Re: [GTh] GTh 65 and 66, the Parable of the Vineyard and the Corner Stone
- In GTh 65, we have the Parable of the Vineyard, "There was a good man who owned a vineyard. He leased it to tenant farmers so that they might work it and he might collect the produce from them. He sent his servant so that the tenants might give him the produce of the vineyard. They seized his servant and beat him, all but killing him. The servant went back and told his master. The master said, 'Perhaps (they) did not recognize (him).' He sent another servant. The tenants beat this one as well. Then the owner sent his son and said, 'Perhaps they will show respect to my son.' Because the tenants knew that it was he who was the heir to the vineyard, they seized and killed him. Let him who has ears hear."
I propose the hypothesis that this parable is based on Essenic thought. By "Essenic thought", I should add, I mean the thought to be found in the Dead Sea scrolls--which, I believe, were written by the Essenes.
In terms of the Essenic thought, who is the man and what is his vineyard? A clue comes from this Dead Sea scroll 4Q500 fragment:
3...a wine vat (bu)ilt among among stones...
4...to the gate of the holy height...
5...your planting and the streams of your glory...
6...the branches of your delight...
In "Jesus and the Dead Sea Scrolls From Qumran Cave 4" (Eschatology, Messianism, and the Dead Sea Scrolls, pp. 91-100), Craig Evans suggests that the "gate of the holy height" is the temple (which was built on the top of Mount Zion), the "wine vat built among stones" is the altar (which was in the midst of the stones constituting the temple), and "the streams of your glory" are "the water channel that streams forth from the altar." If his line of interpretation is correct (and he supports it with evidence from an Aramaic targum), the vineyard in this passage is Jerusalem and the one who owns this planting is God.
Therefore, from the perspective of Essenic thought, the man in the parable of the vineyard is God and His vineyard is Jerusalem..
In this case, further, the tenants who are in charge of the vineyard are the members of the political Establishemt in Jerusalem.
In terms of Essenic thought, who are the servants that the man (i.e., God) sends to the vineyard (i.e., Jerusalem)? A clue comes from Dead Sea scroll, Commentaries on Hosea, where it is said that some people "cast His commandments behind them which he sent (by the hand of) *His Servants the Prophets*, and they listened to those who led them astray." In terms of Essenic thought, then, the servants of the man (i.e., God) in the parable of the vineyard are the prophets.
In terms of Essenic thought, who is the son of the man (i.e., God) and in what sense is he the heir to the rulership of the vineyard (i.e., Jerusalem)? A clue comes the Dead Sea scroll, Midrash on the Last Days, which asserts, "'I will establish the thone of his kingdom (for ever)' (2 Sam. vii, 12). '(I will be) his father and he will be my son.' (2 Sam. vii, 13). He is the Branch of David....As it is written, 'I will raise up the tent of David that is fallen' (Amos ix, 11). That is to say, the fallen tent of David is he who shall arise to save Israel." So, in terms of Essenic thought, the person in the parable of the vineyard who has God as his father and is the rightful heir to the rulership of Jerusalem is the Branch of David: the man, descended from David, who will have God as His father and who will be the legitimate heir to David's throne in Jerusalem.
Note that, this Dead Sea scroll passage asserts, the Branch of David will be the *fallen* tent of David who will *arise* to save Israel. That is to say, he will be slain, and then rise from the dead to act in a salvific capacity. As a result, in terms of Essenic thought, the slaying of the son (i.e., the Branch of David) by the tenants (i.e., the political Establishment) of the vineyard (i.e., Jerusalem) was pre-ordained by the owner (i.e., God) and the good news is that he will rise from the dead and, then, act in a salvific capacity.
So, to summarize, when interpreted in terms of Essenic thought, the parable of the vineyard in GTh 65 is a coherent parable. In it, the man is God and His vineyard is Jerusalem. The tenants are the members of the political Establishment in Jerusalem and the servants of the man are the prophets. The son of the man is the Branch of David, who is slain by the members of the Jerusalem political Establishment to prevent him from, as is his right, becoming the political ruler of Jerusalem. However, and this is unstated, he will rise from the dead and, then, act in a salvific capacity.
Let us, now, turn our attention to the next saying in GTh. This is GTh 66, "Show me the stone which the builders have rejected. That one is the cornerstone."
Some clues as to the meaning of this saying are found in I Peter 2:4-5, "(Jesus is) a living Stone, by men indeed rejected, but with God chosen. Also yourselves, as living stones, a spiritual house are building up: a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices through Jesus Christ acceptable to God. So it is contained in the Scripture, 'Behold, I place in Zion a chosen cornerstone.'"
Here, Jesus is the Stone. That is to say, he is the Logos. So, regarding Genesis 28:11 (where it is declared that Jacob "took one of the stones of the place and set it under his head"), Philo, in Som i, 128, states that "of these logoi (words) he (i.e., Jacob) takes one, choosing as the best the topmost one (i.e., the Logos), occupying the place which the head does in the whole body.."
As the Stone (i.e., the Logos), he is the cornerstone a spiritual house composed of his followers: who are spiritual priests. There is an allusion, here, to Dead Sea scroll 4Q511 (Fragment 35), "God shall sancti(fy) (some) of the holy as an everlasting sanctuary for himself, and purity shall endure among the cleansed. The shall be priests, His righteous people,..".
According to the author of I Peter, then, the Christian community is the fulfillment of this Essene prophecy that, someday, "the cleansed (the baptized?)" shall contitute an eternal spiritual sanctuary in which they will be, among other things, spiritual priests.
In I Peter 2:4-5. the followers of Jesus, as spiritual priests, make spiritual offering to God through Jesus as the Christ. Here, then, Jesus acts as the spiritual High Priest and, as such, he has the title of Christ. That is to say, he acts as the Logos. So, in Fuga 108, Philo identifies the High Priest of Lev. 21:10 (who, in the LXX used by Philo, is explicitly called the Christ) as being the Logos.
All this readily relates back to GTh 66, "Show me the stone which the builders have rejected. That one is the cornerstone." Therefore, I suggest, the Stone is Jesus as the Logos and he has, as such, become the cornerstone of an eternal spiritual house composed of himself and his followers.
Now, and this is a key point, GTh 65 and GTh 66 can become one big coherent narrative with two more assumptions. First, since Philo's Logos is Son of God, let us assume that, in Gth 65, the son of the man (i.e., God) is the Logos. Second, let us assume that, in GTh 66, the builders are the members of the political Establishment in Jerusalem.
In this case, the one big coherent narrative is this: God founds Jerusalem and gives responsibility for it to the political Establishment. However, they act irresponsibly. So, when God sends some prophets to Jerusalem, they refuse to listen to them and, instead, treat them outrageously. Then, God has His own Son, the Logos, become incarnate in the flesh as the Branch of David: the man, descended from David, who is the legitimate heir to his throne. But, when the Son, the Logos-Branch of David, comes to Jerusalem, the political Establishment, to prevent him from assuming David's throne, slays him. However, despite being thusly slain by the political Establishment, he rises again from the dead and becomes the salvific cornerstone of an eternal spiritual house composed of his followers.
If this interpretation of GTh 65 and GTh 66 is correct, then they are primitive. This is most apparent in their almost purely Essenic thought. This means an origin for them in Palestine, perhaps even with the real Jesus of history. This is also apparent in the Son and the Stone being Jesus as the Logos. As I have pointed out in earlier posts, Jesus claims to be the Logos in at least four gospel traditions and such a four-fold multiple attestation makes it likely that the real Jesus did claim to be Philo's Logos incarnate on earth. Thus, this, too, means that these two sayings might have their origin in the real Jesus of history.
Maplewood, MN USA
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- Frank McCoy:
Second, let us assume that, in GTh 66, the builders are the members of the
political Establishment in Jerusalem.
'builders' is a term for the religious aristocracy. In Acts 4:11, Peter
calls the religious aristocracy of the Temple, 'builders'.
Richard H. Anderson
----- Original Message -----
From: "FMMCCOY" <FMMCCOY@...>
Sent: Thursday, May 03, 2001 7:30 PM
Subject: Re: [GTh] GTh 65 and 66, the Parable of the Vineyard and the Corner
>As I have pointed out in earlier posts, Jesus claims to be the Logos in at
>least four gospel traditions and such a four-fold multiple attestation makes
>it likely that the real Jesus did claim to be Philo's Logos incarnate on
>earth. Thus, this, too, means that these two sayings (#65 & #66) might have
>their origin in the real Jesus of history.
I noticed in looking up the term "logos" in Jung's _Psychology and Alchemy_
that whenever he speaks of the "logos" it is coupled with the "nous". The
latter term was an essential part of Plotinus' thought though I am not
certain how it was used in prior Greek philosophy. If Jesus actually
thought of himself as the logos is there any evidence he might have thought
himself to also be the nous? I don't know Greek so I'd appreciate it if one
of the scholars on the list could confirm or deny this idea.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Richard Anderson" <randerson58@...>
Sent: Friday, May 04, 2001 6:54 AM
Subject: RE: [GTh] GTh 65 and 66, the Parable of the Vineyard and the Corner
> Frank McCoy:
> Second, let us assume that, in GTh 66, the builders are the members of the
> political Establishment in Jerusalem.
> 'builders' is a term for the religious aristocracy. In Acts 4:11, Peter
> calls the religious aristocracy of the Temple, 'builders'.
Dear Richard Anderson:
Judging by Acts 4:8, the "builders", to whom Peter's speech in Acts
4:8-12 is addressed, are the "rulers of the people and elders".
Also, these "builders" apparently include Pilate for, in verse 4:10, we
learn, these "builders" have crucified Jesus. So, I think, the "builders"
in Acts 4:8-12 consist of the political Establishment in Jerusalem.
Also important is Mark 12:9. This verse comes from Mark's version of the
Parable of the Vineyard. This verse occurs right after the tenants (who I
take to be the members of the political Establishment) of the vineyard
(which I take to be Jerusalem) slay the son of the owner (who I take to be
Philo's Son of God, the Logos,
incarnate in the flesh as the Essenes' Branch of David). This verse has no
parallel in the Thomas version of the Parable of the Vineyard.
Mark 12:9 reads, "What, therefore, will the lord of the vineyard do? He
will come and destroy the husbandmen, and will give the vineyard to others."
I think that Mark 12:9 has been influenced by an Essene intepretation
of Psalm 36(37):20-22 found in 4Q171, "'Like smoke they shall all of them
vanish away.' Interpreted, (this) concerns the princes (of wickedness) who
have oppressed His holy people, and who shall perish like smoke (blown away
by the wind)...'Truly, those whom He (blesses shall possess) the land, but
those whom He curses (shall be cut off.)' Interpreted, this concerns the
congregation of the Poor, who (shall possess) the whole world as an
inheritance. They shall possess the High Mountain of Israel (for ever), and
they shall enjoy (everlasting) delights in His sanctuary."
At this time, the "princes (of wickedness)" are in total control, but the
day is coming when God will destroy them and make the "Holy people (who
also are the "Poor")", the rulers (in a general sense) of the whole earth
and (in a specific sense) of Jerusalem and its temple on top of Mount Zion.
This readily relates to the Mark 12:9: which predicts a day when the
tenants of the vineyard will be destroyed by God and He will replace them
with another group. Hence, I suggest, in Mark 12:9, the basic idea is that
the day is coming when God will destroy the "princes (of wickedness (i.e.,
the members of the political Establishment))" who currently control the
"vineyard (i.e., Jerusalem)" and replace them with the Holy people.
If this interpretation of Mark 12:9 is correct, then the "builders" in
the ensuing Mark 12:10 are the "princes of wickedness", i.e., the political
Establishment in Jerusalem.
I would like to make two more points regarding Mark 12:9. First,
regarding this verse, the Jesus Seminar, in The Five Gospels (p.101),
states, "The long-suffering owner will therefore destroy these tanants
(Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans in 70 C.E.) and give the vineyard to
others (gentiles, who, by the time of Mark constituted a large part of the
Christian movement)." This interpretation is implausible because, in
Mark 12:1, it is
mentioned, there is a tower (i.e., the temple) and a wine vat (i.e., a
temple altar) in the vineyard (i.e., Jerusalem). Surely, if Mark wrote this
pabable in a post-70 CE situation, there would be some mention of the
destruction of the "tower" and the "wine vat" in his version of it!
However, there is no mention of the destruction of either item.in his
version of the parable .
So, it appears, Mark 12:9 was created in a pre-70 CE time when the
temple was still
standing. Further, because it likely is based on an Essene interpretation
of Psalm 36(37):20-22, it likely is primitive and goes back to Palestine,
possibly even to the real Jesus of history.
The second point I would like to make about Mark 12:9 is that, I think,
it is original to the Parable of the Vineyard. Hence, I think, the Thomas
version of the parable is a shortened version of the original parable.
As I pointed out in the original post, this parable, as rendered in Gth
65, appears to be largely based on Essenic thought. Since Mark 12:9 also
appears to be based on Essenic thought, this
suggests that it is an integral part of the parable rather than a later
addition to it.
Further, it is not difficult to uncover a motive for the Thomas community
to have deleted this part of the original parable. That is, this part of
the parable looks forward to the day when God will install His Kingdom on
earth and the "saints" will rule the whole earth in general and Jerusalem in
particular.. The Thomas community thought of the Kingdom of God in
different terms. As a result, they had a motivation to delete this part of
the original parable from their own version of it because it created a
doctrinal difficulty for themselves.
Maplewood, MN USA