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Essay Style Questions

A. Explain the theological significance of the tenants in the vineyard [30 Marks]

Understanding and interpreting parables is more complicated than it may at first seem. The parable of the tenants in the vineyard is one of the cases in which the Jews in the time of Jesus would have understood perfectly what the metaphor in the parable was, but the meaning is now some what lost. We have to take into account the Sitz im Leben, that is to say we have to consider the different contexts; what it meant to people in the time of Jesus, what it meant in the time of the early church and what it means in the 21st century. There are many themes in the parable that highlight the different characters, that is to say the tenants, the slaves, the vineyard owner and the son.

Firstly we have to understand who and what each component of the story actually represents, as without this we would not be able to understand the true meaning of the parable. We see that the Father is God as he entrusts the vineyard to the tenants as God entrusts the nation of Israel to the Jews. The slaves are prophets that have been sent to the people and the tenants are the Jewish leaders of the day (Sanhedrin). The son represents Jesus as he is the son and has a raised position as he is sent last. In the story the Jews are also represented by the ‘choice vines’ highlighting the fact that they are the chosen people. People also had a history of rejecting God’s laws, God sends prophets (or in the case of story, slaves) to warn and try and stop the tenants (people). There is also a history of Jews killing prophets as the tenants kill the slaves sent with the message from the father. For example in the bible the prophet Jeremiah was killed by his own townspeople. The actions of all the characters were not uncommon for the day and therefore the people would have made a connection.

The parable also depicts many of God’s traits but in lieu of using God, the metaphor of the vineyard owner is used. One of the traits depicted is God’s trust in man, because the vineyard owner entrusts his own property to the tenants and did not supervise them but left them alone. God gives us a ‘job’ on earth and leaves us to it. The parable also puts forward the theme of patience as

the owner sends many messengers and gives the tenants many chances to rectify their ways. as clearly in the story the son is of higher regard than the servants. William Barclay says that. The servants could be considered prophets before Jesus. Cornerstones are used symbolically in Scripture and picture Christ as the main piece of the foundation of the church. and the parable could be Jesus’ claim of being the son of God and a prophet unlike any before. just as Jesus would be killed in later life and Barclay says ‘he did not die because he was compelled to die. The son of the owner is Jesus himself. and we can also see that Jesus uses ideas already in the brought up in the bible as this story mirrors that of Isaiah 5: 1. ‘God bears with men in all their sinning and will not cast them off’ that is to say that God will always give his followers chances to redeem themselves from their sins.7. The tenants depict the kind of people that Jesus was telling this parable to and Jesus used it to disguise what he was saying. just as human sin which is a deliberate opposition to God. Jesus throughout this story foretells many moments in the future such as his death. The tenants were provided with everything they needed in the vineyard. Just as the men reject Christ at first. which enabled them to cultivate the vine. This is the same as God as he gives us the means by which we can sustain ourselves on earth. This was also Jesus’ way of foretelling future events as the son is killed in the parable. God also gives us human freedom and this is shown in the parable as God leaves the tenants to do what they want in the vineyard. Finally the theme of God’s judgement is brought in near the end of the parable as the owner takes away the vineyard. he went willingly and open-eyed to death’. We also see that the tenants deliberately disobey the owner. the come to realise that he is very important and come to understand who he is. if God takes out the task we were meant to do we become useless to God. In the parable the stone is rejected at first by the people and it is said that it will become important. . We could also say that the judgement of God is revealed as the story could be Jesus’ way of warning us that there will be a day of reckoning for all men.

Nowadays we may not be able to conceive the ideas the way that the Jewish people did when they heard these stories. “Jesus’ parables are difficult to interpret and understand. Jesus uses the parable to respond to the disingenuity that was shown to him by the leaders of his time. For example the tenants in the vineyard would be better interpreted in Jesus’ time. Sitz im Leben is a German phrase roughly translating to "setting in life". In other words there is no text without context. now. many people would argue that the parable may be lost in translation and that means we may not have to the full grasp of understanding of the parables’ true meaning. Jesus’ time and early church time. [15 Marks] Parables are all about context and interpretation and some find it more difficult to interpret than others.There is always a meaning in the parable and in this one it is hard for us to interpret without knowing what the characters stand for in the story. all parables reflect existing values and attitudes. It is the idea that there are three contexts. Secondly none of the parables except for the parable of the sower have an explanation. Jesus’ parables encourage the reader to open their mind to the lesson even if it is more complicated than it first appears. as the people could place themselves in the situation as they may have experiences like what they had heard in the parable. Problems arise as many parables have levels of metaphorical significance and may seem simple at first but have more meaning than first thought. The example we use (although not in the bible) is that there are three words for love in Greek and they all mean slightly different things. . Furthermore many of the parables use different words to describe slightly different aspects of the same word. B. You could say that a parable is intellectually stimulating and thus requires a degree of understanding. But the true understanding and meaning of the story is lost in the context of today’s society.” Discuss. Jesus uses parables to explain his views of God as the kingdom of heaven is not something that can be readily understood.

. Although in my opinion this is very hard as in an advanced age of science we cannot really understand certain ideals and ideas that may have been the norm back in the time of Jesus. "Most of the stories involve customs. conditions. as many of the parables repeat the same sort of ideas through such as Jesus reusing the ideas of the kingdom of God throughout his parables. Christ told stories which were common to the people of the day. they would be able to understand the parables better. An understanding of life in Palestine is essential to an understanding of many of the parables. In conclusion if one has the correct mind-set and understanding of context and if they approach the parable with prior knowledge of the situations the people in the time of Jesus were enduring. and ideas peculiar to the Jews of Palestine in Jesus' time and therefore require explanation” thus is someone understands these customs they may find it easier to understand and interpret the parables.On the other hand it would be very easy for someone who had interpreted one parable to interpret others. The parables use fundamental Christian ideas and therefore for a devoted Christian it would be very easy to interpret the parables.