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[Xtalk] Re: Parables & History

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  • Jack Kilmon
    Philip B Lewis wrote:Question: is it possible to identify the HJ in parable contexts? I have in mind Matt.20.1-15, the Proprieter who hired workers at
    Message 1 of 4 , Jun 1, 1999
      Philip B Lewis wrote:

      > Question: is it possible to identify the HJ in parable contexts?
      >
      > I have in mind Matt.20.1-15, the Proprieter who hired workers at several
      > hours of the day to work in his vineyard. My focus is on the "men for hire"
      > context. I note that the Jesus Seminar agreed that this parable could
      > probably be attributed to Jesus. It is often interpreted as descriptive of
      > the church's experience as it became increasingly Gentile.
      >
      > IMO it would be difficult for a story teller to invent the hiring practice
      > and consequent worker resentments unless he had himself stood in the labor
      > pool hoping for employment. Did the HJ stand in line waiting for a job?
      > How much of teaching ascribed to Jesus in the Gospels may actually have been
      > drwan from his own Human situation?

      The Galilee was the prime farmland. Whether it be a small farm or a huge
      farm owned by fat cats in Sepphoris, crops needed to be harvested. There
      were no migrant farm workers or Farm Workers Union (CIO/AFL). During
      times of harvest, every peasant had a job for which they were probably paid
      in a share of the crop. Given Jesus' frequent use of agricultural imagery,
      I think we can reasonably speculate that he and his brothers worked on
      these farms to help "bring home the barley," no bacon please <g>.

      Jack

      --
      ______________________________________________

      taybutheh d'maran yeshua masheecha am kulkon

      Jack Kilmon
      jkilmon@...

      http://www.historian.net



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    • BobSchacht@aol.com
      In a message dated 6/1/99 10:25:31 AM US Mountain Standard Time, phil@sedona.net writes: IMO it would be difficult for a story teller to invent the
      Message 2 of 4 , Jun 1, 1999
        In a message dated 6/1/99 10:25:31 AM US Mountain Standard Time,
        phil@... writes:

        >
        > IMO it would be difficult for a story teller to invent the hiring practice
        > and consequent worker resentments unless he had himself stood in the labor
        > pool hoping for employment. Did the HJ stand in line waiting for a job?
        > How much of teaching ascribed to Jesus in the Gospels may actually have
        been
        > drwan from his own Human situation?
        >

        Phil,
        I don't agree on the difficulty of this. These kinds of labor pool scenes
        were probably quite commonplace. And don't forget that Jesus spent a lot of
        time in rural places. Besides, all it would take is overhearing someone
        grousing about time & labor comparisons. This isn't rocket science. Only the
        concluding zinger is different than expected.

        Bob

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      • odell mcguire
        BobSchacht@aol.com wrote:In a message dated 6/1/99 10:25:31 AM US Mountain Standard Time, phil@sedona.net writes: IMO it would be difficult
        Message 3 of 4 , Jun 2, 1999
          BobSchacht@... wrote:

          > In a message dated 6/1/99 10:25:31 AM US Mountain Standard Time,
          > phil@... writes:
          >
          > >
          > > IMO it would be difficult for a story teller to invent the hiring practice
          > > and consequent worker resentments unless he had himself stood in the labor
          > > pool hoping for employment. Did the HJ stand in line waiting for a job?
          > > How much of teaching ascribed to Jesus in the Gospels may actually have
          > been
          > > drwan from his own Human situation?
          > >
          >
          > Phil,
          > I don't agree on the difficulty of this. These kinds of labor pool scenes
          > were probably quite commonplace. And don't forget that Jesus spent a lot of
          > time in rural places. Besides, all it would take is overhearing someone
          > grousing about time & labor comparisons. This isn't rocket science. Only the
          > concluding zinger is different than expected.
          >
          > Bob

          I think you're both right--partly. History is not exact. Its staements are probable and tentative in light of current evidence. On the other
          hand, if we expect that evidence to reveal, however dimly, a real, flesh and blood Jesus, then evidence-based speculation about details of
          the kind given by Phil is vital to our effort. Crossan has already given us a picture of an itinerant, rural exorcist-cynic
          philosopher-wisdom teacher. And all Americans who have ever worked the apple camps or a wheat harvest know the general type. As Phil's
          instance and Bob's criticism both suggest, Jesus, or whoever originated the stories, knew a lot about farm labor, especially of the sort
          requiring extra hands--laying up in barns, threshing and winnowing, harvesting and trampling grapes, fig orchard thinning. Maybe he knew a
          little too much. If we are not going to believe in miraculous fish hauls, miraculous multiplication of loaves, or turning water into (good)
          wine then hadn't we better accept occasional farm labor as one of the important ways Jesus and his students supported themselves? The main
          alternatives, for a small group of itinerants, are begging and thievery. Jesus at times addressed his followers as PTWCHOI, which I translate
          as 'you beggars' (but more commonly rendered as 'you poor') but, I don't think he ever addressed them as thieves. I think Phil's argument has
          considerable appeal.

          Odell McGuire, Lexington, VA
          omcguire@...


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        • Bernard Muller
          Philip B Lewis wrote: Question: is it possible to identify the HJ in parable contexts? I have in mind Matt.20.1-15, the Proprieter who hired workers
          Message 4 of 4 , Jun 2, 1999
            Philip B Lewis wrote:
            >
            > Question: is it possible to identify the HJ in parable contexts?
            >
            > I have in mind Matt.20.1-15, the Proprieter who hired workers at several
            > hours of the day to work in his vineyard. My focus is on the "men for hire"
            > context. I note that the Jesus Seminar agreed that this parable could
            > probably be attributed to Jesus. It is often interpreted as descriptive of
            > the church's experience as it became increasingly Gentile.

            You are very right on "the church's experience", Philip.

            >
            > IMO it would be difficult for a story teller to invent the hiring practice

            Lining up or waiting for hire, in order to get seasonal farm work was
            probably practiced since the dawn of history. And very likely, all over
            the Roman empire in the 1st century. It's a fact of life: many pickers
            are required at certain time of the year (there are not enough full time
            farm hands to do that job) and poor people can make some money at it. I
            know: I did that myself. And I don't think city folks would be ignorant
            of that, then and now.

            > and consequent worker resentments unless he had himself stood in the labor
            > pool hoping for employment. Did the HJ stand in line waiting for a job?

            Very possible, but the parable does not prove anything. This waiting for
            a job has always been a well known common occurence.

            > How much of teaching ascribed to Jesus in the Gospels may actually have been
            > drwan from his own Human situation?

            I cannot believe that HJ had been exposed to a owner who paid the same
            wages for the ones hired early and the ones hired late. That's very
            irrealistic. The owner would have to be stupid and gone bankrupt very
            quickly with this practice. And comparing the Kingdom to an absurd and
            ridicule (made up) situation would have made HJ the subject of mockery
            or rejection.
            However, such a parable has a lot of merit about explaining to
            disgruntled long time Christians that the new converts are their equals
            regarding (future) rewards. And by now (around 90C.E.), as "told" by the
            Son of God and Christ, (and with God himself as the generous one),
            Christians were not about to criticize it!

            Bernard

            About parables:
            http://www.concentric.net/~Mullerb/appd.shtml

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