Mark 12:1

Jesus began to speak to them in parables, “A man once planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a wine-press, built a tower, and then let it out to tenants and went abroad.

to speak authoritatively
there is not much better
than an apt illustration
that will clarify
who stands where
and to what effect

name the place
protect it
productize it
protect it yet again
profit from it
vacation from the place

all the work of one
is for the benefit of one
a seven-point business plan
is to assure retirement
ideally in seven weeks
or seventy years

This is a parable that is also told in the gospels of Matthew, Luke, and Thomas. While there is a sense of an allegory in the synoptics, Thomas (65:1–8) seems to simply be the story that begins in Isaiah 5:1-2 and goes on without an absent landowner, judgment, and punishment.

The discovery of Thomas has led to a revision of thinking about this parable. Until then an allegory was assumed and Jesus was the “son”. It now appears that Thomas was closer to what might be considered an original saying of Jesus and the “son” reference may well be about Baptizer John. This needs to be remembered as the parable progresses. [See 5G510–511 and Mann458–464.]

Technically it is interesting to note there are eight new words to Mark, half of which are unique in Mark. They all relate to what amounts to an appropriation of Isaiah for the first half of this verse.

The second half changes Isaiah’s focus on a vineyard (Israel) that has devolved into wild fruit to a fruitful vineyard (Israel) co-opted by wild tenants. Merriam-Webster online defines a tenant as “one who has the occupation or temporary possession of lands or tenements of another”. It can be proposed that it is the tenants that have taken a vacation from their responsibilities as tenants.

The commercial nature of tenants who have a financial stake in the vineyard suggests both Rome who is occupying Palestine and the chief priests who had sold out to Rome. This continues the critique begun with the disruption of moneychangers in the temple area. It also sharpens it from middle management doing the transactions to those who are responsible for the whole system.

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