t in various cities and villages "proclaiming the good news of the k i n g d o m " (8:1). Jesus proclaimed "the good news of the kingd o m of G o d " (cf. also w 18 and 21) and to respond to it as "those with a noble and good heart" in a " h u n d r e d f o l d " fashion (8:8. cf. 11:32. Luke 4:24. as is also that of the Christian church (cf. e.39.RICHARD N. Acts passim). N o r was he driven by questions regarding Israel's rejection of its Messiah or a b o u t the minority status of believers in Jesus a m o n g Jews. the Parable of the Sower (13:1-23). His principal concern is n o t to spell out details regarding h o w or why the "seed" was rejected — or to suggest by association with other k i n g d o m parables how Jesus' teaching in this parable can be n u a n c e d f u r t h e r — b u t simply to call for his readers to "hear" the proclamation of Jesus (8:8b. cf.

it grows u p and becomes the greatest of all shrubs and puts forth large branches. which is often seen to signal the start of the second section of a three-part narrative (i. These two tersely worded parables are paired parables.. . b o t h parables in Luke's handling speak a b o u t the reign or " k i n g d o m " of God in terms of its growth and development. b o t h of t h e m aphoristically brief: the first a b o u t a m u s t a r d seed (13:18-19). For n o t only do they b o t h use rather surprising metaphors in their highlighting of something of significance regarding "the k i n g d o m of God.2 1 ) : O n t h e G r o w t h and D e v e l o p m e n t o f t h e G o s p e l Luke finishes off the first part of his Travel Narrative (9:51-19:27) with two k i n g d o m parables of Jesus. again. 13:22-17:10. the second a b o u t leaven (13:20-21). . it became a tree (egeneto eis dendron.Matthew's Parables of the Kingdom 3. Literary Relations The wording of the Parable of the Mustard Seed in Luke 13:18-19 is closer to Matt 13:31-32 than to Mark 4:30-32. It is closer to Matthew. T h e Parables o f t h e M u s t a r d Seed a n d t h e Leaven ( 1 3 : 1 8 . ginetai dendron)" and " [ t h e birds] built their nests in its b r a n c h e s (kateskênônsen en tois kladois autou)" rather than Mark's "which w h e n sown . 9:51-13:21. . F u r t h e r m o r e . rather t h a n Matthew's " a n o t h e r parable he put before t h e m " and "the kingdom of heaven. 17:11-19:27) — with references to Jesus on his way to Jerusalem serving to introduce each part." But otherwise its similarity to the longer and fuller f o r m in M a r k is rather minimal. There t h e n follows in 13:22 the second m e n t i o n of Jesus traveling to Jerusalem in Luke's Travel Narrative (the first being in 9:51). so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.e." It appears. that the principal source for Luke's Parable of the Mustard Seed — assuming. It is similar to Mark in its use of "he said" (elegen) and "the k i n g d o m of G o d " (he basileia ton theou)." they also present a balance between a m a n planting a mustard seed in his garden and a w o m a n mixing leaven into a batch of flour." Yet Luke's version is dissimilar to b o t h Mark and Matthew in its omission of the comparative phrases "the smallest of all the seeds [on earth]" and "the greatest of [all] shrubs. in its wording "which a m a n took (ho labön anthröpos) . a two-source theory of synoptic re137 . . however. therefore.

RICHARD N. its only synoptic parallel is M a t t 13:33. LONGENECKER lationships — was Q." which is identified by scholars today as "Q. seems to reflect Mark's influence in its contrast between "the smallest of all the seeds" and "the greatest of shrubs. assuming b o t h were written with an awareness of M a r k b u t are primarily d e p e n d e n t on the wording in Q. T h e most obvious is Luke's omission of the contrast in Matt 13:32 between "the smallest of all seeds" and "the greatest of s h r u b s " (cf. Redactional Features In evaluating Luke's t r e a t m e n t of the Parable of the Mustard Seed in 13:1819. And apart f r o m the introductory narrative formulas and the o p e n i n g words. addition. Matthew's version. not being paired together in that collection. M a r k 4:31b-32a). And this p r i m a r y dependence of Luke on Q for the Parable of the Mustard Seed seems to be confirmed w h e n taking into consideration the literary relations of Luke's Parable of the Leaven in 13:20-21. and possibly they had it before t h e m when writing. since it is absent in Mark. Their appearance in the Gospel of Thomas as Logion 20 ("Mustard Seed") and Logion 96 ("Leaven") may suggest such a separation. Both Matthew and Luke may be assumed to have k n o w n Mark's version. it is i m p o r t a n t to observe not only those matters that the evangelist has retained f r o m his sources b u t also those features that he appears to have altered — whether by omission. two differences stand out." Nonetheless. So it may be postulated that Luke has d r a w n these two parables principally f r o m an early collection of Jesus' "Sayings. in particular. Yet the fact that they are paired in both Matt 13:31-33 and Luke 13:18-21 makes it m o r e likely that Luke f o u n d t h e m already paired in his Q source and that he simply accepted that pairing as fitting nicely into his own interests and p u r p o s e . the wording of the parable in Matthew and Luke is almost identical. For this second of these paired parables has n o t h i n g to do with Mark's Gospel. Rather. or intensification. with Luke's version being the most concise of the three evangelists and therefore probably the closest to Q. both M a t t h e w and Luke were probably primarily dep e n d e n t on the wording f o u n d in Q. But also to be noted is the intensification of the rather oblique wording " w h e n it should b e 138 ." It may be that the Parable of the Mustard Seed and the Parable of the Leaven existed as separate sayings in Q. And in c o m p a r ing Luke's version of the parable with that of Matthew.

For whereas in Matt 13:32 there is an emphasis o n contrast in the growth of the k i n g d o m of God. which is an aorist subjunctive passive construction) in M a t t 13:32 to "it grew and b e c a m e " (ēuxēsen kai egeneto. which are aorist indicative active verbs) in Luke 13:19. whatever might be said a b o u t its start. the good news of the gospel was growing and developing. For example. and so may be postulated to have been d r a w n f r o m Q. Rather. is a feature often f o u n d in Luke's two volumes. features of growth and development are p r o m i n e n t t h r o u g h o u t Luke's Acts. Luke's emphasis is simply on the growth and development of the seed: "it grew and became a tree" (13:19b) — that is. Likewise in the Parable of the Leaven in 13:20-21. F u r t h e r m o r e .Matthew's Parables of the Kingdom grown" (hotan anxēthē. And at m a n y places in his Travel Narrative of 9:51-19:27 he highlights not only Jesus' travel "on the way" b u t also the advances in his preaching as "he set his face to go to Jerusalem" (9:51). For Luke's wording focuses attention in a m o r e direct and straightforward m a n n e r than does Matthew's on the seed's growth and development. in particular. f r o m "the smallest of all seeds" to "the greatest of s h r u b s " (cf. and favor with God and people" (2:52). as well as on the growth and development of the gospel proclamation in particular. however. in Luke 13:19 there is no reference to the size of the seed w h e n planted and no contrast m a d e between w h e n it is planted and w h e n grown. in his Gospel. also M a r k 4:31b-32 and Gospel of Thomas. they suggest matters of real i m p o r t a n c e for an u n d e r s t a n d i n g of Luke's p u r p o s e in setting out this parable for his readers. Similarly. Acts starts off with the suggestion that the au139 . Such an emphasis on growth and development generally. seem s o m e w h a t insignificant. Logion 20:2). For example. the fact that the Parable of the Mustard Seed and the Parable of the Leaven appear in the context of Luke's Travel Narrative — and. Such differences may. at the end of the first section of that narrative — suggests that the evangelist's m a i n p o i n t in giving his readers these two parables was to highlight his t h e m e t h r o u g h o u t this section: that in Jesus' proclam a t i o n of the reign (or "kingdom") of God on his j o u r n e y (or "way") to Jersualem. at the close of his Infancy Narrative of 1:5-2:52. the evangelist makes the c o m m e n t that "Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature. O n closer examination. Luke's emphasis seems to be simply o n the growth and development of the gospel in Jesus' preaching. T h e wording of the parable in Luke 13:21 corresponds exactly to that of M a t t 13:33b. at first glance. on the reign or " k i n g d o m " of G o d as proclaimed by Jesus as growing and developing into s o m e t h i n g significant.

should be seen as stemm i n g f r o m Jesus himself." which was set o u t in the first volume (1:1). For a great tree that supplies a h o m e for birds is a c o m m o n representation in the Old Test a m e n t for a great empire that provides security for the people and nations of the world (cf. 146-47). Paul "proclaimed the k i n g d o m of G o d and taught a b o u t the Lord Jesus Christ . see also 1 Enoch 90:30. when translated back into Aramaic. and he seems to have given it no greater emphasis than he f o u n d in his sources. Dominical Status and Intent It is probably easier to argue for the dominical status of the Parable of the Mustard Seed and the Parable of the Leaven than for any other of Jesus' recorded parables. Ezek 17:23. For to c o m p a r e the k i n g d o m of G o d to a m u s t a r d seed or to leaven would have been shockingly i n c o n g r u o u s to most Jews of the day. its conclusions regarding the dominical status of these two parables are c o m m o n l y accepted: (1) " T h e Mustard Seed originated with Jesus because the prover140 . it then recounts in its twenty-eight chapters n u m e r o u s episodes in the ministries of Peter and Paul that depict b o t h advances of the gospel and heroic exploits by the apostles. LONGENECKER thor's second volume will continue the story " a b o u t all that Jesus began to do and to teach. Oxford: 1967'. . exhibits Semitic alliteration and a typically Jewish play o n words (cf. Matthew Black has pointed out that the Parable of the Mustard Seed. But this is wording that Luke f o u n d in b o t h Q and Mark.13 litres (cf. 165-66). and it concludes with the t r i u m p h a l statement that for two whole years at Rome. most likely. Yet even m o r e significant t h a n these Semitic features in establishing the authenticity of these parables o n the lips of Jesus are the m e t a p h o r s used in the parables. . An Aramaic Approach to the Gospels and Acts. and therefore. and Joachim Jeremias makes the point that the word "measure" (saton) used in the expression "three measures (sata) of flour" is a Palestinian measure that equals 13. boldly and w i t h o u t h i n d r a n c e " (28:31). and 37). Perhaps by c o m p a r i n g the grown plant to "a tree" and saying that "the birds of heaven made nests in its branches" (13:19c). Parables. even while u n d e r house arrest.RICHARD N. Luke also wanted to highlight s o m e t h i n g a b o u t the kingdom's universality. 31:6 and Dan 4:12. While the Jesus Seminar may be viewed as being excessively radical in its use of the tools of c o n t e m p o r a r y critical scholarship. 33.

For. their ministries) and a b o u t the reign of G o d in people's lives and in the world. D a n 4:12. Ezek 17:23. Parables of Jesus: Red Letter Edition. and (2) " T h e parable of the Leaven transmits the voice of Jesus as clearly as any ancient written record c a n . in connection. In Passover observance. 31:6. derivatively. such incongruities provide a high degree of critical certainty for authenticity. and (3) the verb "to nest" (kataskēnoun) is probably to be taken as "an eschatological technical t e r m for the incorpo141 . a n u m b e r of features in these parables that seem to reflect s o m e t h i n g of Jesus' own intent and what he wanted to teach his disciples a b o u t his ministry (and..Matthew's Parables of the Kingdom bially small m u s t a r d seed is a surprising m e t a p h o r for the kingdom. as with the latter — are suggestions that the growth of the reign or " k i n g d o m " of God takes place t h r o u g h the mysterious operation of divine power (whether represented as being in the seed itself or in the leaven) and that such divine power is already at work in Jesus' preaching. while unleaven stood for what was h o l y . and that (3) they made "nests in its branch es "suggests an "eschatological character" for the parable in its original setting. with a cedar (cf. Scott. and Butts. that (2) "the birds of heaven" f o u n d refuge in it. not smallness" (Funk. Ezek 31:2-9)" (Luke 2. . . 33. There are. As Joseph Fitzmyer notes regarding the Parable of the Mustard Seed: " T h e parable implies the same divine operation of which Ezek 17:22-24 spoke explicitly. many believe it impossible to speak a b o u t Jesus' p u r p o s e in giving t h e m . being derived f r o m Q — that (1) the m u s t a r d seed becomes "a tree" (dendron). however. we may believe. In everyday usage. as Joachim Jeremias pointed out. Jesus employs the image of the leaven in a highly provocative way.1016). the wording of Matt 13:32 and Luke 13:19 — which. 29). Judaism regarded leaven as a symbol of c o r r u p t i o n . . 1 Enoch 90:30. 34). or only in M a t t h e w and Luke. But while the authenticity of these parables can be critically defended. the proper figure for the k i n g d o m of God is greatness. however. In m o d ern critical theory. it needs to be noted that implicit in b o t h the Parable of the Mustard Seed and the Parable of the Leaven — w h e t h e r in all three Synoptic Gospels. (1) the m e t a p h o r of a mustard seed b e c o m i n g a tree transcends "the b o u n d s of actuality" (since no m u s t a r d seed ever becomes a tree). T h e Leaven provides a suprising reversal of expectations" (ibid. (2) the picture of birds nesting in a tree's branches was a rather c o m m o n symbol in Second Temple Judaism for Gentiles seeking refuge with Israel (cf. as with the former. Second. represents m o r e adequately the words of Jesus. . First. and 37). . .

therefore. the leaven is worked "into three measures of meal" (eis aleurou sata tria) is probably to be seen as reminiscent of Abraham's action in Gen 18:6.). their ministries. and t h e n re-recording of the Parable of the Mustard Seed and the Parable of the Leaven was a constant reshaping of original stories so as to make t h e m more applicable for the various audiences being addressed. 147). But also. not by h u m a n authority. Parables. that Jesus' intent in giving the Parable of the Mustard Seed and the Parable of the Leaven to his disciples was n o t only to assure his disciples that the k i n g d o m of God would surely come. and (3) that the eschatological k i n g d o m has universal dimensions.RICHARD N. where the patriarch prepared an "overflowing mass" of bread for his three angelic guests at M a m r e — and so to suggest s o m e t h i n g of an eschatological banquet (cf. It may be postulated. what appears to have taken place in the telling. re-telling. whatever might be t h o u g h t a b o u t its beginnings in his or their ministries. which wording also stems f r o m Q. This is not to imply that the spin given to the parables by the canonical evangelists was opposed to their original telling. Also. therefore. In these two paired parables. And these are matters that he wanted his disciples to k n o w as he began his m i n istry with t h e m . ibid. the fact that in Matt 13:33b and Luke 13:21. it seems. or ingenuity (using the m e t a p h o r s of a m u s t a r d seed and leaven. which have power in themselves). Rather. recording. and is not to be confined to the national interests of Israel (using the imagery of "the birds of heaven" making "nests" in the tree's branches). (2) that it has to do with eschatological realities. and the n a t u r e of the reign or " k i n g d o m " of God visà-vis their inherited u n d e r s t a n d i n g s of ministry and the k i n g d o m of God. it may be postulated that he wanted his disciples to be assured that the kingdom of G o d would certainly come. he wanted t h e m to realize (1) that the k i n g d o m would come a b o u t only t h r o u g h the mysterious operation of divine power. it is to suggest that what the evangelists did with Jesus' parables was 142 . expertise. not with m u n d a n e actualities (using the eschatological figures of a tree and a great a m o u n t of d o u g h ) . b u t also to reveal s o m e t h i n g of i m p o r t a n c e to t h e m a b o u t his ministry. Varied Uses As with the Parable of the Sower. LONGENECKER ration of the Gentiles into the people of G o d " (cf.

O n this level. we have postulated. can be seen in the New Testament itself. As Jeremias characterizes their queries: " H o w differently the beginnings of the Messianic Age a n n o u n c e d by Jesus appeared t h a n was c o m m o n l y expected! Could this wretched b a n d . b u t when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree" (Matt 13:32. a b o u t the eschatological nature of the k i n g d o m of God. to some extent. highlights the same contrast in speaking a b o u t the k i n g d o m of God as being "the smallest of all seeds. comprising so m a n y disreputable characters. be the wedding-guests of God's redeemed c o m m u n i t y ? " (Parables. T h u s he laid stress o n the following words in his reproduction of the parable: "It is the smallest of all the seeds o n earth. confronted as they were with their compatriots' rejection of Jesus and their own m i n o r i t y status within the nation. h o w Jesus himself must have used the parable in teaching his disciples — the evangelist highlighted. yet when it is sown it grows u p and becomes the greatest of all shrubs. questions u n d o u b t e d l y arose regarding the significance of Jesus' earthly ministry and their c o n t i n u e d allegiance to h i m . b r o u g h t into consideration the Parable of the Leaven (Matt 13:33). he wanted to assure his disciples of t h e certainty of the c o m i n g k i n g d o m of God. while carrying 011 the message of assurance and h o p e regarding the c o m i n g k i n g d o m of God — and while reflecting. A m o n g the earliest Jewish believers in Jesus. with which Jesus instructed his disciples at the start of their association together. it seems. Likewise Matthew. and puts forth large branches" (4:31b-32). and a b o u t the universal implications of his ministry and the reign of God. it appears. In particular. Jesus. now working only f r o m Q. So.Matthew's Parables of the Kingdom to give t h e m a sensus plenior or "fuller sense. originally told the Parable of the Mustard Seed and the Parable of the Leaven for b o t h general and particular p u r poses. the aspect of contrast inherent in that parable. In addition. Matthew. 149). he wanted to teach t h e m a b o u t the mysterious operation of God's working in people's lives and in the world. For evidently he saw in the smallness of the leaven and the climac143 . At least three levels of usage." which they saw as being inherent in the stories themselves and which they believed to be particularly i m p o r t a n t for their readers. as with the Parable of the Sower. these two parables f u n c t i o n as i m p o r t a n t pedagogical devices. cf. M a r k certainly felt the force of these questions. Generally. Gospel of Thomas 20:2: "the smallest of all seeds" b u t "produces a great plant"). working f r o m b o t h M a r k and Q.

discover new perspectives. and make new applications that go beyond the Gospel texts? Widely diverse answers are given to these questions. a n u m b e r of questions regarding o u r use of t h e m arise. are we c o m m i t t e d to what can be f o u n d within the parables themselves. and therefore can be read with multiple meanings. events. For my part. are these three parables to be contextualized today? And if these parables are taken as something of test cases. Luke. His and his readers' concerns were n o t those of the evangelists M a r k and Matthew or their readers. Parable of the Mustard Seed. seem to be truisms that few would debate. then. completely omits the contrast highlighted by b o t h M a r k and Matthew.RICHARD N. an inherent contrast between present insignificance and f u t u r e greatness. however. Rather. or are we free to develop new plots and metaphors. LONGENECKER tic wording of the story ("until it worked all t h r o u g h the d o u g h " ) the same contrast in this parable as well — that is. and situations? O r to restate the question in a slightly different m a n n e r : In o u r use of Jesus' parables. 4. and Parable of the Leaven are set in s o m e w h a t different contexts and used for differing purposes in the Synoptic Gospels. is the question: How. and applications that Jesus and the evangelists made in telling and recording these stories? O r are we free — perhaps even encouraged by the genre "parable" i t s e l f — to play with the plots and m e t a p h o r s and to apply t h e m in almost u n l i m ited ways to c o n t e m p o r a r y issues. C o n t e x t u a l i z i n g Jesus' K i n g d o m Parables T o d a y T h a t Jesus' Parable of the Sower. For in the parables of Jesus as set o u t in the Gospels we are presented with a n u m b e r of ways of contextualizing the stories 144 . of course. Luke's emphasis in the giving of these two parables seems to be simply o n the fact that in Jesus' proclamation of the reign or " k i n g d o m " of G o d the good news of the gospel was growing and developing. we need to ask: To what extent can the polyvalence of these parables be appealed to and expressed in o u r own contextualizing of them? Are we held to the plots. First. metaphors. But viewing Jesus' parables in such a fashion. perspectives. I feel myself constrained to hold to the stories and contextualizations f o u n d in the Synoptic Gospels. The multifaceted or polyvalent nature of these parables can hardly be denied. the broader question arises: H o w are any of Jesus' parables to be used today? F u r t h e r m o r e .

b u t u n d e r s t a n d i n g t h e m in the b r o a d e r context of all people — should be highlighted as well. which presents t h e m (1) as u n d e r s t o o d in the context of a prophetic ministry. are Luke's redactional treatments of these parables. Probably m o r e pertinent today. (3) that people are called to respond positively to "the word of God. (2) as examples of the proclamation of the good news of the 145 . T h a t means that in various situations we will need to highlight one or more of the features that were central (as we have postulated) in Jesus' own use of the parables. (4) that Jesus' followers are to revise quite radically their views a b o u t the ministry of the Messiah and the reign or " k i n g d o m " of G o d (the smallness of the seed and the differing responses to it). however. and (2) a contrast between the present smallness and f u t u r e greatness of t h e kingdom. that in certain circumstances the redactional emphases of Mark and Matthew — t h o u g h w i t h o u t confining those e m p h a s e s to the nation Israel. O t h e r parables and other biblical teachings need also to be taken into account for a fuller u n d e r s t a n d i n g of such matters. the ministry of Jesus. It could m e a n . dealing separately or in concert with the t r u t h s presented in these three multifaceted parables alone. (5) that the kingd o m will come a b o u t only t h r o u g h the operation of divine power (the mustard seed and the leaven). such as: (1) the conviction that the reign or " k i n g d o m " of G o d will assuredly come a b o u t in a b u n d a n c e (as in all three parables)." as expressed in the ministry of Jesus (the seed sown). that provides us with m o r e t h a n e n o u g h stimulus for theological contemplation and more t h a n e n o u g h challenge for ethical action. the nature of r e d e m p t i o n . The three parables we have dealt with might not tell us everything a b o u t God.Matthew's Parables of the Kingdom told — a variety. b o t h in o u r proclamation and in o u r living. I believe. The task for Christians today. (2) that God's k i n g d o m has uniquely entered o u r h u m a n existence in the person and ministry of Jesus (as implicitly represented by the sower). such as: (1) a rationale for people's rejection of Jesus. or a believer's response and resultant actions. of course. followers of Jesus are challenged anew in b o t h their t h o u g h t and their action. and (7) that the eschatological k i n g d o m has universal d i m e n s i o n s (the birds nesting in the tree's branches). Nonetheless. (6) that the k i n g d o m has to do with eschatological reality (the tree and the d o u g h ) . is to apply the individual features found in these parables to the needs and circumstances that we encounter and to incorporate into o u r lives and ministries s o m e t h i n g of the fullness of that parabolic teaching as given in the Gospel portrayals.

to proclaim "the good news" to "those with a noble and good heart. 1985. Fitzmyer. it is to note that the Lukan k i n g d o m parables express a wide range of significant teachings — with these teachings. as Luke's Gospel has it. To stay within the texts. however. esp. Sonoma. 1991.. Matthew. 1971. Butts. 1985. Hooker. CA: Polebridge. The Parables of the Kingdom. The Parables of Jesus.RICHARD N. The Gospel according to Matthew. and C. The Parables of the Triple Tradition. The Gospel according to St. b o t h individually and collectively. M o r n a D. A n d b e i n g no longer an explication of his parables. Edinburgh: Saint Andrew Press. h e a r i n g the w o r d . Barclay. Philadelphia: Fortress. France. (3) as highlighting the growth and development of that k i n g d o m . Bernard Brandon Scott." But it is no longer a study of Jesus' parables. Hagner. William. H. Selected B i b l i o g r a p h y Albright. Garden City: Doubleday. Leicester: InterVarsity. This is n o t to suggest s o m e new allegorical m e t h o d in the study of the parables. S. Charles E. possessing a certain "sense of center" — and to argue that it is the task of c o n t e m p o r a r y interpreters to explicate and contextualize those teachings today. To go beyond the texts in the Gospels may be considered an existential exercise in the literary genre "parable. and James R.. 2 vols. Red Letter Edition. LONGENECKER k i n g d o m of G o d . 2 vols. 1961 rev. Dallas: Word. 1993. Joseph A. 1995. it lacks the a u t h o r i t y of his teaching a n d t u r n s o u r t h o u g h t s in other directions. 1981. Mark. 1992. 146 . "XI. Rather. a t t e m p t i n g to contextualize for o u r day the multifaceted n a t u r e of the explicit and implicit teachings of the parables of Jesus. Funk. is. Parables in Matthew. ed. and (4) as calling on those w h o hear to respond positively in a wholehearted fashion. 1970. Peabody: Hendrickson. D o d d . N e w York-London-Toronto: Doubleday. w h o . Matthew. hold it fast and b r i n g forth f r u i t " (8:15). Donald A. C. The Gospel According to Luke. M a n n . 1988. William F. 1975. N e w York: Scribner's. London: Black. Carlston. Richard T. while varied." CXXXII-CL. And Jesus Said. Robert W.

1978. Atlanta: John Knox. I. Schweizer. Robert H. Missoula: Scholars. E. William L. An Introduction to the Parables of Jesus. The Gospel according to Mark. Philadelphia: Westminster. trans. and the Genre of Luke-Acts. The Parables of Jesus. 1965. New York: Scribner's. F. D. 1981. Exeter: Paternoster. The Gospel according to Mark. Joachim. The Good News according to Luke. Lane. ed. Rev. Talbert. 1974. 1972. Theological Themes. Eduard. A Commentary on the Greek Text. Charles H. D. London: SCM. trans. C. The Gospel of Luke. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 147 . Green. G r a n d Rapids: Eerdmans. Hooke. 1984. Moule. 1974. H. Stein.Matthew's Parables of the Kingdom Jeremias. Marshall. S. G r a n d Rapids: Eerdmans. Literary Patterns. Howard.

.

PART I I I Parables of Warning and Preparedness .

.

It is hardly surprising that the Pharisees were offended..CHAPTER 7 "Produce Fruit Worthy of Repentance": Parables of Judgment against the Jewish Religious Leaders and the Nation (Matt 21:28-22:14. par. teaching human precepts as doctrines." (15:7-9) The narrative then goes on to say that Jesus' disciples informed their teacher: "Do you know that the Pharisees took offense when they heard what you said?" (15:12). Luke 13:6-9) ALLAN W. but their hearts are far from me. In one episode in Matthew's Gospel. "This people honors me with their lips. rather than modifying his rebuke of these religious leaders. M A R T E N S S O M E OF JESUS' most pointed words were directed against the Jewish religious leaders of his time. the most pious people of Israel! Yet in the next verse of this passage. we read that Jesus continued his condemnation of them by pointing to an impending divine judgment: 151 . Jesus is reported to have rebuked the scribes and Pharisees as follows: You hypocrites! Isaiah rightly prophesied about you when he said. for Jesus had marshaled Isaiah's words against them. for example. In vain do they worship me.

Matthew goes on to recount the three parables of "the Two Sons. where he is portrayed as d e m o n s t r a t i n g his dialectical mastery over the Jewish leaders. T h e C o n t e x t o f M a t t h e w ' s Parables o f J u d g m e n t The Literary Context Matthew's three parables of j u d g m e n t in 21:28-22:14 are positioned immediately after three narratives that speak of j u d g m e n t and feature the Jerusalem temple in one way or another. which are c o m m o n l y identified as the Parable of the Two Sons (21:28-32). wherein is acted o u t a symbolic j u d g m e n t o n the temple. which is similar in its j u d g m e n t t h e m e to those of M a t t 21:28-22:14." "the Wicked Tenants. they are blind guides of the blind! And if one blind person guides another. Up to this point in his Gospel. Let them alone. both will fall into a pit. the Jewish nation as well. we will highlight (5) s o m e applications for today. therefore. And the third in 21:23-27 sets o u t a question a b o u t Jesus' authority as he teaches in the temple precincts. and the Parable of the Wedding Banquet (22:1-14). which probably is to be u n d e r s t o o d n o t only as a symbolic act of j u d g m e n t o n the Jewish leaders b u t also as an act of j u d g m e n t on the Jewish nation and its religion. 1. The second in 21:18-22 presents Jesus cursing the fig tree. The m a j o r part of this article. So we will analyze these four parables with reference to ( 1 ) the literary and theological contexts in which they appear. The first narrative in 21:12-17 depicts Jesus cursing the Jerusalem temple. will examine these three Matthean parables. at least by extension. (2) the evangelists' editorial p u r p o s e s in presenting each parable." (15:13) A similar j u d g m e n t is directed against the religious leaders of Jesus' day in the three highly polemical parables of Matt 21:28-22:14 — with that j u d g m e n t including." and "the Wedding Banquet. After these three narratives of j u d g m e n t . and (4) why the early Christians preserved t h e m in their collective memory. M a t t h e w seems to have been following Mark's basic order (assum152 .ALLAN W. In addition. MARTENS Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted." which speak of f u r t h e r j u d g m e n t . Luke's Gospel also includes the Parable of the Unproductive Fig Tree (13:6-9). the Parable of the Wicked Tenants (21:33-46). (3) the m e a n i n g that Jesus gave to these parables.

Pharisees. Sadducees. Matthew. and so should not be viewed as having any anti-Judaistic or contra-national sense at all. seems to have taken his cue f r o m Mark's reference to "parables" to record a trilogy of parables — the first d r a w n f r o m his special material. elders. or " Q " (i. and even Herodians (see 21:23. F u r t h e r m o r e . however. 45. scribes."Produce Fruit Worthy of Repentance" ing that Matthew used M a r k as his p r i m a r y narrative source).. His procedure now. see Davies a n d Allison. Matthew 1. T h u s Matthew's literary artistry becomes evident in b o t h his use of various sources and his predilection for arranging material into groups of three (for f u r t h e r examples of Matthew's preference for a threefold arr a n g e m e n t . b o t h in their context and in the parables themselves. see my dissertation o n " T h e Compositional Unity of Matthew 21:12-24:2"). Matthew has effected a n u m b e r of other literary parallels. the second f r o m Mark's Gospel (i. the Parable of the Wicked Tenants. A first feature that needs to be noted is the fact that the whole controversy section of 21:23-22:46 presents the Jewish leaders as representatives of the nation. Matthew specifically m e n t i o n s almost all of the categories of the Jewish leaders of that day: chief priests. or so-called " M " material (i. and the third f r o m the Sayings material that he seems to have used in c o m m o n with Luke.62-72. And t h r o u g h o u t the context of these three parables. that have relevance for the nation as well..e.e. The Theological Context In addition to their literary context. on the other h a n d . 34. Many scholars hold that these parables were directed — either by Jesus himself or by the evangelist Matthew — only against the hypocrisy of the Jewish religious leaders of the day. however. changes. we need also be aware of the t h e m e of j u d g m e n t that reverberates t h r o u g h o u t the theological context of these three parables. For t h o u g h M a r k 12:1 declares that Jesus "began to speak to t h e m in parables" M a r k records only one parable.e. some of which will be noted in what follows (for f u r t h e r discussions of the redactional. and thematic features in the context of these parables. 86-87). "the Wicked Tenants"). he introduces the chief priests and elders in 21:23 as be153 . 23. "the Two Sons"). And following these three parables there then appear three controversy dialogues in 22:15-40. literary.. and 22:15. 41). "the Wedding Banquet"). Yet several features appear in these parables.

For the temple was viewed as being at the very heart of the national cultus and the nation's consciousness. 24:1-8. judge. w 35-36. the episodes of the cursing of the temple and the cursing of the fig tree in 21:12-20 have national significance. it needs first of all to be appreciated that the theological context of j u d g m e n t in which they are set — a j u d g m e n t that is directed against b o t h the religious leaders of the day and the nation itself — is of crucial i m p o r t a n c e for their interpretation. Jer 8:13. This language depicts Jesus as an extra-terrestrial figure. for it gives the reader the sense that the j u d g m e n t articulated by Jesus is directed m o r e broadly t h a n just against the Jewish leaders. The first is in t h e Parable of the Wicked Tenants. at the end of the woes p r o n o u n c e d in chapter 23 — Jesus' seventh woe in 23:29-36 modulates f r o m denunciations of the scribes and Pharisees (cf. "to a nation"] who will p r o d u c e its fruits" (21:43). witness the supra-historical role that Jesus takes on in the following words: "I a m sending you prophets and wise men and scribes. a clear national implication. and correct the people and their leaders. however. Isa 28:4. Some of t h e m you will kill and crucify. you hypocrites!") to a statement of d o o m directed against the whole nation (cf. And the fig tree was a well-known symbol of the nation (see Hos 9:10. 154 . therefore. MARTENS ing the leaders "of the people. where there is reference to a king w h o b u r n e d the city of those who had m u r d e r e d his servants (22:7) — which is probably a post-AD 70 reflection on the b u r n i n g of Jerusalem. others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue f r o m t o w n to town" (v 34).ALLAN W. where the concluding words of Jesus render a s h a r p j u d g m e n t against Israel: "Therefore I tell you that the k i n g d o m of God will be taken away f r o m you and given to a people [ethnei. In dealing with these three M a t t h e a n parables. cf. in fact. Mic 7:1). naturally arises: To w h o m is this strong anti-Judaistic and contra-national tone to be attributed — to Jesus." All of this is significant. F u r t h e r m o r e . vv 29-33. like Sophia in Israel's W i s d o m literature. There is here. And third. 16. who sends envoys to the nation in order to rebuke. the nation's capital. near the end of the u n i t in which Matthew's parables are located — that is. which begin: "Woe to you. in the parables themselves there are two very clear indications that the nation of Israel is also included in Jesus' words of judgm e n t . In particular. scribes and Pharisees. The seco n d is in the Parable of the Wedding Banquet. Second. which speak of j u d g m e n t on "this generation"). The question.

a " m a n " (anthröpos. It seeks to u n d e r s t a n d how and why a Gospel writer collected. Matthew's Redactional Activity Redaction criticism is an analytical m e t h o d that attempts to determine an evangelist's theological motivations as evidenced by his editorial use of sources. a n d / o r interpreted the early traditions about Jesus. it is clear that Matthew has assimilated the three parables of 21:28-22:14 by using similar vocabulary and themes t h r o u g h o u t . Evidence for M a t t h e a n redaction is threefold. W h a t follows. the analysis assumes that Matthew made use of (1) Mark's Gospel. has argued — based on Matthean linguistic peculiarities in the parable and thematic similarities with other traditions — that Matthew himself composed this parable (cf. selected. which is c o m m o n l y designated "Q. t h o u g h there is little d o u b t that it has been subjected to Matthew's redaction. we may simply point to three expressions that appear in all three parables: "man. 21:28. tradition-historical questions are difficult to answer. As a result. But the general view a m o n g scholars is that the parable stems f r o m Jesus. and so is usually judged to have come f r o m the evangelist's special " M " material. respectively. as 155 . H e l m u t Merkel. therefore. T h e Parable o f t h e T w o S o n s ( M a t t 2 1 : 2 8 . 2. linked. First. is a redaction-critical analysis of each of Matthew's three parables of j u d g m e n t in 21:28-22:14. (2) a Sayings source. 22:2) w h o represents God — t h o u g h he appears. 33." All three parables include a m a j o r character. In concert with most interpreters.3 2 ) The Parable of the Two Sons appears only in Matthew's Gospel. expanded. arranged." "son. believing that by a better u n d e r s t a n d i n g of his m e t h o d s o n e can gain a better sense of his theological purposes." and "kingdom. "Das Gleichnis"). adapted. which were either oral or written." and (3) disparate " M " materials."Produce Fruit Worthy of Repentance" or to Matthew's interpretation of Jesus' words? To answer this question we m u s t analyze more carefully these three parables f r o m b o t h redaction-critical and historical perspectives. w h o represents the view of s o m e scholars. W i t h o u t d o i n g a complete linguistic analysis.

A second evidence of M a t t h e a n redaction is to be seen in the introd u c t i o n to the Parable of the Two Sons. and a king. And in each case the son or sons represent u n i q u e characters. fells on those who reject this will. In the first parable. A n o t h e r similarity in these three parables is the appearance of the expression " k i n g d o m of God/heaven" (basileia tou theou/tān ouranön. Verse 32. and in the third. o n e that focuses o n believing the message of John the Baptist — as evidenced by the threefold use of the Greek verb pistenö ("believe") in the three parts of the verse: "For John came to you in the way of righteousness. and it sets o u t a contrast between words and deeds. for the question "What do you think?" (Ti humin dokei) of 21:28 is characteristically M a t t h e a n (cf. The emphasis in each of the three parables. MARTENS a father. And in each case the k i n g d o m is associated with a displacement of people. And a third evidence of Matthew's redaction comes to the fore in 21:32. 22:2). where the k i n g d o m is symbolized by the messianic b a n q u e t or feast of salvation. 18:12. And while Jesus' p r o n o u n c e m e n t in verse 31c does n o t pick u p o n this contrast of words and deeds. which is probably to be seen as an independent saying that Matthew has added as an application to the original parable. Furthermore. 21:31. also 17:25. whereas the statement a b o u t John the Baptist is s o m e w h a t inconsistent with the t h r u s t of the parable. 156 . For the parable itself concerns obedience to the father's (i. the k i n g d o m "will be given to a people that will p r o d u c e its fruits" (21:43). it does portray society's outcasts as being obedient to God's will in contrast to the disobedience of the Jewish leaders.. 22:42. b u t viewed as being traditional. the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you") f o r m s a fitting conclusion to the parable. however. takes u p a new topic. O n e reason for viewing verse 32 as an independent saying is that Jesus' j u d g m e n t expressed in verse 31c — "I tell you the t r u t h . 22:17): it appears elsewhere only in John 11:56.e. t h o u g h the t e r m is not u n i f o r m ( teknon in 21:28.ALLAN W. 22:2). The significant p o i n t a b o u t this figure is that in each case he has a "will" that is b o t h obeyed and disobeyed. Jews — are replaced by outsiders — that is. the original guests — that is. 43. 26:66. however. the outcasts of society enter the k i n g d o m "ahead o f " the Jewish religious leaders (21:31). the parable's final verse. in all three parables there is a "son" (or sons). Even if these three terms are n o t seen as indicating Matthew's redactional t r e a t m e n t of Jesus' parabolic teaching. huios in 21:37. a vineyard owner. in the second. at least the fact that the evangelist collected similar parables together shows evidence of his editorial activity. God's) will. Gentiles (22:8-10).

Words by themselves do n o t matter. Matt 5:26. or salvation."Produce Fruit Worthy of Repentance" and you did n o t believe h i m " (v 32a)." now becomes the focal point for salvation. For this formula marks the end of Jesus' teaching in other instances in the Gospel tradition (cf. 18:14). society's outcasts. As for Matthew's reason for adding verse 32. A n d so. therefore. also Luke 15:24. instead of — the Jewish leaders. will enjoy God's salvation "ahead o f " — or. The broad similarities between the "sayings" of Matt 21:32 and Luke 7:2930 probably p o i n t to a c o m m o n tradition underlying these verses. By the addition of verse 32. 15:7. Yet in Luke the saying is expressed as part of the narrative a b o u t John. which was a proclamation of "the way of righteousness. because they had been baptized with John's baptism. It is deeds that c o u n t before God. 10. has intensified the polemic of verse 31. The basic message of Jesus' Parable of the Two Sons. it is likely that the reference in verse 31 to "tax collectors and prostitutes" provided the "catchw o r d " for the addition of this logion a b o u t t h e tax collectors. acknowledged the justice of God. " b u t the tax collectors and prostitutes believed h i m " (v 32b). even the tax collectors. But the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the will of God for themselves. For not only is Jesus now presented as c o n d e m n i n g the Jewish leaders more harshly ("You did not believe John!". Matthew. is that what counts in relation to the kingdom of God. whereas in Matthew the saying is now placed o n the lips of Jesus as the p u n c h l i n e to a parable. And by linking this saying of verse 32 with the earlier pericope in verses 23-27 (which material immediately precedes the parable 157 . is obedience to God's will. because they had not been baptized by him. And a third reason for viewing verse 32 as an independent "saying" or logion is the fact that there is a s o m e w h a t parallel logion in Luke 7:2930: And all the people who heard this. it seems. "You did n o t repent and believe John!"). like the tax collectors and prostitutes. "and even after you saw this. based on the criterion of obedience. Another reason for thinking that verse 32 is a later Matthean addition stems f r o m the opening formula of verse 31c: "Truly I say to you" (amen legö soi). b u t the message of John the Baptist. you did n o t repent later and believe h i m " (v 32c).

) Matthew's second parable in his trilogy of j u d g m e n t parables. is d r a w n f r o m M a r k 12:1-12 and paralleled by Luke 20:9-19.41. the reader of Matthew's Gospel is led to u n d e r s t a n d that belief in John the Baptist's message compels belief in Jesus as well. that of the Parable of the Wicked Tenants. T h e Parable of t h e W i c k e d T e n a n t s ( M a t t 2 1 : 3 3 . 3. the p r o p e r "rendering of fruits to the o w n e r " (21:34. the envoys are the prophets sent to Israel. MARTENS itself in verses 28-31) about Jesus' authority in relation to John's baptism. 7:21). the "other tenants" represent the (Gentile) church.ALLAN W. the other features of the story are easily identifiable. T h e r e f o r e by his redactional t r e a t m e n t of Jesus' Parable of the Two Sons. In general. par. which makes it relatively easy to note the evangelist's editorial changes. 10:32-33)." in contrast Mark's simple anthröpos).4 6 .43) is doing the will of the Father (cf. the p u n i s h m e n t of the tenants represents the ruin of Israel. w h o justifiably d e m a n d s "his fruit" (contrast Mark's "the fruit of the vineyard") f r o m the tenants to w h o m he has rented the vineyard. to respond positively to a "righteousness" that centers in the message of b o t h John the Baptist and Jesus. Matthew makes the owner of the vineyard an authority figu r e (an oikodespotēs or "landowner. and anti-Judaistic features of the parable. Once the identification of the vineyard with Israel is made. the "rejection of the stone by the builders" and its "elevation to the head of the corner by G o d " allude to the death and resurrection of Jesus." The changes that M a t t h e w makes. ecclesiological. strengthen the christological. the killing of the son represents the crucifixion. which cause the telling of the story to u n f o l d m o r e naturally: " W h e n the t i m e of fruit 158 . Matthew effects s o m e transitional changes in the story. 21:31. the son and heir is Jesus the Son of G o d . " T h e one w h o falls on this stone will be broken to pieces. T h e parable is obviously an allegory based o n the Song of the Vineyard in Isa 5:1-7 where the vineyard represents Israel. and the one on w h o m it falls will be crushed!" (21:44). however. M a t t h e w follows closely w h a t has b e e n t e r m e d Mark's "christological allegory. T h u s the owner is God. serves as a w a r n i n g that rejection of Jesus will result in c o n d e m n a t i o n (cf. Matthew has highlighted the call given by Jesus to Israel's leaders to respond in obedience to G o d — that is. and the final stone saying. the tenants are Israel's leaders.

" W h e n the owner of the vineyard comes" in verse 40a. which portrayed Jesus in symbolic fashion as looking for righteousness in Israel b u t unable to find it. who were treated "in the same way. "Prophets" and "righteous men. o n e of w h o m was beaten. w h o m the Father has sent. 13:17. 10:41. T h e first of these transitional changes in verse 34a also introduces the t h e m e of fruitfulness. the first composed. has an even different scenario (cf. with c o m m e n t a t o r s usually viewing t h e m as representing the preexilic p r o p h e t s and the postexilic prophets. Both Matthew and M a r k describe the sending of the son and his re159 . More likely. which suggests that the three evangelists felt considerable f r e e d o m to allegorize the parable in their own ways — with the part a b o u t the sending of envoys particularly susceptible to allegorization. particularly for the nation Israel. and then " m a n y others. however." This lesson was implicit in the Cursing of the Fig Tree pericope of 21:18-22. they represent for M a t t h e w "the p r o p h e t s and righteous men. And the same lesson is implicit here in the Parable of the Wicked Tenants."Produce Fruit Worthy of Repentance" a p p r o a c h e d " in verse 34a. " P r o d u c i n g fruit" and similar expressions in Matthew signify such actions as repentance. where the repeated sending of servants to receive "his fruit" suggests that G o d has continually sought righteousness f r o m Israel. however. the fruit required of Israel is the acceptance of Jesus. 23:29. the Son of God. the owner sent three servants individually and successively. has it that the owner sent two delegations of servants." Matthew. it should be noted. Luke 20:10-12)." of course." Luke's version of the parable." w h o t h r o u g h o u t Israel's history have rejected God's ways. 23:37). Moreover. According to Mark. The two delegations of servants in Matthew have been variously interpreted. The second delegation consisted of a larger n u m b e r of servants ("more t h a n the first"). and doing righteousness — all of which can be s u m m e d u p in t e r m s of a proper response to God. 34-35). could be t h o u g h t of as distinct categories of redemptive figures. of three men. But Matthew apparently views t h e m together as God's servants and as o p p o n e n t s of the "unrighteous. another killed. Matthew also reconstructs Mark's description of the sending of servants to receive the landowner's fruit (vv 34-36). which is a central t h e m e not only in the parable b u t also t h r o u g h o u t Matthew's Gospel. Ultimately. d o i n g the will of God. it is always the "season for fruit. presumably." which is a coupling of classifications that is uniquely Matthean (cf. and a n o t h e r stoned (cf. and "Have you never read in the Scriptures?" in verse 42a. however.

and it is marvelous in o u r eyes!"). which follows the saying of j u d g m e n t in verse 41. with the result that the 160 . " H e will c o m e and kill the tenants and give the vineyard to others" (Mark 12:9). the early church) joined the parable and the stone quotation on this basis." But this latter change of first being t h r o w n o u t of the vineyard and then killed." thereby intensifying the expression of j u d g m e n t . almost certainly was made to c o n f o r m the parable to the circumstances of Jesus' crucifixion outside the city walls (cf. " H e will b r i n g those wretches to a wretched end. however. for they add that the vineyard will be given to other tenants " w h o will give h i m the fruit in its season. Matthew adds a Greek legal idiom to their answer. M a t t h e w reverses Mark's order regarding the t r e a t m e n t of the son. perhaps. For some reason. And with respect to these later stages. Here. which also appears in Luke's presentation. F u r t h e r m o r e ." This addition clearly alludes to Ps 1:3 ("it will give its fruit in its season") and strengthens Matthew's polemic. presenting him as being first t h r o w n o u t of the vineyard and then killed (v 39). for now the Jewish leaders are compared to the godless m e n of Psalm 1. F u r t h e r m o r e . it is evident that Matthew has taken over the saying f r o m Mark. we are m o r e interested in the later stages of the use of the parable. the Jewish religious leaders — answer the question and thereby inadvertently judge themselves ( v 4 1 ) . Heb 13:12). however. the leaders' answer is expressed once m o r e in terms of the fruit t h e m e .ALLAN W. which may suggest that Jesus h i m self (or. The stone saying is a quotation of Ps 118:22-23. presents Jesus as the rejected b u t now exalted Son of God. But whereas M a r k has Jesus answer his own question. M a t t h e w omits Mark's christologically significant adjective "beloved" f r o m the description of the son (v 37). Much has been written about the possible authenticity of this quotation o n the lips of Jesus — particularly since it refers to the vindication of the Messiah. MARTENS jection in similar terms. It may be impossible to speculate as to why Matthew omitted the word "beloved. Matthew follows M a r k in recording Jesus' question. "Therefore. M a t t h e w has the hearers — that is. what will the lord of the vineyard do?" (v 40). O n e feature of note is the Aramaic p u n o n "son" (ben) and "stone" (eben) that appears in c o m p a r i n g the parable and the saying. the Lord has d o n e this. which. which is a topic t h a t does n o t appear in the parable itself. as it appears in c o n j u n c t i o n with the Parable of the Wicked Tenants. Matthew also follows Mark in setting out the stone saying of verse 42 ("The stone the builders rejected has b e c o m e the capstone. John 19:17.

Some scholars hold that Matthew himself composed it and added it here. . verse 44 seems so awkwardly placed after verse 43 that it should probably be considered an interpolation f r o m Luke 20:18 by s o m e early copyist.e. Verse 41 had already m a d e an implicit connection of the vineyard and the k i n g d o m by referring to the transfer of the vineyard (cf. and anyone on w h o m it falls will be crushed!") is absent in Mark. And the absence of verse 44 in several manuscripts (D 33 et al. t h e nation Israel] and given to a people (ethnei) w h o will p r o d u c e its fruits (tous karpous au tes) " Here we have the salvation-historical scheme carried o n e step further. As for the origin of this concluding saying in verse 43.e. The most plausible solution." "fruit-bearing. verse 17. where it follows the first stone saying (cf. and the contrasting formula "it will be taken away . it seems. it will be given" (cf. And on such a view. however. because of Israel's rejection of the son/ stone] I tell you.thean stage of the Jesus tradition.) s u p p o r t s this view.. . is that Matthew used such traditional elements as the " p r o d u c i n g fruit" t h e m e . Others believe that the evangelist f o u n d the saying as an ind e p e n d e n t logion of Jesus and added it here.." In verse 43 Matthew adds a very significant concluding saying to Mark's parable: "Therefore [i. The saying shifts imagery so that the vineyard no longer represents Israel but n o w the k i n g d o m . q u o t i n g Ps 118:22). the matter is hotly debated. verse 43 should probably be attributed primarily to Matthew and seen as carrying on in quite consistent fashion the evangelist's distinctive theological emphases of "kingdom. Despite some scholars' a r g u m e n t s for an original association of Matt 21:43 and 44." The second stone saying of verse 44 ("The one w h o falls on this stone will be broken to pieces. Luke 19:26//Matt 25:29).. which is comm o n in the synoptic tradition." "church. And still others posit that the saying was already attached to the parable in a pre-Mat." and "anti-Judaism. Also to be noted in c o m p a r i n g Matthew's version of the Parable of 161 ."Produce Fruit Worthy of Repentance" quotation of Ps 118:22-23 serves to reinforce the t h e m e of j u d g m e n t already in the parable and to highlight the new t h e m e of exaltation that is n o t intrinsic to the parable itself. Verse 43. makes that identification explicit. the k i n g d o m of God will be taken away f r o m you [i. So the presence of the q u o t a t i o n in b o t h Mark and Matthew provides another bit of "christological coloring. also M a r k 12:9). But it appears in nearly identical language in Luke 20:18. for n o t only is the son/stone exalted b u t also the k i n g d o m is transferred f r o m Israel to the church. Mark 4:25 par.

in the narrative that deals with the Question about Authority in 21:23-27. and will be judged and will forfeit the k i n g d o m to a n o t h e r people w h o will produce righteousness for G o d . and in the Parable of the Wicked Tenants in 21:33-46. U n d o u b t e d l y the Parable of the Wicked Tenants has u n d e r g o n e a n u m b e r of secondary changes and additions in its retelling by the synoptic evangelists. This parable. John and Jesus are associated in the last three pericopes of this chapter — that is. the Son of God. w h o as God's messengers f o r m a united f r o n t against the Jewish religious leaders. and therefore were punished and lost the vineyard to other tenants. Israel's rejection of John the Baptist was explicit (cf. In that previous parable. where John the Baptist is said to have been held by the people to be a p r o p h e t (v 26). so also Israel has rejected Jesus. however. continues the t h e m e of Israel's rejection of God's messengers that appeared in the immediately previous Parable of the Two Sons. which have b r o u g h t about a shift of m e a n i n g at certain points. however. MARTENS the Wicked Tenants with that of M a r k is the fact that. 21:32). These references. Matt 21:45-46 intensifies the Jewish leaders' guilt by reversing the sequence f o u n d in Mark 12:12. In this parable. T h e Parable o f t h e W e d d i n g B a n q u e t (Matt 22:1-14//Luke 14:15-24) Matthew inserts the Parable of the Wedding Banquet. M a t t h e w adds to Mark's version a note that the crowds "held Jesus to be a prophet. while her rejection of Jesus was only implied. therefore. with their attempt to arrest Jesus then placed second. the rejection of the Baptist is only implied in Israel's rejection of the many servants sent to her. Hence. which is the third of his trilogy of j u d g m e n t parables. in the Parable of the Two Sons in 21:28-32. while the rejection of Jesus as the Son of G o d and the "capstone" of the divine history of salvation is explicit. 4.ALLAN W. while the narrative a f t e r m a t h of the parable is related by b o t h evangelists in similar terms. therefore. between narrative material taken f r o m 162 . Its m a i n emphasis. draw a n o t h e r parallel between John the Baptist and Jesus. lies in the following analogy: that as the wicked tenants rejected the landowner's son. F u r t h e r m o r e ." This additional clause recalls a similar one in the pericope a b o u t Jesus' authority in 21:23-27. For in Matthew's version the leaders' perception of the point of the parable is highlighted by being placed first.

Matthew's account of the initial mission in 22:3 has the plural "servants. in Matthew's handling. for a similar version is in Luke 14:15-24. however. there is a third mission that seems to be the evangelist's own addition (Luke 14:23). This parable begins with the notice that a m a n prepared a great meal to which he invited many guests (cf. Both Matthew and Luke. with the o p e n i n g statements of M a t t 22:l-2a and Luke 14:15. For Matthew has restyled the first mission. In Luke's Gospel. however. the m a n is a king and the occasion is a wedding b a n q u e t for his son (22:2). he sent other servants" — which words are identical to those that were used in 21:36 for the second delegation of servants in the Matthean version of the Parable of the Wicked Tenants. b u t also for the additional story a b o u t the m a n w i t h o u t a w e d d i n g g a r m e n t in 22:11-13 and the application m a d e of that story in 22:14." This alteration begins Matthew's assimilation of this parable to his earlier presentation of the Parable of the Wicked Tenants. But they are n o t parallel. Luke 14:17-21a). where in 21:34 "servants" also appeared in contrast to Mark's "servant. into two missions. Matt 22:8-10. with the second corresponding to Luke's first (cf. ends abruptly with the notice that those invited "were not willing to come. Both accounts relate three missions of servants sent out to call people to the feast. But M a t t h e w introduces it with the words "Again." here they represent the New Testament apostles and Christian missionaries w h o are sent to invite Israel to the royal "messianic banquet. have placed the parable within their own respective contexts. There is general agreement that this parable derives f r o m Q. Also to be noted in Matthew's version of the Parable of the Wedding 163 . Luke 14:21b-22). And this setting is used in Matthew's Gospel n o t only for the parable itself in 22:3-10." Also to be noted is the fact that the first mission. as f o u n d in Luke." For the second mission ends in the destruction of the city. Luke 14:16). But whereas the two delegations in that previous parable represented "the prophets and righteous men. which surely has in m i n d the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70." in contrast to Luke's singular "servant. however. Matthew's second mission in 22:4 corresponds m o r e closely to Luke's first mission in 14:17." which is a phrase that recalls the response in 21:19 of the first son in Matthew's Parable of the Two Sons. Matt 22:3-6. And Matthew's third mission corresponds to Luke's second mission (cf."Produce Fruit Worthy of Repentance" M a r k 12:12 and M a r k 12:13.16a being separately composed redactional transitions. In Matthew's version.

MARTENS Banquet is the fact that the king's son is n o t sent or killed. as in the previous Parable of the Wicked Tenants. that "those who were invited [were] not w o r t h y " (v 8). . So Jesus the Messiah is presented in this parable in his postresurrection state. a n o t h e r to his business" (v 5). w h o represent Israel. O n the "reality" level. however. even t h o u g h m o r e detailed. mistreated t h e m . it can only refer to the destruction of Jerusalem." The third mission in Matthew's version of the parable (22:8-10) resumes the narrative after the intrusion of verses 6-7. in the king's instructions to his servants to a n n o u n c e to the invited guests: "Everything is ready. Two expressions in verse 7 recall earlier expressions in the previous parable: "those murderers" recalls "those tenants" of 21:40. comes in the remark: "But they took no notice and went away — o n e to his f a r m . . In focusing o n the refusal of the invitees. for it pictures a king destroying murderers and b u r n i n g their city while his b a n q u e t meal remains hot for the next set of invited guests.ALLAN W. beaten . where the owner's servants were "seized . and s t o n e d " (21:35). with b o t h expressions being used in the context of j u d g m e n t . as well. A n d Luke's version is probably m o r e original. with his Father inviting Jews to a "messianic banquet. C o m e to the wedding banquet!" (22:4). and so to have narrowed the focus of the parable to that point. For Matthew seems to have wanted only to highlight the absolute refusal of the invitees. And verse 7 tells the reader that the king. . Here. Matthew heightens the fact that the b a n q u e t was ready by his reference to the king having already slaughtered his oxen and fattened cattle (v 4). . Verse 6 says that some of those invited to the b a n q u e t "seized his servants. . however. and killed them. and so sends his armies to destroy "those murderers" and b u r n "their city. Matthew's polemic against the nation of 164 ." An eschatological scenario is evident. " H e will destroy the evil m e n evilly. Matthew has created a dramatic intrusion into the Parable of the Wedding Banquet by his addition of verses 6-7. This mission corres p o n d s to Luke's second (14:21b-22). . The motive for this mission is given by Matthew himself — namely. because of the ill t r e a t m e n t afforded his servants. once more. killed . Luke has the invitees making excuses why they could not come (14:18-20)." O n the "image" level. becomes angry. The rejection of the king's invitation. which was viewed as having been caused by Israel's rejection of God's messengers •— particularly the nation's rejection of Jesus." Here again there occurs an assimilation to the previous Parable of the Wicked Tenants. and "destroy" points back to the leaders' self-condemnation in 21:41. this latter verse is incredible.

for Gentiles are now included. Israel as a nation has refused the invitation to the feast. that " m a n y are called. however. 38). Here is Matthew's portrayal of the church as an ethnically mixed body. But it seems m o r e probable that it was Matthew himself w h o joined these two parables together. 37. which will continue mixed until the end of the age w h e n evil people will be separated f r o m the good (cf. 10:10. Like the nation Israel. Some also believe that a p r e . t h e church is also subject to j u d g m e n t . always a danger that Christians will t h i n k they have been included in the eschatological wedding feast simply because they were invited or "called. but also 165 . are sent o u t a third time. But this time they are to go o u t into the environs of the Gentiles (diexodous tön hodön. in fact." So Matthew adds the Parable of the M a n w i t h o u t a Wedding G a r m e n t (22:11-13). b o t h good and bad. The joining of these two parables reflects a n o t h e r feature in Matthew's concern for the church. 13:24-30."Produce Fruit Worthy of Repentance" Israel for rejecting God's salvation comes to the fore. So the servants. serves to set out another allegorical scenario regarding the history of salvation. to p r o d u c e the fruit of righteousness. albeit this t i m e a scenario that extends f r o m the call of Israel by the apostles and Christian missionaries u p to the final j u d g m e n t of Christians. The c o m b i n i n g of these parables. the feast of salvation is o p e n to all those w h o will come. 3:8. 36-43. 11. This parable is probably a traditional one." is n o t only the evangelist's final saying in concluding this parable. This third mission is finally successful. however. which suggests roads going out of the city into the pagan world) in order to find as m a n y as they can for the wedding b a n q u e t prepared by the king for his son (v 9). b u t few are chosen. the b a n q u e t remains ready — that is. Some m e m b e r s may. The statement in 22:14.M a t t h e a n editor added this parable to the previous one. For he views "the ones invited" as being " n o t worthy. w h o now represent the post-destruction apostles and Christian missionaries. For the appended parable functions as a w a r n i n g for Christians to be properly "attired" — that is." which is a particularly M a t t h e a n concept (cf. And here also is Matthew's portrayal of the church as an ethically mixed body. therefore. At the same time. for "the servants went o u t into the streets and gathered all the people they could find. t h o u g h s o m e scholars think that Matthew composed it. 13. be f o u n d lacking at the eschaton. and the b a n q u e t hall was filled with guests" (v 10). 25:31-33). 47-50. There is. yet the b a n q u e t hall is eventually filled with both Jews and Gentiles.

since the first deals with those w h o have been "called" while the second concerns those who in the final j u d g m e n t will be "chosen. But it also functions as the conclusion to Matthew's trilogy of j u d g m e n t parables. Most interpreters. above all. climactic conclusion to all three of his j u d g m e n t parables in 21:28-22:13. In any case." In effect. and. The Parable of the Wicked Tenants is m u c h m o r e complex. therefore. In these matters Israel as a nation has failed. for it s u m s u p the evangelist's more general view of j u d g m e n t vis-à-vis Israel — namely. with the point being that obedience is more i m p o r t a n t t h a n mere words. It is a simple story a b o u t a family and a work situation. W h a t is also required are such things as (1) doing the Father's will (the Parable of the Two Sons). whereas the latter g r o u p has not — gives us no reason to think that Jesus did not apply the call to obedience and to the k i n g d o m in this way. m i n u s Matthew's i n t r o d u c t i o n (v 28a) and conclusion (v 32) — is very m u c h like what we would expect f r o m Jesus. MARTENS serves as his final. the saying in its immediate context serves as a w a r n i n g to Christians against a false sense of security. that Israel's calling c a n n o t guarantee her election to salvation. (4) accepting Jesus. (3) heeding the call to salvation. it is understandable why it is n o t always easy to determine Jesus' original words and meaning. The p u n c h l i n e in verse 31 a b o u t tax collectors and prostitutes entering the k i n g d o m of God ahead of the Jewish leaders — presumably because the f o r m e r people have repented and obeyed. With regard to the Parable of the Two Sons. and so has been rejected. take a stance somewhere between the extremes of saying either that Jesus spoke these parables exactly as we have t h e m in o u r Gospels or that the early church or the evangelist was responsible for creating t h e m . the Son of God. 5. with its attendant requirements (the Parables of the Wedding Banquet and the Wedding G a r m e n t ) . d e t e r m i n i n g Jesus' m e a n i n g m u s t be carried o u t for each parable on an individual basis.ALLAN W. It applies to b o t h the Parable of the Wedding Banquet and the Parable of the Wedding G a r m e n t . the material contained in Matt 21:28b-31 — that is. (2) p r o d u c i n g fruit (the Parable of the Wicked Tenants). In its 166 . Jesus' M e a n i n g a n d Early C h r i s t i a n M e m o r y Given the editorial shaping that we have seen in Matthew's presentation of these parables of j u d g m e n t . the story of the parable as we have it.

let alone what words Jesus himself m i g h t have said. Yet if Jesus did u n d e r s t a n d his role in salvation history as being God's Son and humanity's Savior. despite having messengers repeatedly sent to her by God. and lame) and t h e n Gentiles to the feast. revolves a r o u n d w h e t h e r Jesus would have told a parable that featured his own person. The m a i n question. Opinions. w h o is sent to invite Jewish outcasts (the poor. as the main focus of the story. Yet since the quotation seems to have been a favorite Old Testam e n t text used by Christians to explain the m e a n i n g of Jesus' rejection and crucifixion by m e a n s of his consequent vindication (see Acts 4:11. only to be 167 ." F u r t h e r m o r e . And as to w h e t h e r Jesus himself added the rejected stone saying of 21:42 to the image of the rejected son — which is a matter still hotly debated — there is no question that Jesus could have employed the p u n o n son (hen) and stone (eben) by using the q u o t a t i o n f r o m Ps 118:22-23. especially as the Son of God. the use of this text here should probably be viewed as a later interpretation. there is no a priori reason that he could n o t have told a parable that pointed to God's sending Old Testament prophets and finally his own son to call Israel to repent — with a threat of p u n i s h m e n t included! Such an image of Israel's recalcitrance. If one were to a t t e m p t to remove later allegorical features. Nevertheless. a standard feature in the prophetic message. The Parable of the Wedding Banquet is also colored christologically and strongly allegorized. The sending of servants. 1 Pet 2:7). with that sending culminating in the sending of the landowner's son. And the root of the issue concerns the messianic consciousness of Jesus. in fact. is essential to the parable. The original Q wording of the parable is extremely difficult to reconstruct." Luke's version is likely closer to the version that was in Q. was part of a widespread tradition that scholars today t e r m the "deuteronomistic view of Israel's history. The proclaiming of j u d g m e n t was. t h o u g h Luke has also allegorized the story — particularly with regard to the second and third missions of the slave. of course."Produce Fruit Worthy of Repentance" present f o r m it is a full-blown allegory and highly christological in its application. crippled. the proclamation of j u d g m e n t was not s o m e t h i n g new to Jesus. where would o n e stop? For the whole parable is imbued with a Christian salvation-historical point of view. especially in Matthew's version where we are dealing with the "wedding b a n q u e t " of the "son" of a "king. differ widely. then. blind. it is very possible that Jesus told a parable a b o u t s o m e o n e who invited guests to a feast.

9:51-56. the city of destiny. 11:53. 168 .sometimes subtly and sometimes blatantly — interpreted Jesus' words to highlight the Jewish repudiation of their Messiah. Moreover. 6. where there is a distinctive literary structure and unified t h e m e . 1 9 : 1 . especially as those words could be m a d e to focus on the Jewish rejection of Jesus himself. 18:31. The parable appears only in Luke's Gospel.33." or else lose the o p p o r t u n i t y and face p u n i s h m e n t . or to his o p p o n e n t s — "the general themes of this section. T h e Parable o f t h e U n p r o d u c t i v e Fig Tree (Luke 13:6-9) Literary and Theological Context Unlike the context of the parables in M a t t 21:28-22:14. to p r o d u c e the fruit of righteousness. MARTENS rejected — despite the cultural t a b o o that such a situation depicts. And while the reader gets the impression that Jesus is going on a journey (cf. the parable is f o u n d in Luke's so-called Travel Narrative of 9:51-19:27." as Howard Marshall has noted. But with the benefit of hindsight and a developing theology a b o u t the person and m e a n i n g of Jesus. w h e t h e r to his disciples. T h u s they would have appealed to Jesus' own words of j u d g m e n t o n those w h o refused to obey the divine will.35. and so source-critical questions are difficult to answer.ALLAN W. And so in Matthew we see that the evangelist has ·—. 1 1 . 13:22. these early Christians obviously felt a measure of freedom to extrapolate on Jesus' words.57. t h o u g h with an added threat. The disciples of Jesus 110 d o u b t r e m e m b e r e d these parables f r o m the lips of their Lord. especially in their a r g u m e n t s with other Jews regarding the significance of Jesus. which focuses on Jesus' goal of getting to Jerusalem. And it is not o u t of the question that Jesus told of the anger of the rejected host and his action of inviting others to his feast. 10:1. w h o m they confessed to be Israel's Messiah. the context of the Parable of the Unproductive Fig Tree in Luke 13:6-9 is relatively u n s t r u c t u r e d and m a d e u p of rather disparate materials. or to believe the message of John the Baptist and Jesus. with the point being that one must respond to God's gracious offer to join the "feast of salvation. Moreover. with a consequent j u d g m e n t of the first rejecters. to t h e crowd. it is entirely possible that Jesus applied this situation to the realm of the k i n g d o m . This scenario is akin to what we might call a "use it or lose it" situation. 2 8 ) — and while there is a great deal of teaching given by Jesus in this section. "are hard to define.38. 17:11.

g. 11:910 and 11-13. is that while b o t h units of material warn a b o u t the urgent necessity for repentance. e. j u d g m e n t statements that s u r r o u n d the parable of 13:6-9. see also 11:1-4. The specific p r o b l e m here. who was probably still in Galilee. it may be surmised that it was Luke who was mainly responsible for their being so placed in t a n d e m . Pilate's brutality is well-docu169 . 15:1-2."Produce Fruit Worthy of Repentance" and it is even more difficult to find any kind of thread r u n n i n g t h r o u g h it" (The Gospel of Luke [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. Luke's Redactional Activity It is clear that the discussion a b o u t "the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices" of 13:1-5 is m e a n t to be interpreted with the parable of 13:6-9. 34-35. Yet given the facts (1) that Luke has assembled together a great deal of disparate material in this section and (2) that the two units have s o m e w h a t differing lessons. as can be f o u n d in 12:49-59. Yet the exact nature of the relationship between these two units is s o m e w h a t ambiguous.. to tell h i m a b o u t an incident that t o o k place in Jerusalem. But this material does n o t really shed light on the parable's interpretation. 18:1. 13:22-30. There are. we need to look at the immediate context in 13:1-5 for an u n d e r s t a n d i n g as to how to interpret the parable. 12:54-57 and 58-59. of course.. 12:14-15 and 16-21. 401-2). It is impossible to determine whether it was Jesus himself w h o originally linked these two units together or the evangelist Luke who first m a d e the connection. Rather. where the R o m a n governor Pilate had massacred certain Galilean Jews as their sacrificial animals were being slaughtered at the temple. however. 1978]. Do Jesus' words in verses 2-5 interpret the parable? Or. Verse 6 makes the connection between the two units only very loosely by the transitional statement: " N o w he was saying this parable (elegen de tauten ten parabolēn)!' The setting for b o t h Jesus'teaching and his parable in 13:1-9 is stated in verse 1: Some people came to Jesus. 19:11). does the parable in verses 6-9 illustrate Jesus' earlier words? An analogous situation prevails in other Lukan texts where Jesus' teaching is expanded in parabolic f o r m (cf. 10:27-29 a n d 30-37. the first speaks merely about the need for a universal repentance whereas the parable itself suggests that grace and mercy are available for those w h o repent in time. 12:35.

8:20. And so the twin aspects of God's j u d g m e n t and mercy b e c o m e evident.ALLAN W. More particularly. emphatically repudiates such a notion. The parable in verses 6-9 then takes u p the ideas of repentance and perishing. thereby giving the fig tree (figuratively) time to repent and produce good fruit. what motivated the report was the view that calamity is always a p u n i s h m e n t for sin (cf. does not appear in the parable." of course. Jesus' reply in verses 25a. and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut d o w n and t h r o w n into the fire" (Luke 3:9). T h e situation presented is reminiscent of the Baptist's message: " T h e ax is already at the root of the trees. which suggests that everyone in Israel is a sinner and needs 170 . the idea of repentance is implied by the fact that j u d g m e n t is stayed. and so may suggest s o m e t h i n g of a national perspective. of course. 22:4-5. The word "repent. do not see national implications in the parable at all. Judging by Jesus' response. Antiq 18:60-62. But the question naturally arises: In what sense can the Parable of the Unproductive Fig Tree be viewed as directed against the nation? Some interpreters. however. so the j u d g m e n t of G o d will come o n people who never produce the fruit of repentance. For just as an u n f r u i t f u l tree is sooner or later cut d o w n . were n o t worse sinners t h a n others. The new feature of the parable. T h e threat of j u d g m e n t is to be seen in the owner's c o m m a n d to cut d o w n the u n p r o d u c t i v e fig tree. you too will all perish!" (v 5b). t h o u g h this incident is not attested by any other source. for the owner lets the gardener talk him into allowing the fig tree to remain for one m o r e year in the h o p e that the tree will bear fruit the next year. O n e hint can be f o u n d in the teaching material that precedes the parable. however. Jesus asserts. MARTENS mented by Josephus (cf. Job 4:7. however. and so most comm e n t a t o r s have u n d e r s t o o d Israel in s o m e sense to be the target of Jesus' warning. Yet there are several hints that point in that direction. War 2:175-77). where calamitous incidents are related a b o u t some Galileans being slaughtered at the temple (v 2) and certain residents of Jerusalem being killed when the Tower of Siloam fell on t h e m (v 4) — which calamities involve people f r o m b o t h Galilee and Judea. N o n e theless.85-87. the point is m a d e that those victims were n o t worse t h a n all the other Galileans or Jerusalemites. with repentance being the criterion that determines what God will mete out. Then Jesus t u r n s the question into a solemn warning: "Unless you repent. t h o u g h u n d e r a different guise. is the emphasis on God's patience and mercy. John 9:1-2). Those w h o suffered this gruesome catastrophe.

but the destruction of Jerusalem and the nation as a whole ( T h e Gospel according to St. 181). they are m o r e in the nature of hints t h a n of precise equations. Some c o m m e n t a t o r s have gone too far in interpreting the parable's details by positing that the vineyard = Israel. A second hint of national j u d g m e n t appears in the parable itself. Jesus' Meaning and Early Christian Memory Both the teaching of verses 1-5 and the parable of verses 6-9 were probably recorded essentially as Jesus spoke t h e m . thou hast been to me like that palm-tree that stood by a river. like the subtle features of a painting. therefore. T h a t the parable is traditional is evidenced by the use of the historic present "he says" (legei) in verse 8 (cf. rev. [London: Marshall. And this point is equally applicable to individuals today as it was for the nation of Israel. is clear: the need for timely repentance. Jer 8:13. Hos 9:10. 182-83). 'My son. 24:1-8. the gardener = Jesus. as was also the vineyard (cf. Jesus reinforces these suggestions of "all" in his concluding statement of verse 5: "Unless you repent. "Let me alone this year. Isa 28:4. Creed has observed. as J. M. Mic 7:1). 185). Morgan 8c Scott. 1930]. which dates f r o m at least the fifth century BCE — t h o u g h Jesus' emphasis on God's grace and mercy. and cast all its fruit into the river. Parables. 1974]. all of you likewise will perish. The main point of the parable."Produce Fruit Worthy of Repentance" to repent. Mic 7:1). ed. and I will bring thee forth carobs. There is need. Isa 5:1-7. F u r t h e r m o r e ." And its lord said unto 171 . differs f r o m Ahikar's harsh reply to his son Nadan's plea for patience in that earlier story: I [Ahikar] answered and said to him [Nadan]." It is even possible. Luke [London: Macmillan. Hos 9:10. F u r t h e r m o r e . For the fig tree was a rather standard symbol for Israel (cf. that Jesus had here in m i n d n o t the destruction in the world to come. the fig tree = Jerusalem. as well as his j u d g m e n t . more susceptible to feeling t h a n analysis" (The Gospel of Luke. Jeremias. that the story stems f r o m the religious folklore of the Jews is suggested by its parallel to the Story of Ahikar 8:35. it said to him. however. to take seriously Earle Ellis's words w h e n interpreting this parable: "Some allegorical elements appear in Jesus' parables but. and when its lord came to cut it down. and the three years = Jesus' ministry.

that appears in t h e m . or antiJudaism. And since the parable is not christologically colored. as represented by the gardener. w h o pleads for a reprieve f r o m the j u d g m e n t p r o n o u n c e d against the nation. and how wilt thou be industrious in what is not thine own?"' (8:35) Jesus' Parable of the Unproductive Fig Tree as a lesson to the nation. For example. Yet early Christians probably saw places in the parable where later interpretations could be made." which is a polemic against the religion of Judaism. as well as to all who would hear. if the b a r r e n fig tree is to be cut d o w n because it uses u p the soil. as represented by the fig tree. m u s t never be used as an occasion or excuse for "anti-Semitism. T h e Parables of J u d g m e n t T o d a y Two matters need to be recognized and dealt with when interpreting these parables of j u d g m e n t today. The first concerns the harsh polemic. his a n n o u n c e m e n t at the very b e g i n n i n g of his ministry: " T h e time has come! The k i n g d o m of God is near! Repent and believe the good news" in Mark 1:15. for example. regarding the urgent need for repentance. b u t also extend that j u d g m e n t to t h e nation of Israel itself. certainly fits in with Jesus' teaching elsewhere — as witness. whose residents had seen Jesus' miracles b u t did n o t repent. H o w are we to respond to this? For if these parables not only c o n d e m n the Jewish religious leaders of the day. "Thou hast not been industrious in what is thine own. MARTENS it." which is a racial hatred of Jews ( a n d / o r other 172 . it poses no problem to critics as to having been composed later. or his c o n d e m n a t i o n of Bethsaida in Luke 10:13. it is possible that the early Christians saw in the parable an allusion to the role of Jesus. 7. is there n o t also here a hint that a n o t h e r vine will be planted in its place? And if that p o i n t is made — even t h o u g h n o t implied in the story itself — the parable could be seen to approach the sense of Matt 21:43: "Therefore I tell you. Likewise.ALLAN W. or his Parable of the Two Sons (discussed earlier) in M a t t 21:28-32. does that then give Christians t h e right to c o n d e m n Jewish people en masse? O u r answer to this is unequivocal: Certainly not! "Anti-Judaism. the kingdom of God will be taken away f r o m you and given to a people w h o will p r o d u c e its fruits" (cf. also the imagery of "natural branches" and "engrafted branches" in Rom 11:17).

If the Jewish religious leaders — and. then. But we must t h e n try to u n d e r s t a n d why Matthew. and dietary laws — to a position below the crucified a n d risen Christ." Indeed. Matthew's rhetoric against the nation should be seen as g r o u n d e d in the theological conviction that if Jesus is truly Israel's Messiah. N o r should it be used as a pretext for a Christian attitude toward others. For the earliest Jewish believers in Jesus were facing ostracism and persecution by their Jewish c o m p a t r i o t s for s u b o r d i n a t i n g the m a j o r symbols of Jewish identity — that is. many of w h o m were anti-Semites in b l a m i n g the death of Jesus o n the Jewish race. T h u s the central issue in the anti-Judaism polemic of these parables of j u d g m e n t — just as it is t h r o u g h o u t all of the New Testament. We need to develop a h e r m e n e u t i c that allows the writers of the New Test a m e n t to speak to issues in their own contexts and in their own ways. Torah. b u t is especially p r o m i n e n t in their M a t t h e a n redactions — is to see it as rooted in a particular sociological and theological context. Matthew may report that certain Jewish people once said. Christians today need to be extremely sensitive to issues regarding anti-Semitism and careful n o t to repeat the sins of their forbears. indeed. But that statem e n t m u s t not be taken as equivalent to a decree of God! For God is not only a God of j u d g m e n t . in particular. does it m e a n to be righteous? W h a t did Jesus want to see in the Jewish leaders and the Jewish people that he also wants to see in us? The parables themselves are rather brief o n this 173 . however. temple. Sabbath. the whole nation — were disobedient to the will of God. "Let his blood be o n us and on o u r children" (27:25). therefore. whoever he or she might be! A second matter that needs to be highlighted w h e n considering these parables of j u d g m e n t is how they define the concept of righteousness. circumcision."Produce Fruit Worthy of Repentance" Semites). b u t also one that does not p e r m i t us to move f r o m "anti-Judaism" to "antiSemitism. particularly when they define righteousness in terms of doing the will of God. then those w h o reject Israel's God-given h o p e for fulfillment will necessarily be judged. the harsh language of these parables can be explained by the social situation that the early Christians faced as they sought to maintain their o w n identity as a rejected people. used such harsh tones against his o w n people. To an extent. M o r e importantly. Perhaps the best way of u n d e r s t a n d i n g the harsh and judgmental language of these parables — which is present in all of their appearances. whatever the specific topic being treated — is christological in nature. what. b u t also a G o d of grace and mercy.

In fact." five appear in the Sermon on the M o u n t . by Matthew and Luke in concert. the Son of God. mercy. w h o is told that to receive eternal life he m u s t obey the c o m m a n d m e n t s . O t h e r passages in Matthew's Gospel. dill." The d o m i n a n t issue that comes to t h e fore in all of Jesus' parables of j u d g m e n t — w h e t h e r as presented by M a t t h e w alone. in the m a i n . and follow Jesus. We are challenged by the Parable of the Two Sons (Matt 21:28-32) to follow the "way of righteousness" by believing in the message of John the Baptist and Jesus. of Matthew's seven references to "righteousness.) urges us to p r o d u c e the fruits of righteousness by accepting Jesus. and faithfulness. And for a f o u r t h such passage we may point to the teaching in 23:23 as a model of what it m e a n s to do God's will. W h a t they do. There we learn that we may begin in o u r u n derstanding of righteousness by heeding his message. by all three synoptic evangelists together. The Parable of the Wedding Banquet (Matt 22:1-14//Luke 14:15-24) calls on us to make sure that we have actually res p o n d e d to the invitation to the feast of salvation and are p r o d u c i n g the 174 . which is defined as a positive response to God's Messiah. A n d in that s e r m o n Jesus is presented as saying: "Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and scribes. You o u g h t to have practiced the latter. MARTENS matter. O n e such passage has to do with John the Baptist. you will certainly not enter the k i n g d o m of heaven" (5:20). or by Luke alone — is a christological issue. par. as f o u n d in 3:1-12. the acceptance of Jesus as the Messiah. For t h o u g h set in a negative context of woes against the scribes and Pharisees. A second passage that should be considered is the so-called S e r m o n on the M o u n t in 5:1-7:29. w i t h o u t neglecting the former. And that same issue faces us as squarely today w h e n reading these parables as it did those who either heard or read t h e m in the first century. But you have neglected the m o r e i m p o r t a n t matters of the law — justice. A third passage in Matthew's Gospel where the m e a n i n g of doing God's will is made explicit is the story of the rich y o u n g m a n in 19:16-22.ALLAN W. and c u m m i n . T h e Parable of the Wicked Tenants (Matt 21:33-46. which was: "Produce fruit worthy of repentance" (v 8). however. where the teaching of Jesus regarding righteousness is collated for us by the evangelist Matthew. And they urge God's people to do God's will. be willing to sell his possessions and give to the poor. should also be considered w h e n seeking to u n d e r s t a n d f u r t h e r how the will of God can be accomplished in o u r lives today. Jesus says to his hearers: "You give a tenth of your spices — m i n t . is to set out the p r i m a r y response desired — that is.

"Produce Fruit Worthy of

Repentance"

fruit of righteousness. Finally, the Parable of the Unproductive Fig Tree
(Luke 13:6-9) warns us to produce the fruit of repentance before it is too
late.
As in the days w h e n these parables were originally given, so today
G o d is giving people a n o t h e r chance. It is foolhardy to fly in the face of divine j u d g m e n t ! A n d it is foolish to flout God's grace, patience, and mercy!

Selected B i b l i o g r a p h y
Blinzler, Josef. "Die Niedermetzelung von Galiläer durch Pilatus," Novum
Testamentum 2 (1958) 24-49.
Davies, W. D., and Allison, Dale C. A Critical and Exegetical
Commentary
on the Gospel according to Saint Matthew, 3 vols. Edinburgh: T. 8c T.
Clark, 1988, 1991, 1996.
Dillon, Richard J. "Towards a Tradition-History of the Parables of the True
Israel (Matthew 21,33-22,14)," Biblica 47 (1966) 1-42.
D o d d , C. H. The Parables of the Kingdom. London: Nisbet, 1935.
Jeremias, Joachim. The Parables of Jesus, trans. S. H. Hooke. 2nd rev. ed.
New York: Scribner's, 1972.
L i n n e m a n n , Eta. Parables of Jesus. Introduction
and Exposition, trans.
J. Sturdy. London: SPCK; New York: H a r p e r 8c Row, 1966.
M a n s o n , T. W. The Sayings of Jesus. London: SCM, 1949 (first published as
Part II of The Mission and Message of Jesus. London: SCM, 1937).
Marguerat, Daniel. Le Jugement dans l'Évangile de Matthieu. Geneva: Editions Labor et Fides, 1981.
Martens, Allan W. " T h e Compositional Unity of M a t t h e w 21:12-24:2: Redaction-Critical, Literary Rhetorical, and T h e m a t i c Analyses" (Th.D.
dissertation, Wycliffe College, University of Toronto, 1995).
Merkel, H e l m u t . "Das Gleichnis von den 'ungleichen S ö h n e n ' (Matt.
xxi.28-32)," New Testament Studies 20 (1974) 254-61.
Ogawa, Akira. "Paraboles de l'Israël véritable? Reconsidération critique de
M t xxi 28-xxii 14," Novum Testamentum 21 (1979) 121-49.
Smiga, George M. Pain and Polemic: Anti-Judaism
in the Gospels. New
York: Paulist, 1992.
Snodgrass, Klyne R. The Parable of the Wicked Tenants: An Inquiry into Parable Interpretation. Tübingen: Mohr-Siebeck, 1983.

175

ALLAN W. MARTENS
Stanton, G r a h a m N. A Gospel for a New People: Studies in Matthew. Edinb u r g h : Τ & Τ Clark, 1992; Louisville: Westminster/John Knox, 1993.
Strecker, Georg. Der Weg der Gerechtigkeit: Untersuchung zur Theologie des
Matthaus. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1962, 1966, 1971.
Trilling, Wolfgang. " Z u r Überlieferungsgeschichte des Gleichnisses v o m
Hochzeitsmahl M t 22,1-14," Biblische Zeitschrift A (1960) 251-65.
. Das Wahre Israel: Studien zur Theologie des
Matthäusevangeliums,
3 Aufl. Munich: Kosel, 1964.

176

CHAPTER 8

On Being Ready
(Matthew 25:1-46)

R I C H A R D T. F R A N C E

M A T T H E W ' S GOSPEL is distinguished by a series of five discourses
compiled from the sayings of Jesus. Each discourse concludes with the formula: "And it happened, when Jesus had finished [these words]" (7:28;
11:1; 13:53; 19:1; 26:1). It seems that the evangelist has set these five discourses into his narrative as something of the nature of five commentaries
on the significance of the events of Jesus' ministry portrayed in his Gospel.
The fifth and last of these discourses, that contained in Matthew 2 4 25, is about the future. It takes its cue from Jesus' prediction of the destruction of the temple in 24:2, which provokes the disciples to ask when that
destruction will happen. But their question associates with this i m m i n e n t
historical event the more far-reaching hope of Jesus' future "coming"
(parousia) and the "end of the age" (24:3). And the discourse moves from
the first of these events to the second.
Just where in the discourse that change of subject from an i m m i n e n t
historical occurrence to events in the future takes place is a matter of dispute. I myself believe it is not until after 24:35 (see my Matthew commentary). But commentators generally agree that from at least 24:36 onwards it
is Jesus' future parousia that is in view. And just as the first part of the discourse in chapter 24 has focused on the j u d g m e n t of Jerusalem and its
temple, so also the second part in chapter 25 carries a d o m i n a n t note of

177

RICHARD T. FRANCE
j u d g m e n t which note reaches its climax in the great universal j u d g m e n t
scene of 25:31-46.
Most of M a t t h e w 24 is roughly paralleled in the shorter discourse of
M a r k 13, t h o u g h in Matthew's Gospel the t h e m e of j u d g m e n t is developed
m o r e extensively. N o n e of M a t t h e w 25, however, is paralleled in Mark. O n e
of the c o m p o n e n t parables of the second half of Matthew's discourse, that
f o u n d in 25:14-30, has a parallel of sorts in Luke 19:12-27, where it is recorded separately f r o m the discourse about the fate of the temple (cf. Luke
21:5-36). But, as we will see, the differences between M a t t 25:14-30 and
Luke 19:12-27 are as striking as are their similarities. To all intents and
purposes, therefore, M a t t h e w 25 represents Matthew's u n i q u e contribution to o u r knowledge of Jesus' teaching a b o u t f u t u r e j u d g m e n t . And the
evangelist does this by the inclusion of two parables and an appended tableau.

1. T h e C o n t e x t
Jesus' parables on being ready for his coming do n o t begin in Matthew's
Gospel only at 25:1. Already in 24:43-51 two short parables have u n d e r lined the call to be ready for the c o m i n g of the Lord at a time w h e n he is
n o t expected. In 24:43 the simple analogy of a burglar, whose success depends on the element of surprise, provides the basis for the call in 24:44 to
"be ready." T h e n in 24:45-51 a rather more elaborate parable underlines
the same point: A m a n goes away, leaving his slave in charge of his household, and everything depends on what the h o u s e o w n e r finds when he returns; if the house is in good order, the slave will be rewarded, b u t if he has
taken advantage of his master's absence he will be caught o u t and severely
punished.
The focus in these two mini-parables is on the unexpectedness of Jesus' f u t u r e c o m i n g — that is, the burglar's surprise appearance and the
master's u n a n n o u n c e d return. The time of the Lord's c o m i n g is u n k n o w n
(24:36). It can be prepared for not by a t t e m p t i n g to calculate the date, b u t
by behaving in such a way that one is ready whenever it may occur.
It is this t h e m e that is taken u p and developed in the first parable of
chapter 25, that of the bridesmaids in 25:1-13. The parable of the talents
that follows in 25:14-30 takes u p the t h e m e again in depicting a master going away and leaving his slaves with responsibilities d u r i n g his absence,
178

On Being

Ready

and the different ways in which they acquit themselves until the time of his
return. There can be little d o u b t , therefore, of the intended application of
these parables at the p o i n t where they occur in Matthew's Gospel. For Jesus — having "gone away" in his death, resurrection, and ascension to
heaven — will o n e day come back. But no o n e knows w h e n that will be.
His disciples must therefore be ready at all times. If they are not, there is
the prospect of j u d g m e n t .
But the call to be ready raises the i m p o r t a n t question regarding what
that readiness consists of. Just h o w is o n e supposed to prepare for the u n expected c o m i n g of the Lord? As we work o u r way t h r o u g h chapter 25, this
question becomes m o r e urgent. T h r o u g h o u t the chapter, in fact, it begins
to receive an answer — t h o u g h , admittedly, by the end of the chapter the
answer may n o t be as specific as we might wish.
It has long been fashionable to assume that Jesus' parables have
mostly been adapted by the first-century church to address their own concerns, which may have been quite different f r o m the t h o u g h t s of Jesus
himself or the reactions of his disciples at the t i m e w h e n the story was first
told. Paul's letters leave us in no d o u b t that the return of Jesus was a p r o m inent concern of Christian congregations in the middle of the first century,
and that many believed it would be soon. The relevance of these parables
to that concern is obvious. As years went by, however, such a feeling of u r gency may well have faded, with the result that "parousia delay" came to
loom larger in their consciousness t h a n i m m i n e n c e . Features having to do
with the delay of Jesus' parousia are p r o m i n e n t in these parables (cf. 24:48;
25:5; 25:19, "after a long time"). This may reflect a concern of church leaders that people should n o t b e c o m e complacent, since in each story the delay is followed by a s u d d e n arrival.
But the relevance of these stories to the concerns of the middle and
latter part of the first century does n o t necessarily m e a n that they were
coined then, even if they were later modified by the church to speak to issues regarding the delay of Christ's parousia. The question is: Can the focus of these stories o n a f u t u r e "coming" be also u n d e r s t o o d as appropriate
to the setting in which Matthew has placed t h e m — that is, immediately
before the cross a n d resurrection of Jesus? O u r answer to this question depends largely on whether we accept that Jesus did, in fact, teach his disciples, while he was still with t h e m , that after his death and resurrection he
would one day return. This belief is so firmly established in what is perhaps the earliest of Paul's letters, that is, in his letters to his Thessalonian
179

RICHARD T. FRANCE
converts (cf. esp. 1 Thess 4:13-5:11; 2 Thess 2:1-12), that it is hard to explain where else it could have come f r o m so quickly.
In the Gospels we have sayings of Jesus that speak of such a f u t u r e
event — n o t only in the discourse of M a t t h e w 2 4 - 2 5 , b u t also in Luke
12:35-48; 17:20-37; and 18:8. O n the basis of such teaching, therefore, it is
n o t difficult to believe that the disciples had already grasped this parousia
concept sufficiently to need to ask the question that M a t t h e w attributes to
t h e m in 24:3: "Tell us, when will this h a p p e n , and what will be the sign of
your c o m i n g and of the end of the age?" And if they were already concerned to k n o w the t i m e of Jesus' f u t u r e coming, it is no surprise that, having told t h e m that they could not k n o w the t i m e of it (24:36), he went o n to
w a r n t h e m a b o u t the need to be always ready for it. Moreover, a prospect
of j u d g m e n t and themes regarding rewards and p u n i s h m e n t s occur frequently t h r o u g h o u t the recorded sayings of Jesus. So these stories of Matthew 25 deal with matters with which the disciples would not have been
unfamiliar.
Chapter 25 consists of three units. Two of t h e m are parables in the
n o r m a l sense of the t e r m . The third contains a parabolic image — that of a
shepherd separating sheep f r o m goats. It is n o t itself, however, a story-parable, b u t rather a magnificent tableau of final j u d g m e n t . In all three units
the t h e m e of j u d g m e n t is central.

2. T h e Parable o f t h e B r i d e s m a i d s ( 2 5 : 1 - 1 3 )
The division of bridesmaids into two groups, the "wise" and the "foolish,"
picks u p a contrast that is familiar f r o m Jewish wisdom literature and has
already been set o u t earlier in other parables in Matthew's Gospel — that
of the "wise" and "foolish" builders in 7:24-27, and of the "wise" and "foolish" slaves in 24:45-51. In those parables, as here, the "wise" — or probably
better the "prudent," which more accurately translates the Greek word
phonimos — are those w h o recognize the need to take action in readiness
for a c o m i n g crisis, so that they will not be caught u n p r e p a r e d .
O u r knowledge of ancient Palestinian wedding customs is not sufficient for us to be sure just w h o the "virgins" (parthenoi) would be. They
may have been attendants of the bride, or servants in the bridegroom's
house, or just friends and neighbors. But their role in the ceremonies was
to accompany the b r i d e g r o o m in a torchlight procession into "the wed180

More i m p o r tantly. and only insofar as they can be justified f r o m the context in which the story is set. 181 . with either inclusion or exclusion the result. W h e n his arrival was ann o u n c e d . Their torches (lampades. 22:1-14). however. since the preceding verses have been about the parousia of Jesus. so that it was necessary to carry jars of oil to dip t h e m in before lighting. as a particular group in the church. a story of readiness and unreadiness. it probably should be seen as a recognition that the church needed guidance on how to live in what seemed to be an unlimited interim period. not merely the foolish ones.On Being Ready ding. Matt 8:1112. N o n e theless. nor of identifying the girls. D u r i n g that delay all the girls go to sleep. Still less do we need to explain the lack of any m e n tion of the bride. So readiness does not consist in living in a constant state of "red alert. Those girls w h o had n o t b r o u g h t oil with t h e m could n o t relight their torches w h e n they dried out while waiting for the b r i d e g r o o m . then the feast to which the girls were invited would naturally be seen in the light of the Jewish h o p e of the "messianic banquet. It may. And their futile attempts to get new supplies in time resulted in their missing the procession and being shut o u t of the feast. which is n o t the same word used for standing "lamps" in 5:15. in general terms. be appropriate to notice certain details in the way the story is told that do not seem to be required by the m a i n story line." presumably the marriage feast. as depicted not only in Matt 9:15 b u t also in M a r k 2:20 and Luke 5:35). This tallies not so m u c h with the Parable of the Burglar in 24:43. Any more specific identifications d r a w n f r o m the details of the story m u s t be m a d e with care. since such details may hint at the way the story was m e a n t to be u n d e r stood. So this is." which would take place when the Messiah comes (cf. and elsewhere) would probably be bundles of oil-soaked rags wrapped on a stick. O n e such detail is the emphasis placed on the bridegroom's delay. w h e t h e r wise or foolish. The inclusion of this detail should probably be taken as an acknowledgm e n t that time had passed since Jesus promised to return. So m u c h seems required by the story's context. secure in the knowledge that w h e n the time comes everything will be in place." Life must go o n in the interim. it was too late. But the effect of the parable does n o t depend o n o u r discerning a specific m e a n i n g in the oil. and provision for the parousia of Jesus depends rather on having m a d e preparation beforehand so that one can safely go to sleep. it seems clear that Jesus is the bridegroom (an image that he had used earlier of himself. 6:22. And if that is so.

rather t h a n to the porter. as in Jesus' teaching in 7:21-23. (1) oil. It echoes. This is just what neither the wise n o r the foolish did in the story. But the moral would be easily d r a w n that "readiness" is s o m e t h i n g for which each of us is responsible — that is. Rather. with the cry: "Lord! Lord!" — thereby echoing the appeal of those w h o in 7:22 have claimed their right of entry to the k i n g d o m of heaven o n the basis of their charismatic achievements. b u t in a failure of relationship. But the story is increasingly losing the contours of everyday life and taking on the dimensions of the final j u d g m e n t . FRANCE which seems to require staying awake. as given in 7:23: "I never knew you!" Their unreadiness. as David Garland points out: " T h e parable is an allegory a b o u t spiritual preparedness. The climax of the story comes at the end of verse 10 when the d o o r is shut. It reverts to the Parable of the Burglar in order to reinforce the call to be ready 182 . as it does with the Parable of the Slave in 24:45-51 — whose "readiness" was n o t in constantly sitting by the door. n o t a lesson o n the golden rule" (Reading Matthew. T h e a p p a r e n t selfishness of the wise is n o t the p o i n t of the story. and so should perhaps be u n d e r s t o o d as a coda to the whole section of 24:36-25:12 rather than a s u m m a r y of the story of the bridesmaids specifically. the story suggests. (2) being there w h e n it counts. t h e language of 24:42-44. We will hear a similar note in the Parable of the Talents. usually associated with a village wedding ceremony. the b r i d e g r o o m answers t h e m in almost the same words as directed to evildoers on the day of final judgm e n t . where the fault of the third slave was in his doing n o t h i n g rather than being actively involved in everyday business.RICHARD T. 240). consisted n o t in what they did or did not do. For the girls appeal to the b r i d e g r o o m . what ultimately decides whether one is inside or outside the d o o r is being k n o w n by the bridegroom. The unsuccessful a t t e m p t of the foolish girls to b o r r o w f r o m the wise may be no more than dramatic storytelling. or general atmosphere of geniality. and (3) being k n o w n by the b r i d e g r o o m — verse 13 adds a n o t h e r that seems entirely incongruous: that of remaining awake. F u r t h e r m o r e . whatever it is. N o d o u b t in real life the pathetic appeal of the foolish girls in verse 11 would have met with a m o r e sympathetic response. rather. And so. There is a grim finality a b o u t this s h u t t i n g of the b a n q u e t d o o r that is unlikely to reflect the b o n h o m i e . b u t in getting o n with the job he had been given to do. that we c a n n o t be passengers o n another person's readiness. To this already complex set of criteria for inclusion — that is.

F u r t h e r m o r e . 2 6 . thoiigh literally an incompatible. 22-23. 21. metaphor. varying rates of return. The effect of this story. Luke's version. the setting of the story in Luke is n o t in the context of a discourse a b o u t the future (as f o u n d in Luke 21). it is expanded with the apparently unrelated themes of the n o b l e m a n seeking to have himself appointed a king. 2 4 .2 7 . p r o p o r t i o n a t e governorship of cities as a reward. b u t being punished because of his lack of enterprise — with some of the same dialogue (cf. and that this division has eternal consequences for their contrasting destinies — that is. T h e answer suggested by the words of the brideg r o o m i n v e r s e 12. keeping the m o n e y safe. either sharing the feast with the brideg r o o m or wailing unavailingly outside the closed door. the story suggests that a m o n g those w h o to all outward appearances were all in the same category (i.3 0 ) Before considering the Parable of the Talents as f o u n d in Matthew. But the question as to h o w that readiness is to be u n d e r s t o o d has not yet been clearly answered. 24) and the same interpretative c o m m e n t s (cf. all receive the same a m o u n t . m o n e y w r a p p e d in a cloth. Matt 25:21a.. 2 8 and Luke 19:17a. "I don't know you. however.On Being Ready by means of a complementary. Moreover. ten slaves.e. Matt 25:29 and Luke 19:26). is to stress the need to be ready for a "coming" that will be at an unexpected time. To carry a jar of oil looks more like some sort of provident preparation for a c o m i n g crisis. two of the slaves t r a d i n g well and being rewarded. 3. we m u s t note that in Luke 19:11-27 there appears a parable that is clearly a version of the same story — an absent master giving his slaves m o n e y to use in his absence. then. a f u n d a m e n t a l division between those who were ready and those who were unready. o n e slave. in fact. b u t just before Jesus' ar183 . is very different in the details of t h e story itself — that is. F u r t h e r m o r e . a n o b l e m a n . But what sort of preparation? T h e parable that follows goes at least p a r t of the way in providing an answer. ten girls sleeping together by the roadside) there is." seems strangely out of keeping with the way the rest of the story is told. a delegation of his disaffected subjects voicing their opposition to his a p p o i n t m e n t . m u c h smaller s u m s of money. T h e Parable o f t h e Talents ( 2 5 : 1 4 . claiming to fear his master's k n o w n rapaciousness. and their ultimate annihilation.

Most c o m m e n t a t o r s believe that Luke's version represents a later adaptation and expansion of Jesus' parable. t h o u g h the themes of kingship and rebellion introduce new dimensions to the parable that do n o t sit very comfortably with the story's m a i n t h e m e (somewhat similar. however. and it calls on those who hear to be ready w h e n he comes. as it relates to the overall effect of the parables in the latter part of the discourse a b o u t the future. And it is this focus that takes us f u r t h e r t h a n the previous parables toward an u n derstanding of what it means to "be ready. a talent presumably represents s o m e t h i n g like 184 . as in Matthew. to the way that the king's military expedition intrudes into the Parable of the Great Supper in Matt 22:1-14). it appears. however.000 denarii. in the course of several m o n t h s or even years of public ministry. m u s t be o n Matthew's version of the story. Like the preceding parables of the slave left in charge and of the bridesmaids. thereby giving rise to two separate parable traditions. if anywhere. Those words of introduction in Luke 19:11 suggest that the t h e m e of "parousia delay" is i m p o r t a n t for Luke's version. In Luke. it speaks of a period of waiting before the master's return. we should take seriously the possibility that Jesus himself may have retold the story with differences on a n o t h e r occasion.RICHARD T. Any preacher could have told t h e m that this is the most natural scenario in the world! O u r focus here. may have used and reused similar material a n u m b e r of times with different audiences a n d for different purposes. The delay in Luke is related to the appearance of the k i n g d o m of G o d rather than. and that these two separate tellings f o u n d their way ultimately into the accounts of Matthew and Luke respectively. the essential message seems to be that the period of waiting must be used responsibly. as in Matthew's context. to the parousia h o p e — t h o u g h it is n o t difficult to detect this latter motif in the Lukan symbolism of the nobleman's return as a king. But the differences between the two versions — even in the basic story line — are such that here. It is remarkable how resistant some New Testament scholars are to the possibility that Jesus." The story is of a wealthy m a n w h o d u r i n g an absence f r o m h o m e leaves very large s u m s of m o n e y with his slaves. FRANCE rival at Jerusalem and because "the people were thinking that the k i n g d o m of God was a b o u t to appear immediately" (Luke 19:11). d u r i n g the master's absence. the Parable of the Talents. or should have d o n e . A talent was normally reckoned as 6. A n d since in M a t t 20:2 a denarius is an acceptable day's pay for a laborer. But this t i m e there is more emphasis on what the slaves have done.

In a period free of inflation.On Being Ready twenty years' wages. The slave's portrayal of his master as grasping and unreasonable was m e a n t to justify his caution. so as to avoid p u n i s h m e n t for loss of the deposit. make a profit") a one h u n d r e d percent profit. not just the return of his capital. m o r e risky — t h a n merely placing it on deposit with a b a n k . since bankers could n o t be trusted: " M o n e y can be guarded only by placing it in the earth" (Babylonian Talmud. as well. t h o u g h see Jesus' parable in Matt 13:44 for what might h a p p e n even to m o n e y buried in the earth). and so hid his master's m o n e y in the g r o u n d (25:25). "to gain. The third slave. So the m a n w h o receives five talents is h a n d l i n g m o r e t h a n he could have expected to earn in a lifetime! This is serious money! The p u r p o s e of this allocation of m o n e y to his slaves is not stated in Matthew. But it. in fact. The master requires profit. Baba Metzia 3:10). But this slave went for m a x i m u m security. Yet his prudence is c o n d e m n e d as timidity. and is not i m p o r t a n t . literally "to work in") the m o n e y they had received and "gained" (kerdainö. The nature of their t r a d i n g is not specified. for a grasping master is n o t going to be satisfied with a nil profit. As 185 . And since the third — like the bad slave of 24:48-51 and the foolish girls of 25:8-12 — is dealt with at greater length t h a n those who succeeded. A later Rabbi is reported to have declared that. however. the slave apparently viewed his action as being p r u d e n t and as guaranteeing that his master would incur no loss. Mishnah." The first two slaves "traded with" (ergazomai en. it seems clear that it is his example that we are particularly m e a n t to notice and to heed as a warning. since the master's c o m m e n t in verse 27 suggests that depositing it with a b a n k would have resulted in only a m i n i m a l gain. is t u r n e d against h i m . Baba Metzia 42a. as it is in Luke 19:13 ("Trade with it until I come back"). rendering a trustee liable to make good whatever was lost or stolen (cf. But the sequel makes it clear that the master expected — and that the slaves knew he would expect — that they would find means of increasing it d u r i n g his absence. The focus of the story is o n the contrasting achievements and fates of the first two slaves in comparison with the third. It is in the difference between his action (or lack of it) and the actions of the first two slaves that we will find the key to "being ready. played it safe. It was apparently s o m e t h i n g m o r e p r o d u c tive — probably. Merely tying m o n e y u p in a cloth (as in Luke 19:20) was regarded as inadequate security. But even that would have been better t h a n nothing.

18:2-5). has to do with the 186 . do the talents represent? W h a t sort of "trading" is required of disciples in the interim period before their Lord returns? Here we must p u t out of o u r m i n d s the m e a n i n g of the English word "talent. Matt 10:39. For to the disciples. Matthew. Consequently. Discipleship in the k i n g d o m of heaven is not a matter of safety b u t of risk. G o d looks for m o r e t h a n "a religion concerned only with n o t doing anything w r o n g " (E. has been entrusted the "secrets of the k i n g d o m of heaven. as Matthew's wording has it.RICHARD T. b u t not to the crowds at large w h o came merely to hear Jesus' teaching. Matthew. then. 486). But the Greek term has no such meaning. aptitude.7 . particularly in the Sermon on the M o u n t of chapters 5 . the general aptitudes and abilities that people have as natural e n d o w m e n t s or as a result of their various environments. Beare. for " m u c h will be expected of those to w h o m m u c h has been given" (Luke 12:48). To play it safe and keep one's slate clean is n o t enough. The metaphorical use of "talent" in English for "innate ability." For the Greek talanton m e a n s a large s u m of money. and especially of the expectation of his return. In the context of Jesus' ministry. or faculty" (Collins' English Dictionary) derives not f r o m the m e a n ing of the Greek word b u t f r o m subsequent interpretations of this parable. discipleship is p o r trayed as a style of life peculiarly appropriate to that divine regime — that is. A n d in 13:11-17 Jesus is presented as making a ringing declaration of the special privilege enjoyed by his disciples." So having received such a privilege. 16:25-26). W. where an unattractive h u m a n trait is used to illustrate the character of God. Schweizer. W h a t . It does not carry within it any necessary indication of what such a s u m represents. as the distinctive values and c o m m i t m e n t s of those w h o have been called to follow Jesus and who have a Father in heaven. which is a privilege that has been denied to many prophets and righteous people before t h e m . it is unlikely that we are intended to t h i n k of what we now call "talents" — that is. o n the assumption that that was what the s u m s of money were intended to represent. they are expected to exploit it in the service of their master. of losing life in order to gain it (cf. b u t that he is not satisfied with inaction. "the k i n g d o m of heaven"). and n o t h i n g more. FRANCE in other parables (notably Luke 11:5-8. we need n o t assume a simple allegorical equivalence. therefore. 473). Jesus' central message was a b o u t the k i n g d o m of G o d (or. The message is n o t that God is a "rapacious capitalist" (F. The p r i m a r y m e a n i n g of the talents. in Matthew's Gospel.

Yet it does n o t grow by its own efforts. b u t only as people p u t it to use. m o n e y buried in the g r o u n d will n o t grow. even t h o u g h the s u m s involved differed. W h e n the master goes away. to echo a n o t h e r par187 . might suggest). and all that m e n and w o m e n have to do is to wait for the outcome. Those w h o have cause to fear his c o m i n g are those w h o have not m a d e use of the o p p o r t u n i t i e s and privileges entrusted to t h e m . an impression could easily be drawn f r o m those parables that growth is automatic — that is. But the Parable of the Talents refines the idea of growth by changing the metaphor. and he will expect results. the different rates of yield of the good seed in 13:8). w h o have buried their m o n e y in the g r o u n d . and so achieved n o t h i n g for the k i n g d o m of heaven — or. b u t by taking note of t h e m side by side a creative fusion is achieved. an e n c o u r a g e m e n t to find that the c o m m e n dations given to each of the first two slaves in verses 21 and 23 are identical. 1 Cor 12:4-11. He will leave b e h i n d great potential. even if the initial capital s u m s varied! While growth is a recurrent t h e m e in the Parables of the Kingdom of Heaven in Matthew 13. For just as seed grows. 100 percent is 100 percent. the teaching on varied gifts in such passages as Rom 12:3-8. T h u s to be ready for his coming is to be active o n behalf of the k i n g d o m of heaven and to have results to show for it. The different s u m s given to the three slaves may be no m o r e than good storytelling. After all. and that the results expected will be p r o p o r t i o n a t e to the initial e n d o w m e n t (cf. So if the tiny m u s t a r d seed is. The interval between Jesus' initial sowing of the seed and his ultimate return to collect the harvest is. It is. it is a t i m e for enterprise and initiative on the p a r t of those w h o have been called to follow Jesus. are not linked together in the same story. For unlike seed. Still. that the good seed will develop by its own power.On Being Ready special privileges and opportunities entrusted to Jesus' disciples as subjects of the k i n g d o m of heaven. taken on its own. it is their responsibility n o t to wait in pious idleness b u t to get o n with the job he has entrusted to t h e m . But he expects that potential to be developed t h r o u g h the faithful discipleship of his people. These two parabolic metaphors. therefore. it will b e because disciples have been m a k i n g it grow. of course. so does money. and Eph 4:7-13). to b e c o m e a great bush. perhaps we are intended to note that n o t everyone has the same o p p o r t u n i t i e s and abilities to achieve results for the k i n g d o m of heaven (cf. Rather. It is to show initiative and to take risks in order to achieve s o m e t h i n g for God. n o t to be seen as one of passive waiting (as the parable of M a r k 4:26-29. therefore. indeed.

the application invades the telling of the story. as in the two preceding parables of the slave left in charge and the ten bridesmaids.RICHARD T. but traditional Jewish language of the ultimate fate of the ungodly. 60). And here in Matthew 25 this 188 . and the reward promised in verses 21 and 23 is not personal gain b u t f u r t h e r responsibility. So it is surprising to find that the successful slave is now not only allowed to keep both the capital and the profit. For t h e m there will be no "Well done!" It is at the level of rewards and p u n i s h m e n t s that. 23) hardly rings t r u e as a real-life businessman's response to his slaves' successes. which describe the fate of those w h o fail to qualify for the messianic b a n quet (cf. the language of verse 30. he already has ten p o u n d s ! " (19:25). But. This is not the language of commercial transactions. they usually appear in order to introduce additional points of application. "throw that worthless servant into outer darkness. The "outer darkness" and the "weeping and gnashing of teeth" echo the words of 8:12 and 22:13. rather t h a n return t h e m to his master. we need to r e m e m b e r that a parable is n o t m e a n t to be a m i r r o r of real life. where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. and. 50. But this seems an unnecessarily prosaic way of reinforcing what is already a fairly obvious symbolism. 24:51. b u t of the k i n g d o m of heaven — of the messianic b a n q u e t that is foreshadowed in 8:11 and symbolized in the wedding feast into which the five wise girls were welcomed in the previous parable at 25:10. Likewise. not their own. where "weeping and gnashing of teeth" is used in connection with parables a b o u t the fate of those rejected at the final j u d g m e n t ) . Joachim Jeremias has suggested that "joy" represents an Aramaic word that can also m e a n " b a n q u e t " (Parables. FRANCE able. b u t also given a f u r ther personal b o n u s at the expense of his less successful colleague. understandably. W h e n i n c o n g r u o u s features occur. also 13:42. A n o t h e r curious touch that sits u n c o m f o r t a b l y within the framework of the story of this parable is the c o m m a n d in verse 28 to take the third slave's carefully preserved talent and give it to the slave w h o now has ten talents." goes far beyond the dismissal of an unsatisfactory servant. with the result that no o n e has been able to see their light and so been d r a w n to give glory to their Father in heaven (5:15-16). Such language is n o t the language of h u m a n transactions and e m p l o y m e n t . again. it provokes a shocked protest: "Lord. T h e story was of slaves w h o were expected to trade for their master's benefit. In Luke 19:24 the same c o m m a n d is given. For "Enter into your master's joy!" ( w 21. w h o have hidden their l a m p u n d e r a meal-tub.

And just as the five wise bridesmaids were not caught out because they had already m a d e sure of their oil supply. whether they have been small or great. develops the t h e m e of "being ready" by spelling o u t a little more concerning what is expected of disciples in the period before their Lord returns. So also. at least in any n o r m a l sense of the word. it is the slave's responsibility to carry o u t faithfully the role that has been entrusted. t h o u g h in a different setting.On Being Ready strange feature is explained by the saying to which it gives rise in verse 29: "To all those who have. however. For the focus of the story u p to verse 27 was not on the personal gain of the first two slaves. Just as the slave of 24:46 was comm e n d e d and rewarded for being hard at work w h e n his master returned. m o r e will be given so that they have m o r e t h a n enough. The Parable of the Talents. however. Its language is vivid and visionary. to maximize one's potential for the benefit of the k i n g d o m of heaven." This epigram occurs in a n u m b e r of places in the Gospels (cf. a par189 . there is reward for the spiritually successful. The vision that follows in 25:31-46 spells o u t m o r e explicitly what at least part of that role is to be. b u t disaster for the spiritually b a n k r u p t . M a r k 4:25 a n d Luke 8:18). also. that capital breeds income. in the imagery of the parable itself. It is the addition of verse 28. Furthermore. O u r "readiness" consists in having faithfully and boldly discharged o u r responsibilities as disciples. b u t still had one talent. so followers of Jesus are expected not to sit and watch b u t to make preparations. A Tableau of Final J u d g m e n t ( 2 5 : 3 1 . T h e k i n g d o m of heaven is. f r o m those w h o do not have. the parable teaches. but a lack of capital spells ruin. the third slave was not destitute. it seems. therefore. Matt 13:12. with no place accorded for mere passengers. 4.4 6 ) The final section of Jesus' discourse about the f u t u r e in Matthew 25 has only a limited place in a discussion of parables. It is the master w h o allocates the scale of responsibility. thereby a d d i n g a related b u t separate moral based o n a principle of capitalist economics — that is. It is not. an enterprise culture. But it does not fit very neatly with the parable here. so this parable calls followers of Jesus to responsible activity — or. even what they have will be taken away. that has allowed t h e epigram to be introduced.

the expert j u d g m e n t of the King to tell t h e m apart." like those of 1 Enoch (Parables. It should be noted.RICHARD T. it may not be obvious to all observers — even to the participants themselves. and then consider how the j u d g m e n t scene as a whole r o u n d s off the t h e m e of readiness for the master's return. 44 graphically illustrate — who belong to the "righteous" and w h o do not. FRANCE able. 13:41). Mixed flocks of sheep and goats are often seen in Palestine. therefore. which the preceding parables have opened up. So at the last judgm e n t . And insofar as there is the possibility of visual confusion between the sheep and the goats. w i t h o u t f u r t h e r recourse to that shepherd imagery. 36-43): that it is only at the final j u d g m e n t that we can k n o w w h o is who. in fact. that the Old Testament often describes God's people as his sheep. as verses 37-39. b u t the fact of their separation. t h o u g h c o m m e n t a t o r s display a remarkably persistent tendency to describe it as such. Rather. Nonetheless. it is "the Son of Man. It is probably not helpful to speculate why the righteous are represented as sheep and the u n r i g h t e o u s as goats. this little simile reinforces the message of the Parable of the Weeds (cf. Ezek 34:17). It can. Jeremias. We will. take an experienced eye to separate t h e m at the end of the day. and in which goatskin was as m u c h in d e m a n d as sheep's wool. But few English readers would recognize this as a natural m e a n i n g of "parable. It takes. God. While sheep (when clean!) are normally white and goats mainly b r o w n or black. therefore. b u t never as his goats." The imagery of the great vision of Dan 7:9-28 is used to depict his ultimate 190 ." who is described as "the King. first c o m m e n t briefly o n the simile in verses 32-33. calls it "a masal" or "an apocalyptic revelation. as we might have expected. however. some sheep (more than in most Western flocks) have brown or black patches and s o m e are generally dark. w h e n the goats need to be taken indoors while the hardier sheep remain in the open air. 206)." Others tend simply to cite Jeremias's authority for calling it a parable! Admittedly. the judge in this tableau of final j u d g m e n t in 25:31-46 is not. for example. the passage contains a parabolic simile of a shepherd dividing sheep f r o m goats in verses 32-33 (cf. since b o t h animals were valuable in a society that (unlike ours) was n o t prejudiced against goatmeat. the shepherd imagery is not developed and the d r a m a t i c j u d g m e n t scene is presented in terms of a dialogue between the King and two groups of people. Matt 13:24-30. the identification of the animals. The point here is not. As in the conclusion to the Parable of the Weeds (cf.

H. But how does this tableau of final j u d g m e n t in 25:31-46 define that "readiness"? The answer is disarmingly b u t disturbingly simple — "disturbingly simple. D." that is. The least that this use of gar implies is that the p e r f o r m a n c e or n o n . Hagner). Introduction to the Parables. A. It is probably t r u e to say that the majority of recent c o m m e n t a t o r s have opposed it. nations and languages" (Dan 7:14). the Greek gar ("because") should be u n d e r s t o o d as signaling the actual basis — or. The Greek c o n j u n c t i o n gar ("because") at the beginning of both verse 35 and verse 42 makes a direct link between a person's ultimate destiny and the acts of kindness that he or she has p e r f o r m e d or withheld.g.. e. Being ready for final j u d g m e n t .. e. This apparently "Pelagian" teaching has understandably met with stout exegetical resistance (cf. see also the c o m m e n t a r i e s on Matthew by R. Stein. and so "all nations" are gathered before h i m for j u d g m e n t . t h o u g h there are those w h o continue to s u p p o r t it (cf. at least. This is the m o m e n t for which we have been insistently warned that we m u s t be ready. for those of us w h o believe with the apostle Paul that we c a n n o t be saved by good works. b u t to him. with the choice between these two destinies depending o n that readiness.g. The obvious point of departure in a t t e m p t i n g to restrict the apparently universal scope of the acts of kindness described is the fact that these acts are described by the King as having been d o n e n o t to people in general. D.. C. as a result of which people will find themselves either enjoying "the kingdom prepared for you f r o m the foundation of the w o r l d " (v 34) or sharing "the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels" (v 41). R. and D. For what is said here is that those w h o will find life are those w h o have p e r f o r m e d acts of kindness to people in distress.. however. D. It is only in response to the incredulity of the righteous that the King explains that it was t h r o u g h kindness to "one of these small191 . 135-40. W e n h a m . part of the basis — for that j u d g m e n t .p e r f o r m a n c e of such acts of kindness are the evidence of a person's blessed or cursed state. More probably. H. Davies and D. Gundry. Parables. 90-92. whereas those destined for the fire are those w h o have ignored people's needs. Allison). The setting at the end of a discourse that has increasingly focused on the parousia of Christ — and that climaxes in verse 46 with the u n r i g h t e o u s going off to "eternal p u n i s h m e n t " and the righteous being led into "eternal life" — indicates that this is the final j u d g m e n t . see also the Matthew c o m m e n t a r y by W. then.On Being Ready e n t h r o n e m e n t as sovereign over "all peoples. Carson. would seem to consist in having acted kindly towards anyone in need. A.

or the evangelist Matthew. R. therefore. however insignificant — or w h e t h e r it must mean specifically the m e m b e r s of Jesus' t r u e family ("my b r o t h e r and sister and m o t h e r " ) ." The crucial question. "Apostolic Hardships and Righteous Gentiles: A Study of Matthew 25:31-46. w h o have been defined in 12:50 as "those who do the will of my Father in heaven. that chapter does not specifically speak of these "little ones" as missionaries. H. or is it. The c o m p a r i s o n is m a d e with statements in M a t t h e w 10. the cue for talk a b o u t "little ones" in M a t t h e w 18 is Jesus' use of a child as a m o d e l of t r u e discipleship ( w 25). and the reference here to Jesus' b r o t h e r s and sisters as "little o n e s " suggests a deliberate echo." In other words. so that people's basic allegiance is revealed by whether they receive or reject those who come to t h e m in the n a m e of Jesus. T h e same language a b o u t "little o n e s " occurs also in 18:6. 10 and 14. where a j u d g m e n t worse t h a n what befell S o d o m and Gom o r r a h is said to await those w h o reject Jesus' emissaries ( w 11-15) and Jesus is quoted as saying: "Anyone w h o receives you [the disciples] receives m e " (v 40). would have used such a phrase to mean just anybody. too. is w h e t h e r Jesus. because he is a disciple" and declares that such an act of kindness to such a "little one" will be rewarded (v 42).g. the beneficiaries are not people in general. were taken as evidence of a positive attitude toward Jesus. J. b u t "little brothers and sisters of Jesus. Moreover. FRANCE est brothers and sisters of m i n e " that they showed it to him. kindness shown specifically to Christian disciples (cf. So in Matthew's Gospel there 192 . R. is the basis of divine j u d g m e n t an undiscriminating philanthropy. and it is in t h a t c o n n e c t i o n that he declares: " W h o e v e r receives o n e such child in my n a m e receives m e " (v 5). rather.RICHARD T. therefore. But it may be d o u b t e d that Christian missionaries are specifically in view in 25:31-46. Moreover. 28:10 for the disciples as Jesus' "brothers"). T h e similarity of 25:35-40 to these statements in M a t t h e w 10 is striking." Journal of Biblical Literature 84 [1965] 27-37. and t h r o u g h t h e m to their Lord? Some have gone f u r t h e r and argued that the reference in 25:31-46 is specifically to Christian missionaries (e. Their kind deeds toward other people. even if those who did t h e m were not themselves conscious of their significance. G u n d r y in his Matthew calls t h e m "the persecuted messengers of Jesus"). Michaels. For while Matthew 10 goes on to c o m m e n d the gift of a drink of water to "one of these little ones. and there.. it is specifically disciples of Jesus w h o are in view.

And 25:35-40 fits snugly w i t h i n that developing motif. and so m u s t be u n d e r s t o o d to have intended here as well: "If you have ears. is m e n t i o n e d . If the acts of the righteous reveal t h e m as Christians. and the first two slaves' t r a d i n g activities (25:1617). It is how we behave toward other people that will be a key criterion of judgment. to argue f r o m other parts of Scripture — even f r o m Matthew's Gospel — that this is n o t the only criterion. t h e n . O n that basis. T h e r e is. however. b r i n g i n g it to a climax in the s o l e m n context of the final j u d g m e n t . in fact. then. and therefore the basis of o u r "readiness. Jesus declares. with h o w they are treated b e i n g an indication of people's attitude also to h i m ." w h o are surprised to find themselves o n the side of Jesus at the great divide. T h u s t h e interpretation of this passage as locating the criterion of j u d g m e n t in sheer u n d i s c r i m i n a t i n g good deeds to the needy — even w h e n full weight has been given to the fact t h a t Jesus describes the recipients as his b r o t h e r s and sisters — refuses to evaporate completely. rather t h a n toward h u m a n needs in general. that marks t h e m out as those "blessed by my Father. it is apparently as " a n o n y m o u s Christians. b u t rather a s y m p t o m of an underlying relationship with God of which works of kindness are a natural outworking. is a m o r e tangible spelling out of what was symbolized by the slave's care for the household (24:45-46). The criterion of j u d g m e n t . directed toward h i m in the person of his followers. It is possible. But that is not what this particular passage says." Here. it is possible to argue that the criterion of j u d g m e n t is n o t so m u c h good works per se as it is one's response to Jesus — and that is a m u c h m o r e c o m f o r t a b l e conclusion for Protestant theology! Unfortunately. No other criterion. hear!" 193 . rather t h a n any conscious targeting of such acts toward those k n o w n to be disciples." spelled out in this climactic j u d g m e n t scene is a very practical one: one's works of kindness. As Jesus is reported to have said o n other challenging occasions. a strong case to be m a d e for u n d e r s t a n d i n g the kindness of the righteous and the h a r d n e s s of the u n r i g h t e o u s as specifically directed toward Jesus in the person of his insignificant followers. It is their kindness in itself. of course. neither the righteous n o r the u n r i g h t e o u s knew that they were r e s p o n d i n g to Jesus. These works are. the girls' supply of oil (25:4). But those being judged are apparently unaware of that fact.On Being Ready appears a r e c u r r e n t t h e m e of disciples as "little o n e s " in w h o m Jesus himself is to b e recognized.

(2) m a k i n g adequate provisions in the present for events in the future (25:1-13). welcoming. most searchingly of all. or the shepherd separates the flock. C o n c l u s i o n — " B e i n g R e a d y " Jesus' great discourse o n future events in Matthew 2 4 . clothing. to have n o t h i n g to present to the r e t u r n i n g master b u t bare capital. and. T h r o u g h o u t the immediate context and the latter part of this eschatological discourse. just as in the earlier Parable of the Weeds and Parable of the N e t in Matthew 13. and visiting the "little brothers and sisters of Jesus" (25:31-46).2 5 has come to a farreaching climax. We have traced the gradual u n f o l d i n g of the t h e m e of "being ready" for the final j u d g m e n t in these stories.RICHARD T. T h a t is why the note that s o u n d s t h r o u g h o u t the latter part of the discourse is a call to "be ready" — so as not to be caught o u t in riotous irresponsibility. The parables have centered on contrasting individuals or groups: the responsible and irresponsible slaves (24:42-51). leading u p to a searching tableau of the final j u d g m e n t of all nations executed by himself as King u p o n his t h r o n e . A n d it is this t h e m e that has given rise to a powerful sequence of parables of j u d g m e n t . the successful and unsuccessful traders (25:14-30). Having left b e h i n d the initial question of the fate of the Jerusalem temple. Here is an eminently practical agenda of preparation for the c o m i n g j u d g m e n t . there appears the m o m e n t of decision — when the master returns. the sensible and foolish bridesmaids (25:1-13). The d o o r will be shut! And there will be some inside and s o m e outside! No one knows how soon that m o m e n t of decision may come. highlighting the fact that in Jesus' teaching such preparation has to do with (1) a responsible fulfillment of duty (24:43-51). FRANCE 5. the motif of an ultimate division has been p r e d o m i nant. Jesus has t u r n e d the spotlight onto his o w n f u t u r e ret u r n in glory. caring for. Every reader is left to p o n d e r where he or she stands within this radical separation. or to start trading. (4) giving food and drink. and the sheep and the goats (25:31-46). At that time it will be too late to change sides. (3) boldly and actively exploiting opportunities for advancing the growth of the k i n g d o m of heaven (25:14-30). to go looking for oil. the b r i d e g r o o m arrives. Am I a responsible or irresponsible slave? A sensible or foolish bridesmaid? A successful or u n successful trader? A sheep or a goat? At the end of each story. It 194 . or to find oneself o n the left side of the throne. to discover too late that you have no oil.

Hooke. Mat- France. R. Eduard. Rev. Schweizer. The Good News according to Matthew. trans. 1963. 1985. 1995. Leicester: Inter-Varsity. D. 8c T. Selected B i b l i o g r a p h y Beare. ed. 191-99. Robert H. 1989. Davies. Longenecker and M. Matthew. 1982. Hagner. Clark. G r a n d Rapids: Eerdmans. W. 195 London: . 1989. London: SCM. 1996. 1993. Rather. Gaebelein. David E. F. Commen- Gundry. 3 vols. Richard T. New York: Crossroad. trans. 1988. Robert H. D. G r a n d Rapids: Z o n d e r v a n . ed. Exeter: Paternoster. London: SPCK. G r a n d Rapids: Eerdmans. and Dale C. W e n h a m . E.On Being Ready has n o t h i n g to do with eschatological timetables or ascetic regimes. Carson. 1981. Matthew: Evangelist and Teacher. The Parables of Jesus. Jr. in The Expositor's Bible Commentary. H. Jeremias. Tenney. Reading Matthew: A Literary and Theological tary on the First Gospel. Ladd. N . Matthew: A Commentary on his Literary and Theological Art. Matthew 14-28 (Word C o m m e n t a r y 33B). Atlanta: John Knox. Green. The Gospel according to Saint thew. " T h e Parable of the Sheep and the Goats in Recent Interpretation. David. 1975. G r a n d Rapids: Zondervan. Francis W." in New Dimensions in New Testament Study. The Parables of Jesus: Pictures of Revolution. Garland. ·. C. vol. H o d d e r 8c Stoughton. An Introduction to the Parables of Jesus. S. Grand Rapids: Z o n d e r v a n . 1-599. Dallas: Word. and doing it now before it is too late. The Gospel according to Matthew. 1984. 1981. Allison. George E. Joachim. 1974. Edinburgh: T. Donald A. ed. Matthew. Donald A. Stein. Philadelphia: Westminster. E. 1991. Oxford: Blackwell. it is all a b o u t living to the full a life of responsible and joyful discipleship. 8.

.

PART IV Parables of the Christian Life .

.

An intellectual assent to that idea is held to be of itself sufficient to secure remission of sins.CHAPTER 9 Parables on God s Love and Forgiveness (Luke 15:1-32) S T E P H E N C. grace without cost! Cheap grace means grace as a doctrine. In such a Church the world finds a cheap covering for its sins. We are fighting today for costly grace. and the consolations of religion are thrown away at cut prices. the love of God taught as the Christian "conception" of God. began his memorable book on The Cost of Discipleship (ET. The Church which holds the correct doctrine of grace has. B A R T O N 1. ipso facto a part in that grace. The sacraments. Grace without price. the forgiveness of sin. it is supposed. a system. Cheap grace means grace sold on the market like cheapjack's wares. no contrition is required. the German theologian and martyr. 1948) as follows: Cheap grace is the deadly enemy of our Church. Grace is represented as the Church's inexhaustible treasury. It means forgiveness of sins proclaimed as a general truth. still less any real desire to be delivered 199 . without asking questions or fixing limits. a principle. Introduction: Cheap Grace Dietrich Bonhoeffer. from which she showers blessings with generous hands.

a fallacy rooted in Enlighte n m e n t rationalism and the hermeneutics of Romanticism to think that we can start with the parables "then" and. of Scripture as a whole — for the glory of G o d and the life of the world (cf. the scribes. t h o u g h s o m e t i m e s of value as a corrective to u n c o n t r o l l e d over-interpretation. o n e of the questions — is to which these parables m i g h t be an answer. is always in d a n g e r of b e i n g rationalistic and reductionist. we c o m e away m a r k e d for life. (35) These prophetic words provide an apt starting p o i n t for a study of the parables about God's love and forgiveness in Luke 15:1-32. I want. Returning to the point m a d e by Bonhoeffer. reading the parables as they were m e a n t to be read is to b e "once m o r e astonished" by the gospel — to so engage with the text in all of its detail. these words of Bonhoeffer come f r o m the mid-twentieth century. and they talk a b o u t the church and the incarnation. not a b o u t the Pharisees. O n c e we have worked o u t w h a t they m e a n t . But that is the point! For we read the parables of the Gospels in the light of o u r resurrection faith as words of Christian Scripture within the ongoing life and witness of the church in the world. O u r reading of the parables should n o t be to try to strip away their "inessentials" in order to get to their "real message" — w h e t h e r of Jesus. 2 Sam 12:1-15). This strategy of historical criticism. BARTON from sin. or the evangelist. Lash. therefore. of course. It is. Cheap grace therefore amounts to a denial of the living Word of God. in fact." This is to abdicate o u r responsibility as interpreters w h o stand in a long line of parable interpretation. like Jacob after his struggle with G o d at the Jabbok. contingency. to suggest that one way — t h o u g h not the only way — of engaging fruitfully with the Lukan parables a b o u t God's love and forgiveness is to consider 200 . Admittedly. a denial of the Incarnation of the Word of God. we need n o t concern ourselves f u r t h e r with t h e m . not the first century. a line that goes back into Scripture itself (cf.STEPHEN C. For they help us toward an u n d e r s t a n d i n g of what the question — or. except p e r h a p s to find a p p r o p r i a t e platitudes with which to replace t h e m . in fact. that. at least. the parables themselves b e c o m e dispensable. It is also to misconstrue o u r relationship to the c o m m u n i t i e s of faith whose vocation is the ongoing p e r f o r m a n c e of the parables — and. and after-life in the t r a d i t i o n . Rather. say something Christian a b o u t their m e a n i n g "today. Theology. or the early c h u r c h . In the end. 37-46). or Jesus of Nazareth. as a final a f t e r t h o u g h t .

as providing answers to the p r o b l e m of "cheap grace. as c o m m o n l y k n o w n . "joy"/"rejoice"/"make m e r r y " ( w 5-7. even if m o r e elaborate and complex. restoration. there are certain words and phrases that recur and serve to bind the parables together — as. as well. the Lost Coin ( w 8-10). 9. Third. the Prodigal) Son ( w 11-32). 32). 24. There are a n u m b e r of indications that these three parables of Luke 15:1-32 (perhaps also the Parable of the Unjust Steward of Luke 16:1-8. and the Lost (or. the first three of which are the Lost Sheep ( w 4-7). 32). "The parables of Luke 15 and 16:1-8 are Luke's pièce de résistance" (Parables. 1 0 . t h o u g h that parable will be treated later by Stephen Wright in chapter 10) were intended by Luke to be read as a literary u n i t . and celebration present. is also recognizably similar. The structure of the longer Parable of the Prodigal Son. and a concluding lesson (cf. that there are significant parallels linking the Parable of the Prodigal Son 201 . one lost sheep/one lost coin." 2. they share a c o m m o n theme: God's delight in a sinner's repentance ( w 7. the beginning and end of the material in Luke 15 constitute an inclusio. and "because the lost is f o u n d " (vv 6. 10. Poet and Peasant.Parables on God's Love and Forgiveness t h e m as explorations of divine grace and. "repentance" ( w 7 . with features of loss. Jesus is depicted as responding with a powerful verbal defense in the f o r m of a sequence of four parables. and most obviously. 9-10. First. At least three features in the parables highlight their essential unity. Second. 139). the first two. is part of the evangelist's larger narrative regarding Jesus' j o u r n e y to Jerusalem in 9:51-19:44. F u r t h e r m o r e . 24. As John D r u r y puts it. shorter parables share a c o m m o n structure: a m a n / a w o m a n . Bailey. T h e Parables o f Luke 15 i n C o n t e x t The three parables of Luke 15 are a m o n g the most f a m o u s parables of Jesus and have been transmitted by Luke with c o n s u m m a t e literary skill. 23-24. 32). In passing. it could be noted. recovery. for example. with the elder son's complaint a b o u t his father's hospitality to the prodigal ( w 28-30) echoing the o p e n i n g complaint of the Pharisees and scribes a b o u t the hospitality of Jesus to "sinners" ( w 1-2). 144-58). Following an introduction. in particular. which sets o u t a scene of controversy with the Pharisees and scribes over his table-fellowship with "sinners" ( w 1-3). in t u r n . a s u m m o n i n g of friends and neighbors for celebration. which. the sheep/coin is sought and f o u n d . 1 8 ) .

like the salt that had lost its taste (14:34-35). Paul and the Law. 162-69). 2 Macc 7. 5:30. when he called the tax collector Levi to follow (cf. Gospel in Parable. D o n a h u e ." in ν 30). n o t i n g the verb gogguzö. "Meals and the New Community. and James D u n n has s h o w n that such a usage had wide currency in the factional context of firstcentury Judaism (see his Jesus." for a discussion of table fellowship and identity in antiquity). cf. where the sharing of a c o m m o n table was a basic mechanism for initiating or maintaining sociability and the b o n d s of a c o m m o n identity. Prov 1:15. In relation to the immediately preceding blocks of tradition. on the other. 19:7). Neusner. 4:14-19). Dan 1:3-17. see Moxnes." w h o draw near to hear Jesus teaching God's word. And it is a complaint that is voiced against Jesus elsewhere in Luke's Gospel (cf. as well as for marking one g r o u p or society off f r o m a n o t h e r (cf. b u t that is a n o t h e r story. whereas.STEPHEN C. t h o u g h not to hear b u t to " m u r m u r " (diagogguzö. 148). "grumble" or " m u r mur. the form e r are like "the p o o r " invited to the b a n q u e t (14:15-24). Now let us consider this tightly knit sequence of parables in m o r e detail. p r u d e n tial w a r n i n g against association with evildoers (cf. 5:27-32. As Charles Talbert points out (Reading Luke. 18:9-14). 2:11-15. is a repetition of the complaint m a d e by the Pharisees and scribes against Jesus at the outset of his ministry. w h o were called to be holy in a world that was constantly threatened by defiling i m p u r i t y (cf. setting b o u n d a r i e s a r o u n d the household and the c o m m o n table were p r i m a r y ways of setting themselves apart as God's chosen ones. while the latter are reminiscent of those w h o made their excuses (14:18) — or. even more. BARTON in 15:11-32 and the Parable of the Unjust Steward in 16:1-8 (cf. It reflects also the symbolic weight accorded table fellowship in Early Judaism and in antiquity generally. "Two Pictures of the Pharisees"). Judith 12. 61-88). Joseph and Asenath 7. Their complaint. there are present "all the tax collectors and sinners. "This m a n receives sinners and eats with t h e m " (15:2). the Pharisees and scribes are also there. in particular. The identity of the people so labeled "sinners" is a matter of ongoing debate. Used by the Phar202 . the complaint reflects at a general level the scriptural. The redactional introduction of verses 1-3 is i m p o r t a n t . A rather ironic contrast is d r a w n between two paired groups: on the o n e h a n d . O n e source of i m p u r i t y was contact with people labeled "sinners" — a label that extends inter alios to "tax collectors" (15:1-2. As a label it was a t e r m for outsiders. For the Pharisees. 7:39. which is reminiscent of t h e Israelites in the wilderness as depicted in Exodus 1517).

holiness is a matter n o t so m u c h of separation f r o m "sinners" as of separation f r o m anything that inhibits full c o m m i t m e n t to the God who is drawing near (cf. the possibility arises that Jesus spoke in parables because parables are a f o r m of discourse that have the potential b o t h to image God differently and to o p e n u p a wider range of imaginative and volitional responses a m o n g listeners and readers than the discourse of law and purity. and against the historical-critical trend in parable interpretation inaugurated by Jülicher.Parables on God's Love and Forgiveness isees. Jesus' proclamation was: "I have n o t come to call the righteous. whose content. or moral weakness — failed to c o n f o r m to the holiness code derived f r o m the temple cult. as the accounts in Luke 13:10-21 and 14:1-11 suggest. for that very reason. is quite m u n d a n e . b u t which. 14:25-33). it likely c o n n o t e d people w h o for one reason or another — whether occupation. R. b u t sinners to repentance" (5:32). by virtue of their very m u n d a n e . 203 . on the surface. why did Jesus give his defense in the form of parables? O n e answer is that this was o n e of Jesus' usual ways of defending his practice. paradoxically. and subtle character. This offer is m a d e tangible in prophetic acts of o p e n hospitality and unrestricted table fellowship that represent a t r a n s f o r m a t i o n of the conventional patterns of sociability. O n this view. N o t surprisingly. physical incapacity. It is n o t a status to be possessed and hedged a r o u n d for selfprotection. however. racial identity. for revealing "God in the ordinary. brings God near. b u t a relationship to be celebrated and shared. White. Rather. Related is the idea that extended parables such as we find in Luke 15 have the potential. realistic. as Donald MacKinnon has helped us to see (cf. we might ask. h u m a n . But if we press the question further. was different. For h i m . to be converted by a divine grace mediated through everyday stories. the details of the parables are not to be discounted in the quest for the supposed "simple t r u t h " that a parable conveys. such a challenge to the piety of the day generates resistance. But. So Jesus offers a defense in the f o r m of parables. Jesus' coming in the power of the Spirit inaugurates the t i m e of eschatological salvation w h e n God's covenant mercy is offered to all — particularly to those o n the margins of Israel and beyond. In other words. Jesus did n o t respond to his Pharisaic critics on their own terms — perhaps because holiness defined in terms of law and cult forecloses prematurely or restricts too narrowly the b o u n d a r i e s of God's mercy and love as e m b o d i e d in Jesus himself. The way of Jesus." Such parables are an invitation to see God and the world differently — that is.

" in Christ. T h e Parable o f t h e Lost S h e e p (Luke 15:1-7) The first parable in the series is the Parable of the Lost Sheep. on the other h a n d . which — because of its attention to matters of i n t r a m u r a l discipline and by analogy with a similar text f r o m Q u m r a n identified as 1QS (with the "S" of the designation signaling serek or "rule") — has b e c o m e 204 . Against such a backdrop. I. appearing also in Matt 18:12-14. Green. b u t concerns matters of real importance. K.STEPHEN C. Ethics and Tragedy. Luke. ed. Jesus. He is the one w h o seeks o u t the lost and feeds t h e m . The parable contains strong echoes of scriptural texts like Ezekiel 34. they are the imaginative stuff of an exploration that has the potential for opening the eyes and redirecting the wills of both hearers and readers alike. and will seek them out. T h a t this parable comes first is probably n o t coincidental. I myself will search for my sheep. BARTON "MacKinnon and the Parables. Surin [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered I will seek out the lost. As a shepherd seeks out his flock when some of his sheep have been scattered abroad. acts in accordance with Scripture and the will of God. so will I seek out my sheep. 49-70)." (Ezek 34:11 . 3. and I will bring back the strayed. In Matthew the parable occurs in the context of the f o u r t h of five discourses of Jesus. the Parable of the Lost Sheep is the only o n e with a synoptic parallel. 574-75). 1989]. For its message is hardly an incidental one.16a) The resonances of this passage in Ezekiel 34 with the parable of Luke 15:17 are strong. so great is the failure of Israel's leaders that G o d himself will take their place in seeking for his lost sheep: For thus says the Lord God: Behold. According to the prophet. Also worth noting is the fact that of these three Lukan parables. where God's p r o p h e t speaks vehemently against the leaders of Israel o n acc o u n t of their failure as "shepherds" of the people to seek o u t the lost and scattered sheep and feed t h e m (cf. the Pharisees and legal experts who m u r m u r against Jesus find that they themselves are u n d e r God's indictm e n t for their failure as leaders to seek the lost in Israel. A comparison with its Matthean c o u n t e r p a r t is instructive for bringing out the distinctive emphases of Luke's version.

the t h r u s t of the parable is its pastoral relevance in relation to those outside the c o m m u n i t y of the faithful.e. cf. The value of the parable for Matthew. T h e n . Each sheep is so valuable that the shepherd risks the well-being of the entire flock in order to find it. To risk an anachronism. M o r e precisely. 1 Sam 17:28). The question is ad205 . The shepherd does not keep his joy to himself. however. First." Here Jesus' teaching is directed n o t to outsiders b u t to insiders." Taking now the parable as it stands in Luke. therefore. There is a lack of a sense of p r o p o r t i o n here that is surprising and almost shocking (cf.. But God's grace is like that. for. The concern for the "lost" is emphatic. . ?" ( w 3-6). in Matthew's version the parable speaks to the problem of what to do if. a "little one"). It does not fit into o u r ordinary patterns of accounting. even if success is not guaranteed. Then there is the shepherd's perseverance. beginning "Which one of you . finally. In Luke." in Luke it is rejoicing (in a m u c h m o r e convivial style) over the repentance of a "sinner. he carries the sheep h o m e on his shoulders (v 5). for he searches "until he finds it" (v 4. there are several other observations to be m a d e that deepen o u r appreciation of it. M a t t 18:13: "if he finds it"). it should be added. by sharing his table. And that is a feature that highlights a p r o f o u n d point about divine accounting — that is. and where in Matthew the rejoicing is over the retrieval of "one of these little ones. as the result of moral "stumbling blocks" (ta skandala) being t h r o w n in the path of a low-status m e m b e r of the b r o t h e r h o o d (i. .Parables on God's Love and Forgiveness k n o w n as Matthew's " c o m m u n i t y rule. the t h r u s t of Luke's version may be said to be not so m u c h ecclesial as evangelical. is its pastoral relevance in an ecclesial context. Such is the value of each sheep! There is also the shepherd's d e m o n s t r a t i o n of his care for the sheep. For where in Matthew the sheep has "gone astray. comes in the f o r m of one long question. and the parable is p a r t of an extended instruction on how to live together as fellow-members of the k i n g d o m of heaven. It is an encouragement to seek o u t the errant brother or sister. All of this. there is the public testimony that the lost sheep has been f o u n d . It spills over to others and becomes an occasion for joyful sociability. there is the a p p a r e n t recklessness of the shepherd in leaving the ninety-nine other sheep "in the wilderness" (of all places!) to go in search of just o n e lost sheep (15:4). rejoicing. 18:6-11)." in Luke it is "lost". that God counts by ones. along with an invitation to share in the shepherd's joy (v 6) — presumably. he or she "goes astray" (cf.

Spirituality of the Gospels. the repentance that it calls for is n o t cheap. 206 . is n o t cheap grace — the concern (we may surmise) of the Pharisees and scribes — but an altogether different economy of grace. the parable is being interpreted by being amplified in a particular direction. For God's grace c a n n o t be fenced in." O n the contrary. Parables." W h a t Jesus offers in parabolic m o d e . If Jesus' meal table solidarity with "sinners" is a tangible expression of God's grace and the joy of the k i n g d o m of God. Drury. But it is also traditional (cf. then repentance is the obvious and appropriate response — and that goes for the "righteous" as well as for the "sinner. the Pharisees and scribes.STEPHEN C. to those who need it most. therefore. in Jesus' open hospitality it is extended first and foremost to "sinners" — that is." b u t being " f o u n d " by Jesus. there will be m o r e joy in heaven over o n e sinner w h o repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance" (v 7). the Pharisees in 15:2 are offering one m o r e such excuse. w 1-14. Clearly. Rather. Like the guests of 14:15-24. God's Son and Servant. which was also given in parables to the Pharisees of Luke 14 (see esp. They are being challenged to rethink their u n d e r s t a n d i n g of the divine economy and to respond accordingly. It is not limited to "the righteous. b e c o m i n g part of his company. it is s o m e t h i n g m u c h more costly — n o t separation f r o m "sinners. But what Jesus offers is not cheap grace b u t "grace a b o u n d i n g " and grace d e m a n d i n g . after all. T h e emphasis o n repentance b o t h here and at the end of the Parable of the Lost Coin (v 10) is demonstrably Lukan (cf. The redactional conclusion to this first parable of Luke 15 makes the parable an analogy of the life of G o d : "Just so. Furt h e r m o r e . 77-83). for. T h e m o o d of this new e c o n o m y is joy and welcome. BARTON dressed to Jesus' interlocutors. w h o were invited to the b a n q u e t and m a d e their seemingly legitimate excuses. 18:9). 16:15. the interpretation is appropriate in the context and anticipates what is to become m u c h m o r e central in the climactic third parable of the Lost/Prodigal Son (cf. M a r k 1:15). 2535). neither lost sheep n o r lost coins "repent"! Nonetheless. It is not s o m e t h i n g narrowly b o u n d to the preservation of the elect and the holy. I tell you. Barton. The Pharisees of Luke 15 failed to u n d e r s t a n d the teaching. 141). and (as 14:33 makes clear) leaving everything behind for his sake. not separation and self-justification (cf.

But repetition does n o t m e a n sameness. these three parables seem designed to deepen engagement with the f u n d a m e n t a l matters of faith and life. In this particular case. 109 [1990] 441-61). workers in the household and workers in the city or country. as indicated above. there is a sense in which this whole sequence of three parables is really just one — as suggested by the evangelist's i n t r o d u c t i o n statement: " H e told t h e m this parable (ten parabolēn tauten. In the Parable of the Lost Coin. as Mary Rose D'Angelo has pointed o u t in her study of " W o m e n in Luke-Acts" (Journal of Biblical Literature. it fits closely with the Parable of the Lost Sheep.e. " Q " ) . and interrogative mode. In fact. God's grace is n o t a "limited g o o d " (cf. instead of one lost sheep out of o n e 207 . and so on. cf. This is not just a compositional technique. Most noticeable is the fact that the first is a story a b o u t a m a n out in the o p e n spaces. To p u t it otherwise.. T h e Parable of t h e Lost C o i n (Luke 15:8-10) The Parable of the Lost Coin can be dealt with more briefly. It is available freely to all w h o will receive it. Such a balancing of m e n and w o m e n is characteristic of Luke in his writings.Parables on God's Love and Forgiveness 4. 5:36). In structure. or of the Parable of the W i d o w and the Judge and the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector subsequently (in 18:1-8 and 9-14) — as well. the pairing of the prophecies of Simeon and Anna at the b e g i n n i n g of Luke's Gospel (in 2:25-35 and 36-38) and of the resurrection appearances to w o m e n and m e n at the end (in 24:1-11 and 12-43)." w o m e n as well as m e n . New Testament World. not tas parabolas tautas)" (15:3. theme. Gentiles as well as Jews. The repetition has an intensifying effect. Malina. And taking Luke's Gospel as a whole. 71-93). Like repetition in good liturgy. which is paired with a story a b o u t a w o m a n p u r s u i n g her work in the more secluded space of the h o m e . Luke appears to have added the parable about a w o m a n f r o m his special source (so-called "L" material) to the parable a b o u t the shepherd f r o m the tradition he shares with M a t t h e w (i. such a pairing is reminiscent of the balancing or pairing of the Parable of the G o o d Samaritan and the story of Martha and Mary earlier o n (in 10:25-37 and 38-42). who pursues his occupation as a shepherd. for there are also subtle differences which are significant. It expresses Luke's conviction that the "good news to the p o o r " that Jesus a n n o u n c e s (4:18-19) and that his practice embodies is good news for people of all kinds — for "sinners" as well as those w h o are "righteous. of course.

F u r t h e r m o r e . ν 4). for I have f o u n d [that] . This increases f u r t h e r in the Parable of the Prodigal Son. vv 17-20a and 21). "Rejoice with me. T h e n follows the authoritative c o m m e n tary of the Lukan Jesus. ν 6b). "repentance" ( w 7 [twice] and 10). S. which is addressed to the Pharisees and scribes (and also to the reader). which was p r o b ably the equivalent of a full day's wages — the loss of which would be a cause of great hardship for a household in a village economy where cash is a rare c o m m o d i t y (cf. and searches "diligently" (epimelös). "repent. Bailey. Lewis) "surprised by joy." Significantly. therefore. her only reported speech is the all-important invitation." For the parable is an invitation to Jesus' interlocutors to be (to use an expression coined by C. "Jesus and the Repentance of E. Chilton. subversively once more. an even greater difference being that it is not an animal or a coin that is lost. 1985]. Against E. w o r t h searching for — so m u c h so. As with the shepherd. is "God in the ordinary. . the tension is related also to the value of the coin lost. So the dramatic intensity increases f r o m one parable to the next. it is o n e lost coin o u t of ten. But what is i m p o r t a n t here to stress is that this redactional t h e m e does not distort the parables by narrowing their focus in a "moralizing" direction.STEPHEN C. that the joy of the angels in heaven over the repentance of a "sinner" is like the joy of the w o m a n and her friends over the recovered coin (v 10). cf. sweeps t h e house. the last word in the Greek text of b o t h of these first two parables of Luke 15 is the verb metanoeö. Sanders"). that the joy of finding it has to be shared with her female friends (tas philas) and neighbors. where it is a case of one lost son o u t of two — with. T h e coin is valuable. b u t are appropriate to the domestic setting. she searches "until she finds" her coin (v 8. There is a threefold m o v e m e n t conveying urgent action: she lights a l a m p . as if Jesus himself did n o t seek by the f o r m u l a t i o n of parables such as these to evoke repentance. of course. That would have 208 . We are. P. And here. being prepared for the parable to follow (see esp. Poet and Peasant. which was lost" (v 9b. b u t a h u m a n being. P. . 157). BARTON h u n d r e d . like the shepherd. The woman's actions parallel the shepherd's. his Jesus and Judaism [London: SCM. cf. 174211 ). n o r was it confined only to a few individuals (cf. Jesus was n o t some kind of a n t i n o m i a n libertarian just " h a n g i n g o u t " with the people o n the b o u n d a r i e s of Judaism. it needs to be insisted that the s u m m o n s to repentance was not a min o r feature in the teaching and mission of Jesus. who is a m u c h loved son. And in this second parable. Sanders (cf." or the n o u n metanoia.

It is the father in both parts of the story.e. John D r u r y puts it well: 209 . T h e Parable o f t h e Prodigal S o n (Luke 1 5 : 1 1 . Genesis 37. that does not mean that response (i. The story of Joseph. That helps to explain why this parable has such strong echoes of the stories of the Old Testament. 5. is a case in p o i n t (cf. when they muttered a b o u t Jesus' table c o m p a n i o n s (vv 12). the second. of God's refusal to limit the measure of his grace to h u m a n ways of seeing and doing things. w h o was. "repentance") is n o t the obvious corollary. Luke 4:16-30). N o w we move f r o m the realm of animals and property as ways of talking a b o u t right priorities in the life of the k i n g d o m to talk about people.31-32).3 2 ) The third and longest in the sequence of parables in Luke 15 is the f a m o u s Parable of the Prodigal Son.. It means only that what the Pharisees needed most to hear was a challenge to be the kind of leaders whose priority was to engage in such a search. For biblical stories about younger brothers were a classic source of reflection on the unpredictability of God's ways — in particular. however. Rather.Parables on God's Love and Forgiveness m e a n t leaving everything as it was. w h o goes d o w n to a far c o u n t r y where there is a famine and is later reunited with his father. So we are still in the realm of Luke's exploration of divine grace as it has been revealed in Jesus. The Parable of the Prodigal Son has two parallel parts: the first speaks a b o u t the lost younger son ( w 11-24). a b o u t the elder brother. it seems. 39-50). for a n t i n o m i a n i s m is often intensely conservative. Speaking of such stories. authoritative word ( w 23-24. That is what ties the parable so closely to the concerns of the Pharisees and scribes at the outset of the chapter. In each part the focus is o n the son first and then o n the father. regarding what kind of people Israel and the nations needed to be (and to b e c o m e ) in the light of God's c o m i n g in mercy and j u d g m e n t . If the accent of these first two parables falls most heavily o n an active search for the lost. who has the last. It is noteworthy that this word in b o t h cases is directed to the issue of how to respond appropriately to the recovery of the prodigal. Jesus was seeking to shift the focus f r o m concerns a b o u t b o u n d aries — that is. But that is n o t what Jesus was a b o u t (cf. regarding "who's in" and "who's o u t " — to concerns a b o u t ethos and action — that is. equally lost ( w 25-32).

Poet and Peasant. 8:32-33. when famine strikes — which presents us with a kind of natural justice — he attaches himself to "a citizen of that c o u n t r y " (presumably a Gentile) and s u b m i t s to the s h a m e (both for himself and for his family) of b e c o m i n g a swineherd. Of Cain and Abel. 1 Macc 1:47. 16:3-4. . pitiable plight is s u m m e d u p in the clause at the end of verse 16: "and no one gave to h i m " (oudeis edidou autö). he t u r n s his back on his family. he is now alone and left with nothing.STEPHEN C. 173-80). 210 . even when less meritorious. see also Lev 11:17. It gave the excitement of reversal to many tales — and more scope to God. he articulates for the first time the peril of his situ a t i o n and a strategy for his rescue. But now there is a t u r n i n g point: the y o u n g m a n "came to h i m s e l f " (v 17a). a m a n and his two sons. The Parable of the Prodigal fits the bill with s t u n n i n g effect. 7:1). There is an echo of that classic tale of sibling rivalry in the prodigal son. 145) To say that such tales give " m o r e scope to G o d " is exactly right. But that p r u d e n c e need n o t be interpreted as mere self-serving c u n n i n g (contra Bailey. having converted his share of the inheritance into transportable capital. s o m e t h i n g a b h o r r e n t to Jewish sensibilities (cf. at last being p r u d e n t . 32) that would f u n c t i o n as a prelude. he acts p r e s u m p t u o u s l y and covetously (cf. departs into "a far c o u n t r y " (presumably Gentile territory) and squanders his resources. the story focuses on the younger of the two. Next. having experienced a moral and social death ( w 24. 18:4-5). 14:8. and his actions precipitate a tight d o w n ward spiral in his fortunes. Second. in d u e course. After the briefest of introductions to the three protagonists. 2 Macc 6:18. In a characteristically Lukan soliloquy marking a change in fort u n e (cf. Younger Jacob/Israel supplanted senior Esau. Having been given everything by his father at the beginning. His lonely. Sirach 33:20-24). He is cast in a negative light f r o m the start. First. . to his physical death as well. b u t also w i t h o u t p r i o r consultation with his older brother (v 12). having realized the catastrophe he has b r o u g h t on himself and his kinsfolk. BARTON There is a sneaking distrust of older brothers and fondness for the younger. living beyond the pale of the law (v 13). The elder son was "in the field" when he heard of his younger brother's return . God preferred the younger. (Parables in the Gospels. of course. He is. the parallel situation and parable of 12:13-21) in initiating a division of the family inheritance — n o t least while his father was still alive (cf. He is as good as dead.

"Father. sandals for his feet.Parables on God's Love and Forgiveness The words that the y o u n g m a n uses. he r u n s to meet his son. he orders for his son the "best" robe to clothe h i m ." and an elaborate justification for this astonishing munificence — all concluded by the narrator's report that "they began to make m e r r y " ( w 211 . In the overall context of these three parables. the joy is even more emphatic. T h a t he saw his son "while he was yet at a distance" implies that. for Luke (and for Jesus) salvation is a b o u t the restoration of people's full humanity — b o t h b o d y and soul. of resurrection. "he was filled with compassion") — a response to need that reminds us of the response of Jesus to the plight of the widow of Nain (7:13) and the response of the Samaritan to the " h a l f . a ring for his finger. where the t h e m e of repentance is so strong. and a magnificent feast to celebrate his return and m a r k his reincorporation into the family and society (v 22). therefore. for the father will not hear of h i m being accepted back as a hired servant ( v 2 1 . But he is prevented f r o m completing the lines he has rehearsed. Instead. and repeated at ν 21)." in verses 18 and 20 is suggestive of c o m i n g back to life — that is. For as befits the recovery of a son. there is a fatted calf. cf. Also to be noted is that the repeated use of the participle anastas. like the shepherd of the first parable. an invitation to an unspecified n u m b e r to "eat and make merry. At the risk of his honor. It is unnecessary. "rising. Seeing his son provokes compassion (v 20: esplagchnisthē. b o t h individual and corporate (cf. W h a t these various episodes have in c o m m o n is the f u n d a m e n t a l moral-theological point that it is compassion for the lost that brings a b o u t life o u t of death and that makes restoration — even t r a n s f o r m a t i o n — possible in people's lives. w 7 . and in a rhetorically powerful threefold movement. 22:16.d e a d " traveler (10:33). 19:9. w 18-19). with that feasting having strong eschatological overtones (cf. however. the return of that which was lost is marked by joyful feasting. in actions that speak of forgiveness and full reconciliation. The father's compassion leads to action. " G o o d News to W h o m ? " ) . are grave words of h u m b l e repentance that invoke the presence of God (cf. I have sinned against heaven and before you. Attention n o w t u r n s to the extraordinary actions of the father. his looking o u t for his lost son has been ongoing. The son speaks his words of confession. to polarize "repentance" and "prudence." O n the contrary. In this case. Green. and kisses h i m (v 20). As in the two previous parables. I a m n o longer worthy to be called your son" (v 18. embraces h i m . 18) and serving as the climax of the episode. 1 0 ) as well as a response f r o m his father. Luke can hardly have m e a n t the son's words to be taken otherwise.

Third. as threatening the u s u r p a t i o n of his position in the household. But the parable does n o t stop there. he reflects the insecurities. In so doing. But the elder son. not of a son. We expect the older son to c o m p a r e well with his younger brother.STEPHEN C. n o t excitement. and I have never disobeyed your c o m m a n d . in the o n e piece of direct speech attributed to h i m . he refuses (shamefully. Thus. t h e s o u n d of music and dancing arouses in h i m suspicion. Like the shepherd in the Parable of the Lost Sheep. So the father comes o u t and entreats h i m . He refrains f r o m addressing his father as "father" (in contrast to his brother's attitude and address in w 17. he keeps his distance and makes inquiry via a servant a b o u t what is going on. at the m o m e n t the younger b r o t h e r is being embraced back into the family. instead. cf. refers to his brother as "this son of yours" and. W h a t he might have seen as a natural expression of joy and reconciliation he interprets. the father is the o n e w h o is always going out to bring in the lost. you killed the fatted calf for h i m " ( w 29-30. by ungraciously characterizing h i m as the one " w h o has devoured 212 . it is as if by not disobeying his father's c o m m a n d s he has b e c o m e as m u c h a slave as his brother became by a life of lawlessness. at the news of his brother's safe return. The narrative characterization is deft and subversive. b u t of a slave: "For all these years I have been working like a slave for you. 16:15). Ironically. Seco n d . There is a second. and in contrast with his father's compassion and hospitality. Next. he gets angry. this time involving the father and the elder son. W h a t the words reveal is a son so insecure in himself. 18. Yet you have never given m e even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. 21). as selfish and preoccupied with his o w n interests as his sibling. and I have never disobeyed your c o m m a n d " (v 29a). in a Mediterranean context) to go in to share in the festivities at the c o m m o n table (v 28). As a parable of divine grace and forgiveness. what Luke gives us here is unsurpassed. b u t instead he is in some ways a m i r r o r image. w h o has devoured your property with prostitutes. BARTON 23-24). contrasting part. that he can only rage against the apparent u n fairness of his father's largesse. In fact. for he was "in the field" (v 25). First. and therefore rigid in his relations with his father and his brother. But w h e n this son of yours came back. we may surmise that he has n o t been with his father on the lookout for the prodigal. the older brother is separating himself f r o m it. responds only with words of bitter complaint and self-justification: "Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you. as we might have expected.

and all that is mine is yours" (v 31.10). for this your brother was dead and is alive. etc. 6:27-36). Joel Green puts it well: Scribes and Pharisees are invited to find themselves represented in the parable as the elder son — responsible and obedient. w 1-2) and to pose a question to those w h o themselves questioned Jesus. Will they identify with God's will and. you are always with me. having done so. becomes for h i m n o t a measure of his father's love and happiness. trying also to reassure him that his position in the family is assured: "Son. which is a c o m m o n expression in Luke (cf. 14:7-14). m u s t be set if it is to be of t r u e worth. 4:43. At the same time. however. 17:25. 2:49. For just as rejoicing over the recovery of a sheep and a coin is m a d e a w i n d o w into the joy in heaven over a sinner w h o repents ( w 7. join repentant sinners at the table? Putting aside their own concerns with status and recognition (cf. He does not repay evil for evil (cf. t h o u g h n o t explicit in ν 13b). will they accept as members of the family of God those whom God accepts? Or. is significant. at least with respect to the response of the elder son. 213 ." which was never provided for him and his friends. is the economy of divine love that is reflected in the father's joy at the prodigal's return. T h e elder b r o t h e r is still his son and he addresses him as such. This allows the parable to speak directly to its context (cf. it would seem. shows no sign of reconciliation. it. ν 12b). b u t a sign of paternal unpredictability smacking of favoritism. cf.). 13:16. he was lost and is f o u n d " (v 32). he remains firm. In Lukan perspective. All he can think of is his own sense of the unfairness d o n e to him. but failing in their solidarity with the redemptive purpose of God. so the rejoicing and b a n q u e t i n g of a father over the repentance and return of his son is a w i n d o w into the divine love and forgiveness that was being m a d e manifest at Jesus' table fellowship with tax collectors and "sinners. as well as matters of personal honor.Parables on God's Love and Forgiveness your property with prostitutes" (v 30. And that economy of love is highlighted in the use of the imperfect verb edei ("it was necessary").e n d e d . T h u s the father says: "It was necessary [edei. 9:22. There is a larger e c o n o m y within which the economy of inheritance and p r i m o geniture." That this third parable (unlike the first two) remains o p e n . refusing to embrace God's gracious calculus. "fitting" in NRSV is too weak] to make m e r r y and be glad. Yet even in such a situation. 33. the father's love persists. The d i s p r o p o r t i o n between "even a y o u n g goat. and the "fatted calf" that his father prepared for his brother.

forgiveness." Jesus responds n o t in terms of Torah and halakic statements b u t in parables. hospitality to the poor. C o n c l u s i o n There is no good reason to d o u b t that Luke is a reliable guide to the Sitz im Leben Jesu to which the parables of chapter 15 of his Gospel were a response. BARTON which works to include those who (re)turn to him. and reconciliation. will they exclude themselves from the family of God? The parable is open-ended and so is the invitation. W h a t the parables show." which is h o w we have characterized the criticism voiced by the Pharisees. This new economy is eschatological — that is. Attacked by Pharisees and scribes for eating with "sinners. 18:9-14.STEPHEN C. it has to do with the reordering of one's priorities and practices in a way appropriate to the c o m i n g of G o d in mercy and justice. 7:36-50. 586) 6. This is a t i m e not for a separation of withdrawal in the interests of purity (since the temple is no longer at the heart of things). (Luke. and the proclamation of the "good news" of the k i n g d o m of God. The parables he tells are a way of changing the terms of reference of an influential pattern of t h o u g h t . b u t of separation for a mission with Jesus for the sake of the "lost. at least in anticipatory ways. As we listen again to these parables we find that they speak powerfully 214 . 23:39-43). Table fellowship with tax collectors and "sinners" is one such practice. offering forgiveness to those who are penitent (cf. They are Jesus' characteristic way of inviting his critics to recognize that in his ministry a new order of things is breaking in. is that separation for mission is costly and d e m a n d i n g because it requires risk and sacrifice. It brings heaven to earth. It reflects the divine c o m m u n i o n that is mediated by Jesus and present a m o n g those w h o c o m m i t themselves to h i m . and welcoming t h e m into a people being renewed by God's Son in the power of the Spirit." It is a t i m e not for dividing into parties antagonistic to o n e another. This new economy is n o t a matter of "cheap grace. b u t for u n i t i n g in a new kind of solidarity that is g r o u n d e d o n the grace of God and sustained by ongoing practices of repentance. For it requires going to the lost in love. the healing of the sick. At the heart of this new order or economy is a truly radical insistence on divine compassion — a compassion that overflows in the forgiveness of sinners. and what Jesus' life shows as well.

Reading in Communion. In Bonhoeffer's terms." W h a t is necessary is the step (as he provocatively p u t it) f r o m being a theologian to being a Christian. it is vital that we not allow questions of method in parable interpretation to distract us from questions of content and truth. Their Culture Style. in terms of o u r own interests. making m e t h o d central encourages us to read the Bible for ourselves. whereas making content central allows us to hear the Spirit speaking through Scripture over against ourselves (cf. also Fowl and Jones. becomes e m b o d i e d in o u r own lives and practices. that w o m a n . what will show it to be t r u e is w h e t h e r or n o t the testimony of the parables to the overflowing grace and forgiveness of G o d . 1980. Their challenge is not in spite of their historical and literary particularities. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. Poet and Peasant: A Literary Cultural Approach Parables in Luke. 135-64). therefore. what is necessary is the step beyond "agreement in principle. and as testimonies to the same transforming reality at work in the world today through the Spirit. but because of t h e m — that is. In other words. 215 to the and . 1976. because also of the communities of faith that have nurtured and been nurtured by their ongoing interpretative performance. Selected B i b l i o g r a p h y Bailey. But it is an i m p o r t a n t reminder of o u r f u n d a m e n t a l obligation to hear the parables on their own (scriptural) terms: as testimonies to the t r a n s f o r m i n g reality of the kingdom of God manifest in Jesus and his followers. It is. Kenneth E. . and that forgiving father? Do we believe it to be t r u e that Jesus e m b o d i e d such an u n d e r s t a n d i n g of G o d in his practice of eating with "sinners." and that to be a follower of Jesus m e a n s to engage in practices that are in creative fidelity with his teaching and example? No a m o u n t of agreement in principle will show in any convincing way that what is affirmed is true. quite legitimate — indeed essential — to ask: Do we believe it to be t r u e that "there is joy in heaven before the angels of God over one sinner who repents"? Do we believe it to be t r u e that God is like that shepherd.Parables on God's Love and Forgiveness still. which leads to repentance. That is n o t to say that questions of content and t r u t h can be separated f r o m questions of m e t h o d in any straightforward way. Through Peasant Eyes: More Lucan Parables. Accepting the parables as constituent parts of Christian Scripture. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer has helped us to see.

Scripture and Ethics in Christian Life. Drury. "Meals and the New C o m m u n i t y in Luke. 1983. L o n d o n : SPCK. Bruce D. Chilton. D o n a h u e . P. Green and M. Jacob. 59-74. Joel B. Reading Luke: A Literary and Theological Commentary on the Third Gospel. Embodying Forgiveness: A Theological Analysis. London: SCM. The New Testament World. 1982. Charles H. 1991. London: SPCK. B. Sanders. G. and Jones. Philadelphia: Fortress." Anglican Theological Review 64 (1982) 525-38. 1995. Turner. Theology on the Way to Emmaus. 1990. Jesus. "Jesus and the Repentance of E. Bruce J. Stephen C. Lash. ed. J. Stephen E. L. New York: Crossroad. "Two Pictures of the Pharisees: Philosophical Circle or Eating Club. 1985. 1986. 1997. London: SCM. Reading in Communion. Halvor. 1988. John R. BARTON Barton. James D. New York: Crossroad. London: SPCK. Talbert. Fowl. Paid and the Law: Studies in Mark and Galatians." Svensk Exegetisk Arsbok 51 (1986) 158-67." Tyndale Bulletin 39 (1988) 1-18. L.STEPHEN C. The Gospel of Luke. G r a n d Rapids: Eerdmans." in Jesus of Nazareth: Lord and Christ. Neusner. The Spirituality of the Gospels. Gregory. Nicholas. D u n n . Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. The Gospel in Parable. . John. Gregory. 216 . Moxnes. 1994. "Good News to W h o m ? Jesus and the 'Poor' in the Gospel of Luke. 1992. Louisville: Westminster/John Knox. Green. Jones. The Parables in the Gospels: History and Allegory. Malina. G r a n d Rapids: Eerdmans.

Their message is rooted in the law. They point the poor to a way of liberation by forsaking the illusion of ownership. 16:1-13. and by trusting God for justice. by making friends through the just remission of debts. They warn against the allure of wealth. But it is also couched in a fresh and subversive style. and the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31) focus on issues having to do with poverty and riches. They hold in tension a prophetic and a practical vision. At the same time. Social and Literary Q u e s t i o n s Each of these three parables begins with the phrase "a rich man. they s u m m o n the rich to repentance. these words bring immediately into play the question of how character emerges in a story. For the way a storyteller gives character to a figure in a story — particularly in short parables drawn with such terse brush-strokes as these — and the way an audience understands that teller's 217 ." which invites modern interpreters to locate these words in their first-century social world. Furthermore.C H A P T E R 10 Parables on Poverty and Riches (Luke 12:13-21. 16:19-31) STEPHEN L WRIGHT JESUS' PARABLES of the Rich Fool (Luke 12:13-21). Thus social and literary questions are intertwined in these parables. prophecy. 1. the Shrewd Manager (Luke 16:1-13). and wisdom of Israel's Scriptures. however.

Indeed. merchants were required to sell p r o d u c e and i m p o r t goods.f o r m itself leads one to expect the unexpected. the plots are unusual. perhaps. it is i m p o r t a n t that we clear o u r m i n d s of any anachronistic notions of a prosperous middle class in antiquity. Rather. such as might have been influenced by s o m e t h i n g comparable to o u r Protestant work ethic. And in such a society the retainers of the rich did n o t rise m u c h above the insecurity of the p o o r (cf. of course. A layer of bureaucracy. the s t o r y . they are. nonetheless. Here there is no k n o c k d o w n a r g u m e n t . For agents were needed to collect tribute. or of anything that may have taken place beyond it. We do n o t k n o w whether the five brothers eventually repented. developed in t a n d e m with the expansion of an exploitive. For while the stories of these parables seem realistically g r o u n d e d in the world of first-century Palestine. Along with other ancient agrarian societies. We do not read of the foolish farmer's response to God's voice. are what they represent somewhere in between? Here literary as well as historical j u d g m e n t comes into play. Even the chasm be218 . 12:20). 16:23-31). oppressive economy. The rhetoric of the stories is also fragile and understated. Life in first-century Palestine was lived out in a basically two-tier society. Thus while the characters are typical. The parables of the Rich Fool (Luke 12:13-21 ) and the Rich M a n and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31) present scenes that are hidden f r o m n o r m a l h u m a n perception: the voice of God in the night (cf. what reverberates t h r o u g h o u t these two parables is a provocative s u m m o n s to t h o u g h t and imagination: "What if it were so?" Likewise. no appeal to some universally obvious principle. The rich maintained and enhanced their status and wealth by exacting tribute f r o m the poor. wealthy ruling class and a large n u m b e r of peasants w h o barely eked out a living f r o m their tiny plots of land. 53-66). within such a social setting. presented in ways that are striking in their developments and strange in their outcomes. But t h o u g h some of these intermediaries may have accumulated a rather comfortable nest egg for themselves.STEPHEN I. Herzog. the destinies of two m e n beyond death and a conversation with deceased A b r a h a m (cf. the Near East of the first century was marked by stark disparity between a small. WRIGHT characterization depend heavily on a general perception of the figure's role in society. Parables as Subversive Speech. either typical or extraordinary — or. Do these three parables of Jesus represent characters and occurrences that were. the conclusions of these parables are quite terse and restrained. or of his death.

Herzog. and o u r t r e a t m e n t of t h e m in what follows will attempt to d e m o n s t r a t e the validity of such an u n d e r s t a n d i n g . T h e Parables in T h e i r I m m e d i a t e C o n t e x t All three of these Lukan parables are set in contexts that imply that they were addressed to b o t h private and public audiences. And tales of "the rich" and "the p o o r " would have evoked for their first hearers a sense of the whole web of ancient society. So o u r task as present-day interpreters is to re-visualize the features of ancient society that are contained within both this parable and the other two of our present concern — and having positioned ourselves back into the society depicted in these parables. 2. to make sense of t h e m as examples." which category would include the Parable of the Shrewd Manager.. thereby. 208). distinguished f r o m "parables proper. These audiences were 219 . interpreters have often been embarrassed by the idea of an exemplary p u r p o s e for the Parable of the Shrewd Manager. Oesterley. t h o u g h the latter possibility c a n n o t be ruled out. we believe. In particular. T h a t parable. The true "end of the story" in b o t h cases remains untold. The fact that two of these tales u n f o l d in private. ends abruptly. requires a "reading between the lines." which is entirely proper. Yet all three of the stories with which we are here concerned seem to have been given for exemplary purposes. Since Adolf Jülicher's t r e a t m e n t of Jesus' parables at the end of the nineteenth century.Parables on Poverty and Riches tween the rich m a n and Lazarus may be "fixed" in a functional rather t h a n eternal sense (cf. invisible ways lends weight to the belief that the third. But this coyness is due. to a failure to appreciate the social and literary questions of characterization in the parable. whatever its nature. Gospel Parables. too. But m u c h is left for the hearer or reader — particularly s o m e o n e familiar with the social scene — to ponder. For every reading of a parable. the Parable of the Shrewd Manager (Luke 16:1-13). which m o d ern readers must try to imagine. 124). ibid. was also intended to represent an imaginary rather than an actual incident. reflecting a rabbinic belief that even the wicked in Hades may be able to repent (cf. with the master praising the steward (v 8). the Parable of the Rich Fool and the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus have usually been classed with the Parable of the G o o d Samaritan and the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector as "example stories" — being.

The Parable of the Rich Fool in 12:13-21 is set broadly in a discourse directed to a crowd of t h o u s a n d s of people who had gathered a b o u t Jesus (cf. has set these three parables in literary nexuses that highlight their applicability to different groups of people. the contents of 16:1-13). who had scoffed at his warnings a b o u t m o n e y (cf. while perhaps not overly wealthy.STEPHEN I. N o r does the narrative give us any reason to assume that the customs officers and sinners of 15:1 had departed.e. yet the story has to do with a rich m a n . It is unlikely that this "person in the crowd" was o n e of "the rich" (see the discussion of the parable below). and the Pharisees. Luke. 15:1). does n o t imply a blanket rejection of the rich or the greedy. The Parable of the Shrewd Manager in 16:1-13 is addressed by Jesus explicitly to "his disciples" (v 1). Jesus warns the crowds — particularly those he speaks of as his "little flock. 12:1). are said to have been "lovers of m o n e y " (16:14) — and encouragement to the poor. however. with these diverse groups evidently serving to represent the whole of society in Jesus' day. Such a warning of itself. the parable contains in roughly equal measure b o t h w a r n i n g to the rich — including those who. 15:2) and given in the presence of a n u m b e r of "customs-officers and sinners" (cf. the disciples. F u r t h e r m o r e . And the parable concerns b o t h a l a n d o w n e r and his retainer. b u t it is explicitly told in response to one person w h o asks for a specific decision f r o m h i m (v 13). 16:14). The Parable of the Rich M a n and Lazarus in 16:19-31 continues a response of Jesus to the Pharisees. But it follows immediately on the heels of three o t h e r parables in 15:3-32 that were directed toward g r u m b l i n g "Pharisees and scribes" (cf." his disciples — not to fear their poverty or to imitate those who aspire to be rich. who are identified as his "friends" (12:4) and his "little flock" (12:32). WRIGHT composed of the rich and the poor.. 220 . the implication is that these same "disciples" continue to hear what Jesus says to the Pharisees. like the Pharisees. therefore. For in these parables Jesus appeals to t h e m as well as to the poor. The o p e n i n g words of the discourse stand as a rubric over everything that is said: "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees" (12:1) — with m u c h of what is said in the discourse being directed n o t just to the crowd b u t also to Jesus' disciples. the crowds. But since the Pharisees in this verse are said to "hear" what Jesus had been saying to the disciples (i.

The disciples are identified as "the p o o r " (hoi ptöchoi) in Luke 6:20. Parables as Subversive Speech. For if b o t h disputants would abjure greed — even if the situation was perilous — the sting would be d r a w n and a way forward could be discerned. he n o t only renounces the role that Moses was accused of having arrogated to himself (cf. T h e Parable o f t h e Rich F o o l (Luke 1 2 : 1 3 . he also refuses the task given by God to Joshua to be the divider of the land (cf. it is also realistic and practical. In such a situation. we should note that it fits well with his other sayings in the same chapter that w a r n against anxiety (cf. Herzog." If Jesus' answer to the m a n here seems a somewhat harsh response to a potentially desperate situation. The p o o r in an Israelite agrarian culture had their precious little patrimonies. the largest share being reserved for the eldest. Joshua 13-22). A reason is added to the warning: "because one's life does n o t consist in the a b u n d a n c e (en tç perisseuein) of possessions" (12:15b). Wealthy families would have had their o w n m e a n s to get w h a t they wanted. 65). Exod 2:14). Jesus' refusal to act as "a judge or divider" in the dispute (v 14) is the more striking when this social background is appreciated. Jesus proposes n o instant solution. these other sayings have the s a m e shocking quality as the warning against covetousness in 12:15. where o n e could only seek casual labor or sink to crime or beggary (cf. and probably would not have resorted to seeking advice f r o m a w a n d e r i n g teacher.2231) and that encourage generosity (cf. one or more m e m b e r s of the family might be driven off the land to a life of insecurity. In so doing. But the harsh reality was that sometimes a plot of land became too small to divide any further. of course. and since the p o o r have special reasons to be anxious. " t h e m " in ν 15) the heart of the problem — that is. "Abundance" suggests the surpluses that sustained the wealth and status of the 221 . the matter of "greed" or "covetousness. 12:6-7. But while Jesus' warning is shocking. Rather. The m a n was probably f r o m a peasant family. and inheritance laws were designed so that each m e m b e r of a large family would receive a share — with. 12:32-34) — with 12:22 carrying a specific reminder that Jesus was addressing his disciples in all of these statements.Parables on Poverty and Riches 3.2 1 ) The Parable of the Rich Fool in Luke 12:13-21 appears as part of Jesus' answer to a m a n calling on him to settle an inheritance dispute between himself and his brother (v 13). he points o u t to b o t h parties (cf.

" for legally the peasants were allowed their patrimony. o n e who "has said in his heart: 'there is no G o d ' " (cf. The illusion of ownership he has maintained will be shattered. Jesus' largely peasant audience had been told to beware of the attitude of the rich. and all his goods will t h e n pass into other hands. He is a fool because his own life is a b o u t to be "dem a n d e d " of h i m . it is probably better to read this saying as contrasting luxury with necessity. which gave h i m an ample surplus (12:16).p r o c e s s . ν 19). Perhaps he t h o u g h t that one day he would get a better price for it. just as they were told to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees (12:1). WRIGHT elite m e m b e r s of society. b o t h his and theirs. T h o u g h technically the land might not have been "his. Grain could be kept for a n u m b e r of years. he foresees that this great surplus could finance a life of comfort. and be m e r r y " represents the typical outlook of a hedonist (cf. and required f r o m h i m (v 20). where aphrön is also used in the LXX). and ease (v 19). "So it is with those who store u p treasures for themselves b u t are n o t rich toward 222 . The saying "relax. The rich man's t h o u g h t . Parables as Poetic Fictions. The things he has regarded as "his" will be "his" no more. God calls him "a fool" (aphrön) — t h a t is. But whether or not he was an astute speculator. Hedrick. T h o u g h frequently taken as pitting material life against spiritual life. which he had called " m i n e " and p l a n n e d to p a m p e r indefinitely. n o t a possession. Ps 14:1. T h u s peasants are n o t to be deluded by the harshness of their poverty into thinking that "life" means having more t h a n one needs — that is.STEPHEN I. Even his "soul" or "life" (psuchē. The larger context of this parable makes it natural that a story about a rich m a n should be given in answer to a problem posed by a p o o r m a n . So now they are told of a rich m a n w h o had a b u m p e r harvest. eat. however. 154-56). The c o m m e n t with which the story is r o u n d e d off in verse 21. b u t to tear d o w n his old barns and build m o r e spacious and efficient ones o n the same site ( w 17-18). So he decided n o t to add f u r t h e r barns to his existing ones. drink. In Jesus' telling of the story his hearers are given a glimpse into the rich man's thinking. which would have been readily recognizable to t h e m in that day. luxury. n o t to be deceived into thinking that the solution to poverty is to be f o u n d in imitating the delight of the elite in their excesses. is the selfsame "soul" or "life" (psuchē) that is suddenly revealed as a loan. T h e man's plans were in line with ancient r e c o m m e n d a t i o n s to farmers to maximize their productive land area. the system of exploitation was such that he had de facto ownership of the lands. is dramatically interrupted by God (v 20).

s e n s e instruction as s o m e t h i n g God-given and portrayed obedience as not only right b u t also the best and safest course of action. agrarian society that seeks control over land and wants to use surpluses to finance luxury. The story is all the m o r e powerful for being so restrained. At the same time. and being "rich toward God. everything that he represented in the society of that time was called to account. his words are prophetic words. his words called for a response that 223 . C o m m e n t a t o r s s o m e t i m e s describe the characters of the parables in very lurid colors. Jesus does n o t launch into a tirade a b o u t the wickedness of the system. They encapsulate the whole basis of an exploitative. as this m a n did. But the point here. O n the contrary. The tactic is actually m o r e subversive and m o r e radical t h a n that. alike. His thought-processes are normal. For w h a t Jesus does is to prick the bubble of a self-satisfied sense of ownership." crystallizes its message by p o i n t i n g to the contrast between "storing u p treasures" for oneself. which exalted c o m m o n . as in m a n y a n o t h e r tale. T h e m a n in the story is m a d e a warning example — not so m u c h o n account of his s u d d e n death or anything that might lie beyond death.Parables on Poverty and Riches God. b u t because of the searing words that tear his dreams to shreds. In effect. but that he is typical — that is. his words are very practical words. They are thought-processes that exclude G o d and other people — w h o b o t h . particularly as that teaching is expressed in the context of the Israelite culture of that day. First. and so they b e c o m e figures that the pious love to hate. The t h o u g h t f u l would see in t h e m a challenge to the whole system. is n o t that this m a n was a monster. with sharing one's b o u n t y with the p o o r being the equivalent of giving to G o d (cf. He proposes no manifesto a b o u t the redistribution of wealth. Don't be fooled into aspiring to be like them. as W i s d o m teaches. Jesus' refusal to adjudicate in an inheritance dispute entailed neither a dismissal of the rich as irretrievably wicked nor a d e t a c h m e n t f r o m the problems of the poor. he says to the peasants: " T h e rich will find out soon e n o u g h that they don't control even their own lives. We miss the force of the story if we see the rich m a n as being especially wicked. disobedience is folly. Prov 19:17). Indeed." Two things need to be noticed about Jesus' teaching in this parable. inevitably reassert themselves at the end. Jesus was steeped in the W i s d o m tradition of the Scriptures. For with God's rebuke of the rich m a n ." The latter phrase is best taken as referring to acts of generosity expressed to others. however. typical of a class of people and typical of a whole social system.

Jesus is portrayed in 16:1-13 as t u r n i n g to his disciples and warning t h e m as to where to look and n o t to look for examples of right behavior. 167). 109. food. Jesus' telling of the Parable of the Shrewd Manager to his disciples in 16:1-13 follows immediately on the heels of the Parable of the Prodigal Son. there is an interweaving of c o m m o n themes in these two parables (cf. his Parables as SubversiveSpeech). 12:27-31). as now. The c o m m e n t a t o r w h o has d o n e most to redress this imbalance is William Herzog (cf. They must awaken to the illusory nature of ownership. Even the p o o r will find their security only in God. In a s o m e t i m e s desperate search for "spiritual" messages in the parables. D o n a h u e . But Jesus' story brings the message into sharper focus. They were u n p o p u l a r with 224 . M i d d l e m e n then. Poet and Peasant.16-17) or the teaching of Sirach 11:18-21.STEPHEN I. n o t in clothing. S o m e t h i n g striking h a p p e n e d in Jesus' story to a typical rich m a n : G o d spoke to him! 4. which speaks of the injustice that accompanies great wealth. Gospel in Parable. A n o t h e r interesting precursor is 1 Enoch 97:8-10. Bailey. and m u c h of w h a t follows is indebted to his treatment. and especially so given the cutthroat n a t u r e of the oppressive system within which they worked. T h e Parable o f t h e Shrewd M a n a g e r (Luke 16:1-13) In Luke's Gospel. And having addressed the Pharisees and scribes directly in 15:3-32. the social situation e m b e d d e d within this seemingly difficult parable has frequently been downplayed. or d r i n k (cf. The parable can be read as a t r a n s m u t a tion into story f o r m of the poetry of Psalm 49 (see esp. So we may assume f r o m its connection with w h a t goes before in chapter 15 that Luke intended his readers to u n d e r s t a n d this parable of the Shrewd Manager as part of Jesus' defense concerning the c o m p a n y he keeps (cf. This message was n o t new. F u r t h e r m o r e . WRIGHT was immediately possible for b o t h rich and poor. Linguistically. 15:1-2). were vulnerable. the balance is slightly in favor of viewing the aorist passive verb dieblēthē ("he was accused") as signaling a false or slanderous accusation. with their emphases o n the inevitability of death and the folly of trusting in wealth or envying the wealthy. which he told to his detractors in 15:11-32. w 11-14. The story of the parable is as follows: An estate manager is accused of s q u a n d e r i n g his rich employer's goods (v 1). which he sets o u t in 15:3-16:13.

what is reflected in the story told by Jesus is simply b r u t e oppression. And his reluctance to beg should not be seen as sinful pride. In such a world there is n o t h i n g surprising about the "justice" with which the accused manager is treated: he must hand over his account b o o k s and is s u m m a r i l y fired (v 2). So his lament "What shall I do?" (ti poiesö of ν 3) carries with it a clear tone of near despair. 249-50). is pictured as secretly changing the contracts with t h e m in such a way as to cancel the h i d d e n interest due his employer. The manager's response shows the harshness of the choice with which he is faced — a harshness to which most m o d e r n readers of the parable have generally been rather insensitive.Parables on Poverty and Riches the peasants because they collected the landlord's tribute. For once out of his job he would all too easily sink "into the class of expendables" (Herzog. The manager. Furt h e r m o r e .. Rather. As a bureaucrat he would n o t have been able to compete for w o r k with those w h o had labored all their lives o n the land. His plan of action is probably to be understood against the background of wealthy estate owners using merchants to sell their goods. disease. on the o n e h a n d . peasants struggling to survive might well make trouble between a manager and a landlord as a ruse to improve things a bit for themselves. b u t . together with the size of their debts. The debt would then be stated simply in terms of a quantity of produce (cf. ibid. however. could have greater scope to 225 .. at least. 16:20-22). which included a cut for themselves. for they could retain the "interest" p o r t i o n themselves — or. and death (cf. rather. For digging and begging were the activities of day laborers w h o had been driven off the family parcel of land. and a battle for survival. 242). Herzog. an apprehension of the loss of all h u m a n dignity — which could herald only a beggar's fate of impoverishment. The fact that his master's debtors could write. No party would have operated in a world of moral ideals. w 6-7). The ret u r n promised. suggests that they were more likely merchants t h a n peasants (cf. which was kept hidden because of the Jewish prohibition of usury. whose job it was to negotiate these contracts with the merchants on behalf of his wealthy employer. was not only the price of the c o m m o d i t y at the time of its sale but included also a hidden interest rate. ibid. Such salesmen would receive the surpluses of the big estates and promise the landowners a monetary return on what was sold. on the other. This would give the merchants with w h o m he dealt m o r e o p p o r t u n i t y to profit f r o m the transaction. But they could also arouse the suspicions and resentm e n t of their masters if they began to look too powerful or wealthy.

This interpretation is supported by the difference in the p r o p o r t i o n of debt that is canceled in the case of the two merchants m e n tioned. T h e manager has won popularity f r o m others for his master a n d . cf. W h a t was the manager's logic in this? It is probably only a somewhat sentimental idea. as Herzog rightly observes. has reminded his master of his own usefulness." 2335. For the merchants would be put in a relationship of further indebtedness to the landowner. reflect well on his employer. at the very least. A n d t h o u g h he has been tricked by his employee. it is only twenty percent (v 7.. Herzog. who had proven himself to be a skilled public-relations man. His remission of the interest owed would. "Neglected N u ances of Exposition. while for the debt of wheat. therefore.. His master " c o m m e n d s " him for his "shrewdness" (v 8). In the master's praise of the manager. Caught in the midst of an oppressive system. the estate owner c a n n o t help b u t admire such quick-wittedness. be seen not as places where he might receive endless hospitality in exchange for doing nothing. Would sharp businessmen. to think that he hoped to live off the gratitude of the merchants he had thus benefited. for he has regularly accumulated the hidden interest o n his master's behalf (cf. 258. paid off. the manager finds his own way out of a crisis by means of an act of justice that benefits the far-fromwealthy merchants (cf. "Ungerechte als Vorbilder?.. and himself. 255). T h u s for the debt of oil. his clients. The manager's plan. He recognizes in his employee's actions the skill of simultaneously benefiting his employer. it seems. which could have been adulterated. Herzog. and the landowner would be lauded for his generosity — positions the landowner would not wish to renounce. he would recommend him to others. ibid. The result? Either the landowner would reinstate the manager. m o r e i m p o r tantly for his own situation. had been given considerable authority. like the manager referred to in 12:44. where the interest is higher for goods with m o r e risk attached to t h e m . And the "homes" into which the manager hoped to be welcomed (v 4) should. the narrative implicitly commends the master and explicitly sets forth the shrewd manager as an example. the clue seems to lie in the fact that this manager. ibid. have had much time or inclination to show such generosity — especially when they would soon realize that the manager with w h o m they had dealt had just been sacked for maladministration? Rather." 226 . operating on low profit margins. Herzog. WRIGHT take their own cut.STEPHEN I. ibid. but as the large households of the rich where he might get a job he could do well. fifty percent is canceled (v 6). and Bindemann. or. 257). see also Daube. therefore.

The designation "unrighteous. Luke." or in the exhortation of 16:9. and the cust o m s officer in his plea for mercy (cf. with Joachim Jeremias. Nor need we evacuate the story of its details or its social resonances by saying. actually t u r n s out to be an act of faithfulness to God that challenges the inherent abuse of an exploitative economy. are portrayed as being at the same time both self-interested and right — as.). reaches a just verdict. Like the tax collectors of 15:1. he is so clearly a sharp operator." therefore. Indeed. however. Luke 15:18-19). the prodigal son in his decision to return (cf. he — 227 . which is the only proper response of every person to the urgent message of the kingdom (cf. the judge in his verdict delivered u n d e r pressure (cf. why is he then called a manager "of u n righteousness" (tes adikias) in verse 8? First we should note that this phrase denotes an ordinary " m a n of the world. Many readers of this parable have been unable to see the manager in any way as being exemplary. It remains. refers not to the action that brings each story to a climax. The teaching of Jesus generally presupposes not an ethic of selfless motivation. So there is no need to resort to tortuous arguments about irony in the words of 16:8b. u n d e r pressure. 199). B i n d e m a n n . "Make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth. Luke 18:4-5). But other parable characters. to a general perception of their characters. b u t to the general character of the judge and t h e manager at the outset — or. simply because. so that when it is gone. notwithstanding his shrewdness. Luke 18:13). "the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light. Parables of Jesus. to c o m m e n t briefly on s o m e of the difficulties that the text of 16:1-13 appears to raise against o u r reading of the parable. "Ungerechte als Vorbilder?"). so far f r o m being an act of "unfaithfulness" to his master. T h e judge is presented as a m a n of few scruples. b u t the conjunction of righteousness and one's own best interests — as highlighted also in Israel's Wisdom tradition. they may welcome you into the eternal homes" — as if Jesus meant the opposite of what he seems to have said. For the cancellation of illegal interest. For if the m a n a g e r is m e a n t to be exemplary not only in his skillfulness b u t also in t h e substance of his action. perhaps more accurately. Ellis. too. b u t one w h o nevertheless. 182)." n o t a person of special wickedness (cf. that the parable's sole point has to do with the man's shrewdness in a time of crisis. But particularly we must see the connection between this description and the judge "of unrighteousness" (tes adikias) in 18:6 (cf. this is a p o i n t where it is possible to detect a touch of irony in the story of the shrewd manager. for example.Parables on Poverty and Riches 963ff.

have regularly s h r u n k back f r o m the force of this exhortation. 'the m a m m o n of unrighteousness']. Money will. with his master — is u p to his eyes in shady financial dealings. his In sacrosanctum Jesu Christi Evangelium secundum Lucam Elaborata Ennaratio. w h o used the phrase "sons of light" of themselves (cf. cf. they may welcome you into the eternal homes"? Again. WRIGHT along. the structures of this world are u n just. and so proposed that the manager sought by his actions to make friends a m o n g his fellow underlings rather t h a n to gain m o n e y for himself by whatever means (cf. 1QM 1). so that w h e n it is gone. the irony of how certain groups identified themselves over against others. of course. there remains still the possibility of a creative and proper use of the world's u n r i g h t e o u s m a m m o n . and c o m m e n t a t o r of the Middle Ages. But it makes good sense within o u r reading of the parable suggested above. 46]). rather t h a n to "the sons of light" (16:8). is more p e r m a n e n t . An early textual variant in 16:9 228 . Yet surprisingly such a person. Isa 42:6) — are not to be trusted. educator. He regularly handles "the m a m m o n of unrighteousness" (16:9. the likes of which the Pharisees viewed with disapproval. the manager knew. recognized such a positive motivation in the shrewd manager's actions. Christians. It is exactly this kind of irony that hovers over Jesus' words of Luke 5:32. "I did not c o m e to call t h e righteous. indeed. But h u m a n friendship. b u t sinners to r e p e n t a n c e " — t h a t is. The horizon here is not otherworldly. So the disciples are exhorted to look to "the sons of this w o r l d " as examples. Instances of w i s d o m and obedience can be found closer to h a n d . even t h o u g h caught u p in the midst of "unrighteousness. he benefited — not bullied — his fellow servants. idealist readings have tended to miss the t h r u s t of this exhortation. of course." can act rightly and even be imitated. But t h o u g h . of course. who seem to have taken over for themselves the prophetic designation "a light for the nations" (cf.STEPHEN I. even a m o n g those very types who were despised by the so-called "sons of light. which Jeremias translates "tainted m o n e y " [Parables of Jesus. "the u n r i g h teous m a m m o n " of 16:11. Bonaventure (1221-74). or the Pharisees.). Like the "faithful and shrewd" manager of 12:42-46. one day be "gone". the Franciscan philosopher. The transaction that opened the d o o r will be forgotten. with many m o d e r n readers being suspicious a b o u t the idea that money can buy friends. ad loc. Self-styled "sons of light" — like the sectaries at Q u m r a n . it will "fail" (in contrast to "the treasure that does not fail" of 12:33)." But what of Jesus' i n j u n c t i o n in 16:9: "Make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth [literally.

o b s e s s e d master. u n j u s t socioeconomic system. Deut 31:10). as verse 13 warns against. Like the Parable of the Rich Fool. and the possession of property spoken of in verse 12 are n o t to be gained by one's neglect of the h u m d r u m responsibilities of life — or." They probably allude to the ancient feast of tabernacles that was associated with the remission of debts every seven years (cf. the manager contrasts with the Pharisees. 18:11). The trust of a master referred to in verse 10. despite their protestations to the contrary (16:15. moral challenge that is b o t h prophetic and practical. an erroneous shift of meaning. the "true riches" m e n t i o n e d in verse 11." and "serving two masters" in 16:10-13. t h o u g h quite understated. He gained no profit for himself. The sayings o n being "trusted with very little. In his canceling of hidden interest he n o t only f o u n d a way of escape f r o m his own problems. The manager is. n o t so ill-fitted to the preceding parable as has often been t h o u g h t . are. And he did so courageously. In Luke's portrayal. It is prophetic because the character praised subverts an u n j u s t 229 . neglected in their actions the basic features of justice and the love of G o d (11:42). with his action entailing putting G o d before his m a m m o n ." "dishonest with very little. however. an example of o n e who was "faithful" in a "very little" thing. So )esus should be understood at the end of verse 9 to be referring to the hospitality of those who respond here and now to gestures of forgiveness. by some affected antagonism to "tainted m o n e y " — b u t are to be attained t h r o u g h creative faithfulness within the present. b u t they are not to be viewed as entirely otherworldly. an everyday dealing (v 10). which has been c o m p o u n d e d by viewing the adjective "eternal" (aiönious) in an exclusively other-worldly sense. indeed. This is. and in caring for the possessions of s o m e o n e else (v 12). in handling " u n righteous m a m m o n " (v 11). t h o u g h able to stand on their own. who. this story offers a provocative. He only secured his reinstatement to the only position in which he could possibly survive. therefore. T h e rewards held out in 16:10-12 are privileges of the Age to C o m e . The manager did n o t try to serve b o t h God and m a m m o n . b u t his action also resulted — however motivated by self-interest — in being faithful to God's covenant as it concerns usury and justice for the poor. But the "eternal h o m e s " mentioned at the end of this verse likely signify "the tabernacles (tas skēnas) of the Age to Come.Parables on Poverty and Riches replaced "when it is gone (eklipç)" with "when you are gone (eklipēte)." thereby usurping a reference to the impermanence of money by a reference to people's deaths — which is the sense that became enshrined in the Latin Vulgate.

which are licked by the dogs. it presents a picture of the h u m a n cost of preoccupation with wealth. WRIGHT system. as examples of wisdom and justice. O n o n e side of the o r n a m e n t a l gateway lives the rich magnate in luxury and self-indulgence. this tale portrays bleak alienation b o t h in this life and beyond.3 1 ) The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31 is set as a w a r n ing to the Pharisees a b o u t the dangers of the love of money. and who longs for. b u t s o m e t h i n g that an ordinary person u n der pressure can do here and now. The opening description of the rich m a n and Lazarus in verses 19-21 is not an exaggerated picture. Bauckham. therefore. T h e Parable of t h e Rich M a n a n d Lazarus (Luke 1 6 : 1 9 . Whereas the story of the m a n ager implied a happy conclusion of h u m a n reconciliation. with m o n e y fading into the b a c k g r o u n d . are typical characters f o u n d in striking pose: a hard-pressed middle manager and a possessions-obsessed estate owner — with b o t h being used. The story tells of no action by either man. is not with the next world. Oesterley. especially. which it follows in chapter 16. O n the other side lies the beggar. "The Rich M a n and Lazarus: The Parable and the Parallels"). the pieces of bread used by the rich household as napkins (cf. But it is practical because it suggests not a grand blueprint for revolutionary action in the future. to cancel interest — is not only just. with ostentatious attire b r o u g h t by merchants f r o m distant parts. b u t with this one. the unclean and "expendable" Lazarus. who remains u n b u r i e d . Gospel Parables. Even a rich master can soften his approach. assumes conventionally accepted details about the afterlife. b u t it opens u p a future of new possibilities.STEPHEN I. W h a t Jesus has given us in the Parable of the Shrewd Manager. closely followed by that of the rich m a n . which was a love they denied b u t secretly embraced (16:14). 230 . 5. Its main concern. 205). For to remit debts — and. who is given a proper burial. The remainder of the narrative unfolds in another world. Like the Parable of the Shrewd Manager. The first event is the death of Lazarus. however. b u t fails to satisfy his h u n g e r with. and so there is a message inherent in this parable for this type of person as well. Similar tales from antiquity are extant today (cf. The parable. t h o u g h in differing ways. whose only covering is his sores. of course. b u t a stark portrayal of the kind of society that was familiar to Jesus and his hearers.

No. Death confirms those decisions. The rich m a n then appeals to A b r a h a m o n behalf of his five brothers. He wants Lazarus to cross over a great gulf to alleviate his torture. while the rich m a n languishes in the t o r m e n t s of Hades (vv 22-23). Abraham's laconic response. w h o was a p o o r child of A b r a h a m . is that they already have all the w a r n i n g they need — that is. It does n o t overturn t h e m . stresses the freight of urgency with which hum a n decisions in this life are invested. The story. The rich m a n then speaks (v 24). the rich man's self-imposed separation f r o m a fellow h u m a n . N o r will an apparition f r o m beyond death change hearts and m i n d s that are set in disobedience to the law of God. Abraham's response is n o t u n k i n d : he returns "father" with "child" (v 25). says Abraham: "If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets. W h a t might appear as an excessively harsh t r e a t m e n t beyond death — for. 231 . asking that Lazarus be sent to w a r n t h e m ( w 27-28).Parables on Poverty and Riches Lazarus is carried to the b o s o m of A b r a h a m . even t h o u g h he had never so m u c h as opened his o w n gate to h i m in life. But he points out the justice of the reversal in the two men's conditions — and. for the rich m a n was wealthy as A b r a h a m had been. The parable is all the more powerful for its restraint. therefore. in life. Perhaps m o r e t h a n in any other parable. They do nothing. speaks of the great gulf that now lies between t h e m ( w 25-26). He thus reveals his awareness of the justice of his own fate. a society that is u n d e r j u d g m e n t . in particular." p r e s u m i n g o n a family relationship — t h o u g h before his death he had n o t recognized Lazarus as being equally Abraham's child. the characters here are types w h o represent the poles of an u n e q u a l society. ominously. n o t a Lazarus f r o m another world. So there is an irony here. that b e c a m e a fixed gulf between bliss and t o r m e n t . The striking feature in this story is not so m u c h a b o u t something that o n e or the other of t h e m had t h o u g h t or done. He calls A b r a h a m "father. It was. b u t lacked his generosity. So it is the Lazaruses of this life to w h o m his brothers must pay attention. however. But the rich m a n persists: Surely s o m e o n e returning f r o m the dead would convince them! (v 30). what had the rich m a n done? — t u r n s out to be the righteous verdict of G o d on the way things are. N o w A b r a h a m was a figure of legendary hospitality in Judaism. b u t the portrayal of their diverse destinies — which portrayal is so unlike the conventional picture of riches as a token of divine blessing. neither will they be convinced even if s o m e o n e rises f r o m the dead" (v 31). in the words of Moses and the p r o p h e t s (v 29). The rich m a n and Lazarus. are simply pictured.

where the t e m p t a t i o n of the godly to envy the state of those w h o are wicked and luxuriantly rich is overcome t h r o u g h a glimpse — which was given to the psalmist w h e n he entered the sanctuary of God (cf. The rich m a n has p u t himself outside the family circle of "father" A b r a h a m . they proclaim that if the rich as well as the p o o r were to obey God's word. Prophetically. The p o o r are encouraged to p u t their h o p e in God's justice. They hold in tension a prophetic and a practical vision. But the sober realism of the parable needs here also to be noted. As in the Parable of the Rich Fool of 12:13-21. have Moses and the prophets. the way of w i s d o m . to read this parable with Psalm 73 as a backdrop. of course. lies close at h a n d . however. T h e A n c i e n t C o n t e x t s of t h e Parables Each of the three parables we have considered presents a suggestive incident as an example. for it has b o t h a prophetic and a practical message. it is implied that if the rich m a n or his brothers would have taken heed. therefore. And if his brothers continue in the same ways.STEPHEN I. obscene injustice is held u p for all to behold and denounce. like the poor. the situation could have been changed overnight. WRIGHT The Parable of the Rich M a n and Lazarus is. In the Narrative of Luke A comparison of the language of these parables with the language of LukeActs as a whole highlights the presence of Luke's hand in the recounting of 232 . But more needs also to be said here with regard to the ancient contexts of these parables. No false hope of an immediate release f r o m poverty is offered. 6. ν 17) — of their ultimate fate. in fact. Yet they also s u m m o n the rich to repentance. They warn the p o o r against the allure of wealth. for the reversal does n o t take place until after death. They should listen to t h e m . O n the practical level. The rich. Rather. It is productive. like the two other parables we have considered. they will do so too. which is also the way of obedience. ultimate liberation for all would be on its way. It is revealed to be t e m p o r a r y — t h o u g h the yawning gulf between h u m a n beings in which that injustice had been expressed is s h o w n to persist even beyond death. no quick solution is here proposed to the problem of poverty — t h o u g h .

the Lost Coin. the Lost Sheep. But it should also be recognized that later generations of Christians have "spiritualized" m u c h of Jesus' teaching concerning wealth. and the Lost Son (15:1-32). for all kinds of people. and the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (18:9-14)." which is a time to let the oppressed go free (4:18-19). and that the portrayal of the Pharisees in Luke 16:14 as "lovers of m o n e y " owes something to such a stylized presentation (cf. both negative and positive. There are other parables in Luke's Gospel where literal wealth is an often unnoticed s u b . the W i d o w and the Judge (18:1-8). And this is the message that appears in the manager's discovery of a way o u t of oppressive practices in 16:1-8. as well as good. Johnson has argued that an attitude toward riches functions in Luke-Acts as a m e t a p h o r for f a i t h . Luke presents Jesus as a n n o u n c i n g "the year of the Lord's favor. which is analogous to the liberation of Zacchaeus in 19:1-10. Indeed.c o m m i t m e n t to Jesus. a false logic and bad literary criticism to claim that the h o r t a t o r y material of these verses was foreign to the intention of Jesus. even for society as a whole.t h e m e — such as the G o o d Samaritan (10:30-37). although indebtedness can be used as a m e t a p h o r for sin. his Literary Function of Possessions in Luke-Acts). It is. all 233 . the p o o r can be blessed (6:20-21) and the rich are in danger (6:24-25). 21 and 16:9-13 (possibly also 16:8b). while Luke seems to have preserved in quite a literal fashion a truly genuine emphasis of Jesus o n its right use. Luke T.Parables on Poverty and Riches these stories. Acts 2:44-45. In particular. b u t also encapsulate the good news itself — that is. And they offer not only examples for living. they proclaim that a certain pattern of life is possible. these three parables reflect the evangelist's intense concern with poverty and wealth. these parables are permeated by a sense of divine purpose. Furtherm o r e . however. Because of the contexts in which they are f o u n d . T h u s . They demonstrate how. esp. contrary to appearances. In the Earliest Christian Communities Luke's presentations suggest that the parables of the Rich Fool in 12:16-21 and the Shrewd Manager in 16:1-8 were clarified for the early Christians by the a d m o n i t i o n s of 12:15. Luke in his two volumes gives a p r o m i n e n t place to the sharing of goods by the earliest Christian c o m m u n i t y (cf. 4 : 3 4 5:12). we o u g h t not thereby underplay Jesus' message regarding economic and social forgiveness as it is presented in Luke's Gospel.

as well as warnings to the rich n o t to oppress the poor. they do n o t themselves assert such a view. as we see particularly in the Letter of James (see esp." But however the phrase "the Age to C o m e " came about and is to be u n d e r s t o o d . the manager's h o p e in 16:1-8 is a very earthy one. which is a perspective that is supported today by m a n y historical studies. it is legitimate to assume that a real continuity exists between the exemplary force of the parables for Jesus' hearers and a similar force for Christians after Easter. however. T h o u g h these parables would also fit the picture of Jesus as being Israel's final prophet. with the h o p e for hospitality in the second suggesting a new age feasting. whether that language comes f r o m early Christian tradition or is a p r o d u c t of the evangelist's wording — provides a natural bridge f r o m a story of hard-heartedness. the three parables with which we are here concerned can fittingly be read as three s u m m o n s to repentance in Jesus' challenge to Israel — with this triad of parables setting out practical examples 234 . w h o heralds the nation's ultimate crisis. The one phrase that has u n a m b i g u o u s overtones of a final age expectation is "the tents of the Age to C o m e " in 16:9. however. In the Ministry of Jesus The readings I have offered for these three parables sit well with an u n d e r standing of Jesus as a social prophet. F u r t h e r m o r e . This verse. be taken to hint at j u d g m e n t in a wider sense. continued to be necessary a m o n g the early Christians. T h e phrase "even if one should rise f r o m the d e a d " (oud' ean tis ek nekrön anastç peisthēsontai) of 16:31 — which resonates with language used in connection with Jesus' own resurrection. which Jesus told to his hearers. Nonetheless. 4:13-5:11). to a story that reflects the c o n t i n u i n g hard-heartedness and unbelief of m a n y after he himself had been raised f r o m the dead. could be a Lukan (or earlier) gloss — t h o u g h even if that be so. At the same time. of course. it should be noted that it is the death of an individual person or persons that is depicted in 12:13-21 and 16:19-31. Warnings to p o o r believers against emulating the oppressive practices of the rich. the idea of an "age to come" should n o t be confused with notions of a somewhat i m m a terial "heaven. WRIGHT three parables in their entireties bear the marks of Luke's h a n d . 1:27-2:17. The presence of death in the first and third of these parables could.STEPHEN I. 1:9-11.

the message of these parables is closely similar to John the Baptist's earthy responses to those w h o sought his counsel (cf. 130). Such an interpretation contrasts with two other interpretations that have been p o p u l a r in recent decades. including Crossan. it seems. Hear Then the Parable.Parables on Poverty and Riches of what Jesus' message means for b o t h the rich and the poor. The significance of the specific details of these parables was so minimized that even Lazarus's poverty was regarded as being purely incidental (cf. In effect. Crossan. In Parables) and Bernard Scott has presented Jesus as a social radical (cf. that proposed by Jeremias." But it is a strange sort of literary idealism or theological fastidiousness that shrinks f r o m allowing Jesus to explain parables or make moral p r o n o u n c e m e n t s . and so many scholars. Luke 3:10-14). O n the one h a n d . 186: "Jesus does not want to c o m m e n t o n a social problem"). moral. as argued by Crossan or Scott. and exemplary dimensions by preferring either a philosophical or sociopolitical f r a m e w o r k for the parables rather t h a n a theological framework. O n the other h a n d . and so. underplay the practical. Scott. inevitably allegorizes t h e m . and exemplary dimensions of Jesus' stories. heightening the moral impact of the parables is perfectly compatible with their being the bearers of good news. 235 . which was coming in j u d g m e n t and grace — and of the response that it required. however. Jeremias. Logion 63. Hear Then the Parable). regard it as being more authentic t h a n the version in Luke's Gospel (see the s u m m a r y of o p i n i o n s in Scott. In particular. like all the other parables of Jesus. D o m i n i c Crossan has offered us a version of Jesus the existentialist (cf. lacks a moral conclusion. underplays the practical. The former. as simple illustrations of the k i n g d o m . The latter. these three parables o n poverty and riches proclaim that r e t u r n i n g to God is possible for all kinds of people. The version of the Parable of the Rich Fool in the Gospel of Thomas. despite protestations to the contrary. As Luke himself shows. Both of these constructions. does this by assimilating these stories to Jesus' proclamation of the k i n g d o m as seen t h r o u g h a Pauline lens. moral. Joachim Jeremias has treated these parables. Int r o d u c t i o n s and conclusions to the parables are often dismissed today as being inauthentic by the use of the pejorative label "moralizing. Parables of Jesus.

Instead. But an appreciation of the realism of Jesus' stories must not cause us to overlook the presence of G o d as the g u a r a n t o r of the order of life that they present. in fact. b u t as the master of all masters. The thrust of these stories is that people need not — in fact. Yet these parables do connect o n a deeper level with Paul's teaching concerning justification. And the things you have prepared. Likewise. For they present to h u m a n beings who are immersed in this world's u n j u s t structures — perhaps. must not—wait for death to find the way to true personal and c o m m u n a l well-being. "the master" of 16:1). rather than asserts. hopelessly c o m p r o 236 . should not be pressed into service as fodder for a doctrine of the afterlife. the climactic word of God spoken to the foolish farmer in 12:20 is spoken while the m a n is still alive. Psalm 82). we have highlighted their moral and social implications. there is an urgency about each story that serves to point u p the importance of right decisions here and now. b u t to an u n c h a n g i n g order that is continually sustained by a Creator God. O u r interpretation of these three parables has distanced itself f r o m that of Joachim Jeremias. WRIGHT 7. it m i g h t seem. while the story of the rich m a n and Lazarus in 16:1931 adopts. And he is the u n d o u b t e d . of course. as well as with the roots of the concept of justification in the Old Testament. w h o f o u n d t h e m to be simply expressions in vivid language of the call to respond to Christ in repentance and faith. the language used in c o m m e n d a t i o n of the shrewd manager in 16:8-9 is this-worldly. has in o u r day been widely a b a n d o n e d . M o d e r n C o n t e x t s for t h e Parables In Theological Discourse The fondness for seeing figures in the parables as analogues for God (e. It is an urgency that is reminiscent of the earthy. God is the one who stands behind the rich employer of 16:1 — not. however. for w h o m the employer is a mere code. this-worldly stance of m u c h of the Old Testament. These parables.g. Likewise. whose will they be?") is no alien intrusion into the story. a u t h o r of j u d g m e n t in the story of the rich m a n a n d Lazarus in 16:19-31. which existed within the Christian church f r o m earliest times. These three parables. Nonetheless. just as he is present in 18:1-8 as the judge of the judges (cf. His speech to the foolish farmer in 12:20 ("You fool! This very night your life is being dem a n d e d of you. As we have seen. as the subject of the story. appeal n o t to a reality only lately s p r u n g on the world t h r o u g h the arrival of Jesus.STEPHEN I.. t h o u g h u n m e n t i o n e d . traditional views of the next world.

In Social Application to Contemporary Society With respect to the applicability of these three parables of Jesus to contemporary society. sometimes. w h o writes in The Times (April 11. in fact. T h u s just as Paul was quite sure that people do not need to wait until they are perfectly u n c o m p r o m i s e d by the world before they can enjoy a relationship with God and express it in right action. . simultaneously b o t h — the possibility of action that is wise and right. hyperactive child of parents w h o were separated.. as biblical scholarship has increasingly come to recognize. Keeping It in the Family. What went wrong was not an absence of values or policy. and took it out on each other and their children.Parables on Poverty and Riches mised either as victims of the system or as its operators. The first article is by Simon Jenkins. They can resort to preaching. alcoholic. all the hobgoblins of politics and religion descend on you and call you evil. . . b u t a b o u t the potential inclusion of all sorts and conditions of people within the one penitent people of God.". they endured the claustrophobia of nuclear families in council houses. but they never tell you what to do when you are at your wits' end. . 1998) a penetrating review of a television d o c u m e n t a r y by Roger Graef. earthy faith. These people are no help. and sometimes violent.. yet when you foul it up. It was that two people found they could not live together or offer security to a c h i l d . . Not policies. so Jesus points us in these parables to the m e a n i n g of a working. was n o t a b o u t faith versus action or action versus faith. pa237 . or. Jenkins uses the story as an illustration of the sheer misery that m o d e r n "family life" can be: The characters were desperate in every sense. But that is precisely what Jesus did do in these parables! To those in hopeless situations he offered h o p e and practical advice. Lacking the diversion and self-esteem of a job. They were what middle-class viewers would call "awful people. perhaps that can best be shown by citing significant issues raised in two articles by two c o n t e m p o r a r y and respected journalists. The d o c u m e n t a r y concerned a disturbed. You may love your child and ache to be seen as a responsible parent. The a r g u m e n t of b o t h Jesus and Paul. u n e m p l o y e d . .

But he also warns us that having too m u c h can destroy that humanity-in-relationship that is o u r greatest treasure. Jeremy Seabrook. is precisely to w a r n the p o o r against being like the rich. b u t the e n c o u r a g e m e n t to trust in God and n o t lose a generous spirit. Poet and Peasant: A Literary Cultural Approach Parables in Luke. and h o w they can change it. The other article suggests a global application. 238 to the and . He has no need to imitate the tactics of a grasping superior. even a beggar should n o t d r e a m of being like the unseeing. Consumerism promises not only that they will be released from this ancient bondage. Selected B i b l i o g r a p h y Bailey." which is all he requires. . Most piercingly of all. Consumerism's greatest weakness is that it eliminates other fundamental needs — for example. And if they are rich. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. by want. Their Culture Style. Kenneth E. writes of the rich North's export of c o n s u m e r i s m to the South: Throughout recorded time a majority of the world's people have been tormented by poverty or by the fear of poverty. but also that they can by-pass a bare sufficiency. 1976. WRIGHT tronizing. the need to provide for ourselves and the need to create and to do things for each other Reclamation of our h u m a n powers has to be the objective of people both in the North and in the South. A central t h r u s t of Jesus' rhetoric.STEPHEN I. and break through into the satisfaction of limitless desire. Through Peasant Eyes: More Lucan Parables. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. Jesus urges us to see that all have enough. His words are as relevant for the global village as for the Palestinian one. . Even a peasant family on the bread line should not get possessive a b o u t their patrimony. . a frugal security. they should ask themselves a b o u t their complicity in a society that has n u r t u r e d such hopelessness. A manager discovers that doing s o m e t h i n g for others that is within his limited power will give him a "frugal security. His followers should go and do likewise. or e m p t y promises. . u n c a r i n g potentate at whose gate he lies. 1980. hunger and insecurity. in The New Internationalist (October 1997). as we have seen.

39). E. 239 . The Gospel Parables in the Light of Their Jewish Background. W. John R. 6th ed. ed.Parables on Poverty and Riches Bauckham. Parables as Poetic Fictions: The Creative Voice of Jesus. E. Hedrick. 1974. Morgan 8c Scott. S. II. The Literary Function of Possessions in Luke-Acts (Society of Biblical Literature Dissertation Series. H. John Dominic. David. London: Marshall." Journal of Biblical Literature 111 (1992) 239-53. Richard J. 1973. London: SPCK. ed. Walther. Ellis. Parables as Subversive Speech: Jesus as Pedagogue of the Oppressed. The Parables of Jesus. Hooke f r o m Die Gleichnisse Jesu. Earle.3 (1984). In Parables: The Challenge of the Historical Jesus. Rev. London: SCM." New Testament Studies 37 (1991) 225-46. Johnson. Herzog. Kee and D. Jeremias. Knight. Rev. 1963. 25. 2329-56. William R. 1994.. Daube. H. 1977. "Interior M o n o l o g u e as a Narrative Device in the Parables of Luke. 1994. Sellew. 1988. C. Hear Then the Parable: A Commentary on the Parables of Jesus. ed. Philadelphia: Fortress. The Gospel in Parable: Metaphor. "Neglected Nuances of Exposition in Luke-Acts. Narrative and Theology in the Synoptic Gospels. Charles W. 1989. Oesterley. Missoula: Scholars. The Gospel of Luke (New C e n t u r y Bible C o m m e n t a r y ) . Scott. A. " T h e Rich M a n and Lazarus: The Parable and the Parallels." in Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt II. Luke T. 1936. Louisville: Westminster/John Knox." Theologische Literaturzeitung 11 (1995) 95670. Joachim. "Ungerechte als Vorbilder? Gottesreich u n d Gottesrecht in den Gleichnissen v o m 'ungerechten Verwalter' u n d 'ungerechten Richter'. San Francisco: H a r p e r 8c Row. Philip. First published 1947. D o n a h u e . trans. (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. Minneapolis: Fortress. 1962). B i n d e m a n n . Crossan. O. Peabody: Hendrickson. Bernard Brandon.

and knocking (11:9-10) and about a son's requests of his father (11:11-13). Luke's presentation of these three parables and two sayings is consistent with his interest on prayer. If we should denude them from their canonical wraps. and the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (18:9-14). L I E F E L D T H E R E ARE THREE PARABLES of Jesus on prayer in the Synoptic Gospels. 240 . with that parable. these parables and sayings bear the evangelist's own stamp. which we will consider.C H A P T E R 11 Parables on Prayer (Luke 11:5-13. as seen throughout his Gospel and Acts. But this fact should not preclude an acceptance of them as being genuinely from Jesus and faithfully interpreted by Luke. and the last one the least. as well. Parables cry out for a context. The first parable will be given here the most attention. Indeed. seeking. 18:1-14) W A L T E R L. we would then need to propose some other contexts and some other meanings. the Parable of the Persistent Widow (18:1-8). Connected with the story of the friend at midnight are two short parabolic sayings about asking. This is partly because of the complexity of the lexical issues in 11:8 and partly because some of the discussion regarding the latter two parables will have already been anticipated in dealing with the first. with all three of them appearing in Luke: the Parable of the Friend at Midnight (11:5-8).

are linked by references to a father. The fourth part in verses 11-13 portrays the wisdom and kindness of a father who gives good gifts to his children. which is the focus of this study. have in c o m m o n references to the petitioner taking the initiative — and doing so with the expectation of an answer. it is on the God who is faithful and consistent in his response. The portrayal of God in the second part of this section. seek. The emphasis throughout this section. I can't get up and give you anything. The first component. The second component. and knock.' 8I tell you. in verses 5-8. 'Friend. The third part of this section in verses 9-10 calls for action on the part of a petitioner: asking. "Who among you has a friend. The petitioner could not be guaranteed an answer if God were not faithful. is on God who receives petitions in prayer and who will surely hear and answer. and I have nothing to set before him. though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend. and knocking. is in the parable itself. Although Luke's placement and wording of the Lord's Prayer is different from Matthew's. and he goes to him at midnight and says. and the third. yet because of the man's boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs. 6 because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me. 241 .' 7 "Then the one inside answers. T h e Friend at M i d n i g h t (Luke 11:5-8) "Then he said to them. seeking. a main point in c o m m o n with Matthew's version is the use of the term "Father. and my children are with me in bed. therefore." The Literary Context of the Parable Luke has set the Parable of the Friend at Midnight in the context of an extended presentation on prayer in 11:1-13. and the last. the Lord's Prayer. the wise father. lend me three loaves of bread. rather. the invitation to ask. But still the focus is not on the petitioner. The first part in verses 1-4 contains the Lord's Prayer. The four parts of this section have in c o m m o n an emphasis on the nature of the God to w h o m Christians pray. the parable." This carries with it an assurance of the basis on which God will answer our prayers — that is. 'Don't bother me. because he is loving and caring. The door is already locked.Parables on Prayer 1.

WALTER L. LIEFELD
The study of the Parable of the Friend at M i d n i g h t in the context of
Luke's Gospel, however, also invites attention to the Parable of the Persistent Widow in 18:1-8. Several points of comparison have been noted between these two parables. The most obvious one is that the person to
w h o m the petition is b r o u g h t is at first reluctant, b u t that the petition is
eventually granted. There is also a striking verbal similarity in the sayings
of the m a n in bed, w h o replies " D o n ' t b o t h e r m e " (me moi kopous pareche,
11:7), and the judge, who acts "because the widow keeps b o t h e r i n g m e "
(dia ge to parechein moi kopon, 18:5).
Such similarities invite the supposition that there was a connection
between the two parables in the oral tradition a n d / o r in Luke's redaction.
This supposition, however, can lead to the w r o n g conclusion that the two
parables were intended — either by Jesus or by Luke — to teach exactly the
same lesson. The context of the parable in 11:5-8 probably stems f r o m the
petition for daily bread (v 3) in the Lord's Prayer, which immediately precedes it, while the context of the parable in 18:1-8 is the need for vindication d u r i n g a long period of waiting. But if the interpretations we will offer
of these two parables are correct, the need for continued prayer in the circumstance that p r o m p t e d the parable of 18:1 -8 does not carry the implication that i m p o r t u n i t y is always a necessary element in prayer. Therefore,
Luke's inclusion of these two parables in 11:5-8 and 18:1-8 — while, indeed, they may possess s o m e similar features — does n o t m e a n that the
o n e interprets the other, as is c o m m o n l y assumed.

The Social Context of the Parable
T h e social context of the parable in 11:5-8 is, like that of the o t h e r two
parables o n prayer, clearly in view. It was in accord with the c u s t o m s of
the day t h a t a visitor be heartily welcomed and be provided with food
a n d lodging. Hospitality c o n t i n u e d to be an i m p o r t a n t virtue in the early
church a n d was a qualification for elders (cf. 1 T i m 3:2; Tit 1:8). A cent u r y later, the satirist Lucian of Samosata told of the Cynic preacher
Peregrinus w h o professed Christianity for a while, benefited f r o m the
legendary hospitality of C h r i s t i a n s , a n d t h e n r e t u r n e d to Cynicism
(Lucian, The Passing of Peregrinus). A m a j o r social context of the parable,
therefore, is the culture of h o n o r and s h a m e , which is a m a t t e r to which
we m u s t r e t u r n later.
242

Parables on Prayer

The Form of the Parable
As to its f o r m , the story of the parable has some of the characteristics typical of most parables. It is an extended m e t a p h o r with a narrative movement. The focus is o n two main characters and their dialogue. The "law of
end stress" is seen in the response of the m a n in bed, which is unexpected.
The parable draws the hearer into the action with the words, " W h o a m o n g
you?" (NIV and NRSV: "Suppose one of you"). Because of its positive outcome, with the realization of hopes and potential, it could possibly be considered close to the category of a "comic" parable, as proposed by Dan O.
Via (The Parables [Philadelphia: Fortress, 1967], 145-76).
But this is a narrative within a dialogue. The only action outside of
the dialogue is the m i d n i g h t walk of a m a n over to his friend's house. T h e
rest of the action takes place within the dialogue: a recitation of the unexpected arrival of a guest, w h o is also described as a friend; a reference to
the guest's j o u r n e y leading u p to this visit; and the consternation of his
host at n o t being able to provide the meal required as part of one's customary hospitality. The dialogue continues with the rather a b r u p t , t h o u g h not
unreasonable, response of the sleepy m a n in bed describing his circumstances. The conclusion of the story is also n o t part of the parable narrative
as such. Rather, it comes in the words attributed to Jesus (v 8): "I tell you,
t h o u g h he will n o t get u p and give h i m the bread because he is his friend,
yet because of the man's boldness (NIV; or 'importunity,' NRSV) he will
get u p and give h i m as m u c h as he needs."
W h a t is presented in this parable, therefore, is an extended m e t a p h o r
— a graphic one, b u t one with the external f r a m e w o r k of a narrative being
minimal. There is also no character delineation, at least at the beginning.
The desire of the host to provide for his guest is n o r m a l , as is also the reluctance of the m a n in bed to get up. All of this, however, is in contrast to
the character descriptions of the " u n j u s t " judge and the "persistent" widow
in 18:1-8.

Dominical Status and Lukan

Redaction

If this were not an authentic parable of Jesus, which was preserved essentially in its original f o r m , it would be difficult to conceive h o w it arose in
the early church (unless, of course, because of its similarities with the story
243

WALTER L. LIEFELD
a b o u t the persistent widow, it is to be viewed as only a spinoff f r o m that
parable). But while, indeed, such an act of hospitality as represented in the
parable would not have been unusual, it is hard to conceive of this particular complex of circumstances as having been created by the early Christian
c o m m u n i t y . The t h e m e of h o n o r and s h a m e that underlies the story was
n o t o n e of such concern to the early church that it would have motivated
the development of a story like this. More likely, it may be assumed that
there was a lively interest a m o n g the earliest believers in Jesus in the Lord's
Prayer, and that any parables and sayings of Jesus that related to that
prayer were treasured and included in their oral traditions. F u r t h e r m o r e , it
may be assumed m a n y such stories and sayings would have been customarily repeated together by the time Luke became aware of t h e m .
It is easy to postulate that Luke f o u n d the Parable of the Friend at
M i d n i g h t in what has s o m e t i m e s been called "L" or his special source. T h e
Travel Narrative of 9:51-19:27 and the Last Supper of 22:7-20 (esp. w 1520) give evidence of a source that was used by Luke but not by either M a r k
or Matthew, and which contained narrative material as well as sayings of
Jesus. But another source, which was also used by Matthew and is c o m monly identified as "Q" (i.e., Quelle or "source"), is p e r h a p s also supported by a comparison of Luke with Matthew.
O n the basis of comparisons between the story of the Friend at Midnight of Luke 11:5-8 with that of the Persistent W i d o w of Luke 18:1-8, as
well as the "answer to prayer" material of Luke 11:9-13 with Matt 7:7-11,
David Catchpole has proposed a reconstruction of Q that would see many
of the prayer passages of the Gospels having been earlier joined together
— that is, not only the Lord's Prayer of Luke 11:1-4 (and its parallel in
Matt 6:9-13) and the other prayer texts of Luke 11:5-13 (with postulated
parallels in Luke 18:1-8 and M a t t 7:7-11), b u t also such an extended passage as f o u n d in M a t t 6:25-33 and Luke 12:22-31 (cf. his " Q and T h e
Friend at Midnight' "). But while such a complex of prayer texts m i g h t very
well have been b r o u g h t together in early Christian tradition, the question
must be asked as to how and why the evangelist Luke sorted o u t this material in his Gospel as he did. F u r t h e r m o r e , Catchpole's reconstruction involves an interpretation o f t h e parables of Luke 11:5-8 and 18:1-8 that not
only brings the two, in their canonical forms, into conflict with each other,
b u t also interprets the use of the Greek n o u n anaideia differently f r o m o u r
u n d e r s t a n d i n g (as proposed below).
There is no t r e a t m e n t of Luke 11:5-8 in The Parables of Jesus: Red Let244

Parables on Prayer
ter Edition, which was authored by Robert W. Funk, Bernard B r a n d o n
Scott, and James R. Butts (Sonoma, CA: Polebridge, 1988) and represents
the work of the Jesus Seminar. N o r is there any explanation for that omission. Robert Funk and Roy W. Hoover, however, in their later b o o k entitled
The Five Gospels (New York: Macmillan, 1993), report on the attitude toward the Parable of the Friend at M i d n i g h t by the "Fellows" of that seminar as follows:
The Fellows decided this anecdote probably originated with Jesus, although Luke has obscured its original meaning by adapting it to the
context of prayer. He makes it cohere, in other words, with the Lord's
prayer, which precedes, and with the complex of sayings that follows.
The burden of the whole section is that if one is persistent in prayer, God
will respond. (327)
T h u s we are told that the Fellows of the Jesus Seminar assigned a high degree of authenticity to the parable itself, which they interpreted (rightly, I
believe) in terms of "the h o n o r / s h a m e culture of first century Palestine,"
b u t that they decided (wrongly, I suggest) that "the original point of the
anecdote and the Lukan context clash" (ibid., 328).
W i t h o u t entering into all of the issues involved in the decisions of
the Jesus Seminar, we need here only note that the charge that Luke "obscured the original m e a n i n g " assumes that the evangelist's u n d e r s t a n d i n g
is that "if one is persistent in prayer, God will respond." But the "whole
section" of Luke 11:1-13 does n o t teach persistence. This could be read
into the saying about knocking in verses 9-10, b u t the knocking is n o t said
to be repeated. F u r t h e r m o r e , Luke is well aware of the h o n o r / s h a m e culture of his day (cf. Β. J. Malina and J. H. Neyrey, " H o n o r and Shame in
Luke-Acts," in The Social World of Luke-Acts, ed. J. H. Neyrey [Peabody:
Hendrickson, 1991], 25-65). So one would expect that any redaction on
the part of the evangelist would have featured this t h e m e rather than
clashed with it. In short, the assumption by the Fellows of the Jesus Seminar that the parable is to be accepted as an original parable is to be comm e n d e d , b u t their negative j u d g m e n t o n Luke's f r a m e w o r k is not.

245

WALTER L. LIEFELD

The Story of the Parable
The story of the Friend at M i d n i g h t starts with an invitation for the hearer
to identify with the person "in the middle," that is, with the host of a midnight guest who is his friend. The host must s o m e h o w procure bread for
his guest, and so he makes his appeal to a n o t h e r "friend." T h e hearer is
therefore placed in the role of a petitioner interceding for s o m e o n e else.
This would make the m a n in bed represent God, which immediately sets
u p static in the c o m m u n i c a t i o n . The question t h e n arises: Does the parable teach that an unresponsive God m u s t be p r o d d e d and pressured ("imp o r t u n e d " ) into responding?
The host comes at midnight. It was, of course, customary to go to
bed n o t long after dark, for oil lamps did n o t facilitate m u c h late night activity. So being awakened at m i d n i g h t would have been later in the sleep
cycle t h a n is the case today. There is, however, no reference to knocking.
This is m e n t i o n e d in the saying that follows the parable (v 9), b u t such
loud knocking at m i d n i g h t would have been inappropriate in the story.
F u r t h e r m o r e , it is i m p o r t a n t to note that there is no reference to any repeated requests — a fact that reduces the possibility that the p u r p o s e of
this parable is to encourage persistence in prayer. The host immediately
begins his petition and the narration continues within the dialogue. The
o p e n i n g word "friend," with the same word being used for the guest, puts
the request o n the basis of friendship. But the m a n in bed refuses to res p o n d on that basis. Three loaves are requested as a gesture of kindness to
the guest. Villagers would k n o w w h o had baked that day.
The narrative within the dialogue vividly portrays the inner scene of
a sleeping family, who were probably together on a m a t and with the d o o r
secured by a wooden bar t h r u s t t h r o u g h two rings — all of which sets u p
the improbability of a response. The reason the m a n does provide the
bread in spite of all this is surprising. It is expressed in the phrase "because
of his shamelessness" ( ten anaideian autou, or "his boldness" or "his persistence"). There are two linguistic problems here in verse 8: (1) t h e m e a n i n g
of the n o u n anaideia, which is a hapax legomenon in the New Testament,
and (2) the referent of the p r o n o u n autou ("his"), which is either (a) the
host at the d o o r or (b) the m a n in bed.

246

Parables on Prayer

The Noun anaideia and Pronoun autou
It may seem, at first glance, rather curious that interpreters have traditionally translated the n o u n anaideia in two diametrically opposed ways —
one that renders the word positively, usually translating it as "importunity" or "persistence," and the other negatively, translating it as "shamelessness." The preponderance of linguistic evidence has favored the negative meaning, b u t it has seemed difficult to accommodate such an
understanding to a parable on prayer. Some option other than "shamelessness" has seemed almost necessary to most interpreters if the parable is to
have a meaning that can be easily grasped and applied. A more recent suggestion (discussed below) is "avoidance of shame," which acknowledges
the negative element of shame, but puts it in a positive light.
Readers of English and German Bibles have gotten used to the idea
of "importunity" or "persistence," as expressed in the following versions:
Donay Version: "importunity" (which is probably dependent on the
Latin phrase propter inprobitatem, variant improbitatem);
Luther: "Zudringlichkeit";
King James Version: "importunity";
Twentieth Century (1900-1904): "persistence";
Weymouth (1909, 1912): "persistency" (with the amazing footnote:
"The primary sense of this word is 'impudence,' but it would be
ridiculous always to translate words according to their original
meaning");
New King James: "persistence";
Revised English Bible: "his very persistence"; and,
NRSV: "persistence."
The Message, which is a paraphrase by Eugene Peterson, is worth noting for
its vivid presentation of the idea of persistence: "If you stand your ground,
knocking and waking all the neighbors, he'll finally get u p and get you
whatever you need."
However, with lexicons such as Liddell-Scott and Bauer pointing toward a negative meaning, and with the several articles and commentaries
proposing "shamelessness," some recent translations (but not all) are evidencing a change:

247

However.WALTER L." In this context Bailey t h o u g h t that to do s o m e t h i n g on account of shamelessness m e a n t that one was doing it to avoid that shamelessness. "shame. w h o approached his neighbor with boldness. which m e a n t "shame. with verse 7 not "describing a refusal of the request. LIEFELD NIV: "boldness." with the alternatives "in order to avoid s h a m e " and "because of [your] persistence. which would then m e a n "avoidance of shame." Joachim Jeremias included the parables of "the Friend" and "the W i d o w " together in a chapter he happily entitled: " T h e Great Assurance" (The Parables of Jesus. b u t rather the utter impossibility of such a refusal. D u n c a n Derrett. New Living Translation: "so his reputation won't be damaged. in that culture aideia." and the so-called "alpha privative. rather t h a n on the i m p o r t u n i t y of the visitor. Howard Marshall in his c o m m e n t a r y o n the Third Gospel suggested that there are "two possible lessons in the parable": one is the contrast between G o d and the reluctant householder." argued for anaideia as being formed f r o m the n o u n aideia.. and thus with a sense of urgency." And he u n d e r stood this characterization to apply to the m a n in bed. in an article on " T h e Friend at Midnight: Asian Ideas in the Gospel of St. argued that anaideia m e a n t the shamelessness of the petitioner. that is. As Bailey u n d e r s t o o d matters. 146-60). despite the lack of an immediate answer" (Luke [1978]." So by separating verses 7 and 8 he was able to concentrate on the m a n in bed. 1963]. trans. H. Luke" (1978)." which functions to negate the word in question — thereby bringing about an-aideia. 158). 248 . Hooke [London: SCM. It did n o t m e a n being ashamed for s o m e wrongdoing. Rather. S." He allowed the option of the m a n in bed acting "that he may not lose face in the matter" {ibid. He considered 11:5-7 to be one rhetorical question." was a virtue. "an encouragement to go o n praying. New American Standard: "persistence. m e a n t a lack of this proper sense of shame. building on his general cultural orientation and his supposition that the underlying Aramaic word m e a n t "sense of shame. In contrast. it suggested an appropriate modesty and c o n f o r m i t y to social standards. he retained the idea of i m p o r t u n i t y even t h o u g h he attempted to place this reading in the setting of "oriental hospitality. "shamelessness." with the alternate "persistence". Anaideia. the other. therefore. Kenneth Bailey in Poet and Peasant (1976)." with the marginal alternative reading "shamelessness".

" "his." and "their. " T h a t interpretation fails." Joseph Fitzmyer in his discussion of "The Parable of the Persistent Friend" in his Luke c o m m e n t a r y illustrates the difficulty of assigning the p r o n o u n s in a text to their proper referents." "them. He rejects the interpretation offered in 1934 by Anton Fridrichsen." "her. observed two possible lessons in the parable: the first. F u r t h e r m o r e . 'his. a " h o w m u c h m o r e " s t o r y showing the contrast between G o d and the reluctant neighbor. the second. 132). with G o d being far more eager to answer (cf.' a reference 249 . The first of his reasons calls for a review of principles for interpreting parables that goes beyond o u r scope here. certainly the work of exegesis is a continual decision-making process regarding matters having to do with g r a m m a r . it leaves space for the possibility of continued prayer when necessary. it is n o t always certain that we should rule out multiple foci in a passage. language. Marshall's way of stating matters avoids m a k i n g the parable teach that i m p o r t u n i t y is necessary for securing an answer to prayer. listening to p r o n o u n s in any narration can be s o m e w h a t confusing when there are repeated references to "he. Alan J o h n s o n in an article entitled "Assurance for Man: The Fallacy of Translating anaideia by 'Persistence' in Luke 11:58" (1979) argued that it m e a n t avoidance of s h a m e — t h o u g h he acknowledged the difficulty that those n o t familiar with ancient Near Eastern cust o m s have with the concept of the avoidance of shame. 408)." Fitzmyer notes. Nevertheless. Everett Huffard in his article o n " T h e Parable of the Friend at Midnight: God's H o n o r or Man's Persistence?" (1978) proposed that anaideia m e a n t to remain blameless. Two of his reasons are that such a procedure is w r o n g in principle and that "a decision must be m a d e concerning w h e t h e r the petitioner or the person petitioned is the focus of interest" ( ibid. that his in verse 8 attributes the matter of shamelessness to the m a n in bed. And to complicate matters further. some factors in the texts themselves lie beyond certain recovery. As for Catchpole's second reason. that we should be persistent. David Catchpole in " Q and ' T h e Friend at M i d n i g h t ' " (cited above) objected to finding a double m e a n i n g in the parable. cultural backgrounds. and so on. however." "she.' that modifies anaideia has to be u n d e r s t o o d in the same sense as the autou with the preceding philon. as is the case with the widow in Luke 18. At the same time. like Marshall.. "because the autou. specifically rejecting Marshall's proposal. his Reading Luke. which has been accepted by many recent scholars — that is. 'his friend. Both Huffard and Johnson applied the characterization to the m a n in bed.Parables on Prayer 462). Charles Talbert.

52 o u t of 60 occurrences are clearly negative. Herzog II in Parables as Subversive Speech: Jesus as Pedagogue of the Oppressed (1994) t o o k the discussion of anaideia f u r t h e r . Greg Spencer. can be seen in the following two quotations: 250 . 'persistence']. 187)." He cites 1 Sam 2:29 (LXX). 34)." F u r t h e r m o r e . It is impossible to s u m m a r i z e . And Klyne Snodgrass's careful analysis of the linguistic evidence in his article "Anaideia and the Friend at M i d n i g h t " (1997) makes it now impossible to conclude anything other t h a n that the term anaideia is to be u n derstood in a thoroughly negative sense. another former student. let alone evaluate. suggesting that in "several instances the w o r d seems to refer to greed.e. and so reads the text "because of the man's [i. . however." but also that "God will provide for the needs of his people even m o r e generously and willingly [than the m a n in b e d ] " (ibid. the friend's] i m p o r t u n i t y [or. has written "An Exegetical Study of the Lucan Concept of Perseverance in Prayer: Men's Persistence or God's H o n o r ? " as a master's thesis at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in 1993. he proposes two lessons in the parable: the lesson of "bold.WALTER L. 212-13). But he opts for the former. He p r o p o s e d an extension of the m e a n i n g of anaideia. O n e of his contributions is an exhaustive survey of anaideia using the IBYCUS search resource. 276). E. He observes that "in all the references of the word anaideia f r o m the 1st century AD to the 3rd century AD. Poet and Peasant. . and Isa 56:11 in s u p p o r t of such an extended m e a n ing.. H e r z o g s w o r k w i t h o u t describing his sociological theories. LIEFELD to the begging neighbor" (Luke 912. Sirach 23:6. The effect of the various efforts to incorporate the idea of "shamelessness" along with the lingering idea of "persistence" is seen in the work of John D o n a h u e . Three former students of mine have worked extensively o n this p r o b lem. 119-33 in s u p p o r t ) . 8 are a m b i g u o u s and 0 are positive" (ibid.. Bailey. [that] describes attitudes that challenge socially constructed b o u n d a r i e s or behaviors and t h a t break these established barriers" (ibid. u n a b a s h e d forthrightness in prayer. Craig Blomberg in Interpreting the Parables (1990) concisely surveys the issues. William R. citing K.. His a p p r o a c h . w h o speaks of "persistence" with "overtones of shameless boldness" ( Gospel in Parable. He acknowledges the grammatical difficulty of determining whether the p r o n o u n "his" of verse 8b refers to the m a n who asks for bread or the householder in bed. Yet others have taken the opposite position. But he also sees " a n o t h e r cluster of m e a n i n g s ..

b u t see that only as a means of directing attention to the m a n in bed who will deal with his friend's "shamelessness" and vindicate it. Because "friendship" had become entangled in the web of patron-client loyalties. even brashly. Herzog's approach would a c c o m m o d a t e my o w n conclusions (as in the following paragraph). o n the whole village. but it would also have rested o n the m a n in bed — and. If he had refused. I lean toward applying the n o u n anaideia and the pron o u n autou to the petitioner. what is at issue is not necessarily what is morally right or m o r ally w r o n g b u t what is acceptable or unacceptable a m o n g one's peers. n o t only would the o p p r o b r i u m of shamelessness have remained o n the petitioner. as I u n d e r s t a n d h i m . Personally. T h e disciples can approach God in a shameless way. it could no longer be appealed to. The m a n in bed t o o k the action he did as the right way of dealing with the anaideia of the petitioner. b u t would take t h e m in a different direction beyond and away f r o m a contextual application. continues with the host t h e n acting in a s h a m e f u l m a n n e r toward the m a n in bed. and in the interests of protecting Jerusalem elites and the Temple hierarchy. therefore. the retainers of the elites and the Temple recodified the Torah through the oral torah so that the boundaries would be drawn along "purity" lines. the potential value of such a study loses sight of the Lukan context of the Parable of the Friend at Midnight. in a way that might offend the sensibilities of others. indeed. This is consistent with the action of God w h o h o n o r s his own n a m e when his people d i s h o n o r it (cf. The entire story has to do with h o n o r and shame. and concludes with t h e latter dealing with that s h a m e in an h o n o r a b l e way. It starts out with the host acting honorably to provide for the m i d n i g h t guest.Parables on Prayer The Torah was the source of boundary drawing. But boundary-breaking hospitality was something else! (ibid.. The Teaching of the Parable We conclude. b u t they can do so only be251 . Ezek 36:22-23). 213. 214) Unfortunately. Nonetheless. that Jesus' disciples would have u n d e r s t o o d this story as teaching that they could approach God confidently. particularly its relevance to the Lord's Prayer — to say n o t h i n g of its possible earlier setting in Q. In a culture of h o n o r and shame.

But finally he said to himself. As we read the parable today in its Lukan context. 2 He said: "In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about people. will he find faith on the earth?" The Literary Context of the Parable The context of the Parable of the Persistent Widow in Luke is quite different f r o m that of the Parable of the Friend at Midnight. 'Grant me justice against my adversary. So we can approach God knowing that he has already invited prayer regarding his h o n o r and regarding daily provisions. 7 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones. and knocking. For whereas the 252 . And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea. is teaching us about God: He is (1) a loving Father.WALTER L. The basis is God's Fatherh o o d . matters become even more clear. The Lord's Prayer begins with the request that God's n a m e be honored. I will see that she gets justice. T h e Persistent W i d o w (Luke 18:1-8) 'Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. However. he (3) will be consistent and faithful. The whole passage. Furthermore. verses 9-10 assure us that God will be consistent and faithful in responding to o u r asking. who (2) will u p h o l d his own h o n o r and will not let us be ashamed when we pray. who cry out to him day and night? Will he delay doing anything for a long time? SI tell you. Then verses 11-13 show us that a father acts wisely and kindly as he responds to the requests of his children. LIEFELD cause God himself will "cover" for their shame w h e n he acts in accordance with his own honor. seeking. therefore. 'Even though I don't fear God or care about people. so that she won't eventually wear me out with her coming!'" "And the Lord said. and he is (4) a wise and kind Father in his response. "Listen to what the unjust judge says. he will see that they get justice. following the parable. 2. and quickly. yet because this widow keeps bothering me. The Lord's Prayer also deals with the provision of bread for the day. when the Son of Man comes.' 4 "For some time he refused.

21:9. 32. The somber m o o d of the discourse — as seen in the m e n t i o n of Jesus' sufferings and rejection (17:25). 12:12. the Parable of the Friend at Midnight. 13:14. ν 8). and the two additional prayer Sayings in 11:1-13. as has been particularly recognized since the work of Hans C o n z e l m a n n . 8a). which Luke uses in the first passion prediction of 9:22 (cf. 29. The adjective tes adikias with reference to "the u n j u s t judge" in verse 6 — that is. Luke presents in 17:22-18:8 t h e first of Jesus' two eschatological discourses in his Gospel (the other being in 21:5-36. Furthermore. "it is necessary" (the translation "should" of NIV is weak). O n e is the expression to "tell" a parable (cf. will he find faith o n the earth?"). Another is the appearance in verse 1 of the infinitive of the Greek particle dei. the equivalent expressions mellei in the second prediction of 9:44 and telesthēsetai in the third of 18:3lb-33) and elsewhere t h r o u g h o u t his Gospel in such texts as 2:49. which was noted above in connection with the Lord's Prayer. which f u n c t i o n rhetorically as an inclusio. w 1 and 9). 253 . and frequent allusions to j u d g m e n t (17:27. This first discourse is f r a m e d by references to the c o m i n g of the Son of M a n in 17:22 ("The time is c o m i n g w h e n you will long to see one of the days of the Son of M a n . Instead. In addition to the prominence of prayer in Luke's theology. to a judge characterized by injustice — appears in the same f o r m in Luke's portrayal of "the shrewd manager" in 16:1-9 (see esp. which culminate in a gruesome depiction of vultures gathering over a dead b o d y (17:37b) — is picked u p in the need of b o t h the widow and the elect for vindication (18:3. the t h e m e of prayer does n o t appear in the context of the parable here.33. Following a brief interchange between Jesus and the Pharisees a b o u t the nature of the k i n g d o m in 17:20-21.Parables on Prayer f o r m e r parable is preceded and followed by teachings o n prayer. this parable is linked with Jesus' eschatological teachings in 17:22-37 — which teachings were a m a j o r concern of the evangelist Luke. 19:5. the detailing of people's evil behavior d u r i n g the t i m e of N o a h (17:26-28). 22:37. 4:43. which appears more frequently in Luke than in Mark or Matthew. 33). which is what Conzelmann tried to address in his theory that Luke was attempting to explain an alleged "delay" of Jesus' parousia. 7. b u t you will n o t see it") and 18:8b ( " W h e n the Son of M a n comes. the introduction to the parable of the persistent widow in verse 1 and the closing word of application in verse 8 both involve issues of the nearness of the parousia over against an extended period of waiting. with parallels in Mark 13:1-37 and Matt 24:1-42). there are several other Lukan characteristics that appear prominently in Luke 18. 24:44.

it needs to be observed that the similarity of the phrase used by the judge in verse 5. is introductory. "don't bother m e " (me moi kopous pareche). o n e has already decided that verses 6b and 7 are not to be considered part of the original parable). and so presumably Lukan. But in spite of the similarities that exist between the parables in 11:5-8 and 18:1-8. of course.WALTER L. 670). and the words of the m a n in bed in 11:7. This is possible. suggest either a rather exact translation of an Aramaic expression or consistency in Luke's editing." is t h o u g h t by m a n y to be a Lukan addition. Verse 1. Likewise. In short. a soliloquy. of course." and yet wisely concludes that "it is n o t necessarily Lucan" (Luke. But the characters are more sharply defined in this story a b o u t a widow and a judge t h a n in the story about a host and a m a n in bed. 254 . Every parable. T h e socalled "law of end stress. t h e focus is o n just two people (the balance of emphasis being a matter of interpretation). The Form of the Parable There are several significant differences in the f o r m of the Parable of the Persistent W i d o w f r o m that of t h e Parable of the Friend at Midnight. t h o u g h there is no pressing reason to assume it (unless. the evidences of Luke's editing do n o t require the conclusion that he forced the Parable of the Persistent W i d o w in 18:1-8 to fit an eschatological context. we do well to work with the contexts Luke provides rather t h a n go beyond the evidence in other directions. there are words in verses 6b-7 that are n o t characteristically Lukan — a fact we will shortly discuss in dealing with the f o r m history of the parable." of course. b u t is. as it was in 11:5-8. and the o u t c o m e is unexpected and outrageous. In fact. T h e narrative is not related within the dialogue. "to keep b o t h e r i n g m e " (parechein moi kopon). however. is similarly operative here. o u r parable here does not contain dialogue. Verse 8b. LIEFELD At the same time. needs s o m e context. rather. F u r t h e r m o r e . And the characters of this story are at opposite ends of the social c o n t i n u u m in terms of power. "But when the Son of M a n comes. will he find faith o n the earth?. which is a fact that not only is i m p o r t a n t to the story itself b u t also adds to its interest and memorability. or both. Howard Marshall notes that "the saying itself is unexceptional as a teaching of Jesus.

with b o t h characters fitting into the social life k n o w n to Jesus. Scott. of course. O n e might venture to say that any a t t e m p t to peel t h e m away f r o m the original parable and to construct their history differently must involve considerable speculation. B. m e a n i n g that "Jesus probably said s o m e t h i n g like this" — t h o u g h they considered verses 1 and 6 . People t h r o u g h o u t biblical history — and since — have "waited" on God in times of trouble. 255 . with God's ways in history as portrayed elsewhere in the Bible — o u r task is n o t to adjust o u r theory of transmission and redaction b u t to correct o u r theology and its application.Parables on Prayer Dominical Status and Lukan Redaction The setting of this story about a widow and a judge is clearly Palestinian. T h a t does not m e a n that we m u s t see the entire f r a m e w o r k of the parable as part of the original parable. and the assertion that the elect will get justice "quickly" (v 8a). The Parables of Jesus: Red Letter Edition [Sonoma. CA: Polebridge. R. their place in the tradition and editing are assessed variously. The Jesus Seminar gave the parable a "pink" rating. There is no reason why its position in Luke's Gospel could n o t reflect an original association with Jesus' eschatological teachings. And as for the closing c o m m e n t s in verses 6-8. Funk. W. The main difficulty in construing this section as an original whole is the tension between God's delay (or patience). 1988]. If this parable had been given by Jesus as an e n c o u r a g e m e n t d u r i n g a period of persecution. B. Butts. it is easy to see why it would have been preserved by the early church and eventually selected by Luke. 41). For Luke to use this parable to address such a circumstance would hardly have been different f r o m Jesus' original intention. such an approach suggests that the f r a m e w o r k of the parable does not c o n f r o n t us with a severe disjunction caused by Luke's supposed m i s u n d e r s t a n d i n g and misapplication of Jesus' story. and J. which is an acknowledged t h e m e in Luke's Gospel. If this is Luke's way of glossing over the expectation of an i m m i n e n t parousia by substituting the idea of an interim period. R. it is a clumsy way of doing it. But if this is a tension that is in accord with Jesus' teachings elsewhere in the Gospels — as well. Rather.8 to be Luke's editorial inventions (cf.

we k n o w that truth was o n the widow's side. we can probably assume that her action of going beyond the b o u n d s of what was customary was d o n e so as to b r i n g the teachings of the Torah a b o u t care for widows to bear o n the situation (cf. W i t h o u t any f u r t h e r detail being given. F u r t h e r m o r e . b u t if the woman's action and the judge's response were n o t outrageous. 230-32).WALTER L. Was the judge Jewish? Was the widow appealing to a Hellenistic court? W h o was her adversary? Was she w i t h o u t relatives? Was the case a b o u t the inheritance d u e her as a widow? H o w large was the "town"? (Luke refers to it twice as a polis. The adversary does not figure in the structure of the parable. The widow's persistence had already b e c o m e an affliction to the judge. the parable would have had less authenticity. LIEFELD The Story of the Parable As we approach the interpretation of this story. Jesus was painting the picture with bold strokes to emphasize the difference between the characters and the m a g n i t u d e of the woman's effect o n the judge. we note that several of its aspects are rather obscure. a b o u t his reputation? Such questions have been discussed in detail most recently by William Herzog in his Parables as Subversive Speech (215-32). why would he worry. Some aspects of the situation. That does n o t imply that the scene or action is distorted. ibid. however. or friends. could he n o t have simply ruled in her favor to begin with? Were the judge and the widow adversaries. be answered in order to construct an interpretation. This w o m a n did n o t have to be old or physically debilitated to be at a severe disadvantage. are clear e n o u g h . Widows were marginalized and vulnerable (cf. however. or. And the position and character of the judge are clearly delineated. at least. They need n o t all. The fact that there was an adversary m e a n t that the judge was not dealing with a financial matter that affected only her.. with Herzog. b u t he certainly does in the assumed b a c k g r o u n d of the story. as one interpretation proposes. 1 Tim 5:3-16 for the response of the church). the parable would have had less impact.) Was there some reason to state that b o t h the judge and the widow were f r o m the same town? Why did the w o m a n n o t offer a bribe? Was she destitute? Why did she persist in pressing her case? W h y did the judge n o t simply grant her request at the outset? If he feared no one. If it were an impossible situation. but he fears that "eventually" or "at the e n d " (eis telos) she will "wear 256 . of the same social class? A question even m o r e pertinent to the interpretation is: If the judge had no fear of G o d and no "respect for people" (NRSV).

But whereas in the m i d n i g h t scene persistence is n o t a factor." "ever. we can certainly c o u n t on G o d to respond. So the "elect" cry "day and night." or even represent a different m e a n i n g in the underlying Aramaic). however." "although. "eventually" or "at the end"). to interpret the widow's actions and the judge's response in the context of a culture of s h a m e and h o n o r — that is. This verb could refer to a blow by a boxer." "wait") can have several meanings related to the idea of waiting. The situation is prolonged and heading toward a climax (recalling the phrase eis telos. The connective kai can have several nuances (such as "and. It is questionable. T h e w o m a n needs vindication.Parables on Prayer me o u t " (hupâpiazç me). to see implied in the story the scenario that if she causes h i m to be k n o w n as s o m e o n e who ignores a widow in need. therefore." "put off. in the judicial scene it is of u t m o s t importance. that we should infer f r o m this that he was afraid that she would in s o m e way physically brutalize h i m . such shame could overbalance any self-bestowed " h o n o r " that he cherishes of being a "tough judge. A f u r t h e r question that relates to the conclusion in verse 7 is the m e a n i n g of the interrogative clause kai makrothumei ep' autois (NIV: "Will he keep p u t t i n g t h e m off?"). At the same time. and so the natural question n o w is w h e t h e r God will take a long t i m e to bring justice or vindication to those suffering in the period described in 17:22-37. 257 . we learn that if even the m a n in bed or the u n j u s t judge responds in spite of their reluctance. Also. the ultim a t e focus in b o t h parables is on the response of the second figure." The Teaching of the Parable It would seem that each character in the parable of 11:5-8 and the parable of 18:1-8 — b o t h the petitioner and the one being petitioned — is intended to draw the hearer/reader's attention. Is Jesus painting a scene so comic and outrageous that a judge is afraid of being physically attacked by a widow? The fact that the verb could also m e a n to give s o m e o n e a "black eye" in a metaphorical sense has led to the possibility that this judge was afraid of losing his reputation. But if he already feared no one. the verb makrothumeö ("have patience. By m e a n s of a lesser-to-greater a r g u m e n t ." This element of prolongation has surfaced in the Parable of the Persistent W i d o w as being significant. h o w could this be so? It is probably better.

Even the referent of ep' autois ("for t h e m " ) is n o t completely certain (cf. and whether they will e n d u r e with respect to the faith: "However. Luke. for an analysis of the various proposed interpretations). went home justified before God. (3) the reference seems to be to the elect. The question then t u r n s in verse 8b f r o m how God acts d u r i n g the waiting period to h o w the hearers and readers respond. a sinner. "The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: 'God.WALTER L. evildoers.' ' "But the tax collector stood at a distance. rather than the other. But this expression "quickly" functions not to measure the speed of God's response in "real time. Marshall. will he find faith on the earth?" 3. 'God. one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.' 14 "I tell you that this man. adulterers — or even like this tax collector. and those who humble themselves will be exalted. LIEFELD such as delaying or being patient or forbearing." b u t to complete the strong contrast with the judge's methodical and deliberate delay. (2) a period of waiting seems inevitable given the context. Luke prefaces the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector with an i n t r o d u c t i o n to guide the 258 . He would not even look up to heaven. G o d will act "quickly" (en tachei). I2I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get. I thank you that I am not like other people — robbers. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled. w h e n the Son of Man comes. Given the vocabulary and g r a m m a r — coupled with the facts that (1) G o d promises vindication. Jesus told this parable: '""Two men went up to the temple to pray. have mercy on me. but beat his breast and said. 674-75. a n d (4) part of the answer is "quickly" — the question of verse 7b should probably be read: "Will God delay doing anything for a long time?" Verse 8a provides the answer: No. T h e Parable o f t h e P h a r i s e e and t h e Tax C o l l e c t o r (Luke 18:9-14) 9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else." The Context of the Parable As with the Parable of the Persistent Widow.

More t h a n that. or. D. The Parables of Jesus: Red Letter Edition. the conclusion in verse 14b. In Luke's introductory formula. Marshall." the reader is i n f o r m e d that this is only a story and not a b o u t two actual people. Those of us who read Luke's acc o u n t in later times are n o t as knowledgeable. And as do the two parables just discussed. " T h e Ambiguity of 'the Pharisee and the Toll-Collector'. and Butts.439-61) t h a t t h i s is a caricature of the Pharisees is often cited. F. The j u d g m e n t of Luise Schottroff ("Die Erzählung v o m Pharisäer u n d Zöllner als Beispiel f ü r die Theologische Kunst des Uberredens.g. Downing. Betz and L. Dominical Status and Lukan Redaction The originality of this parable may seem a foregone conclusion. But some. ed.. less often. 56). Luke. this parable also features two strong figures. either with disapproval (e. and so can easily miss the force and shock of the original telling. 259 . however. and probably would have been eager to hear exaggerated descriptions — m u c h as theological conservatives and theological liberals today all-too-often like to hear and tell stories a b o u t their heroes and villains. consider both the f o r m and f r a m e w o r k of this story to be a construction s t e m m i n g f r o m the latter part of the first century." 8486). "Jesus told this parable. m a n y of us who have read Luke's Gospel have only negative attitudes toward the Pharisees and w a r m feelings toward repentant tax collectors. with approval and even as a strong case (e.g. Scott." in Neues Testament und christliche Existenz. 1973]. Jesus' original hearers. with a reference to those w h o are self-righteous and look d o w n on others. w h e t h e r part of Jesus' saying or Luke's addition. and the tracing of any f o r m history unnecessary. G.. and so both his words of c o n d e m n a t i o n and his words of c o m m e n d a t i o n would have come as a surprise to his original hearers. 678). refers to b o t h attitudes — to both self-exaltation and self-humbling. would have k n o w n these two characters well.Parables on Prayer reader to its significance. Nonetheless. "when the rivalry between Christianity and Judaism produced considerable a c r i m o n y " (Funk. But it has b e c o m e so familiar that m o d e r n readers often forget this and do not allow for parabolic exaggeration. But Jesus reversed their roles. But the i n t r o d u c t i o n of this parable draws attention particularly to the first figure. in particular t h e Fellows of the Jesus Seminar. Schottroff [Tübingen: Mohr. H .

first. This attitude on the part of certain Pharisees had already been c o n d e m n e d by Jesus in Luke 16:15. where he lists the reasons he had for p u t t i n g confidence in the flesh. "The Ambiguity of 'the Pharisee and the Toll-Collector'"). 260 . Their confidence in themselves called for an object of scorn. Jesus makes u p a story and selects two well-known types. and this is a role for which the tax collector was an ideal candidate. which he presses into service to discredit the tax collector's prayer (cf. b u t to contrast two attitudes. the Pharisees looked d o w n on others. Gerald Downing's extensive research into examples of prayers of both genuine and false penitence." Such an attitude is also familiar f r o m Paul's confession in Phil 3:4-6. b u t was present in that of the tax collector. b u t G o d knows your hearts. And instead of doing this abstractly. exaggeration (as just noted) is not only permissible b u t to be expected in a parable such as this. to observe the Pharisee's attitude: that he was confident of his own righteousness. needs. While readers of Luke's Gospel k n o w that Jesus was strongly criticized for his association with "sinners. to be taken into consideration. however. The Teaching of the Parable To interpret the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector it is i m p o r tant. would have been unthinkable. Jesus portrays the tax collector in an attitude of repentance in order to give the lie to the Pharisee's assumption. For the Pharisee to go h o m e unjustified. to facilitate the description and the shocking conclusion. LIEFELD But while caricature can imply unfairness. even t h o u g h the hypocrisy of s o m e Pharisees was caricatured in Jewish literature of that period. We need n o t assume that Jesus' intention was to criticize Pharisees and c o m m e n d tax collectors. But those examples must n o t be allowed to distract o u r attention f r o m the focal p o i n t of the story in Luke: that what is missing f r o m the Pharisee's prayer. was confession and repentance. one religious and one not.WALTER L. But also it needs to be noted that with such an attitude." those w h o criticized him could have been p u t o n the defensive if they objected to one of the sinners repenting in the shadow of the Jerusalem temple. "You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of people. indeed.

though he may seem to be delaying (The Persistent Widow). 1988.Parables on Prayer 4. 1978." Journal of Theological Studies 34 (1983) 407-24. The Gospel According to Luke X-XXIV.. The Gospel of Luke. Huffard. Donahue. 261 . William R. Kenneth E. 1976. E. Philadelphia: Fortress. Parables as Subversive Speech: Jesus as Pedagogue of the Oppressed. and W. Fitzmyer." in Donum Gentilicum. C. Cranfield. 1985. "The Parable of the Unjust Judge and the Eschatology of Luke-Acts. Oxford: Clarendon. Selected Bibliography Bailey. "The Ambiguity o f ' t h e Pharisee and the Toll-Collector' (Luke 18:9-14) in the Greco-Roman World of Late Antiquity. Gerald. The Gospel in Parable. K. II. Catchpole. F. Poet and Peasant: A Literary Cultural Approach to the Parables in Luke. ed. "The Friend at Midnight: Asian Ideas in the Gospel of St. and (3) the one who accepts the prayers of those who come with confession and repentance (The Pharisee and the Tax Collector). C o n c l u s i o n These three parables of Jesus on prayer have portrayed God as (1) the one who will maintain his h o n o r and not allow us to be ashamed in approaching him in prayer (The Friend at Midnight). 1997. Interpreting the Parables. Joseph A. E." Scottish Journal of Theology 16 (1963) 297-301. like the tax collector. C. David R. Blomberg. Davies. Green. (2) the one who will not hesitate to vindicate those who cry to him. Garden City: Doubleday. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. .5-8/9). Duncan M." Restoration Quarterly 21 (1978) 154-60. Downing. Louisville: Westminster/John Knox." New Testament Studies 18 (1972) 178-91. "Q and 'The Friend at Midnight' (Luke xi. "The Parable of the Friend at Midnight: God's Honor or Man's Persistence?. Barrett. J." Catholic Biblical Quarterly 54 (1992) 80-99. Everett W. B. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. Craig L. D. Luke. "Law in the New Testament: The Parable of the Unjust Judge. Bammel. John R. be "justified" had to wait until after Jesus' death and resurrection. Herzog. Derrett. Downers Grove: InterVarsity. Joel B. 1990. 1994. An explication of how one can.

262 . The Gospel of Luke: A Commentary on the Greek Text. New York: Crossroad. Exeter: Paternoster. Talbert. Alan Ε "Assurance for Man: The Fallacy of Translating anaideia by 'Persistence' in Luke 11:5-8. Howard. I. G r a n d Rapids: Eerdmans. LIEFELD Johnson. Charles H. 1982. 1978. Reading Luke: A Literary and Theological Commentary on the Third Gospel. Snodgrass.WALTER L." Journal of Biblical Literature 116 (1997) 505-13. "Anaideia and the Friend at M i d n i g h t (Luke 11:8). Marshall. Klyne." Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 22 (1979) 123-31.

C H A P T E R 12 Strange Neighbors and Risky Care (Matt 18:21-35. K E E S M A A T I T IS TEMPTING when reading the parables of Jesus — especially when reading his parables about the forgiveness of debt. once again. lurking in the background. as churches. So I want to begin this article with a brief reflection on some features of our contemporary context that set the stage for an engagement between these texts and our world. There are good reasons for this impulse. Luke 14:7-14. Such a reading. one cannot understand what Jesus was really saying without knowing his context and that of his listeners. Luke 10:25-37) SYLVIA C. I want to conclude with consideration given. perhaps. does a disservice both to the texts themselves and to the words of hope and challenge that they speak to the problems facing us as individuals. however. It is also a safer way to read the parables. 263 . and as societies. welcoming an outcast. for it ensures that engagement between a text and its context do not become too uncomfortably close to o u r own world. the insertion of two paragraphs or so at the end of the exercise that make some vague connections to o u r contemporary world. After all. to some broader connections. Finally. but to leave a consideration of our own context as the last step — with. or loving an enemy — to begin by ferreting out the context of the original hearers or the situation of the early church. I will then explore the meaning of these parables in Jesus' context — although our own world will always be there.

This is a b o u t $1. W h o are the ones w h o m we do not want to invite into o u r churches because they will threaten the purity of the c o m m u nity? W h o are the ones w h o m we do n o t want to share o u r wealth with because they do n o t deserve it? W h o are the ones w h o m Jesus is calling us to 264 . W h a t do Jesus' parables say to such local and global contexts? O r take the issue of welcoming the outcast and graciously sharing o u r a b u n d a n c e with t h e m . and the G o o d (or "Compassionate") Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37. an enemy w h o m we not only hate b u t also find i m m o r a l and repulsive. For instance. w h o m we welcome with gracious a b u n d a n c e to o u r tables. Such an unforgiving culture is often reflected in o u r churches. All three of these parables raise issues that are pressing in o u r world today. over three come back in the f o r m of debt servicing. for we live in a culture where the ethos of forgiveness is n o t generally accepted or welcomed. The first deals with matters having to do with forgiveness and debt. For every dollar that n o r t h e r n countries provide in aid to less developed countries. the Banquet in Luke 14:7-14. the second. KEESMAAT 1. the church I grew u p in. clean water. O n a global level. cutbacks in such areas are required by the lending countries for f u r t h e r aid (cf. education.5 trillion (US) more than — in fact. And I do n o t need to say m u c h a b o u t the lack of forgiveness in o u r personal lives and the violence and f r a g m e n t a t i o n that it creates for each of us. Canadian Ecumenical Jubilee Initiative.9 trillion (US) in principal payments on their debts to the N o r t h between 1981 and 1997. nutrition. less developed countries paid o u t over $2. Indeed. the Forgiving King) in M a t t 18:21-35. where schism is m o r e prevalent t h a n unity.SYLVIA C. The f u n d s to service these debts are diverted f r o m basic services: health. A New Beginning: A Call for Jubilee). which is itself the result of a schism earlier this century in Holland. It does not take m u c h imagination to see how these themes are played o u t in o u r c o n t e m p o r a r y contexts. of course. O u r C o n t e m p o r a r y C o n t e x t : S e t t i n g t h e Stage The parables we will be dealing with here are the parables of the Unforgiving Servant (or. We know that reality too well. with similar econ o m i c cuts to social services. has recently had a group split off once again. But that is n o t all. double — what they received in new loans. the paying d o w n of o u r national debt is central to the platforms of most of o u r political parties. and the third. and housing. Closer to h o m e . Take the issue of debt.

he is inviting t h e m to enter into that world and so to join him in the new k i n g d o m and its vision. in o u r fears a b o u t o u r own security. And the realities of the first century were no less complex. Ethnic cleansing. For in telling these parables. or too homeless. the parables of Jesus do far more than merely suggest a few ways to change one's behavior. b o t h morally and otherwise? H o w do we learn to love o u r enemy as a neighbor? W h a t words of h o p e do Jesus' parables have for these perplexing and pressing problems? W h e n one puts the problems in these ways. these are the issues that we will face m o r e and more in o u r n e i g h b o r h o o d s and in o u r Christian c o m m u n i t i e s ." or "Love y o u r enemy. or too deeply entrenched in welfare? W h a t do Jesus' parables have to say to this societal ethos? O r take the issue of o u r enemy. They f u n c t i o n to create a world for Jesus' hearers that presents a challenge to the prevailing worldview. the Banquet of Luke 14. Jesus is creating a new world for his hearers — the world of the new k i n g d o m that he is inaugurating." These complex political and social realities are deeply rooted in the worldview of o u r culture — in o u r assumptions a b o u t m o n e y and success. As he invites his hearers to enter into the stories of his parables. Furthermore. and in situations of scarcity rather t h a n abundance. it becomes a p p a r e n t why Jesus spoke in parables rather t h a n by means of such c o m m a n d s as "Your neighbor is anyone you meet in need. racial genocide. he is calling for a f u n d a m e n t a l renunciation of w h o they are — a repentance.Strange Neighbors and Risky Care invite to the c o m m u n i o n table. 265 . In spite of so-called globalization. In such contexts. we continue to see an escalation of tribalism and nationalism in o u r world. H o w do we deal with pluralism w i t h o u t hating others w h o are different than we are? H o w do we love those whose identity is tied u p with a way of life we find repugnant. and the Compassionate Sam a r i t a n of Luke 10." or "Forgive o n e another. Jesus' parables f u n d a mentally reorder and reshape reality. Rather. if you will — and a f u n d a m e n t a l reorientation in h o w they view the world. And so we have before us three parables: the Unforgiving Servant of Matthew 18. the ones we would n o t want to sit with or expose o u r children to? W h o are the ones w h o m we are sure do n o t deserve to share o u r a b u n d a n c e because they c a n n o t pay anything — those too schizophrenic. these are the realities that face us daily as we look at t h e papers. And as i m m i g r a t i o n levels continue.

f r o m the least of t h e m to the greatest. I will heal them and reveal to them abundance of prosperity and security. the n u m b e r of Sabbath. Deut 15). since o n e became a slave if one was unable to pay one's debts." therefore. Isaiah. Lev 25). 'seventy times seven']" (v 22). of course. " b u t seventy-seven times [or. Jesus and the Victory of God. would evoke the sabbatical forgiveness of Israel's past. In fact. T h u s the description of the new covenant in Jeremiah 31 ends with the affirmation that "they shall all know me.SYLVIA C. and Ezekiel. And every seven times seven is the year of Jubilee. I will restore the fortunes of Judah and fortunes of Israel. he also evoked the great promises of the dawn of God's new age as found in Israel's Scriptures. "As many as seven times?" (Matt 18:21). freeing f r o m slavery in the ancient world was a matter of debt forgiveness. In the Old Testament the n u m b e r seven is the n u m b e r of fulfillment and. All three of the great visionary prophets. in Jeremiah's vision of restoration. The language used is that of a new exodus. W h e n Jesus forgave the sins of those who came to h i m for healing. describe God's restoration of the people in terms of a return to the land. " N o t seven times. T h e Parable o f t h e U n f o r g i v i n g Servant ( M a t t 1 8 : 2 1 . KEESMAAT 2. Similarly. for I will forgive their iniquity and r e m e m b e r their sin no m o r e " (v 34). Jeremiah. is n o t the issue here." answers Jesus. and I will 266 . Exod 32-34). when slaves are to be freed as well (cf. where they will experience safety. for it is in the exodus that God has portrayed his way of dealing with this wayward people as being through forgiveness (cf. T h e exact n u m b e r . An emphasis on "seventy times seven. fruitfulness. For b o t h "seventy-seven" and "seventy times seven" are e n o r m o u s n u m b e r s . for it was a language that signaled their return from exile (cf. I will cleanse them from all their guilt of sin against me. and forgiveness. 268).3 5 ) " H o w often should I forgive my brother if he sins against me?" asks Peter. he not only u n d e r m i n e d the authority of the temple priests (who were the only ones authorized to p e r f o r m the sacrifices that resulted in forgiveness). Also. Every seven years debts are to be forgiven (cf. and rebuild them as they were at first. Wright. G o d proclaims: I will bring [to Jerusalem] recovery and healing. perhaps. says the Lord. it needs to be recognized that in the first century the language of the forgiveness of sins was a language that spoke to the deepest hopes of the people. more importantly.

"Solidarity and Contextuality. his hearers would u n d o u b t e d l y have u n d e r s t o o d the fulfillment of God's great promises in the terms f o u n d in b o t h the Torah and the prophetic literature. ten t h o u s a n d talents would be equivalent to millions of dollars of debt (cf. in fact. a praise and glory before all the nations of the earth who shall hear of all the good that I do for them. Ringe. is so astronomical that it would have been impossible to repay. But w h e n the servant promised the impossible. to try to pay off the debt. The n u m b e r . his master ordered h i m sold — that is. (33:6-11) And while Ezekiel records the magnificent vision of sprinkling clean water on the people and giving t h e m a heart of flesh for their heart of stone (Ezek 36:25)." he says. the actions of the rebels w h o t o o k over the temple d u r i n g t h e Jewish revolt indicate that their expectations of God's new kingdom included the forgiveness of debt. In such a context. They are echoed n o t only in the Gospels b u t also t h r o u g h o u t Paul's letters (cf. 267 . the king had compassion and released him and forgave his multimillion-dollar debt ( w 26-27). But he begins the process of accounting by first dealing with a servant w h o owed him ten t h o u s a n d talents (v 24). War 2. therefore. Keesmaat.Strange Neighbors and Risky Care forgive all the guilt of their sin and rebellion against me. " T h e k i n g d o m of heaven. they shall fear and tremble because of all the good and all the prosperity I provide for it. All of these passages were central to first-century expectations. For one of the first things that those rebels did was to b u r n the existing records of debt in the temple treasury (cf. the m a n along with his wife and children were to be sold into slavery (v 25). it is n o surprise that Jesus launched into a parable about debt in response to a question concerning forgiveness. Isaiah prophesies a servant who will make m a n y righteous by bearing their iniquities (Isa 53:11-12). since the servant could not pay. And this city shall be to me a name of joy. Thus. Considering the fact that Herod's annual income was nine h u n d r e d talents and t h a t all the taxes collected in Galilee and Perea together a m o u n t e d to only two h u n d r e d talents annually. "may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants" (v 23). So when Jesus began n o t only to forgive sins b u t also to proclaim forgiveness as a defining characteristic of the k i n g d o m and those within it. Josephus.426-27). Paid and His Story). Likewise." 203). Notice that the context here assumes that the king will be dealing with all of his servants.

So Jesus set u p a scenario here that was. it did not have to be forgiven in the seventh year. Jubilee was finally being enacted! The story. finding a way a r o u n d debt forgiveness supposedly opened u p credit. in Jesus' k i n g d o m this story t u r n s o u t differently. 1. Jesus' hearers would have heard. the overtones are unmistakable. along with their wives. that the k i n g d o m Jesus proclaimed was. Incredibly. C o m i n g after all those sabbath n u m b e r s . Surprisingly. of course. we have been told that the king wished to settle accounts with all of his servants. those w h o owe him m o n e y end u p losing their land — with the result that the debtors. since they knew that the next year they would have to forgive their loan. o n an initial hearing. KEESMAAT The situation of an impossibly high debt was one that was altogether too c o m m o n in the first century. therefore. for such a law leads to increased incidence of foreclosure rather than forgiveness (for the relevant texts. of course. F u r t h e r m o r e . Israel's Torah. therefore. however. the heavy b u r d e n of taxation in first-century Israel ensured that m a n y farmers lost their land and therefore their income. sons. what is granted him is release f r o m slavery and a total forgiveness of his debt. But s o m e of the Pharisees had set u p a legal fiction called prozbul. proclaiming a gracious release and forgiveness beyond anyone's wildest expectations or 268 .217-22). and daughters. however. d e m a n d e d that debt be forgiven every seven years. indeed. entirely plausible and believable for first-century Jews. with ever increasing joy. was the p e r p e t u a t i o n of debt in the land. Presumably. As a n u m b e r of studies have s h o w n . but the impossibility of emerging o u t of it was increasingly c o m m o n as well. which enabled the holder of a debt to give the debt over to the courts. could have continued by recounting f u r t h e r details about the king. he continued to deal with his other servants as he had dealt with the first. The end result. O n e of the reasons given for this law was that creditors were n o t lending in the sixth year. After all.SYLVIA C. This is a king w h o proclaims Jubilee for his servant. a fulfillment of the Mosaic law. O n the face of it. end u p b e c o m i n g slaves. They knew all-too-well how such stories would unfold in their own situations: a lord or landowner decides to settle his accounts and forecloses o n his debtors. Rabbinic Traditions. the sabbath and jubilee legislation of Deut 15 and Lev 25 was for precisely this sort of situation — for an impossibly high debt that could not be paid off. T h e servant begs and pleads for time. see Neusner. Because the debt was then no longer a personal debt. not only was debt c o m m o n . After all.

This forgiven servant has n o t gotten the point. says Jesus. however. In p i n n i n g 269 . To p u t it in the t e r m s of Israel's Scriptures. For just as the language of forgiveness speaks of the restoration of the people and God's presence with t h e m once again. p r o claimed a m o r e radical message t h a n they could imagine. c o m i n g u p o n a fellow servant w h o owed h i m a few h u n d r e d denarii. Sadly. His failure to forgive s o m e o n e else shocks his fellow servants — some of w h o m . The forgiven servant. W h a t kind of a world does the story of this parable create? O n e that is far beyond the expectations of most first-century Jews. and so he acts as t h o u g h he were still in the old regime. will he live o u t this "economy of grace" himself? Well. But that is n o t where the story goes. will he. Jesus. your heavenly father will do to you if you do not forgive y o u r brother and sister f r o m the heart (v 35). presumably. by a completely different law.Strange Neighbors and Risky Care hopes. in t u r n . you k n o w the answer. b u t maybe not beyond their wildest hopes. His final p u n i s h m e n t is far worse t h a n his original enslavement would have been ( w 32-34). He has not figured out that now he lives in a k i n g d o m that operates by completely different rules. The a r g u m e n t has often been s u m m a r i z e d like this: " T h e Jewish people of Jesus' day expected a Messiah w h o would release t h e m f r o m b o n d a g e to the R o m a n s and forgive all their debts. which is approximately ten t h o u s a n d dollars in today's terms. Such a h o p e of wide-ranging forgiveness was deeply rooted in Israel's Scriptures. So. the interpretation of this parable t h r o u g h o u t the centuries has tended to drive a wedge between the forgiveness of sins and the forgiveness of debts. this servant is acting as t h o u g h he is still in Egypt rather t h a n the promised land. so the language of debt forgiveness highlights the fact of a new order in which economic liberation is to be experienced and the people are to be slaves no more. display that n a t u r e to anyone else? Having discovered the graciousness that is at the heart of this k i n g d o m . refuses to cut h i m any slack when he cannot pay and throws h i m into prison ( w 28-30). for its action shifts to the forgiven servant. have also just had their debts forgiven — and as a result they report h i m to the king (v 31). Now that the forgiven servant has experienced this great jubilee event — now that he has discovered that the world of his lord's k i n g d o m is o n e of graciousness and forgiveness — how will he live in that kingdom? Now that he has discovered the t r u e nature of the lord he serves. since he proclaimed forgiveness of sin rather than mere m o n e t a r y debt.

vineyards. and olive orchards were to be restored to their original owners (cf. KEESMAAT their hopes on the forgiveness of m o n e t a r y debt. as we noted earlier. all fields. For not only does God's covenantal reign proclaim a radically new way of being in o u r "spiritual" lives. forgiveness is to extend far beyond the personal sphere of life to the social and e c o n o m i c spheres as well. In the year of Jubilee. there was to be a total econ o m i c leveling. In fact. which was to involve b o t h the release of slaves and the ret u r n of lands to their original owners. Such laws were rooted in Israel's m e m o r y of God's redeeming action: because God released his enslaved people f r o m Egyptian bondage. t h r o u g h o u t the Old Testament and the story of Jesus' ministry these two features are always intertwined. (3) the giving of tithes. w h e n the people pledged themselves once again to the covenant. Slavery and the loss of land were. it became clear that this issue of indebtedness was o n e that was threatening the very fabric of their c o m m u n i t y . In the new covenant reality to which God calls his people. Shortly thereafter. the Jews show how mistaken they were in their thinking. O n e cannot proclaim the reign of G o d and not practice that reign in every area of life. so Israel is called to image God by being a slave-releasing c o m m u n i t y (cf. Deut 15:15). Moreover. forgiveness of debt was central to how such forgiveness and r e d e m p t i o n were to be manifested in the c o m m u n i t y that God called together to bear his image. In Israel's Scriptures. God's reign also proclaims a new beginning socially and economically. there were four main things that they pledged themselves to: (1) no intermarriage. as if the f o r m e r is a Christian concern and the latter is not. So N e h e m i a h proclaimed that all taking of interest was to stop and all debts were to be forgiven — that is. forgiveness of sin and redemption f r o m slavery were the hallmarks of God's dealing with his covenant people." The end result of such a dualistic reading of the gospel message — and of such a misreading of first-century Judaism — is that m a n y readers of this parable have been able to separate the forgiveness of sins and the forgiveness of debts. W h e n Nehemiah returned to the land with the Israelites w h o had been exiled. 270 .SYLVIA C. almost always the result of debt. Clearly the forgiveness of debt was seen as a defining characteristic of what it was to be the people of God. But the evidence of Israel's Scriptures and the Christian Gospels is entirely otherwise. Neh 5:1-13). and (4) the forgoing of crops and the forgiveness of debts every seventh year (Neh 10:28-39). (2) no buying o n the Sabbath. of course.

move o n to o u r next passage. The early church. Jesus has told a story that draws deeply f r o m the Scriptures of Israel and that highlights the fact that the central features of the new age have dawned — that is. Let us set the context and spell out the parable. in telling this story he has d r a w n his listeners into this new world of forgiveness and described a reality that they must either accept or reject. promises to give half of his possessions to the p o o r and to r e t u r n fourfold anything he had taken t h r o u g h cheating (Luke 19:1-10). and follow Jesus in order to inherit eternal life (Mark 10:17-31). esp. There is here an economic leveling that is fully consistent with the intent of Jubilee. records: "Forgive us o u r sins (hamartias). 3. Let us. seems to have interpreted Jesus in this way. therefore. And Paul's call to an economic sharing amongst the churches is rooted in the same ethos (cf. Matthew does this by recording the prayer: "Forgive us o u r debts. 2:15). see also Jas 1:27. for we forgive all who are indebted (opheilonti) to us. for example. But there are other dimensions to the reality of the k i n g d o m that are even more radical than what has been articulated here. The experience of Jesus' followers at Pentecost is said in Acts 2:44-47 to have resulted in newly baptized believers selling all that they had in order to share with those in need. Moreover. Clearly. The rich y o u n g m a n is told to sell all that he has. give the m o n e y to the poor. is linked explicitly to the forgiving of economic debts. The forgiveness of sins. o n receiving Jesus into his h o m e . Luke. 2 Cor 8 and 9. too. But it subverts and u n d e r m i n e s those expectations in a totally unexpected way.Strange Neighbors and Risky Care Those who came into contact with Jesus seem to have interpreted his message in just this way. even m o r e strikingly. then. the forgiveness of sins and the forgiveness of debts. Jesus has been invited to dinner at the h o m e of a p r o m i n e n t Phari271 ." The Greek word used for debt in b o t h of these texts is o n e that m e a n s an e c o n o m i c debt. And b o t h Matthew and Luke in their tellings of the Lord's Prayer explicitly link the forgiveness of m o n e t a r y debt and the forgiveness of sin. therefore. as we forgive o u r debtors" (opheiletas) — c o m m e n t i n g o n this petition in terms of the forgiveness of sins (paraptomata). T h e Parable o f t h e B a n q u e t (Luke 14:7-14) The Parable of the Banquet in Luke 14:7-14 also draws o n the hopes and expectations of Israel. Zacchaeus.

It is a strange parable of odd reversal: From now o n your attitude at a b a n q u e t is to be that of the least. It can be f o u n d in Lev 21:16-20: The Lord spoke to Moses. the crippled. especially as they pertained to table-fellowship. one in particular is relevant to this passage. the presence of sinners or other "unclean" people at the table would threaten the very purity that the Pharisees were trying to maintain. respected Pharisee. one thing we know a b o u t the Pharisees is that they were a g r o u p within first-century Judaism w h o attempted to b r i n g holiness to Israel by keeping in their o w n lives the laws of purity. And you will be blessed. do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors. or one who has a broken foot or a broken hand. invite the poor. But when you give a banquet. T h e very status and f u t u r e of the nation. ( w 12-14) R e m e m b e r to w h o m Jesus is here talking — to a leading. Consequently. It would completely u n d e r m i n e one's position in the c o m m u n i t y . In a social setting where rank — especially at a c o m m o n meal — confirms one's social status in the c o m m u n i t y .SYLVIA C. Here he is. the lowest. saying: "Speak to Aaron and say: 'No one of your offspring throughout their generations who has a blemish may approach to offer the food of his God. as they viewed it. For no one who has a blemish shall draw near — one who is blind or lame. such advice would have been regarded as absolutely crazy. or a limb too long. While there. Now. and you would be repaid. But he is so lacking in graciousness that he tells those gathered a parable that seems to u n d e r m i n e all of the protocols of his host's d i n n e r etiquette. he launches into a criticism of those very people w h o had s h o w n h i m hospitality. because they cannot repay you. for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous. in case they may invite you in return. Because so m u c h depended on such a meal — that is. to eating together. or who has a mutilated face. Jesus t h e n continues to address his host and those at the table as follows: When you give a luncheon or a dinner. So what were s o m e of these rules of purity? Well. the purity and holiness of the nation itself — such threats carried far more weight than a mere breach of etiquette. KEESMAAT see. the lame and the blind. the guest of a leading Pharisee. or a 272 . was at stake.

or deaf. A few obvious passages c o m e to m i n d . of course. however. 120). For n o t only does he begin by criticizing the behavior of his host and fellow dinner guests by p o i n t i n g out their selfishness in seeking the best seats. Gentiles were excluded. Isa 25:6-9. where a b a n q u e t is prepared in the face of threat and an enemy. so is also a time of a b u n d a n t food and feasting. or a dwarf.11-12. he then goes on to criticize the fact of their presence and to suggest an entirely different guest list. But that is not all. 1975]. 2nd ed." Such defilement was precisely what the Pharisees were trying to avoid. people w h o would be on the list of "those who can defile the sanctuary. Another indication of stringent requirements for meals can be found in the Manual of Discipline of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Vermes. or lame. [Harmondsworth. At Q u m r a n the participants in such a meal sat according to rank. unless they were also in a state of ritual uncleanness. Moreover. or blind. as were all imperfect Jews. not only is it a different guest list. for a first-century Pharisee. permitted to eat of the food. Middlesex: Penguin Books. it is o n e that includes people who would be most likely to defeat the whole p u r p o s e of the meal — that is. They were.Strange Neighbors and Risky Care hunchback. or smitten in his flesh with a visible blemish" ( l Q S a 2. It is not entirely clear w h e t h e r the laws f o u n d in Lev 21 or the Q u m r a n M a n u a l of Discipline were applied by the Pharisees to their table fellowship. or paralyzed in his feet and hands. And so just as debt relief and forgiveness were imp o r t a n t parts of Israel's expectation for God's new age. however. G. Ps 23:5 is o n e such passage. Jesus' c o m m e n t s would u n d o u b t e d l y have been seen as being m o r e and more offensive. is that the Pharisees' stringent requirements for meal preparation and eating ensured that most of their fellow Jews — especially those w h o were wanting in some way — would have been excluded f r o m table fellowship with t h e m . trans. the eschatological b a n q u e t that G o d will set before his people w h e n they are restored in the land. The Dead Sea Scrolls in English. where a b a n q u e t is set for all the nations — t h o u g h . or a man with a blemish in his eyes or an itching disease or scabs or crushed testicles'. No one was allowed who was "smitten in his flesh. 273 . In such a context." These are the ones w h o were n o t permitted to offer the Lord's food by fire. W h a t is clear. For a holy meal that was prepared by clean h a n d s and eaten by a holy people would anticipate. Likewise. or d u m b .

Employing the same image of the m o u n t a i n s dripping wine. Hos 2:21-23). Although n o t all of these passages are talking specifically a b o u t a b a n q u e t that is set for the people. therefore. that "the m o u n t a i n s shall drip sweet wine and the hills shall flow with milk" (3:18). would have been aware of these prophetic texts and have been a t t e m p t i n g to work within the symbolic world that they present. John 6:1-13. come to the waters! And you w h o have no money. But it is also clear that Jesus 274 . buy wine and milk w i t h o u t m o n e y and w i t h o u t price. everyone who thirsts. Such images of overabundance echo Lev 26:5. the vats shall overflow with wine and oil" (2:24. KEESMAAT enemies are to be excluded. I will make the fruit of the tree and the produce of the field a b u n d a n t . they all highlight the i m p o r t a n c e in Israelite expectations of God's a b u n d a n t offering of food and wine for his people in the new age. strikingly. where an a b u n d a n c e is promised as a result of obedience to Torah. Matt 15:32-38//Mark 8:1-9) would. by its emphasis on the significance of meals as a preparation for the c o m i n g k i n g d o m . W h a t would this have m e a n t for those Pharisees who were eating and drinking with Jesus? It is clear that such a group. buy and eat! C o m e . and. as verse 10 tells ns in speaking about Moabites being t r o d d e n d o w n in a d u n g pit! And there are a host of other Old Testam e n t passages. see also w 18-27). including some we have already discussed." It is a b u n d a n c e for those w h o c a n n o t b u y wine and milk themselves. Amos goes f a r t h e r and evokes the image of the o n e plowing overtaking the reaper.13). Joel. Again. in Isa 55:1 the call of God is this: " H o . have u n d o u b t e d l y d r a w n to m i n d these promises of God's a b u n d a n c e in the eschatological age. and I will s u m m o n the rain and make it a b u n d a n t and lay no famine u p o n you.SYLVIA C. that speak about an a b u n d a n c e of grain and wine in God's coming age of restoration. so that you may never again suffer the disgrace of famine a m o n g the nations" (vv 29-30. God connects forgiveness and abundance: "I will save you f r o m all y o u r uncleanness." And in that magnificent passage quoted earlier f r o m Ezekiel 36. "My people shall be satisfied with my b o u n t y " . Jesus' actions of eating and drinking and providing food for the h u n g r y (cf. Matt 14:13-21//Mark 6:30-44//Luke 9:10-17. Ezek 34:29 promises that the people will "no longer be c o n s u m e d with h u n g e r in the land. says that "the threshing floors shall be full of grain. cf. Luke 7:31-35. and the treader of grapes overtaking the one who sows the seed (9. Jer 31:14 promises. for example. come." Notice especially that this food is for those " w i t h o u t money.

to welcome people they would have least expected to be part of the new kingdom. 13:22-30). for example. So also the Parable of the Wedding Banquet of 14:15-24. or with people w h o can contribute n o t h i n g to the meal. which is c o m m o n l y seen as a standard Jewish diatribe against Gentiles). they need to be willing to join the b a n q u e t with all kinds of people w h o m they had never expected to sit at table with.. Indeed. ν 21) makes clear. as recorded in Acts 15. is the m o s t radical evidence that the early church t o o k the inclusive nature of Jesus' message seriously. and the people w h o are enjoying my b a n q u e t are not those who were expected. which is taking f o r m a r o u n d the ministry and person of Jesus. Jesus is saying: God's new age has dawned. f r o m n o r t h and s o u t h . Rom 1:18-32. that m a n y will come f r o m east and west. they need to be willing to eat with the " r i f f r a f f " and to risk that God's a b u n d a n c e is for those who would never expect it. If the Pharisees w a n t to be a part of this world. In effect. If they wish to partake in Jesus' new k i n g d o m . is one where God's a b u n d a n c e is extended to those w h o would seem by their very presence to defile the whole meal. which follows o u r passage. those f o u n d in the streets and the lanes. b u t that the last will be first and the first will be last (cf. But for this group. For Gentiles were widely regarded by first-century Jews to be deeply i m m o r a l (cf. 275 .Strange Neighbors and Risky Care was completely u n d e r m i n i n g their expectations by insisting that the coming eschatological b a n q u e t will consist n o t only of the holy. Even the forgiveness of debts would be easier t h a n sitting and eating a meal with people w h o are n o t worthy — with people w h o are n o t whole or healthy. T h a t is all it will take. T h u s for Jewish Christians to welcome Gentiles into their fellowship was. this parable of 14:7-14 follows shortly after a passage that states that not everyone w h o expects to enter the feast will be able to do so. indeed. the k i n g d o m has arrived. that is perhaps the hardest requirement of all. ends with the assertion that " n o n e of those w h o were invited will taste my d i n n e r " (v 24). The implications for these Pharisees are clear. to eat in this k i n g d o m . God's new k i n g d o m . The message of the Parable of the Banquet is u n c o m p r o m i s i n g . as the following parable of the Wedding Banquet in 14:15-24 (esp. The decision to welcome Gentiles into the Christian c o m m u n i t y . This parable offers a world where the ancient expectations of h o n o r and s h a m e are completely overturned — a world where reversals of the most u n c o m f o r t a b l e sort are enacted. b u t also will include the outcasts of society — that is.

T h r o u g h o u t the Scriptures of Israel it is clear that obedience to Torah is central for the inheritance of the land (cf. " W h a t m u s t I do to inherit eternal life?" (v 25). the Parable of the G o o d (or. Deut 30:15-20. Ultimately. 32:19. we have n o t yet dealt with the most radical dimension of this new kingdom that Jesus proclaimed. It is a question about God's new kingdom. It is also clear that the inheritance of the whole of the earth was part of Israel's eschatological expectation (cf. also Gal 2:11-14 o n Peter and the Gentiles). Jubilees 22:14.. " H o w can I get to heaven after I die?" Rather.g. KEESMAAT It is clear that early Christian c o m m u n i t i e s often had considerable struggles regarding how to u n d e r s t a n d and e m b o d y this new k i n g d o m established by Jesus (cf.. e.. the lawyer's question was a question about the sort of k i n g d o m that Jesus was inaugurating. It is a question a b o u t resurrection f r o m the dead: "some shall awake to everlasting life and s o m e to shame and everlasting c o n t e m p t " (Dan 12:2). b u t that that context actually provides the key to the parable's meaning. better. "Teacher. Nonetheless. then. N o w let us be clear about what the lawyer was asking. of course." he said. 4. in large measure. 15. see also Psalms of Solomon 14:1-2. Lev 26:3-13. Ezekiel 37). Even so. however. The context is this: a lawyer stood u p to test Jesus. Jubilees 22:14. it doesn't believe the parable's context in Luke's Gospel to be authentic. T h e Parable o f t h e C o m p a s s i o n a t e S a m a r i t a n (Luke 1 0 : 2 5 . Sirach 36:10. Ezek 36:22-38. was the classic description of Israel's restoration in the land (cf. e. And resurrection. It has been so domesticated that even the Jesus Seminar thinks that Jesus really did tell this story — t h o u g h . I would like to argue. when God would forgive his people's transgression and renew his covenant with t h e m (cf. and in276 . the question of inheriting eternal life is a question a b o u t having a share in the c o m i n g of God's new age. that n o t only is the context of the parable authentic. it is equally clear that the early Christians came to appreciate. Is it one where eternal life. the "Compassionate") Samaritan of Luke 10:25-37 has been so domesticated that is hard to see anything new in it. 37:24-28..g. 12.SYLVIA C. the radical implications of the world that Jesus called his k i n g d o m . Ezek 36:8. He was not asking. of course. 1 Enoch 5:7).3 7 ) In some ways. 15). 910). 1 Cor 11:27-34 o n eating together.

'And w h o is my neighbor?'" W h y would this lawyer wish to be righteous? In first-century Judaism." A better translation. and with all your soul. It is the righteous w h o will enter the kingdom. In fact. is rooted in God's Torah? Is it one that fulfills the eschatological h o p e of a new covenant with God's people Israel? Is Jesus really proclaiming s o m e t h i n g that is consistent with God's promises to Israel? Unlike the other places where this question is asked in the Gospels (cf. b u t n o t necessarily go beyond Jews. Sirach 12:1-7). in this case. "being made righteous. 'And w h o is my n e i g h b o r ? ' " (v 29)." says Jesus. Luke 18:18). Gentiles). But the lawyer doesn't stop there. would be "wishing to find himself righteous. He takes the matter further.Strange Neighbors and Risky Care heritance in the land. According to most mainstream texts of the time. The question was a very real o n e in first-century Judaism. M a t t 22:34-40. "What is written in the law? H o w do you read?" (v 26). responds to the lawyer's 277 . "You have given the right answer. and indeed t h r o u g h o u t the biblical tradition. and with all your m i n d " (the latter is an addition to Deut 6:50). it is the righteous who will inherit eternal life. t h o u g h s o m e w h a t m o r e awkward. s o m e texts make it clear that one's help should not extend beyond the b o u n d s of the Jewish people — definitely not to "sinners" (i. So the question of whether the lawyer is righteous is closely linked to his first question of h o w to inherit eternal life. " D o this and you will live" (v 28). Jesus says to h i m . therefore. T h e lawyer answers with a quotation f r o m the Shema: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart. here Jesus t u r n s the question back on the lawyer. T h e lawyer has his answer: the kingdom that Jesus proclaims is one firmly rooted in the Scriptures and law of Israel. he said to Jesus. it is the righteous w h o will participate in God's new age. however. he said to Jesus. Jesus. M a r k 12:28-31. But it also had certain expected answers. We need to r e m e m b e r that whenever we read the English word "justify" we are reading a translation of the same word in Greek as the word we translate "righteousness" — or. and with all your strength. the concept " n e i g h b o r " should definitely include one's fellow Jews..e. since to help sinners would be to c o n d o n e their sins (cf. For "wishing to justify himself. The question of w h o should be accepted as a neighbor was apparently m u c h discussed in first-century Judaism. and he adds a q u o t a t i o n f r o m Lev 19:18: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (v 27).

KEESMAAT question in an unexpected way in his Parable of the Compassionate Sam a r i t a n . if he was Jewish — or even. Such groups of bandits often consisted of peasants themselves. This means that there was no way to tell. bandits"). widespread at this time. Jesus is presented in the Gospels as having been crucified between two lēstoi. and so t u r n e d to robbing travelers. by chance a priest was going d o w n that road. of course. For in order to be able to accept the people's offerings and offer sacrifice in the temple. although the assumption of the story seems to be that he was. contact with a corpse resulted in the most serious type of ritual uncleanness that o n e could contract. "highwaymen. O f t e n the spoils of their robberies were channeled back into the local villages and resulted in benefits for others. probably naked and unconscious. It t o o k seven days to purify oneself f r o m the uncleanness of a corpse. leaving h i m half d e a d " (v 30). But the plot of Jesus' story thickens: "Now. 66. in fact. a priest could n o t risk the contagion of uncleanness. who were unable to pay off their debts or provide for their families. is s o m e t h i n g that Jesus explicitly c o n d e m n s in Luke 19:45. Now highwaymen would not necessarily have been w i t h o u t the sympathy of many Jewish peasants. Jesus suggests that the very heart of Israel had b e c o m e a h a u n t of lēstoi or robbers. and went away." In so saying. There are good reasons why such behavior on the part of the priest might not have surprised Jesus' hearers.' b u t you have made it a den of robbers (lēstoi). w h o stripped h i m . The pattern of violence of these highwaymen. in the first instance. he passed by o n the other side. with the b u r n i n g of a 278 . with quite disastrous results. and fell into the h a n d s of robbers. The presence of highwaymen was. All we are told is that he fell into the h a n d s of robbers (Greek: lēstoi. beat h i m . passed by on the other side" ( w 31-32). So likewise a Levite. We are not told if the m a n was Jewish or not. And. however.D. According to Torah. So Jesus' hearers would probably have heard in the parable a story of what was for the day a fairly c o m m o n occurrence on the seventeen-mile road that descended t h r o u g h the desert f r o m Jerusalem to Jericho. which begins: "A m a n was going d o w n f r o m Jerusalem to Jericho.SYLVIA C. one o n each side. if he were still alive. in the seco n d . when he came to the place and saw h i m . The m a n in the ditch was. 'My house shall be a house of prayer. and w h e n he saw h i m . where he overturns the tables in the temple and utters the following word of j u d g m e n t : "It is written. and they eventually became an i m p o r t a n t factor in the Jewish revolt against Rome in A. after all.

possibly. beaten. Touching a corpse would also have m a d e h i m ritually unclean. It may be. and the priesthood and temple aristocracy in Jerusalem. in fact. A priest. helped the m a n who was robbed. For the next person to come along is a Samaritan (v 33a). his temple service would have been impossible to carry out. whose task was to accept tithes from the people (cf. Samaritans were classed by Jews in t h e same category as Philistines and Edomites (cf. Bailey. Jesus completely overturns the expectations of his hearers. son. For if this m a n t u r n e d out to be dead. who was traveling next on the road and. Similar concerns held for the Levite. Lev 21:1-4). therefore. until he could complete the seven-day ceremony for purification. Animosity between the groups went b o t h ways. And if the priest had been traveling in the opposite direction. except in the case of the death of his mother. the Levite could have surmised that the priest had passed by the m a n without helping h i m . that this priest was taking the most p r u d e n t path. Sirach 50:25-26). and so prohibited h i m f r o m temple service. therefore. N o t m u c h needs to be said a b o u t Jewish-Samaritan relations in the first century. O n a social level. Jesus told this story in a context where there was considerable tension between Jewish peasants. in spite of his lack of personal resources. daughter. on the one h a n d . inaction) as a guide for his own. father. But either way. have used the priest's action (or. o n the other. of course. O n another level. For when traveling such a treacherous road. Through Peasant Eyes 46). was n o t to defile himself with a corpse.Strange Neighbors and Risky Care red heifer being required as part of the process (cf. The hero should have been a Jewish peasant. the p o i n t could be easily drawn: The priest and the Levite did not help. They had even been accused in Jewish tradition of secretly entering Jerusalem d u r i n g a Passover season and defiling the temple 279 . brother. or virgin sister (cf. they would have passed on the road (cf. His portrayal of the actions of the priest and the Levite would have served to confirm the animosity his listeners already had toward Jerusalem. but also by looking for the tracks of previous travelers and inquiring at villages on the way. and so. the Levite probably t o o k his cue f r o m the priest's actions. In addition. But in his o w n inimical fashion. Neh 10:37-38). and left to die by the bandits. a traveler in the Middle East would have ascertained who else was o n the road not only by looking ahead. they do not concern themselves with the plight of the peasants at any time! In such a rhetorical context it is clear where the story should go next. Lev 19).

and that he had c o m passion and fed t h e m (Matt 15:32//Mark 8:2). Clearly. Jesus was probably picking o u t a person w h o was considered by his audience to be o n e of the most odious characters possible. Isa 49:13. KEESMAAT by strewing h u m a n bones "in the porticoes and t h r o u g h o u t the temple" (cf. (2) the basis for God's r e m e m b r a n c e of his people (cf. a God compassionate and gracious. 20:34. all the m o r e striking that Jesus goes o n to describe the Samaritan in ways that could only have heightened t h e offensive nature of the story. Pss 86:15. Zech 1:16. 7:13). Jonah 4:2. 111:4. Luke 9:53). And within Luke's narrative. 103:8. 77:9. This language is carried over into the portrayals of the m i n i s t r y of Jesus. Hos 2:19. Mic 7:19. Joel 2:13. (4) central to the restoration and reconciliation of God with his people (cf. 32. 112:4. 1 Kgs 8:50. its use in the parables of the C o m p a s s i o n a t e S a m a r i t a n and the Prodigal Son m u s t have had quite a s t r o n g effect in identifying the characters of the S a m a r i t a n and the father with Jesus and even G o d 280 . (3) the basis for God's forgiveness (cf.) God's compassion and graciousness are depicted in the Jewish Scriptures as (1) the basis for God's deliverance (cf. Josephus. as well as most of the references in the first parenthesis above). also Isa 63:15-16). Oddly e n o u g h . For. It is. and. slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. the Lord. 15:20). M a r k 1:41. (See also Neh 9:17.SYLVIA C. Deut 4:13. So by i n t r o d u c i n g a Samaritan into the story. 10:33). and in the description of the father w h e n he sees his prodigal son r e t u r n i n g h o m e (cf.30). Antiquities 18. in o u r passage here (cf. but who by no means will clear the guilty. 102:13. therefore. 69:16. 2 Kgs 13:23). Ps 78:38. he speaks of the Samaritan as having compassion on the m a n (v 33b). In Israel's Scriptures the confessional statement about God that occurs m o s t often is the one taken f r o m Exodus 34:6-7: The Lord. cf. forgiving iniquity and transgressions and sin. keeping steadfast love for thousands. in Luke the w o r d occurs in only a few places: in the account of the raising of the widow's son (cf. Hos 2:21-23. the Samaritans have already rejected Jesus at the outset of his j o u r n e y to Jerusalem (cf. most importantly. 79:8. Pss 40:11. 51:1. that he had c o m p a s s i o n and began to teach t h e m (Mark 6:34). in the first instance. Luke 7:13). where we read that he had c o m p a s s i o n on t h e people and b e g a n to heal t h e m ( M a t t 14:14. also Zech 12:10).

e. Kenneth Bailey points o u t that the Samaritan did for the m a n everything that the priest and Levite should have done. T h u s the risk of violence was high for the Samaritan. after having p o u r e d oil and wine on t h e m (v 34a). In addition." The identification of the one w h o showed mercy as being a Samaritan is so 281 . while medicinally helpful in softening the traveler's w o u n d s and purifying t h e m . Thus. For in situations of violence. F u r t h e r m o r e . But matters get worse.g. have b e e n totally unacceptable for Jesus' original hearers. was a neighbor to the m a n w h o fell into the h a n d s of the robbers?" (v 36). A Samaritan. echoes what the priest and Levite would have offered on the altar. Again. It is i m p o r t a n t to r e m e m b e r that Samaritans also followed Torah..Strange Neighbors and Risky Care himself — which w o u l d . but did not. overtones of sacrificial love are unmistakable in the story: it is the Samaritan who p o u r s out the true offering acceptable to G o d (cf. he risked retaliation f r o m the man's family. was a p r i m e target. this explicitly echoes the language used of God in Israel's Scriptures as the one w h o binds u p the w o u n d s of his people (cf. who probably had m o r e t h a n one animal and s o m e merchandise. 61:1. Likewise.. do you think. thereby explicitly countering the actions of the robbers who had robbed h i m and left him for dead ( w 34-35). 50). Ps 147:31). Jesus' question to the lawyer at the end of the story reveals h o w he completely has revolutionized the original question. He binds u p the man's w o u n d s . the robbers might still have been lurking a r o u n d the place watching for other travelers. Through Peasant Eyes. which was the very least the priest should have d o n e ( r e m e m b e r that the priest as a m e m b e r of the u p p e r class would likely have been on a donkey). And he takes the m a n to an inn and pays for his immediate and c o n t i n u i n g care. Bailey. Hos 6:1. He puts the m a n on his own donkey. u n d o u b t e d l y . where revenge was commonly taken. Notice that the lawyer does not respond by saying "the Samaritan. which was the very least the Levite should have done. Ezek 34:16. an enemy (even one w h o helps) could easily become the object of a family's revenge. For Jesus t h e n describes the Samaritan as o n e w h o binds u p the w o u n d s of the m a n . the use of oil and wine. " T h e o n e w h o showed him mercy" (v 37a). and so the same risk of defilement f r o m touching a dead b o d y was present for this Samaritan as well — with such ritual "uncleanness" extending also to his animals and merchandise. The lawyer replies. Jer 30:17. " W h o is my neighbor?" "Which of these three. Isa 30:26.

S o m e O b s e r v a t i o n s a n d C o n c l u s i o n s Jesus was preaching such a radical redefinition of the k i n g d o m of G o d in these parables that it is no w o n d e r that certain people began to seek ways to kill h i m . v 37b). KEESMAAT odious that the lawyer seems not to be able to n a m e h i m . the m a n in the ditch had been conscious. But the question also implies that he is to follow the example of his enemy in learning what it is to be a neighbor! There is. who had no desire to forgive the debts of their slaves. If. 5. It is as if Larry Flynt. For this Samaritan was n o t only an enemy. in fact. had picked you u p by the side of the road. who could n o t risk losing their temple positions t h r o u g h possible uncleanness. That is the startling impossibility of this parable. to the average Jewish peasant. he would probably have refused help f r o m such a hated enemy. w h o were concerned a b o u t the holiness of Israel and the purity of the nation. however. For. Jesus' question is startling: "Which of these three was a neighbor?" The question suggests n o t so m u c h that the lawyer is to be a neighbor to his enemy. he was a particularly hated enemy. In order to be righteous. It is a kingdom of unexpected reversals. Any self-respecting. and cleansed t h e m with the wine that flowed at those parties. b u t that he is to allow an enemy to become a neighbor to h i m . the lawyer is called to go and do the likes of what an immoral Samaritan would do (cf. to priests and Levites. as the Parable of the Compassionate Samaritan teaches. who 282 . The Samaritan e m b o d i e d this same kind of moral revulsion.SYLVIA C. softened your w o u n d s with the massage oil he used for his erotic parties. As we have seen from the previous parables. more than this to the parable. His message presented a threat to everyone. where the lowest members of Israel are the ones welcomed the most enthusiastically to the feast. of Hustler magazine fame. to the Pharisees. God's world is a world where forgiveness in the broadest sense of the word is central. it is a kingdom where the boundaries have been drawn even wider — where the most odious enemy is discovered to be one's neighbor. To wealthy landowners. remember that the parable is set in the context of a question about the coming of God's rule and how the lawyer can be a part of that kingdom. And now. pious Jew in a ditch would rather be left for dead than be helped by such a person. In this context. capable of such unexpected goodness that those who want to be righteous must follow the actions of those they most despise.

who are too p o o r to make a contribution? Do we invite only those w h o deserve to participate in o u r a b u n d a n c e and o u r feasts? O r do we proclaim a different k i n g d o m . and where o u r most odious enemies are not only in s o m e other nation b u t also next door. the poor. and world. a global world. of course. the crippled. h o m e s . joining in with initiatives that seek to forgive the debts of p o o r people and the poorest nations? Are we proclaiming this new world of radical forgiveness or denying it? O r are we people who. invited to the b a n q u e t . insist o n o u r proper place at the table. arguing that we've worked hard to get where we are? Do we resent providing food for those who don't deserve it. where a lack of forgiveness results in nuclear detonations in Asia.Strange Neighbors and Risky Care could n o t imagine that righteousness would be exemplified by i m m o r a l heretics. the prestigious. to the question of o u r place in such a world. the " r i f f r a f f " of society. or holding the debts of others individually or nationally over their heads? O r do we practice God's gracious forgiveness in o u r churches. We live in a m u c h larger world. In such a context. Which brings us. c o n t i n u e to insist on p a y m e n t f r o m others — whether that be holding a grudge in o u r homes or churches. the blind. the landowners. H o w do we respond to Jesus' radical redrawing of boundaries? Where do we fit in this story? How does it b e c o m e ours? O n e thing is clear: O u r very claim to be followers of Jesus places us firmly on the list of those who should be most challenged and threatened by Jesus' parables. and the acceptable. the healthy. where those w h o can't return o u r dinner invitation live n o t only in o u r cities b u t are concentrated in the south. This is often hard for us to c o m p r e h e n d . regardless of ability or status. for the contexts are so different. w h o m they must now not only love b u t also emulate. where the debts people suffer f r o m most are national n o t personal. where all are welcome. a different world. This is the world that Jesus' three parables created: o n e of p r o f o u n d joy and liberation for slaves. debtors. and the hated — b u t also o n e that was a p r o f o u n d threat for the wealthy. what does Jesus' message proclaim? How do these parables invite us to repentance and to live in such a radical kingdom? W h o are we? Are we people who. in spite of the forgiveness of o u r debts (both "spiritual" and "economic"). to share in the a b u n d a n c e we have to offer? Do o u r churches model what it is to share o u r a b u n d a n c e with those who have less? Is such an economics of generosity evident in o u r church budgets? In o u r investment portfolios? Do we proclaim a k i n g d o m where the b a n q u e t 283 . the lame.

the mentally ill. w i t h o u t discrimination? O r do we deny such a world? Do we respond to Jesus' Parable of the Compassionate Samaritan with a refusal to let the identity of the o n e who showed mercy pass o u r lips. then perhaps by o u r brothers and sisters? Do we avert o u r eyes as we walk d o w n the street and cross to the other side? O r do we drive by in hermetically sealed automobiles so that we do not actually have to encounter the sight of the one o n the side of the road? O r are we willing to be despised as the enemy. which is literally paid with the lives and health of the poorest of the p o o r and the sacrifice of the world's ecosystems. what these parables mean for us today has everything to do with h o w we respond to Jesus' c o m m a n d to the lawyer. even as we p o u r out o u r resources and time and very selves? Are we willing to bear the blame of the situation in the first place? Are we a people willing. Do we dare enter it? In the end. And the story of a despised enemy b e c o m i n g a compassionate neighbor offers a k i n g d o m of embrace in the face of the violent exclusion that characterizes the tribal conflicts and ethnic cleansings that wreak havoc t h r o u g h o u t o u r world. In a world in which the very t r u t h of the gospel is continually u n d e r m i n e d by scandalous schism and enmity in the church. the outcasts are being fed as well? Do we proclaim a world where God's a b u n d a n c e is extended to all. W h e n he says to us: "Go and do likewise. T h e world f o u n d in these parables is o n e in which the m o s t marginalized in o u r society — the homeless. in the end. these parables proclaim a radically alternative world characterized by Jubilee. AIDS victims — are the guests of h o n o r at Jesus' b a n q u e t ." do we regard o u r sacrificial participation in the new world of the k i n g d o m as a p r o f o u n d threat or as a deep-seated joy in the gracious a b u n d a n c e of o u r God? 284 . This is the k i n g d o m that Jesus invites us to in these parables. because he is so r e p u g n a n t to us? Do we live in fear of defilement f r o m those a b a n d o n e d and vulnerable. f r o m the unclean? Are we piously afraid of being h a m p e r e d in the "real" work of the Lord? Are we afraid that if we help. the sick. we too might be attacked — if n o t by robbers. Jesus tells stories that can only be heard and u n d e r s t o o d when the listening c o m m u n i t y is prepared to be permeated by a compassion that manifests itself in gracious forgiveness. KEESMAAT is only truly complete w h e n the poor. if we risk pollution.SYLVIA C. to bear a cross? Do we proclaim a world of such radical compassion and healing? O r do we deny it? In a world of crippling international debt.

John. "Story and Story-World. Ringe. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. Vol. Koenig. Nashville: Abingdon. F. The Rabbinic Traditions About the Pharisees Before 70. Minneapolis: Fortress. A m o s N. The New Testament and the People of God. 1995. Minneapolis: Fortress. Porter and T. P. 199-212. F. Poet and Peasant: A Literary Cultural Approach Parables in Luke. Segovia and M. Otherness and Reconciliation. Kenneth E." in Reading from This Place. Neusner. Philadelphia: Fortress. The Parables of Grace. Sharon H.1-11. N. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.18. "Solidarity and Contextuality: Readings of Matthew 18. 132-48. ed. "Rhetorical Issue and Rhetorical Strategy in Luke 10. vol. New York: Doubleday. E. 1985. 1999." Scottish Journal of Theology 149 (1996) 21-37. E. 3 vols. Tolbert. 1992. 1993. Leiden: Brill. Philadelphia: Trinity Press International. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press. 1991. Wilder. Judaism: Practice and Belief 63 BCE-66 CE. Sylvia C. H. 1980. Jesus and the Victory of God. M i n n e a p o lis: Fortress. .21-35." in Essays from the 1992 Heidelberg Conference. S. 1996. ed. London: SCM. 1997. Volf. McDonald. G r a n d Rapids: Eerdmans. 1988. 2. 285 . " T h e View f r o m the Ditch — And O t h e r Angles: Interpreting the Parable of the G o o d Samaritan. Ian H. Minneapolis: Fortress. . 59-73. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press. Jacob. Wright. Keesmaat. J. Miroslav. 1: Social Location and Biblical Interpretation in the United States. Olbricht. . A. 1992. Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity. 1971. New Testament Hospitality: Partnership with Strangers as Promise and Mission. Through Peasant Eyes: More Lucan Parables. Paul and His Story: (Re)Interpreting the Exodus Tradition.25-37 and Acts 10. Their Culture Style. to the and C a p o n . Robert Farrar. 1985. Fitzmyer. T h o m a s . The Gospel According to Luke. Sanders. 1976. Joseph A." in The Bible and the Literary Critic.Strange Neighbors and Risky Care Selected B i b l i o g r a p h y Bailey.

parables are intended to provoke. to challenge. only then to discover that the narrative leads him or her in unexpected directions or to unanticipated conclusions. or as they apply to audiences of a subsequent age. K N O W L E S N O T W I T H S T A N D I N G THE e n o r m o u s volume and complexity of m o d ern parables research. seeds and weeds — is often confounded by unexpected reversals or outcomes. The listener (or reader) is drawn by the power of a good story. rulers. however. 286 . any discussion of specific parables must begin with the simple observation that their purpose is essentially pragmatic. Luke 17:7-10. by reference to commonplace features of everyday experience. Nowhere is this clearer than in the case of parables that specifically focus on discipleship. and to elicit a concrete response to Jesus' invitation to discipleship. derives from the fact that their familiarity — dealing with such c o m m o n matters as farmers. in the context of the Gospel writers and the audiences for which they wrote.C H A P T E R 13 "Everyone Who Hears These Words of Mine": Parables on Discipleship (Matt 7:24-27//Luke 6:47-49. Luke 14:28-33. A parable is an extended metaphor that typically illustrates significant features of God's character and conduct. For whether at the level of their original audience. Matt 20:1-16) M I C H A E L P. and sets out consequences for h u m a n conduct. The compelling appeal of parables.

and those w h o hear b u t fail to act. Broadly speaking. But they do so with all the richness of a well-told story. in concert with a variety of c o m m e n t a t o r s today. . the Parable of the Unworthy Servant (Luke 17:7-10). do not be like the hypocrites. and the Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard (Matt 20:1-16). on the other. inviting the interpreter to explore various secondary or supportive meanings that are suggested by the story's specific details. b u t I say to you". Likewise. on the one h a n d ."Everyone Who Hears These Words of Mine" The approach taken here." and so on. the Parable of the Two Builders. W h e n they w a n t to make a single point. T h e p u r p o s e of parables is. illustrates the contrast between those who hear the words of Jesus and act on t h e m . in b o t h Gospels this parable occurs at the end of parallel blocks of teaching material — as the conclusion of Matthew's Sermon o n the M o u n t (Matt 5:1-7:29) and as the conclusion of Luke's S e r m o n o n the Plain (Luke 6:20-49) — thereby pressing h o m e the urgency of an obedient response. Rather. 1. teachers (Jesus a m o n g t h e m ) tend to favor the precision of propositional language: "You have heard it s a i d . The differences between the portrayals of this parable are largely matters of narrative detail. the paired Parables of the Tower Builder and the Warring King (Luke 14:28-33). But it would be a mistake to suggest that the restrictions of p r o p ositional speech must always apply to the language they employ. to be sure. . which is a parable a b o u t " f o u n d a t i o n s " and the fate of structures built o n t h e m . parables move f r o m the familiar (based on depictions of h u m a n experience) to the unfamiliar (conveying assertions a b o u t G o d ) . The parables to be examined below each address specific issues. suggesting a range of possible meanings. In the simpler narrative structure of Luke's 287 . is that the m e a n i n g of any given parable need not be limited to a single m a i n point. generally didactic. and back to the familiar again (implying consequences for present conduct). it is the nature of narrative in general and of m e t a p h o r i c language in particular to be resonant and allusive. "Whenever you pray. And they assert one or two m a i n premises. . This process will become evident in each of the following parables of discipleship: the Parable of the Two Builders (Matt 7:24-27//Luke 6:47-49). T h e Parable of t h e Two Builders (Matt 7:24-27//Luke 6:47-49) In b o t h Matthew and Luke.

for w h o m the rain and floods represent "all the ills in o u r life that anyone could mention. two individuals are depicted w h o choose to build o n a floodplain (translating the Greek ho potamos of 6:48 in its literal sense as "the river"). however. lays stone o n stone. 90-130 CE). the flood represents either the trials and difficulties of daily life or the "Great Trial" of final j u d g m e n t . together with the gender specificity of the story. at least two questions remain: To w h o m is the parable addressed?. so that even if all the 288 . floods. The one builder. w h o was an approximate c o n t e m p o r a r y of the evangelist Matthew: He whose wisdom is more abundant than his works. where the wise are likewise distinguished f r o m the foolish by their foresight and provision for f u t u r e need. "and the ruin of that house was great. KNOWLES Gospel. T h e other builder. but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness [Jer 17:6]. A similar ethical emphasis (although using the m e t a p h o r of a tree rather than a building) is f o u n d in a parable attributed to Rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah (c. k n o w i n g the danger of the location. Matthew also specifies what is merely implicit in Luke — that is.3). "setting one above all the waves of h u m a n affairs" (Homily 24. b u t three consecutive threats: rain. the houses that are built face not one. or in haste." In Matthew's m o r e complex narrative structure. the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Bridesmaids. and so establishes a structure that will be strong enough to withstand the onslaught of seasonal flooding." respectively (in b o t h cases. that the two builders are a "wise m a n " and a "foolish man. suggest that this parable anticipates that of 25:1-13. W h a t situation of crisis might the flood represent? For the majority of interpreters. a n d . But he whose works are more abundant than his wisdom. 345-407). The rising river carries the structure away. to what is he like? To a tree whose branches are abundant but whose roots are few. to what is he like? To a tree whose branches are few but whose roots are many. exercises no such foresight." whereas the rock o n which the house is f o u n d e d is Christian doctrine.MICHAEL P. T h e first school of t h o u g h t takes its cue f r o m the great f o u r t h . and the wind comes and uproots it and overturns it. He shall be like a tamarisk in the desert and shall not see when good cometh. preacher. as it is written. carefully excavates the site to bedrock. The explicit references to "wise" and "foolish" builders. anēr. but erects his h o m e carelessly. and bishop John Chrysostom (c. "male"). While the general intent of the Wise and Foolish Builders is clear. and wind.c e n t u r y Christian diplomat. on sand.

do not p r o n o u n c e j u d g m e n t before the time. and that spreads out his roots by the river. as it is written. the P o u n d s (Luke 19:11-27). the M a t t h e a n context of the parable — particularly the accompanying material of 7:13-23 (note esp. implicitly. For as in those days before the flood . Col 1:23. For a start. Eph 2:19-20. and his leaf shall be green. Urzeit = Endzeit). neither shall it cease from yielding fruit [Jer 17:8]. so too will be the c o m i n g of the Son of M a n " (Matt 24:37-39. appearances are often deceiving. 1 C o r 3:10-15. 1 Tim 6:18-19.). Furtherm o r e . before the Lord comes.. in such diverse parables as the Sower a n d the Seed (Mark 4:3-8 par. b u t also its parallels with the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Bridesmaids in 25:1-13 — conveys unmistakable eschatological overtones. it cannot be stirred from its place. He shall be as a tree planted by the waters. A similar principle is operative n o t only in the Parable of the Bridesmaids b u t also. they knew n o t h i n g until the flood came and swept t h e m all away. 2 T i m 2:19). and shall not be careful in the year of drought. and the Rich M a n and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31). the Talents (Matt 25:14-30). O n e of the implications of the Parable of the Two Builders seems to be that in matters of faithful discipleship. and shall not fear when heat comes. it should be noted. Luke 17:26-27). . And references to " f o u n d a t i o n s " and building m e t a p h o r s that appear elsewhere in the New Testament consistently imply final j u d g m e n t (e. so will be the c o m i n g of the Son of M a n . w h o will bring to light the things 289 . The inherent strength or instability of the two houses remains hidden u n til the m o m e n t of crisis. the expression "on that day" of ν 22). in keeping with the rabbinic principal that the origins and e n d . cf. . the Sheep and Goats (Matt 25:31-46).g."Everyone Who Hears These Words of Mine" winds in the world come and blow against it. But a n u m b e r of contextual indicators also p o i n t to the appropriateness of an eschatological reading. the parallel d r a w n from Rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah suggests would have been entirely appropriate to a Palestinian Jewish context — the Parable of the Two Builders affirms that the discipline of a righteous and obedient life is sufficient to sustain the pious in times of adversity and affliction. as in the Germ a n formula. Any one of these parables might illustrate the Pauline i n j u n c t i o n : "Therefore. at which point the w o r t h of the builder's m e t h o d is quickly revealed. ( Mishnah Aboth 3:18) O n such an ethical reading — which.t i m e of creation mirror o n e another (or. Jesus himself is portrayed as emphasizing this correspondence: "For as the days of Noah were. the m e n t i o n of a destructive flood recalls the t i m e of N o a h .

and then. These two formulations also recall — and. his telling of the parable aptly illustrates the m o r e prosaic editorial c o m m e n t that follows in Matt 7:28-29: "Now when Jesus had finished saying these things. Jesus' insistence o n "these words of m i n e " (Matt 7:24.MICHAEL P. therefore. o n the teaching of Jesus. . provide a c o u n t e r p o i n t to — the traditional Jewish concept of the temple as having been f o u n d e d o n a rock that stands at the gateway to b o t h heaven and the underworld. T h u s in the context of Jesus' ministry. . For Matthew. it seems. To w h o m . indeed. on the response that his teaching d e m a n d s . to quote Luke. the p o i n t is not simply that Jesus and the obedient follower each build on solid foundations." The M a t t h e a n presentation.26//Luke 6:47. In both passages the premise is m u c h the same — that is. For t h e language of " b u i l d i n g o n the rock" (oikodomēsen . for he taught t h e m as one having a u t h o r ity. "house. a crisis that only those with secure f o u n d a t i o n s could withstand." The historical context of the evangelists' own day. the crowds were astonished at his teaching. Indeed. then." referring to b o t h kinds of structures). includes at least one additional feature of note. Implied here is n o t only the remarkable assertion that the acceptance or rejection of Jesus' words entails eschatological consequences. suggests that those w h o acted (or failed to act) on Jesus' words would have already faced a crisis of testing. since Matthew and Luke probably wrote in the immediate aftermath of the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of its temple — the city and " h o u s e " of God — they doubtless b o t h could attest to the fact.49) implies an a u t h o r ity beyond even that of Israel's prophets. epi ten petran) of 7:24 anticipates that of Peter's commissioning in 16:18: " O n this rock I will build my church" (epi tautç tç petrçi oikodomêsô mou ten ekklēsian). KNOWLES now hidden in darkness and disclose the purposes of the heart" (1 Cor 4:5). b u t also that Jesus possesses the authority to c o m m a n d such obedience. Even m o r e to the point. concurrently. was the Parable of the Two Builders likely addressed? There is n o t h i n g in the parable to indicate an audience other t h a n that 290 . the Parable of the Two Builders conveys a challenge to "build a h o u s e " on a f o u n d a t i o n equivalent to that on which God's o w n house is set (with the Hebrew n o u n beth. moreover. first of all. But the specific focus of this parable is. that "the ruin of that house was great. that even the greatest affliction ("the gates of Hell" in 16:18) will not prevail.

In other words. h o w m u c h more. whereas Matthew's language pairs t h e wise and foolish builders (7:24-27) and the wise and foolish bridesmaids (25:1-13). The question " W h o a m o n g you?" is intended to elicit agreement f r o m the hearer a fortiori — that is. The comparison is n o t arbitrary. Jesus is often depicted as using this rhetorical device to c o m m a n d assent. is first and foremost a matter of positive. the parable speaks to any and all w h o will hear (or read) Jesus' teaching.3 3 ) From the building of houses we t u r n to the building of a tower. The context of these two parables in Luke's Gospel allows for little ambiguity as to either their m e a n i n g or their intended audience. They begin with a challenge to the audience: " W h o a m o n g you?" In the Gospel tradition."Everyone Who Hears These Words of Mine" suggested by its contexts in Matthew and Luke. cf. and were not juxtaposed at some later stage in the transmission of early Christian tradition. 2. Large crowds were accompanying Jesus. must the legal or spiritual corollary apply. he asks: " W h o a m o n g you would not rescue their livestock on the Sabbath?" (paraphrasing Matt 12:11// Luke 14:5). given the logical necessity of the anticipated response. Discipleship. Together with the s e r m o n of which it is part. For example. and it is to t h e m that the t e m p o ral and eternal consequences of an appropriate response is pressed h o m e . Thus. obedient action — action that t u r n s out to be foundational for life. Luke's language juxtaposes the building of houses (6:47-49) and the building of a tower (14:28-30). therefore. for in Luke's Gospel the vocabulary of "laying a f o u n d a t i o n " (themelios theinai) is u n i q u e to the two parables of 6:47-49 and 14:28-30. by implication. 7:28-29). The answer is obvious. M a t t 5:1-2. b o t h in the present age and in the age to come. the parable is directed in the first instance to "the disciples" (Luke 6:20). or its drastic implications for disci291 . Yet it is also given "in the hearing of the people" (Luke 7:1. T h e Paired Parables o f t h e Tower Builder a n d t h e W a r r i n g K i n g (Luke 1 4 : 2 8 . C o m m e n t a t o r s usually agree that the paired parables of "the Tower Builder" and "the Warring King" have always belonged together. So he concludes: "Of h o w m u c h m o r e value is a h u m a n being than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath" (Matt 12:12). Perhaps fearing that they had failed to grasp the radical nature of God's reign.

ed. "So therefore. D. Jesus issues a blunt.b e builder will reap the mockery and scorn of the onlookers."). Freedman [New York: Doubleday. Yet isolated stone houses of this sort were. T h e subject of the first is. political and military power.). since archaeological evidence allows for a n u m b e r of possibilities (cf. twofold challenge: Whoever does n o t hate the m e m b e r s of his or her o w n family "cannot be my disciple. 6. the builder discovers that despite his dreams of agricultural plenty. a king contemplates the cost of going to war. will he n o t negotiate terms of surrender? The second parable heightens the imagery in at least two ways. Mark 12:1 par. T h e second parable also presents a m o r e drastic consequence.. The apparent complexity of the building process. the king stands to lose his army. They also served as storehouses to safeguard the fruit of the harvest.MICHAEL P. however." concludes Jesus. if the tower was to serve an agricultural purpose. He and his family m u s t continue to live in tents. is not prepared to die — "cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:25-27). does n o t favor a simple field structure being 292 . The parables that follow illustrate his point. stature. then the parable suggests that the builder's pride may be overtaken by his poverty. If his forces are insufficient to ensure victory. desiring to build a tower . 6 vols. Will that person not reckon in advance whether he possesses sufficient resources to complete the task? Otherwise the w o u l d . N . whereas in the second.." and whoever does n o t take u p his or her own cross — that is. 1992]. he lacks e n o u g h field stones — free for the taking t h o u g h they might be — to build himself a tower. For if the tower builder risks mockery and s h a m e . "Towers" in The Anchor Bible Dictionary. "whoever of you does not renounce all that he or she has c a n n o t be my disciple. s o m e o n e sets o u t to build a tower. any o n e of the listeners ("Which of you. In the second. perhaps even his life. where the f o u n d a t i o n must first be laid." The role that one assigns to the tower has a significant impact o n the m e a n i n g of the passage as a whole. t h e n the builder's ridicule and s h a m e is c o m p o u n d e d by his inability to establish a settled existence.622-24). Alternatively. KNOWLES pleship. In the first. Towers often f u n c t i o n e d as lookouts from which a shepherd would guard his flock or a farmer his vineyard (cf. his k i n g d o m . as transients and n o m a d s . If the tower was to be simply a dwelling place. it seems. weighing the chances of a successful campaign against an o p p o n e n t w h o c o m m a n d s an army twice the size of his own. the protagonist is a king — a m a n of wealth. at least rhetorically. In either case. comparatively few in Palestine. .

Luke appears to favor parables with a m i d p o i n t crisis — such as the Prodigal Son (15:11-32). suggests that in b o t h instances the " c r u n c h " comes in the midst of discipleship. Moreover. T h e logic of the narrative. thereby assuming a defensive posture. In any event. 65). a t i m e of testing. those w h o hear m u s t not only seek to follow and obey. Both parables envisage a c o m i n g crisis.' In the second he says: 'Sit d o w n and reckon w h e t h e r you can afford to refuse my d e m a n d s ' " (Interpreting the Parables. not to m e n t i o n his lack of foresight. the builder is expecting an enemy assault and so takes measures to protect himself. In any event. Perhaps he could not afford the masons or the stone. As A. therefore. Such towers needed to be either sufficiently strong to withstand an enemy onslaught or sufficiently high to afford a view f r o m afar. M. For in the parable of the tower. O n the other h a n d . O n this latter interpretation. although the degree of c o m m i t m e n t that such a total renunciation implies has led s o m e to ask whether 293 . and thus assumes an offensive stance. as p a r t of a process t h a t is still u n d e r way. a n d the Persistent W i d o w and the U n j u s t Judge (18:1-8) — whereas in the M a t t h e a n parables the crisis often comes at the end. Perhaps he f o u n d his authority insufficient to compel his subjects to complete the task (which would account for their scorn). he comes to realize that his resources are unexpectedly lacking. any differences in emphasis between the two parables appear to be overpowered by the force of Jesus' concluding p r o n o u n c e m e n t : "So. it is not difficult to see in these paired parables two different aspects of discipleship. therefore. however." The renunciation of all of one's possessions is consistent with Luke's emphasis on the d e m a n d s of discipleship. W i t h o u t pressing the details of the narrative too hard. Luke 13:24). In the subsequent parable the w a r r i n g king contemplates initiating a battle."Everyone Who Hears These Words of Mine" here in view. b u t m u s t consider carefully the cost of d o i n g so (cf. the builder's inability to complete the task again reflects his lack of resources. the Tower of Siloam referred to in Luke 13:4). the Shrewd M a n a g e r (16:1-13). a military interpretation of the tower intensifies the parallelism within the doublet. it should be noted that ancient towers frequently served a military and defensive f u n c t i o n (cf. H u n t e r has observed: "In the first parable Jesus says. 'Sit d o w n and reckon w h e t h e r you can afford to follow me. As a third option. rather t h a n at s o m e m o r e distant end point. whoever of you does not ren o u n c e all that he or she has c a n n o t be my disciple.

KNOWLES this requirement was originally directed only to the inner core of disciples. however harsh they may s o u n d to m o d e r n ears. Luke's audience. In 9:57-62. 294 . Jesus' own i m m i n e n t destiny clearly justified the need to renounce earthly b o n d s and obligations. he replies. or even of being willing to forsake "house or wife or brothers or parents or children. Were this not enough. Whatever difficulties might await the disciples in a later day. for he is a holy G o d " (Josh 24:19). (2) the emergence of official opposition. the narrative detail of an overwhelmingly superior force rising to meet the challenge of a weaker king could not have failed to recall. for example. such an explanation is unnecessary. once again. as Kyrios. Jesus' p o i n t is that either following h i m or refusing to follow will cost one's all. Similar challenges come quickly to h a n d t h r o u g h o u t the Lukan portrayals. may have faced the threat of material loss o n account of their confession of Jesus. if not actually R o m a n . these paired parables must be set against (1 ) the controversy that Jesus' ministry had already begun to evoke. in other words. losing all appears to be unavoidable in any case. In retrospect. But if Luke's narrative context serves as any guide. bear out the logic of such an assertion. The conclusion in the two parables of 14:28-33 is similarly u n c o m promising. rather t h a n Caesar. Rather. as well as those of the evangelist's day. to o n e w h o offers allegiance. Nonetheless. and (3) the increasing likelihood that judicial consequences would soon ensue. for the sake of the k i n g d o m of G o d " (18:29). of course. Luke's own c o m m u n i t y . the recent folly of the Jewish insurrectionists (cf. The only question is whether one will lose all as a follower of Jesus and for the sake of God's reign. c o n t e m p o r a r y political developments within the R o m a n empire amply underscored the p o i n t that the followers of Jesus of Nazareth could be faced with the need to renounce all. Jesus holds o u t only the prospect of homelessness ( w 5758). Luke 19:41-44). Which. "Let the dead b u r y their own d e a d " ( w 59-60). is the m o r e promising course of action? The events of Jesus' o w n life. and rather t h a n allowing for family leave-taking. Jesus in Luke's Gospel seeks to dissuade his listeners f r o m too easy a view of discipleship. in the m a n n e r of Joshua insisting "You c a n n o t serve the Lord. or as one w h o refuses to follow and obey. thereby bearing witness against the possibility of Israel's apostasy. was p r e d o m i n a n t l y Gentile and Hellenistic. Jesus declares a prospective disciple unfit for the k i n g d o m ( w 61-62). in response to filial piety. in fact. The issue facing his hearers (and Luke's readers) is not o n e of risk m a n a g e m e n t .MICHAEL P. Rather.

17:1. and it presents the conditions of discipleship in a decidedly u n c o m p r o m i s i n g manner." "low-cost" endeavor. " W h o a m o n g you . The first three verses ass u m e the perspective of the master — or. "Make me something for supper. The rhetorical genius of the parable lies in its a d o p t i o n of different perspectives on the situation to make its point. is uniquely Lukan. T h e same. it is the essence of servanthood (not to m e n t i o n slavery) to place the requirements of one's master above one's own. 3. they invite the listener to assume such a perspective: W h o among you having a servant plowing or keeping sheep. it is apparently addressed to disciples (cf." since the Greek n o u n doidos encompasses b o t h possibilities) can expect to serve his or her own needs first. would have had great significance for those that the evangelist addressed.". it challenges the audience. will say to him when he comes in from the field. It is well within a servant's job description to prepare and serve his 295 ." These two paired parables. however inconvenient doing so may be. The situation that this parable describes is simple e n o u g h . is t r u e of discipleship. both the parables themselves and Jesus' personal example make the cost of faithful discipleship unmistakably clear. But also. 5). because of a current. Jesus implies. . "Sit right down to eat"? Will he not say to him. which refers to serving the main meal of the day — that is. serve it to me until I have eaten and drunk. No servant (or "slave.. too. rather. It. and afterwards you can have your meal"? Does he owe the servant anything for having done what was asked of him? (17:7-9) The translation "make me s o m e t h i n g for supper" reflects the use of the verb deipnein. the deipnon or principal meal eaten in middle to late a f t e r n o o n . Set in any of these historical contexts. widespread perception that Christian discipleship is a "low-risk. therefore. these two parables pose a telling challenge to the Western C h u r c h today."Everyone Who Hears These Words of Mine" "Lord. T h e Parable o f t h e U n w o r t h y S e r v a n t (Luke 17:7-10) The Parable of the Unworthy Servant in Luke 17:7-10 bears several key resemblances to the paired parables of the Tower Builder and Warring King. Rather. and when you are ready.

h o w m u c h m o r e are they required in o u r relations with God. b u t be like slaves who serve the master not for the sake of reward. or credit — in the master's eyes for having served as expected? Does the master owe the servant anything? Of course not! Both the absurdity of the question and the syntax of verse 9 indicate that n o rightm i n d e d employer would act in such a m a n n e r . Questions in Greek can be worded to anticipate either a positive or a negative response. and in o u r obedience to all that God c o m m a n d s . and that there would be no point in anyone thinking otherwise. we have only d o n e what was required of us. b u t addressing the audience as servants or slaves: "So too with yon. for to this end you 296 . grace. The question posed in verse 9 is emphatically of the latter variety. which is the oldest section of the Talmud. who is said to have lived in the third century BCE: "Be not like slaves w h o serve the master for the sake of receiving a reward. say. 'We are u n w o r t h y servants.'" If they agree f r o m the perspective of the master.MICHAEL P." can be literally rendered "Does he [the master] have charis toward the servant?" While " t h a n k " is an appropriate translation (as in 1 T i m 1:12. which is often translated "Does he thank the servant. and is attributed to Simeon the Just. Accordingly. 2 T i m 1:3). And if such service and submission are required in h u m a n relationships. and let the fear of heaven be u p o n you" ( M i s h n a h Aboth 1:3. The outlook in question is exemplified by an a p h o r i s m recorded at the very beginning of the "Sayings of the Fathers" (Pirqe Aboth). any rightm i n d e d listener would be expected to agree that servants simply serve. w h e n yon have d o n e all that you have been c o m m a n d e d . verse 10 springs the rhetorical t r a p — no longer assuming the perspective of the master. who is the heavenly Master (whose agency is implied grammatically by the use of the passive voice). in Mishnah Aboth 2:8: "If you have accomplished m u c h in Torah. Having thus w o n agreement f r o m the audience. favor. Verse 9. N o t w i t h s t a n d i n g Jesus' controversies with certain Pharisees of his day — and contra s o m e stereotypes of Judaism that have arisen a m o n g Christian c o m m e n t a t o r s — this parable affirms a foundational principle of piety that seems to have been current a m o n g many of Jesus' c o n t e m p o raries. N o r is the master in any way indebted to the servant for having completed his daily chores. claim n o t merit for yourself. cf. also the saying attributed to Johanan b e n Zakkai. KNOWLES master's m a i n meal. how m u c h m o r e m u s t Jesus' hearers (and Luke's readers) agree if they are really only servants. a first-century CE rabbi. it does n o t convey the full force of the question: Has the servant f o u n d charis — that is.

however. concludes with the unthinkable: the master. And the second half denies the 297 . his openness to social outcasts. The piety of the earliest Jewish sages. the first half of the parable denies the follower any role in setting the terms of discipleship. Israel's obedience must be a matter of divine initiative and h u m a n obligation. and Luke 2. in thoroughly conventional fashion. on the other h a n d . having ret u r n e d h o m e f r o m a wedding celebration. on obedient submission — with Jesus insisting in verse 10 that no less obedient submission is due to God. declared that since G o d is God."Everyone Who Hears These Words of Mine" were created"). For n o t h i n g is due a servant for having d o n e what was expected.194) John D r u r y notes that many of Luke's parables derive their "vivacity" f r o m an "adventurous h a n d l i n g of hierarchical relationships: father and son. cf. for example. The remarkable feature of the Parable of the Unworthy Servant here in 17:7-10. master and servants" (Parables in the Gospels. therefore. Such parables begin with the assumption that the div i n e . seats the servants and serves t h e m . Rather. rather t h a n one of h u m a n initiative and divine obligation. 151). then proceed to reverse conventional expectations.h u m a n relationship is similarly hierarchical. is that it offers no such reversal. plaintiff and judge. the master insists. or an inability to c o m m a n d the master's (God's!) favor. The parable of t h e Watchful Servants in 12:3538. the o n e w h o reclines at table. Yet I am a m o n g you as one w h o serves!" (22:27). O r to quote John Calvin: The object of this parable is to show that all the zeal manifested by us in discharging our duty does not put God under any obligation to us by any sort of merit. Jesus later applies this reversal to himself: " W h o is the greater. Mark. appears m o r e appropriate in its suggestion of a lack of merit. so he on his part can owe us nothing. for. as we are his property." C o m m e n tators differ on the m e a n i n g of achreios. we have only d o n e what was required of us. This applies as m u c h between Jesus and his disciples as between Israel and God. And this is the point of the proposed reply in Jesus' parable: "We are u n w o r t h y servants. Taken by itself." The first option seems to run counter b o t h to the logic of the situation (for the servant's labors prove his w o r t h ) and to the general tenor of Jesus' ministry (above all. steward and lord. The second option. or the one w h o serves? Surely the o n e w h o reclines. (Harmony on Matthew. which can be translated as either "worthless" or "unworthy. Luke 19:10).

Yet Jesus' disciples are portrayed as s o m e t i m e s thinking that their association with their master allowed t h e m s o m e special status. Only responsibilities considered degrading were excluded (which probably explains John the Baptist's c o m m e n t s in Luke 3:16).655). 298 . in t u r n . tasks for the teacher. they are presented as attempting to keep a non-disciple f r o m using Jesus' n a m e (Luke 9:49 par. just as whoever was free when called is a slave of Christ" (1 Cor 7:22. Similarly.. seeking special favors f r o m Jesus (Mark 10:35-37 par. also 8:3). cf. Well beyond his own day. or s o m e h o w accrued to their benefit. and that o n e is not compensated according to one's merits. Eph 2:8-9) and his metaphorical appeal to " r e d e m p t i o n " (e. cf. and.. 7:23). b u t also to act as a servant. A disciple's service involved p e r f o r m i n g a variety of essential. more remarkable yet. Gal 1:10. which may reflect the slave market (cf. 1 Pet 2:16. the intent of the Parable of the Unworthy Servant may well be to p o i n t out that such service does n o t constitute a claim on his favor. Paul's words apply alike to slave and free: "Whoever was called in the Lord as a slave is a freed person belonging to the Lord. both. and arguing a m o n g t h e m selves as to which of t h e m was the greatest (Luke 22:24 par. KNOWLES possibility that service for God is intrinsically meritorious. yet menial. Rom 3:24. Eph 6:6. 1 Cor 9:19. it must be asked. Luke 19:29-35). note that Paul and other early Christian leaders also applied the m e t a p h o r to themselves.MICHAEL P. But. Anchor Bible Dictionary 6. Luke 22:8-13. T h u s two of Jesus' disciples fetch a donkey for h i m to ride o n (cf. Thus. contributes to the parable's ongoing currency.). b u t o n s o m e other principle. to w h o m is such an a d m o n i t i o n addressed? In Jesus' day the role of a disciple was n o t simply to learn.). R o m 6:22. the parable allows for a creative ambiguity as to the identity of the landowner.g.g. James 1:1). Insofar as the disciples act as servants to Jesus. for example. The continued existence of slavery as a social institution sustains the relevance of servanthood as a m e t a p h o r for Christian discipleship. And w i t h o u t wishing to impose the Christology of subsequent ages. 1 Cor 6:20. m u c h less a claim o n God's favor.). and Peter and John prepare the Passover meal (cf. Eph 1:7. the Pauline emphasis on u n m e r i t e d grace (e. lend f u r t h e r s u p p o r t to the parable's u n c o m p r o m i s i n g description of discipleship: that discipleship is not self-determined. w h o m a y b e either God (as Jewish piety would anticipate) or Jesus (as the disciples might expect) — or. Gal 3:23-47.

while the second symbolizes the Old Covenant. Reformation exegesis. yet. namely that the various h o u r s of calling represent the various stages of h u m a n life {ibid. Viewed in this way. largely rejected the C h u r c h Fathers' search for allegorical meanings in the m i n o r details of the parables. the fifth. The long lapse of time in which we now live is the fourth call.7) Origen of Alexandria (c. 185-254). C o m m e n t i n g o n the workers and their labors. 299 . the third.36. b u t m u c h to their astonishment. ( Against Heresies 4. As interpreted by Irenaeus (c. For in the Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard of Matt 20:1-16.1 6 ) From parables u n i q u e to Luke we t u r n to a parable u n i q u e to Matthew — and here one that supplies precisely the kind of unexpected reversal that the Parable of the Unworthy Servant failed to provide. those from Moses to Joshua. This parable has enjoyed (or suffered) a long history of imaginative exegesis. and writer of his day. declared that the parable teaches that even in old age it is not too late to draw near to G o d (Homily 64:3-4).. (Commentary on Matthew 15. was even m o r e specific: The first shift of workers signifies the generations [from Adam] to Noah. the greatest scholar. they all receive the same wage. 347-407). those up to the time of Christ.36). workers hired at different h o u r s t h r o u g h o u t the day expect to be compensated proportionately. 15. The third call represents Christ's ministry. while the final call symbolizes the end of time. those from Noah to Abraham. w h o had been instructed by Polycarp and was f r o m a b o u t 178 the Bishop of Lyons: The first call to the workers represents the beginning of the created world. w h o in his latter years was Bishop at Constantinople. T h e Parable o f t h e Laborers in t h e V i n e y a r d ( M a t t 2 0 : 1 . on the other h a n d . John C h r y s o s t o m of Antioch (c. Origen offered a "deeper and more mystical" interpretation. teacher. those from Abraham to Moses. Calvin insisted that Christ's "one aim [is] continually to incite his people to keep going". The householder is God. the fourth. the second. 130-200). while the denarius represents salvation.32) At the same time."Everyone Who Hears These Words of Mine" 4.

As they see it. 13). Both this reversal in the order of p a y m e n t and the a m o u n t paid are essential to the creation of tension — n o t just in t e r m s of labor relations.MICHAEL P. Quite simply. Mark. natural justice requires a proportional system of recompense. w 2. Isa 5:1-7. b u t the laborers few. the reference to the vineyard. ν 4) — that is. which was to pay t h e m what he considered "just" (dikaios. the entire history of salvation). and at three and five P. those still waiting in line naturally expect s o m e kind of b o n u s . that the parable demonstrates the sovereignty of God: " H e pays those w h o m He has called the reward which seems good to H i m " ( H a r m o n y on Matthew. KNOWLES also. But the l a n d o w n e r insists on fulfilling the exact terms of their contract. "the first" and "the last. which was the standard wage for a full day's m a n u a l labor. at n o o n . And in the context of Matthew's Gospel. So when the grumblers accuse the owner of unfairness. he needs ever more workers because the final ingathering proves so m u c h m o r e plentiful t h a n even he could have imagined. makes it probable that all of the laborers are to be u n d e r s t o o d as Jewish. which was a stock m e t a p h o r for Israel (cf. collectively. Payment to those hired at the various midday h o u r s is omitted to avoid any diminishm e n t of the intended contrast between those who t h o u g h t they had earned more and those w h o knew they deserved less. So beg the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest. The image of the twelfth hour. Second.M. Mark 12:1-10 par. They receive a denarius. resolution of the narrative requires only two groups." For in the logic of the k i n g d o m and its proclamation. Jer 12:10. the few scattered seeds have generated such a disproportionate increase that the l a n d o w n e r must take extraordinary measures to gather in the full yield.M. a full day's wage (cf. First.. The situation perfectly illustrates Jesus' a d m o n i t i o n to the disciples in 9:37-38: " T h e harvest is bountiful. and not b o t h Jewish and Gentile (as would be required for t h e m to represent. and Luke 2. is a stock m e t a p h o r for final j u d g m e n t . by Western reckoning — are rendered unlikely by two considerations. at which t i m e p a y m e n t is rendered.264-67). But separate identities for each group hired at the various h o u r s — that is." rather than the literal five m e n t i o n e d earlier. the only in300 . b u t also in terms of the tension inherent in the narrative of the parable itself! For having toiled all day long.). this eschatological dimension provides a possible explanation as to why the apparently shortsighted landowner needs to return so m a n y times for additional laborers. at six and nine A. Those hired last are paid first.

the laborers came to receive their pay. the full amount of his wage. with them. will receive a large recompense. You." So has Rabbi Abun learned more in the Law in twenty-eight years than a clever 301 . for in the rabbinic parable the faithful within Israel are rewarded in p r o p o r t i o n to their piety. "We have worked the whole day. however." Then the king said. More closely resembling the parable in Matthew's Gospel is the following. and he gave him. which is said to have been told by Rabbi Zeira at the funeral of Rabbi A b u n b e n Hiya. Ecclesiastes Rabbah 5." Even so both the Israelites and the peoples of the world sought their pay from God. Therefore the landowner's words imply dismissal: "Take what is yours and go. But they show themselves to be estranged f r o m the larger graciousness of the one w h o had engaged their services. The others. The peoples of the world have accomplished very little for me. Hence the appropriateness of the owner's challenge (which is altogether obscured by most translations): "Is your eye evil because I am good?" T h e earliest workers have received their just reward. An a n o n y m o u s Tannaitic parable of t h e third century CE (at the earliest) c o m m e n t s o n the statement "And I will have regard for you" of Lev 26:9 as follows: It is like a king who hired many laborers. who have worked for me only a little. What did the King do? He took him away and walked up and down with him." (Sifra on Lev 26:9. and I will give them but a small reward.11." Distinctive features of this M a t t h e a n parable emerge in comparison with the following frequently-cited (although considerably later) rabbinic parallels. "This man has done more in two hours than you have done in the whole day. But one was outstanding in his work. And God said to the Israelites: "My children. When it was evening. You. however.5) From a similar scenario. And along with them was one laborer that had worked for him many days. I will have regard for you. to them I will give small pay."Everyone Who Hears These Words of Mine" justice in the situation is their own selfishness. who died a b o u t 325 CE at a relatively early age: It is like a king who hired many laborers. All the laborers went also. Then the laborers m u r m u r e d and said. He said to this one special laborer: "I will have regard for you. cf. and this man has worked only two hours. this parable derives a conclusion exactly opposite that of Jesus' Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard. will receive a large recompense.

the moral of the story is that "the last will be first. In its form in Matthew's Gospel. yet all is according to the excess of works" ( M i s h n a h Aboth 3:16.g. w h o are called to work in their father's vineyard. Certainly Jesus' notorious familiarity with "sinners" earlier in Matthew's Gospel had given rise to scorn and indignation on the part of the religious authorities (e. Berakoth 2:8. Tax gatherers and prostitutes could hardly c o m m e n d themselves with pious works. m u c h reward will be given you. just as they have been in m u c h of Christian theology. By c o m parison. perhaps. p e r h a p s it should be seen as referring to scribes and Pharisees. Yet Jesus seems to have welcomed such marginalized persons readily e n o u g h . emphasize the centrality of divine grace. Perhaps. O n the one h a n d . ν 16). God's — u n m e r i t e d generosity.2. Jesus' parable does not focus on issues of wages or "merit" per se.MICHAEL P. Song of Songs Rabbah 6. sayings such as those of Simeon the Just and J o h a n a n b e n Zakkai. one must weigh such opinions as that of Rabbi Tarfon (c. the leading rabbi of the early second century CE: " T h e world is judged by grace. o n the other. however.. cf. esp. 11:19). also f u r t h e r statements attributed to R. on the o n e h a n d . Or. which is in line with the rabbinic d i c t u m : "Some obtain and enter the k i n g d o m in an hour. while others reach it only after a lifetime" (Babylonian Abodah Zarah 17a).6) (Jerusalem/Palestinian Even here. Rabbinic doctrines of merit and grace were multifaceted. to Christians of Jewish and Gentile origins. In the M a t t h e a n Parable of the Two Sons (21:28-32). 50-120 CE). This has led to speculation that the parable refers to Jews and Gentiles — or. KNOWLES student could have mastered in a lifetime. b u t uses t h e m only as a narrative vehicle for emphasizing the owner's — which is to say. a c o n t e m p o r a r y of the evangelist Matthew: "If you have studied m u c h in the Law. 9:10-11. O n the other h a n d . cf. and faithful is your taskmaster w h o will pay you the reward of your labor" ( M i s h n a h Aboth 2:16) — or that attributed to Rabbi Akiba. respectively. cited above. as well. Jesus concludes by declaring to the "chief priests and elders of the people" (v 23): "Truly. there are overtones in Jesus' parable of God having compassion on those w h o cann o t otherwise make adequate provision for themselves. in comparison to sinners and social outcasts. Akiba in Mishnah Aboth 3:17 and to R. and the first last" (cf. keeping matters strictly within Israel. the tax 302 . H a n a n i a h ben Akashya in Mishnah Makkoth 3:16). the emphasis is on the laborer's ability to accomplish m u c h in proportionately less time t h a n the other workers. I say to you.

thereby emphasizing the owner's perspective on what is "just" or "righteous" (cf." (19:30-20:1)." So while the latter laborers themselves attest that no o n e else t h o u g h t t h e m capable of accomplishing anything useful. But however fitting such an interpretation may be.. It suggests that those w h o have n o t h i n g with which to c o m m e n d themselves can yet look forward to a rich recompense in God's k i n g d o m (so 19:2729). . For (an explanatory use of the c o n j u n c t i o n gar) the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner . Yet a third interpretation is also possible. T h o s e hired 303 ."Everyone Who Hears These Words of Mine" collectors and the prostitutes go into the k i n g d o m ahead of you" (v 31).g. even you (kai humeis). In each case. we must not overlook the fact that the proverb a b o u t "the first" and "the last" in Matthew's Gospel n o t only concludes the parable of 20:1-16. . For in the end. the owner replies: "Go.. and the last will be first. the identity of the laborers is less i m p o r t a n t t h a n the character of the landowner. the parable illustrates contrasting perceptions of the laborers' relationship to the master. e. introduces it: "Many w h o are first will be last. w 4. Particularly if the disciples were liable to an inflated sense of their own i m p o r t a n c e . And if this is the m e a n i n g of the Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard as well. In a sense. in effect. however. Matt 19:13-14). a reference to sinners and outcasts suits n o t only the central m o tif of "good" and "evil" in the Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard (cf. or to disciples w h o had followed Jesus for longer or for shorter periods of time. Likewise. into the vineyard" (v 7). Perhaps it was the disciples w h o felt that they had "labored long and b o r n e the heat of the day" in the service of their rabbi. based on the fact that the disciples did not always share the generosity of spirit exhibited by their master (cf. then the disciples are portrayed as those w h o have been hired last in the day and rewarded m o r e o n the basis of God's generosity than on the basis of their o w n accomplishments. to "Pharisees" and the disciples of Jesus. ν 15). In 19:30 the proverb is applied to disciples w h o have a b a n d o n e d all to follow Jesus. and what it implies a b o u t the character of G o d . respectively. the Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard might have served to redirect their attention to the gracious generosity of their teacher as the only basis for their own present standing. b u t also the eleventh-hour laborers' own explan a t i o n of why they have "stood idle" all day: "Because no one has hired us. the same lesson applies to all three c o m p a r i sons — w h e t h e r "the first" and " t h e last" be u n d e r s t o o d as referring to "Pharisees" and outcasts generally. b u t also appears in 19:30 — and so. 13).

can we o m i t f r o m consideration Jesus' own role as the teacher and teller of parables. Rather. finally. which obedient discipleship acknowledges. more accurately. asserting that discipleship will cost one's all. the k i n g d o m is characterized by the character of the King: God's reign. A n d this. the consequences of a failure to act. the master offers the same reward to those w h o have served little as to those w h o have served long. all of Jesus' parables address questions of discipleship — that is. as d e m o n s t r a t e d t i m e and again by the histories of b o t h Israel and the church. In keeping with recent discussions that focus on a philosophy of language. according to the Parable of the Unworthy Servant in Luke 17:7-10. KNOWLES first are given w h a t "belongs to t h e m " — that is. portraying in dramatic fashion. The Parable of the Two Builders in Matt 7:24-27 and Luke 6:47-49 insists on the need for obedient action. and to hear in Jesus' words the voice of G o d . for they have earned t h e m . C o n c l u s i o n To some extent. it is helpful to approach the parables of Jesus recorded in the Synoptic Gospels as instances of "performative utterance" — that is. H o w individual 304 . The paired Parables of the Tower Builder and the Warring King in Luke 14:28-33 press the matter further. heard a certain divine authority in his words. is the difference between a contract and a covenant. they all concern issues of h o w one should live in response to God's reign. is characterized in its entirety by God's own graciousness and generosity. Many in his original audience.MICHAEL P. Nor. And that same range of options remains open to those w h o encounter — or. For the parables still carry with t h e m a challenge to hear the voice of Jesus in the words of the evangelists. 5. obedient service does not accrue to one's merit. Why? Because. But the owner's resolution of the matter points to a deeper t r u t h : that the fulfillment of his c o n t r a c t with the rem a i n d e r of the workers is based less o n their rights t h a n o n his right to be gracious and "just" (v 4). They perceived s o m e t h i n g of God's o w n voice in the stories that he told. But. to expand another metaphor. as in the Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard of Matt 20:1-16. we are told. as well. are e n c o u n tered by — Jesus' parables today. their wages are their due. Others reacted to what they perceived as a pretension to authority. as words that intend to effect the reality of which they speak.

Matthew (WBC 33). The Mishnah: Translated from the Hebrew with Introduction and Brief Explanatory Notes. Interpreting the Parables. M. H. Joachim. G r a n d Rapids: Zondervan. A. New York: Scribner's.. trans. New York: H a r p e r & Row. London: SCM. 305 Dimension. The Parables in the Gospels: History and Allegory. NJ. Sider. 1985. Ivor H. Drury. 1982. The Parables of Jesus: A History of Interpretation and Bibliography. Selected B i b l i o g r a p h y Bailey. Dallas: Word. Hooke. Donald A. Parables and Presence. Hagner. The Parables: Their Literary and Existential Philadelphia: Fortress. S. Gundry. Jeremias. Leiden: Brill. London: Oxford. G r a n d Rapids: Z o n d e r v a n . 1990. Kenneth E. 1979. G r a n d Rapids: Eerdmans. 1933. In Parables: The Challenge of the Historical Jesus. New York: Crossroad. 2 vols. Herbert. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. precisely. McArthur. Harvey K. Interpreting the Parables. Danby. Crossan. 2nd rev."Everyone Who Hears These Words of Mine" readers hear these words — and whose voice they hear within t h e m — is. Kissinger. ed. Their Culture and Style. 1995.. Metuchen. 1980. 1972. 1994. Hunter. Warren S. Robert M. Rabbinic Parables from the First Centuries of the Christian Era. Dan O. Downers Grove: InterVarsity. John. 1967. Matthew: Λ Commentary on His Handbook for a Mixed Church under Persecution. John W. Via. . They Also Taught in Parables. and London: Scarecrow. Interpreting the Parables: A Hermeneutical Guide to Their Meaning. The Parables of Jesus. Blomberg. Jr. Jones. 1960. Robert H. 1990. 1995. Funk. The Matthean Parables: A Literary and Historical Commentary (NovTSup 80). Craig L. Philadelphia: Fortress. 1993. Robert W. 1995. John Dominic. 1973. Through Peasant Eyes: More Lucan Parables. and Johnston. a question of discipleship.

284 Generosity. 97. 6-8. 54-55. 214-15. 23. 20. 22-26 Fable. 267. 211-13. 110-13. 9. 220-21. 143.Index of Subjects Definition of Parable. 263-65. 211. 11-13. 192. 10. 18. 229. 66. 214 Comic Parables. 280. 146. 230-31. 26. 300 Example Parables. 299 Allegory/Allegorical. 263-64. 257 Compassion. 7-8. 214-15 Greco-Roman Parables. 278. 119-20. 256-57. 259 Cheap Grace. 42-43. 110-13. 34-38. 243. 63. 235 Exodus/New Exodus. 6. 186 Analogy. 227. 231. 89. 182. 3-5. 910. 132. 9-10. 38. 221. 93. 89. 14142. 221. 266-71. 15. 214. 11. 205. 304 Banality. 116. 19. 276-77. 66 A11egorization/A11egorizing. 81. 31-32. 236 Debt/Debts. 211-13 Character/Characterization. 114. 138. 167. 282-83 306 . 38. 31. 105. 12-13. 171. 84-85. 235 Grace. 14. 62. 209. 28. 255 Eschatological Scenario. 206. 3334. 275. 15. 164-65. 99 Forgiveness. 212. 20. 88-89. 96. 62. 14. 199-201. 93. 139. 47. 211-12. 46-47. 73-74. 12-13. 26-28. 16. 98-99. 27-28.219. 253. 290. 60. 267-71. 199-200. 45-46. 221 Eschatological Context. 35. 13. 98-99. 7. 282-84 Celebration. 178 Antinomianism. 70.234. 250-51 Death. 208-9 Anxiety. 206-7. 288-89. 57. 5354 Discipleship. 162. 201. 26-28. 234-35 Existential Approaches. 41. 20-21. 30-31. 133. 214. 217-19. 105. 39 Authority of Jesus. 39 Greed/Covetousness. 286-305 Dreams. 4648. 254. 15. 273-75. 60-61. 243. 45. 158. 41. 47-49. 273. 231 Gospel of Thomas. 266-67 Artistic Approaches. 177-95.

69-70. 246. 72-74. 231 Jesus Seminar. 212. 201 Palestinian Agricultural Practice. 14. 214. 188. 144-46. 232-38. 217. 16. 205-6. 96-98. 31. 283 "M" (Matthew's Special Narrative Source). 134-35. 265. 264. 6566. 95. 108-9. 283-84. 137. 289-90 Neighbor. 303-4 "L" (Luke's Special Narrative Source). 115. 278-79 Kingdom/Kingdom of God (Heaven). 201. 164-65. 10. 232-33. 201. 52-62. 27.213 Love.205-11. 214. 238. 282.Index of Highwaymen. 276-77. 242. 248. 219-24. 18. 231. 7. 65-66 Pairing Parables. 275 Hospitality. 28182. 33-37. 294-95. 286-87.122-23. 291. 227-28. 151-75. 207. 191-93. 6. 240-61 Proverb. 268-71. 155. 6-8. 207. 244. 172-75. 272-73. 253. 265. 277-78 Old Testament Parables. 203. 39 Joy/Rejoicing. 139-40. 140-41. 22930. 205. 19495. 214-15. 274-75. 115. 264-65. 82-83. 27-28 Holiness/Holy. 252-53. 260. 23235. 229. 14445 Poor. 67-69. 235. 23. 157-58. 303-5 Messianic Banquet/Eschatological Feast. 233. 220 Little Ones. 199-200. 58-61. 14 Illogical/Unexpected/Exaggerated Scenarios. 183. 283-84 Jubilee. 241-42. 177-95. 88. 20-22. 248. 141. 290-91. 145.34. 132 Paradox. 214-15. 20. 245. 188-89. 64. 95-96 Metaphor. 244-45. 295-96 Interest/Cancellation of Interest. 255. 247-51. 42. 10. 283 Postbiblical Parables. 60 Literary Approaches. 222. 300. 259. 263. 231. 236. 229. 261. 294. 205. 34-38 Little Flock. 214. 132 Purification.214-15. 244-45. 206. 284 Messianic Secret. 202-3. 1619. 189. 271-72. 52-53. 242-44. 234. 272-73. 162. 258. 271-72. 8. 24. 191-93 307 . 271. 213. 47-48. 278 Historical Approaches. 39-41. 26769. 260. 276 Jewish Origins of the Parables. 17. 227. 263. 275. 284 juridical/Judgment Parables. 61. 229. 282 Holiness Code. 100. 156.213. 275. 92 Perseverance/Persistence. 270 Irony. 300 Miracles vis-à-vis Parables. 133-36. 85-87 Myth. 264. 184-85 Subjects Lord's Prayer. 13-16. 279. 256-57 Pluralism. 142-44. The. 21011. 266. 9-10. 243. 251-52. 204. 205. 298. 257. 233. 202-3 Honor-Shame Motifs. 235 Prayer. 13-14. 184. 265 Polyvalence. 23. 302 Message of the Parables. 251-52. 206. 63-66 Poverty. 254. 282-84. 131. 103 Marginalized/Marginalization. 40. 282-84. 242. 134-36. 273-75. 271 Lost/Loss. 117. 272 Hyperbole. 229. 104. 244 Lament.

234-36. 282. 64-65. 297. 286. 231. 66-72. 289.INDEX OF SUBJECTS Saying. 259 Simile. 208-9. 52-54. 47. 90-93. 5152. 73-74 Story Parables. 40. 18. 217. 8. 270 Remittance of Debt. 280 Resurrection. 163. 88. 275. 218-19. 276. 244. 11-14. 34-35 Redemption. 210-11. 206. 288-89. 43. 13 Uncleanness/Ritual Defilement. 277 Shocking/Surprising Metaphors. 251 Rabbinic/Tannaitic Parables. 256 Sociopolitical Approaches. 221. 242. 273-74. 272. 201. 298 Social Prophecy. 214-15. 213. 104-5 "Q" (Logia or Sayings Source). 44-45. 31-32. 24-26 Solomon and Parables. 209-10. 205-6. 44 Slavery. 261 Shema. 20. 201. 15-16 Symbol. 205. 214. 278-79. 202-3. 214. 299-300 Rich/Wealthy. 274. 221-27. 261. 92 Righteous/Righteousness. 272-73. 18-19. 207. 202-3. 283 Restoration/Reconciliation. 230. 230. 137-43. 218. 43. 47 Structural Parallels in Luke. 277. 291-93 Tragic Parables. 40. The. 126-27. 12 Purity-Impurity. 283 Riches/Wealth. 229-30. 115. 211. 209. 230-33. 6. 211-13. 53. 283. 234. 232-35. 219. 7. 282. 42-43. 235 Riddle. 137. 233 Repentance. 281. 13334. 53 Tower. 303 Table Fellowship. 214-15. 94-96 Shamelessness 247-51. 270. 58-59. 219-24. 153. 13. 246. 207 Structuralist Approaches. 234 Socioeconomic Situations of Antiquity. 155. 26061. 231. 221-22. 35. 278-79. 301-2 Reader Response. 275 Taunt. 32-33. 217. 284 308 .265. 140-41. 113. 272 Reversal. 47 Similitudes. 281-82 Purpose of the Parables. 212-13. 238. 205. 268.

. 216 Capon.. R. 260. F. 123 Danby. 239. 27-28. B. 63.. 239 Black. 100. D. 208.. 28.. Α. 20. W„ 186. 259 D'Angelo. 215. 259. 146. E. G.. 171 Crossan. 8-10. 279. 123 Catchpole. 239 309 . M. R. 261. F. R. C. 74.. M. R. 146 Donahue. 92. 49 Brown. 216. 29. 305 Dschulnigg. 201. 201.. 195 Bailey. M. 199-201.. C. Α. R. 123.. 49 Butts... 146 Ellis. 208. 100 Bindemann. W. 68. D. 235. J. 226. R. 191. B.. 195 Beavis. D. 8 Bugge. W. 191. 250. 14. J. 140 Blomberg. 49... Α. D. J„ 8. 248. 74. 33-34. 153. 3. C. 195 Derrett. 14 Boucher. H. 285 Carlston. 206.. Ε. C. 28 Dunn. 226. 171. 17. 305 Barclay.. C.. J.. W. D. F. 210. 207 Dahl..Index of Modern Authors Carson.. II. 37. 153. 33-34. F. G. 261 Chilton. 224. D. 73. W„ 146 Barton. R.... 281. 8. 6. 227. 253 Cook. 206. M.. 100. W. 49... 100. H.. E. 261 Drury. 123. 297. E. 105. H. Α. 239. 261. F.. 261 Downing. 238. 105. Μ. 16. R. 285. 39. C.. Jr. 216 Bauckham. 75 Albright. 305 Daube. 202. 248. 191. L. 209-10. 255. 195 Carter. J„ 202. 141.. 305 Bonhoeffer. 250. 244. M. D. 31... Ν. 75 Cran field. 305 Abegg.. 239 Beare.. 224.. K. J. 20. 49. D. C. 74. S. D.. 245. 68. 261 Creed. R. 227. G„ 63. 12. 216 Conzelmann. 8. 146 Allison. 239 Davies. 230. J. 14-15... W. M. M. 16 Bultmann. E. Jr.. 216. I. 21. 10. 26) Dodd. 123. 100 Brosend. 29. 215 Bornkamm. 250. 17. 249. 28. 8. 28.

M. P. 262 Marshall. 123 Lane. 89. R. 49 Evans. 20. 7-8. 87. J.. 28.. 195. E. 29 Flynt.. 111. Α. 249. 5 Hagner. H. 105. C. P. 123-24 Meier. J. 305 MacKinnon. R.. 195 Gerhardsson. 123 Hendrickx. Α. 153 MeArthur. E. 18. 28. M. 146... 259. 195 Freire. 3. D.... 29. 191.. Ε. 7. 192. W.. 49. 28. 245 Mann. 12-13. 216. T. 28. 239 Heil.. H. 171. S. 23. 100. 8. 18.. 237 Green.. 305 Johnson.. 203. I... C. 211. 11-12 Luther. 12. 259. 101 Marcus. 207. R. 305 Keesmaat. L„ 34. Β. 49. 29 Funk. Ε. 27.10. R. 46... K„ 18. 233. M. 147 Lash... H. V. 146 Hoover. 267. 177..INDEX O F M O D E R N A U T H O R S Eslinger. 249. W. 123.. F.. Α. 24-25.. L. 305 Hauck. 22. 261 Greswell. R. 141. 64-65.. 49 Klauck. 293.. J. F. W. I. 262 310 . 224-27. G. 106. 254. S. 146. 49 Merkel. 221. 11-12. D. 20 Fowl. 103. 29. 213-14.. 24 Fridrichsen. 49 Koenig. 285 Flusser. 188. 21. 18. E. J.. 227. Α. J. F. 237 Jeremias.. 251. M. 92. D. 261 Hooker. 261. II. 74 Jenkins... 208 Linnemann. J. J. 239. M. H. 101 Marshall. L... K. 54. 25 Hermaniuk. 146 Manson.. 168-69. 35. R. S. 200. D. 23. W. 216 Jiilicher. 146. J„ 6. 219 J üngel. P. 285 Kingsbury. R... 26. 108. H. T. 236.. 248-49. L. 203-4 Malina. H. 68. Ε. S. 74. 239. A. S. 228. M. 123. Α. 285 McFague TeSelle.. P. I. J. Β. C. R. R.. K.. 147 Martens. W.. 54. J... 255. 53-54 Hedrick. 195.. 34. 235. 215. G.. 175. 26. 215. C. 126 Moule. H. 6-8. 245 Huffard. 8-10. 100. 141. 111. A. N. D... 143. 49 Mclver. G.. E. A.. 146. 123 Graef. 12. M. 261 Hunter. 13. 216.. J. 305 Jones. 239 Johnston. 285 Garland.. 123. 195 Lambrecht. C. 258. 23-24... 16. 8 Herzog. 123 Kissinger. 305 Jones. 245. 249 Fuchs. T. 218-19. 190. D. 29. 123.. 248. 99. 74. 195. I. 256. 249. 101.. 18 Fiebig. H. 155 Morgenthaler. 13-15. 28 Gundry. D.16-17 Fitzmyer... 191.. Α. W. 147 Mueller.. R. 146. 29 Jones. 92. J. 216 France.. 140... 305 McDonald.. S. W. 141. 250.. Ε. G. 222. 19.. 204. L. 3. 305 Ladd. 29. 30-32. B.. 305 Kittel. R. H. 54 Kjargaard. 282 Ford.216 Lewis. 11-12 Feldman. 74 Johnson. S. 20. S. 18. C.. W.

iM„ 285 Ricoeur. 18. 238 Seilew.. T. 191. 75 Perrin. E... R. 243. 58 Young. 124. S. G. 64-65. 186. 285 Neyrey. W. 259 Seabrook. 67.. Ε. 18. 262 Spencer. U. 22. Α. Β. 58. 3. M. 3... 268. 15. Α... 305 Volf. P. Β... Β. 25. 20-21. 75. S. 101 Thiselton.. 239. O. W. 29.. 87.. P. 267. K. 22. 74 Wailes. N.. R. H. N. 29. 18-19. L„ 5. H.. 22-23. D.... 68-69. 29... D.. C. B. W. 147. N. 262 Taylor. G. D. 266. O. H. 63. G. 99 Telford. 255. 75 Wittig.. S. 49.. 14 Ringe..Index of Modem Neusner. O.. 219. T. 259 Schweizer.. 21 Pautrel. 22 Wright. 58 Wise. 195 Westermann. 16 Wenham.. 239 Sider. 131... 16. 29 Weder. 235. R.. C. L. R. T. 101 Yee. W. 8. 75 Oesterley. 245. D. 12 Tolbert. 195 Steinmetz. 75. J.. 285 Robinson. 208. 55. 250 Stacey.. 12. 29 Peterson. H. 126-27. E. 285 Schottroff. E.. 12-13. 5 Stern. J. 147. 36. 16. 204 Wilder. 247 Price. 245 Authors Stein. 50 Patte. 146. D.. H. 73.. 8. D. M. Α.... 49 Snodgrass. 305 Simon. 25-26 Vermes. J. L. 273 Via.. 10. 147. 20. 141. 285 Sanders. 37. 75 Siverns. 250. 44. 230. J. H. A. 75 311 .. A.. C. J. J... 191. 249. 50 White. 239 Talbert. 285 Willis.. 195 Scott. S. R. 24-25.

21 21:1-4 21:16-20 ch. 53 276 229 221 38 294 Judges 7:13-14 62 9:5 55 32.Index of Scripture and Other Ancient Literature OLD TESTAMENT Genesis 1:3 ch. 39-50 40:5-19 41:1-7 4 17 142 62 62 209 62 62 209 62 62 Exodus 2:14 chs. 19 ch. 32-34 34:6-7 221 202 68 266 280 Leviticus 11:17 14:8 210 210 18:1-2 18:3 19:18 ch. 268 276 301 Numbers 12:6-8a 21:27 21:27-30 23:7 23:7-10 23:18 23:18-24 24:3 24:3-9 24:15 24:15-19 24:20 24:21 54 52 40 52 41 52 41 52 41 52 41 41. 52 52 312 24:21-22 24:23 24:23-24 Deuteronomy 4:13 6:4-5 6:50 ch.41 9:7-15 [16-21] 9:8-15 [16-21] 31. 15-17 20:3 chs. 13-22 24:15 24:19 41 52 41 280 89 277 266. 15 15:15 19:15 28:37 30:15-20 31:10 Joshua chs. 25 26:3-13 26:9 68 69 277 279 273 279 272-73 266. 268 270 126 40. 54-55 . 3 18:6 28:12-15 31:10-13 ch. 37 37:5-7 37:9-10 chs.

53 57 270 280 280 270 279 and Other Ancient Job 4:7 8:20 13:12 22:4-5 Psalms ch. 171 300 288 289 154. 65 41 55-56 200 32 56.41 280 57 31 32.41.Index 9:20 9:53-54 1 Samuel 2:29 10:12 17:28 24:13 2 Samuel ch. 130. 41 5:1-6 [7] 5:1-7 58. 171 28:24-28 41 30:26 281 42:6 228 49:13 280 53:11-12 267 55:1 274 56:11 259 61:1 281 63:15-16 280 Jeremiah 8:13 12:10 17:6 17:8 24:1-8 24:9 30:17 31:14 154. 300 5:4 59 6:9-10 89.158. 53 280 40 56-57.41. 53 40 Isaiah ch. 1 1:3 23:5 14:1 40:11 43:15 44:14 ch. 48. 53 224 280 53 40 280 232 280 40. 65 32. 53 93 32. 5 99 32.66. 53 202 202 202 96 313 Literature 10:1 19:17 25:1 26:7 26:9 Ecclesiastes 1:17 12:9 40 223 40 40 40 39. 135 14:3-4 40 25:6-9 273-74 25:10 274 28:4 154. 171 40. 53 205 40. 49 49:1-14 49:4 49:16-17 51:1 68:12 69:11 69:16 73 77:9 78:2 78:38 79:8 86:15 92:13 102:13 103:8 111:4 112:4 118:22-23 119:105 147:31 170 170 40 170 160 160 273 222 280 53 40 224 224 40.41 39 40.41 40. 12 12:1-4 12:1-4 [5-7] 12:1-14 12:1-15 12:5-13 14:1-20 14:6-7 [8-21] 23:3 1 Kings 4:32 8:50 9:7 20:35-43 20:39-40 [4142] 2 Kings 13:23 14:8-10 14:9 14:9 [10] 2 Chronicles 7:20 25:6-16 Nehemiah 5:1-13 9:17 9:32 10:28-39 10:37-38 of Scripture 55 55 250 40. 53 281 274 Ezekiel 4:1-5:17 61 . 105. 53 80 280 280 63 280 280 280 280 160-61. 167 96 281 Proverbs 1:1 1:6 1:15 2:11-15 4:14-19 6:23 40 40. 65 32.171. 91-92.

53 18:2-3 19:1-9 41. 7 7:1 210 202 210 Habakkuk 2:6 2:17 40.58-59 17:22-24 141 17:23 97. 53 4 Zephaniah 1:1-16 202 62 62 97. 280 280 281 154. 7 7:9-28 7:14 12:2 97 97 62 190 191 276 Hosea 2:21-23 2:19 6:1 9:10 9:16 274. 171 280 2 Maccabees 6:18 ch. 171 154 Tobit 3:4 53 ludith ch. 141 31:34 266 33:6-11 266-67 ch. 140. 53 154. 53 14:8 40 32. 60 19:14 39 41 20:45-49 21:1-5 60-61 21:5 53 21:8 61 21:9-17 41 23:2-21 41 24:2-5 41.41 15:1-5 [6-8] 16:44 40. 61 24:3 53 31:2-9 141 62 31:3-14 31:6 97. 2 ch. 53 133 17:1-24 17:2 53 17:2-10 [1121] 32.40. 37 276 37:24-28 276 Daniel 1:3-17 ch.INDEX O F SCRIPTURE A N D O T H E R A N C I E N T LITERATURE 12:22-23 40.41. 140. 141 OLD TESTAMENT APOCRYPHA 17 Zechariah 1:16 12:10 280 280 314 OLD TESTAMENT PSEUDEPIGRAPHA Story of Ahikar 8:35 Jubilees 11:11 11:11-12 22:14 171 132 106-7 276 . 59 19:10-14 41. 4 4:12 4:14 4:21 ch. 141 40. 12 202 Wisdom of Solomon 5:4 53 Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 1:25 3:39 11:18-21 12:1-7 20:30 23:6 33:20-24 36:10 39:2-3 50:25-26 53 53 224 277 117 250 210 276 120-21 279 Joel 2:13 2:18-27 2:24 3:18 280 274 274 274 Amos 9:13 274 Jonah 4:2 280 1 Maccabees 1:47 210 Micah 2:4 7:1 7:19 40. 34 204 34:ll-16a 204 34:16 281 36:8 276 36:12 276 251 36:22-23 36:22-38 276 36:25 267 36:29-30 274 ch.

132 7:3-5 33 315 7:28 7:28-29 8:11-12 8:21 9:10-11 9:15 9:35 9:37-38 ch. col. 129.60-62 18.85-87 280 170 170 THE NEW TESTAMENT Matthew 3:8 165 174 3:1-12 4:23 106 291 5:1-2 5:1-7:29 126.426-27 170 267 Antiquities 18. 11 11:1 11:12 11:16-17 19] 11:19 11:21 11:23 11:25-27 ch. 174. 304 177 290. 44 302 106 106 90.Index 22:15 32:19 1 Enoch 5:7 90:30 90:33 90:37 97:8-10 Apocalypse of Abraham 13:3-7 of Scripture 276 276 276 140-41 140-41 140-41 224 107 Joseph and Aseneth ch. 132 158 165 186 192 159 192 104. 43 5:15 94. 1 64-65 DEAD SEA SCROLLS lQSa 2. 132. 94. 44. 10 10:10 10:11 10:11-15 10:13 10:16 10:16-25 10:26 10:32-33 10:37-38 10:39 10:40 10:41 10:42 ch.11-12 1QpHab 12. 7 202 Psalms of Solomon 14:1-2 276 14:9-10 276 Apocryphon of Ezekiel frag. 2 273 4 228 63 63-64 and Other Ancient Literature JOSEPHUS 7:7-11 7:12 7:13-14 7:17-18 7:21 7:21-23 7:24 7:24-27 War 2. 96. 126 177 97 [1832. 105 104. 286-91. 291 181. 12 12:11-12 12:41-42 12:42 244 42 33 42 158 182 290 31. 181 5:15-16 188 5:17 41 5:20 174 5:21-48 74 5:23-24 67 5:26 157 ch. 6 126 244 6:9-13 6:12 271 6:19-34 107 6:21 42 6:22 181 6:22-23 42 6:24 108 6:25-33 244 6:34 42 7:1-2 95 7:2 94. 188 108 302 181 106 300 192 165 165 192 165 43 107 94. 287 5:11-12 107 5:14 33. 126 291 106 73 .l.2-10 1QM 1 IQapGenesis 20:13-16 4 Q302a [4Qpap Parable] frg. 180.30 18.175-77 2.

130.33. 134 102 13:1l-12a 13:11-17 186 13:12 94. 265 192 192 205 192 156 204 205 192 266 67. 282-84 18:22 266 18:23 267 18:23-34 [35] 32-33 41. 136 13:1-23 13:1-52 1. 46 18:23-35 267 18:24-27 18:28-35 269 19:1 177 19:13-14 303 19:16-22 174 19:23-24 107 19:27-20:1 303 20:1-15 70 20:1-15 [16] 33 20:1-16 30. 107. 54. 141. 102-3. 300 20:4 300. 136 [4932 188 43-44 177 126 274 270 163 164 205-6 205 151 42 151 152 33 274. 138-39. 128 13:5 107 13:6 107 13:7 107. 138-39. 286-87. 143 44. 18 18:2-5 18:6 18:6-11 18:10 18:12 18:12-14 18:13 18:14 18:21 18:21-35 97 156 192. 302 . 13 71 132 192 103. 189 13:13-15 106. 105. 190 103 190 188 104 4. 159 21:19 163 21:23 153. 131. 15. 187 13:22 106-7 106-8.INDEX O F SCRIPTURE A N D O T H E R A N C I E N T LITERATURE 12:45 12:46-50 12:50 ch. 131. 16 16:18 16:25 16:25-26 32 189 44. 44. 108-13. 48. 14 14:13-21 14:14 14:17 14:21b 15:3-6 15:4-6 15:7-9 15:11 15:12 15:13 15:14 15:32 ch.41. 134 13:19 13:19-22 135 13:20 106-7 13:21 107. 280 126 290 42 186 316 17:20 17:25 ch. 96. 136. 130 13:18-23 102. 47. 185 15 44. 263-71. 303 20:15-16 302 280 20:34 21:1-10 47 21:12-17 152 21:12-20 154 21:15 303 21:17 161 21:18-22 152. 133. 299-304 20:2 184. 136. 303-4 20:7 303 20:13 300.34. 193. 128. 190 13:24-30 [3743] 13:27-28 13:31-33 13:32 13:33 13:34-35 13:35 13:36 13:36-43 13:36-52 13:41 13:42 13:43 13:44 13:45 13:45-46 13:47-48 50] 13:50 13:52 13:53 ch. 108-13. 187 13:23 13:24 71 13:24-30 9. 13:8 130.02-23 13:3b 128 13:3b-8 133 13:3-9 102. 135 13:15 130 13:17 159 13:18 105. 136-38 97. 131. 128 103. 194 13:1-2 102 129. 142-43 44 103 102-3 47. 45. 187 104. 136. 104. 54. 127. 103-4 13:3-23 103-8 13:3-35 103 13:4 106. 105-8 106-8. 128 13:9 13:10-13 102 13:10-15 108 13:10-17 104-5 13:11 102. 187.

289 190 191 193 190 191 190 191 177 156 173 192 Mark 1:1 1:15 1:41 2:1-22 2:19-20 82 82. 162 21:23-22:46 153 21:28 155. 178. 163. 183-89. 158. 172. 189-94. 189 188 178. 165 22:11-13 [14] 33 22:13 188 22:14 163. 188 25:1 178 25:1-12 [13] 33 25:1-13 9. 156 21:28-31 158 21:28-31a 33 [31b-32] 21:28-32 152. 25 178. 67. 188 188 183 185 183 185 183. 174 21:34 158-59. 161 21:45 153 21:45-46 162 22:l-2a 163 22:1-10 67 22:1-14 7.41. 164 159-61. 166-67. 162 21:33 155 21:33-46 152. 183. 162-68.Index of Scripture 21:23-27 152. 163 21:34-36 159 21:35 164 21:36 163 21:37 156. 45. 180 24:37-39 289 24:42-51 194 24:43 178. 174. 302 21:28-22:13 166 21:28-22:14 151-75 21:31 156-58. 181. 288-89 177-78 193 179 185 188 183 182 30 9. 165-66 22:15-40 153 22:17 156 153 22:23 22:34 153 22:34-40 277 22:41 153 22:42 156 23:23 174 23:29 159 23:29-36 154 23:34-35 159 23:34-36 107 23:37 159 ch. 161. 180 24:46 189 24:48 179 24:48-51 185 24:51 188 chs. 132. 164 21:41 158. 188 94. 181 24:43-51 178. 24 178 24:1-42 253 24:2 177 24:3 177. 163 22:3-6 163 22:3-10 163 22:4-7 163-64 22:7 154. 167 21:42 21:43 154. 194 24:44 178 24:45-46 193 24:45-51 67. 172. 16465 22:9-10 165 and Other Ancient 22:11-13 163. 194. 289 193 67. 158-62. 156. 302-3 21:32 156-58. 155. 160 21:39 160 21:40 159-60. 174-75. 178. 166. 162. 206 280 84 80 25:1-46 25:4 25:5 25:8-12 25:10 25:12 25:13 25:14-20 25:14-30 25:16-17 25:21 25:23 25:24 25:25 25:26-27 25:27 25:28 25:29 25:30 25:31-46 . 172 21:44 158. 183. 33. 152. 157. 161. 164 22:8 164 22:8-10 156. 184 22:2 155-56. 160-61. 178. 180 24:10-11 182 24:14 106 24:19-13 107 24:32-33 30 24:35 177 24:36 177-78. 194. 194 ch. 317 Literature 25:32-33 25:34-35 25:35-40 25:37-39 25:41-42 25:44 25:46 26:1 26:66 27:25 28:10 180-83. 179. 24-25 177-78. 180.

80 2:23-28 84 2:27 74 ch. par. 96-97. 33. 128-29. 83 4:30-32 44. 133 89-91. 13739. 161.98 4:35 103 4:35-41 85 86 4:35-8:26 4:40-41 91 4:41 86 5:1-20 85 5:21-24 85 5:34 91 5:25-34 85 5:35-43 85 6:3-44 86 6:4 42 6:14-16 86 6:30-44 274 318 6:34 280 6:37 91 6:45-52 86 6:49-52 91 6:53-56 86 7:1-23 86 7:14-15 54 7:14-15 [1823] 32 7:15-17 42-43. 233 4:21 95 4:21 [22] 32 4:21-22 30. 131 4:11 82. 127. 9093. 129. 9394. par. 96. 98. 86. 131 4:10-12 6. 133 4:14-20 88-89 4:15-19 93. 95. 128.INDEX O F SCRIPTURE A N D O T H E R A N C I E N T LITERATURE 2:20 181 2:21-22 42. 135 4:13-20 47. 33.51. 95. 98 4:24 [25] 32 4:24-25 95-96 4:25 94. 11 85 . 95 4:21-25 94-96. 134 4:11-12 92-93. 98. 88. 135 4:18-19 207. 96-97. 91. 130-31. 93. 87-94. 105 4:3-8 133 4:3-8. 104 4:10-20 129. 102 4:3 90. 131. 103.86 54 7:17-23 7:18 91 7:19 81 86-87 7:24-30 7:29 91 7:31-37 86-87 8:1-9 274 8:1-13 86-87 8:2 280 8:4 91 8:14-21 86-87. 131 4:21-32 83 4:22 95 4:23 95. 129 4:1-10 83 4:1-20 79. 79. 143 4:33 49 4:33-34 44. 135 4:1-32 83 4:1-34 80-100 4:2-9 54. 87. 130. 102. 130-31 4:1 102 4:1-9 95. 91-92. 95-96. 102 4:14 93. 131 4:23-24 94 4:24 95. 82 4:26-29 9. 130. 95. 135.135. 91 8:22-26 86-87 8:27-33 86 82 8:31 8:31-38 127 8:32-34 91 9:1-13 82 9:14-19 87 9:24 91 9:31-37 127 9:32-34 91 82-83 9:47 91 10:13-16 10:14-15 82-83 10:17-31 271 10:23-25 82-83 83 10:28-31 91 10:32 10:32-34 127 10:35-37. 30. 4:9 128-29. 89 3:20-35 3:23-25 42 3:23-26 [27] 32 80 3:23-27 3:31-35 132 ch. 189 4:26 71. 187 4:26-32 96-98 4:29 97 4:30 39. 135 4:13 89. 44. 79. 98 4:11-20 83 4:12 89.81. 44 4:21-23 79. 84-85. 54. 4 16. 106. 3 132 3:1-19 84 3:13-19 135 3:20-21 132 84. 289 4:3-9 47 32 4:3-9 [13-20] 4:5-7 128 4:8 103. 298 10:35-41 91 10:46-52 87 10:47-48 74 ch. 91. 1023.

Index

of Scripture

85
11:1-10
84
11:11
11:12-25
84
11:27-33
84, 89
ch. 12
85
12:1, par.
153, 292
12:1-9 [10-11]
32
12:1-10, par.
300
12:1-12
38,70,81,84,
89, 158
12:9
160-61
12:12
162-63
12:13
163
12:13-17
84
12:18-27
84
12:28-31
277
12:28-34
85
12:34
82
12:35-44
84
ch. 13
83-85, 178
13:1-37
253
13:28
39
13:28 [29]
32
13:28-29
33, 44,81
13:33-37
81
13:34 [32-33,
35-37]
32
12:34
83
91
14:3-9
14:25
82
14:32-42
91
14:47
91
14:50
91
14:58
43
14:66-72
91
15:39
82, 91
82-83
15:43
Luke
chs. 1-2
1:5-2:52
1:26-56
2:5-7
2:19

129
139
132
132
132

and Other Ancient

2:22
132
2:25-35
207
2:33-35
132
2:36-38
207
2:39
132
2:41-51
132
2:49
213,253
2:52
139
3:9
170
3:10-14
235
3:16
298
4:14-9:50
126
4:16-30
209
4:23
33, 39, 42, 47
4:24
136
136,213,253
4:43
5:27-32
202
5:30
202
5:32
203, 228
5:35
181
5:36
207
5:36-38
44
6:12-16
136
221,291
6:20
233
6:20-21
6:20-49
287
6:24-25
233
6:27-36
213
6:37-38
95
6:38
94, 132
6:39
42
6:47
290
6:47-49
286-91,304
6:48
288
6:49
290
7:1
291
211,280
7:13
7:16
136
7:29-30
157
7:31-35
274
7:36-50
214
7:39
136, 202
7:41-42
[43-47]
33
319

Literature
7:41-43
44, 48
ch. 8
130
8:1
125, 127, 130, 136
8:1-15
129
130
8:2-3
8:3
298
8:4
130
8:4-15
125, 127-36
8:5-7
128
8:5-8
133
8:8
127-28, 130-31,
136
8:10
125, 134
127-28,134
8:11-15
8:15
127, 130-31,
136, 146
8:16-18
94, 127, 129,
131-32
8:18
127, 130, 132,
136, 189
8:19-21
127, 132
8:21
127, 130, 131,
136
8:22
131
8:23-25
132
8:32-33
210
9:10-17
274
9:22
213, 253
9:22-26
129
9:43-48
129
9:44
253
9:49, par.
298
9:51
137, 139
9:51-56
168
9:51-13:21
137
9:51-19:27
126, 137,
139, 168, 244
9:51-19:44
201
9:53
280
9:57
168
9:57-62
294
9:62
42
ch. 10
265
10:1
168

INDEX O F SCRIPTURE A N D O T H E R A N C I E N T LITERATURE
10:13
10:21-22
10:25
10:25-37

172
90
276
207, 263-65,
276-84
169
277-78
31, 41, 46, 48

10:27-29
10:29-30
10:30-35
10:30-35
[36-37]
33
10:30-37 4, 33, 169, 233
10:31-32
278
10:33
211, 279-80
10:33-36
280-81
10:37
45, 281-82
10:38
168
10:38-42
207
255
11:1
11:1-4
241, 244
11:1-13
241, 245, 253
11:3
242
11:4
271
11:5-7
248
11:5-7 [8]
33
11:5-8
31, 186, 24052, 254, 257,
261
11:5-13
244
11:6-8
255
242,254,257-58
11:7
11:8
240, 243, 246,
248, 250, 255,
258
11:9
246
11:9-10
169, 240-41,
245, 252
11:9-13
244
11:11-13
169, 240, 252
11:31
73
11:32
136
11:33
94, 96, 132
11:42
229
11:53
168
12:1
220, 222

12:2
12:4
12:6-7
12:12
12:13
12:13-21

94, 132
220
221
253
220, 221
210,217-24,
232-38
12:14
221
12:14-15
169
12:15
221,233
222
12:16
12:16-20 [21]
33
12:16-21 31, 33,46, 169,
233
12:17-19
222
12:20
218, 222,236
12:21
222-23, 233
12:22-31
221, 244
12:27-31
224
12:32
220
12:32-34
221
12:33
33, 228
12:35
169
12:35-38
44, 297
12:35-38 [40]
33
12:35-48
180
12:39
44
12:39 [40]
33
12:42-46
228
12:44
226
12:48
186
12:49-59
169
13:1-5
169-71
169
13:1-9
13:2-5
170
13:4
293
13:5
171
13:6-9
5, 45, 151-75,
152, 168-72,
175
13:10-21
203
13:14
253
13:16
213
13:18
71, 125
320

13:18-19

125, 127, 137,
138
13:18-21
137-44, 138
13:19
97, 139-41
13:20-21 125, 127, 13739
13:21
139, 142
13:22
137
13:22-30
169, 275
13:22-17:10
137
293
13:24
13:25-27 [2830]
33
13:32-33
43
168,213, 253
13:33
13:34-35
169
ch. 14
265
14:1-11
203
14:1-14
206
14:5
291
14:7-11
46
14:7-14
10, 213, 26365, 271-76,
282-84
33
14:8-10 [1 1]
14:12-14
272
14:13
206
14:15-24
7, 45, 67, 70,
162-66, 16768, 174-75,
202, 206, 275
14:16-21
163
14:18
202
14:18-20
164
14:21-22
163-64
14:23
163
14:25-27
292
14:25-33
203
14:25-35
206
291
14:28-30
14:28-30 [33]
33
14:28-33
286-87, 29195, 304
14:31-32 [33]
33

Index

of Scripture

14:34-35
202
ch. 15
201, 203
15:1
220, 227
15:1-2
169, 201-2, 209,
213, 224
15:1-3
201-2
204-6
15:1-7
15:1-32
199-215, 233
202, 206, 220
15:2
15:3
44, 207
15:3-7
44
15:3-32
220, 224
15:3-16:13
224
208
15:4
15:4-6 [7]
33
15:4-7
201
15:4-10
30, 33
15:5-7
201
15:6
208
15:7
157, 201, 206,
208, 211, 213
15:8
208
15:8-9 [10]
33
15:8-10
44, 201, 207-9
15:9
201, 208
15:9-10
201
15:10
157, 201, 206,
208, 211, 213
15:11-24
209
15:11-32 30, 33-34, 41,
45, 47-48, 7172, 201-2, 20914, 224, 293
15:12-13
210,213
210
15:16-17
15:17
212
15:17-20
208
15:18
201, 211-12
15:18-19
211, 227
15:20
211,280
15:21
208, 211
15:22
211
15:23-24
201, 209, 212
15:24
157, 201, 210

and Other Ancient

15:25
212
15:25-32
209
15:28
212
15:28-30
201
15:29-31
212-13
209
15:31-32
15:32
201,210,213
16:1
224,236
16:l-8a
33
[8b-13]
16:1-8
41,45, 201-2,
233-34
253
16:1-9
16:1-13
217-20, 22430, 232-38, 293
16:2-3
225
16:3-4
210
16:4
226
225-26
16:6-7
16:8
219,226-28,233
16:8-9
236
16:9
227, 228-29,
234
16:9-13
233
16:10-13
229
16:11-13
228, 229
16:14
220, 230, 233
16:15
206, 212, 229,
260
16:16
97, 136
16:19-21
230
16:19-31
31, 33, 46,
217-20, 23038, 289
16:20-22
225
231
16:22-23
16:23-31
218
16:24-31
231
16:31
234
17:1
295
17:5
295
17:6
97
17:7-9
295
17:7-9 [10]
33
321

Literature
17:7-10

44, 67, 286-87,
295-98, 304
17:9-10
296-97
17:11
168
17:11-19:27
137
17:20-21
253
180
17:20-37
17:22
253
17:22-37
253, 257
17:22-18 :i5
253
17:25
213, 253
17:26-27
289
17:26-29
253
17:32-33
253
ch. 18
249
18:1
169, 253-54
45, 207, 233,
18:1-8
236, 240, 24244, 252-58,
261, 293
186
18:2-5
18:2-6 [1, 7-8]
33
18:3
253
18:4-5
210, 227
18:5
242, 254
18:6
227
18:6-7
253-54
18:8
180, 253-54
18:9
206,214, 253
18:9-14
46, 202, 207,
233, 240, 25860, 261
18:9-14a [9,
14b]
33
18:10-14
31, 33
18:11
229
18:13
227
18:14
157, 259
18:18
277
18:29
294
18:31
168
18:31b-33
253
18:31-34
127
18:35
168

INDEX O F SCRIPTURE A N D O T H E R A N C I E N T LITERATURE
19:1
168
233, 271
19:1-10
19:5
253
19:7
202
19:9
211
19:10
297
19:11
168-69, 184
19:11-27
9, 45, 183
19:12-27
67, 178
19:12-27 [11]
33
19:13
185
19:17
67, 183
19:20
185
19:21-23
183
19:24-25
188
19:26
94, 132, 161,
183
19:28
168
19:29-35
298
19:41-43
294
19:45
278
20:9-19
158
20:10-12
159
20:18
161
ch. 21
183
21:5-36
178, 253
21:9
253
22:7-20
244
22:8-13
298
22:16
211
22:18
211
22:24, par.
298
22:27
297
22:37
253
23:39-43
214
207
24:1-11
24:12-43
207
24:44
253
291
25:1-13
lohn
3: Iff.
3:29
6:1-13

xi

8:35
ch. 9
9:1-2
10:1-5
11:9-10
11:56
12:24
15:8
15:16
19:17

108
108
160

Acts
1:1
1:6
1:14
2:44-45
2:44-47
4:11
4:34-5:12
ch. 15
28:31

140
134
132
233
271
167
233
275
140

Romans
1:18-32
3:21-31
3:24
6:22
11:17
12:3-8

275
38
298
298
172
187

86
170

xi
xi
156

xi

1 Corinthians
3:10-15
4:5
6:20
7:22-22
9:19
11:27-34
12:4-11
2 Corinthians
chs. 8 and 9

289
289-90
298
298
298
276
187

271

38

xi
274

Galatians
1:10

298
322

2:11-14
3:23-47
4:7
5:22-23

276
298
4
108

Ephesians
1:7
2:8-9
2:19-20
4:7-13
6:6

298
298
289
187
298

Philippians
3:4-6

260

Colossians
1:23

289

1 Thessalonians
4:13-5:11

180

2 Thessalonians
2:1-12

180

1 Timothy
1:12
3:2
5:3-16
6:9-10
6:18-19

296
242
256
108
289

2 Timothy
1:1:3
2:19

296
289

Titus
1:8

242

Hebrews
9:9
11:19
13:12

xi
xi
160

Index
James
1:1
1:9-11
1:27
1:27-2:17
2:15
4:13-5:11
1 Peter
2:7
2:16

of Scripture

298
234
271
234
271
234

167-68
298

Revelation
21:23

95

NAG HAMMADI
TEXTS
Gospel
Logion
Logion
Logion
Logion
Logion
Logion
Logion
Logion
Logion

of Thomas
5
6
8
9
20 138, 139,
33
94, 96,
41
63
96

132
132
15
133
143
132
132
235
138

and Other Ancient

Epiphanius (315403)
Against Heresies
(Panarion)
64,70.5-17
64-65
Chrysostom (345407)
Gospel of Matthew,
Homily 24.3
288
Gospel of Matthew,
Homily 64.3-4 5,299
Augustine (354-430)
Quaestiones
Evangeliorum 2.19
Aquinas, Thomas
(1225-1274)
Commentary on the
Epistle to the
Galatians 4:7

4

4

Calvin, John (15091564)
Harmony on Matthew, Mark, and
Luke 2.194
297
Harmony on
Matthew, Mark,
and Luke
2.264-67
299-300

CHURCH FATHERS
Irenaeus (130-200)
Against Heresies 4.36.7

GREEK AND ROMAN
AUTHORS
299

Origen (185-254)
Commentary on Matthew 15.32
299
Commentary on Matthew 15.36
299

Aristotle (384-322
BC)
The Art of Rhetoric
2.20
The Art of Rhetoric
1.406b
323

31
35

Literature
Quintilian (AD 3595)
Institutio Oratoria,
8.6.8

35

Lucian of Samosata
(AD 120-200)
The Passing of
Peregrinus
242

RABBINIC
LITERATURE
(Listed in Traditional
Jewish Order)
Mishnah
Sotah ("Suspected
Adulteress")
9:15
51-52
Baba Kamma
("First Gate")
7:7
71
Baba Metzia
("Middle
Gate") 3:10
185
Makkoth
("Stripes") 3:16
302
Aboth ("Sayings
of the Fathers")
1:3
296-97
Aboth ("Sayings
of the Fathers")
2:8
296-97
Aboth ("Sayings
of the Fathers")
2:16
302
Aboth ("Sayings
of the Fathers")
3:16
302
Aboth ("Sayings
of the Fathers")
3:17
302

INDEX O F SCRIPTURE A N D O T H E R A N C I E N T LITERATURE
Aboth ("Sayings
of the Fathers")
3:18
288-89
Babylonian Talmud
(Gemarah)
Rosh ha-Shanah
("New Year")
17b
67,71
Ketuboth ("Marriage Documents") 111b
114
Kiddushin ("Sanctification") 61b
72
Baba Kamma ("First
Gate") 82b
71
Baba Metzia
("Middle
Gate") 42a
185
Sanhédrin ("Courts")
91a-b
64-65
Abodah Zarah
("Idolatry") 17a 302
lerusalem/
Palestinian Talmud
(Gemarah)
Berakoth ("Benedictions") 2:8
301-2
Midrashim
Genesis Rabbah
41.1

63

Genesis Rabbah 71.6
[on Gen 30:1]
72
Gen Rabbah 98.6
[on Gen 49:8]
72
Leviticus Rabbah
4.5
64-65
Leviticus Rabbah
13.4 [on Lev
11:2]
72
Deuteronomy
Rabbah 2.24
[on Deut 4:30]
72
Ecclesiastes
Rabbah 5.11.5
301
Ecclesiastes
Rabbah 9.8.1
67
Song of Songs
Rabbah 1.1.8
73
Song of Songs
Rabbah 6.2.6
301-2
Lamentations
Rabbah 1.7.34
72
Midrash Proverbs
16:11
67
Other Texts and
Collections
Sifra ("Book") Leviticus [on Lev
26:9]
Sifra ("Book") Leviticus 194 [on
Lev 18:1-30]

324

Sifre ("Books")
Deuteronomy
53 [on Deut
11:26]
71
Sifre ("Books")
Deuteronomy
345 [on Deut
33:4]
72
Sifre ("Books")
Deuteronomy
352 [on Deut
33:12]
72
Mekilta ("Measure") on Exod
15:1
64
Mekilta ("Measure") on Exod
20:2
67,68
Mekilta ("Measure") on Exod
14:5
71
Seder Elijah
Rabbah 28
69
Semahot 8:10
67
Aboth de R. Nathan 14.6
67
Pesikta Rabbati
44.9
72

301

68

Targum
Neofiti on Gen
32:11

72