In Response To: David Hindley
On: Thomas 64 || Mt 22:1-10, Lk 14:15-24
DAVID: But here [in Thos 64], whoever he was supposed to be, the man says
"Businessmen and merchants will not enter the Places of My Father".
BRUCE: Thus continuing the anti-rich motif which was already so strong at
many places in Luke, and is so frequently absent (or removed) in any
Matthean parallels to those places in Luke. The proletarian strain in Lk
(and in the second layer of Epistle of James, before him) has been occupying
me of late, so this caught my eye. I have the impression that in this
matter, gThos is picking up where gLk left off.
The point of Luke's banquet parable was the rejection of the conventional
Jews (those "originally invited") and the acceptance of the less reputable
persons called from hither and yon (presumably the unorthodox Jews of the
Jesus movement) into the Kingdom; the Martthean parallel (Mt 22:1-10) adds
nothing that would extend this meaning (nor does the Matthean extension, Mt
22:11-14, need to concern us here).
The Lk parable was not originally a parable against the rich as such: one
excuse of the originally invited was that he had just been married. In Thos
this is changed: the invitee must arrange a celebration for *someone else*
who has just been married; his distraction is thus managerial rather than
conjugal. (For what it may mean analytically, this excuse is not present in
Mt; the excuses in Mt are all of having to look after property of one kind
or another). That is, in terms of the parallels, it is Lk not Mt that Thos
is here following, and in terms of the Lukan poverty = virtue motif, Thos
has, so to speak, out-Lukanized Luke.
I think this helps to situate the writer of Thos 64 (and as much of the rest
of the text as may reputably be assigned to that person) within the several
developing strands of 1c Christianity. He has not merely retained a motif
from his Lukan source; he has developed that source by adding that motif
where it was not original prominent.
Klyne Snodgrass includes Thos 64 in his discussion of this parable; he
splits Mt/Lk (calling them different parables) and groups Lk/Thos (but
without making the above point). I think he is wrong in both cases. The Mt
version *is* connected; it is a grandified treatment of the Lk prototype
(the owner in Lk is made a King in Mt) and introducing extraneous elements
in the process, so that literarily this cannot be the original of Lk), but
keeping the same moral. The Thos version is a proletarianized version of the
Lk one. So GThos here is based on Lk, not Mt. Given the Lk/Mt relation at
this point, this, as far as it goes, would allow Thos to be still
pre-Matthean, in terms of absolute chronology.
THOMAS AND LUKE
We might thus ask, How far on either side of Thos 64 does this particular
relation to Lk exist?
(1) Thos 63 || Lk 12:16-21. Note that there is no Matthean parallel. Same
moral in this case: wealth is a distraction. This is already the sole point
of the Lk parable, and no adaptation is needed; it was probably the
inspiration for recasting the next item to make it prove the same point. As
for sequence, the two Lk parables are in different parts of Lk, so the Thos
author (if we may suppose a single one for this part of Thos) has brought
(2) Thos 62 || Mt 6:3, "let not your left hand know what your right hand is
doing." The proprieties of alms, seen from the typically Matthean point of
view of the almsgiver. Note that there is no Lukan parallel, so we are
equally unambiguously dealing with a Matthean precedent. And is it a
precedent? Yes, because the saying is rather forcibly taken to illustrate a
non-Synoptic remark about wisdom being shared only with the worthy (Rick,
your conspectus shows a Mt/Lk counterpart for 61.1; should it not be
blank?). We do not have here an advocacy of poverty, we have instead an
assertion of esoteric knowledge.
Is there a connection? In terms of world mysticism, the connection between
mystical insight and material deprivation is pretty nearly universal. So,
The implication is that Thos is not only later than Luke A (the part of Luke
that precedes Matthew); it is also later than Matthew. This might still put
it before the destruction of the Temple, an event of which Matthew seems not
to be explicitly aware, unless we somewhere else find a trace of Luke B, the
post-70 (and also post-Matthean) rewrite of Luke.
I do not accept deConick's idea that 64:12, the conclusion of the Banquet
parable, is a later addition to Thos 64; the parable needs to end with some
kind of final statement, and 64:12 is simply that final statement,
emphasizing the changed meaning which aThos wishes to give the already
rewritten parable. That is, the anti-rich element in gThos cannot, at least
in this passage, be distinctively associated with deConick's Layer 3 (by her
vaguely dated to 60-100).
Turning now to the other side of Thos 65:
(3) Thos 65 || Mk 12:1-12, Mt 21:33-46, Lk 20:9-19, the Parable of the Evil
Tenants, whose key element is the evil tenants killing the son of the owner,
this symbolizing the Jews' killing of Jesus. What did this mean in its
original form? We need not read the Markan version as wider than God's
rejection of the Pharisees and Herodians, who compassed Jesus's death; Mark
specifically identifies the parable as "told against them [the Pharisees]."
Luke fiddles with the wording, but does not change those signs, or that
editorial remark. In Mt, the meaning is extended to the rejection of Israel
in favor of the Gentiles as those who will occupy the Kingdom of Heaven
("given to a nation producing the fruits of it," Mt 21:43).
Valantasis interprets Thos 65 as anti-commercial; this would fit the
previous saying, but is somewhat labored. That the author of at least some
of gThos was willing to labor in this way, we have already seen (ap Thos
62), and it cannot be ruled out. The Thos version ends with the killing of
the owner's son, and concludes with a line dragged in from elsewhere, "He
who has ears, let him hear," implying a covert and perhaps esoteric meaning.
The hint of that meaning, I suspect, lies in the Thos suppression of the end
of the story (the giving of the Kingdom to someone other than the Jewish
hierarchy (so Mk, Lk) or the Jews as such (Mt). aThos is not interested in
that particular polemic; he tends to depoliticize his source material.
He IS interested in the theme of "to some and not to others," and this would
seem to be the connecting thread of at least this mini-sequence, Thos 62-65.
And it cannot be ruled out, on the strength of this small sample, that the
favored some are more likely to be the poor than the rich, though aThos does
not go as far as Luke in making poverty itself an all-sufficing virtue.
How long that line of intepretation might be kept up I lack the leisure, at
this moment, to investigate. Anybody else?
E Bruce Brooks
Warring States Project
University of Massachusetts at Amherst