Barry Newman's Blog

December 13, 2012

The Parable of the Tenants (part II)

Filed under: Parables of Jesus,The Parable of the Tenants — barrynewman @ 9:04 pm

Resources

Before commencing this blog I read relevant sections from the following: Carson’s commentary on Matthew[1], Bailey’s “Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes”[2], Jeremias’ “The Parables of Jesus”[3] and Kistemaker’s “The Parables of Jesus”[4].

The main concern of Jeremias is to demonstrate how the composers of the Synoptic Gospels, over allegorised the original parable which he believes is more faithfully recorded in the Gospel of Thomas.  I will not proceed to examine the parable as recorded in the Gospel of Thomas as I think there is reasonable evidence that that Gospel was written after the writing of the Synoptic Gospels.  Furthermore, in my opinion, the parable as given in the Gospel of Thomas is deficient compared with the parable found in the Synoptics. . For all that, Jeremias has some interesting comments to make about “The introduction to the parable”, “The sending of the servants” “The sending of the son” and “The final question”.

Carson discusses, what he terms, “the complex debate” surrounding the parable. For instance he makes a number of comments on Jeremias’ thesis and his concern for allegorisation. As expected he interweaves his exegesis of the parable with the context in which it is imbedded.  He is cautious on a number of matters of interpretation over which there are differences of opinion.

In his work, Kistemaker considers all three Gospel accounts and recounts the parable in a way that suggests that it was true to life.  In doing so he appeals to certain matters which he believes provide significant background to the parable.  Along with the other three authors, he argues that the meaning of the parable can be derived in part by a consideration of the “Song of the Vineyard” in Isaiah 5 and the quotes that Jesus made from Psalm 118 and Isaiah 8.

Bailey, characteristically, analyses Luke’s account in terms of structure.  This enables him to talk about balance of ideas and a central feature that he believes is at the heart of the parable.  His understanding of what is central in the parable is somewhat different to the understanding espoused by the others.  As usual, he has some significant things to say about the cultural and social background to the parable and some of this is a little different to that provided by Kistemaker. Among other things, in his explication of the significance of the parable, he draws on some rabbinical material, a fascinating story told of a 20th century king of Jordan, and the Middle Eastern importance given to the concept of “honour”.

During the course of this series some attention will be given to ideas expressed in all four sources, but particularly some of the background material provided by Kistemaker and Bailey.


[1] Carson, D.A., “The parable of the tenants” in Matthew, Mark, Luke, The Expositors Bible Commentary, vol. 8, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, 1984, pp. 450-455.

[2] Bailey, K.E., The Parable of the Noble Vineyard Owner and His Son” in , Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes, IVP Academic, Downers Grove, IL, 2008, pp. 410-426.

[3] Jeremias, J., The Parables of Jesus, Revised Study Ed., SCM, London, 1963, pp. 70-77.

[4] Kistemaker, S., “Tenants” in The Parables of Jesus, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI, 1980, pp. 87-98.

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