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[Xtalk] Re: Parables & History

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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 1 of 4 , Jun 2 8:14 PM
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      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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