New article in JETS on the Parable of the Wicked Tenants

As I was researching various possibilities for the research proposal I ultimately submitted to various doctoral programs, I continued to come across the question about whether the quotation of Psalm 118:22 at the conclusion of the Parable of the Wicked Tenants was original to Jesus, or whether later Christians added it. The parable and Psalm 118:22 text appear in all three synoptic gospels as well as the apocryphal Gospel of Thomas, as shown in the table below (the psalm quotation is in blue):

Matt 21:33-46

Mark 12:1-12

Luke 20:9-18

Thomas 65,66

42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:

‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone;

this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?

43 Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits. 44 And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.”

10 Have you not read this Scripture:

“‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone;

11 this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?”

17 But he looked directly at them and said, “What then is this that is written: ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone’?

18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.”

(65) … Because the tenants knew that it was he who was the heir to the vineyard, they seized him and killed him. Let him who has ears hear.”

(66) Jesus said, “Show me the stone which the builders have rejected. That one is the cornerstone.”

For a century many higher critics have held the position that the early Christian community inserted (retrojected) this passage into the parable long after the gospels were compiled, as they believed this Ps 118 text circulated as a sort of apologetic proof text for the resurrection among the early church.

While this view has been questioned time and time again, I wrote an article that attempted to bring together the full scope of evidence along three main lines: the detailed exegetical data in each relevant text, the literary context of the Parable of the Wicked Tenants (including its NT context and its multiple allusions to the OT), and the first-century context of how parables were often delivered. I defend a position that this full scope of evidence clearly indicates that the Psalm 118:22 quotation was not a later addition, nor was it invented and placed on Jesus’ lips by the gospel writers, but that Jesus spoke it himself at the conclusion of the parable.

JETS_LogoI was delighted to find out from the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society that this article was accepted for publication earlier this year, and at long last it is appearing in the most recent issue of the journal. The table of contents of this issue can be found here: Current Issue.

The first page can be downloaded here: JETS 2013 Article – Excerpt. If anyone should like a full manuscript and does not have access to ATLA or JETS, please reach out to me directly.

Many thanks to Dr. Michael J. Kruger for encouraging me to submit this for publication and for his assistance in getting it in front of the editors.

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9 thoughts on “New article in JETS on the Parable of the Wicked Tenants”

  1. Well done Greg! May the Lord bless you and your lovely family! I understand fully all the ups and downs you guys have gone through the past year … my thesis has also changed many many times …

  2. Greg, I read your wife’s very honest reflections on your first year as PhD candidate in Cambridge. Don’t you worry, you will succeed. You are surrounded by some of the world’s very best biblical scholars. However, from a Christian brother to another Christian brother, remember these words from Andreas Korstenberger once you’ve finished your PhD and possibly a “high flyer” back in the USA: “Christian leaders and scholars are particularly vulnerable to the danger of self-reliance. We have spent longer hours poring over God’s Word than the average Christian and have published articles and monographs to convey the fruit of our learning to others. While we can be satisfied with a job well done, we should always remember that it is God who enables us to accomplish our work in the first place and guard against a prideful, arrogant disposition … the true measure of our success is not human acclaim but faithfulness to God’s calling in our lives”.

    1. Well, I’m not so sure that “high flyer” will be in my future, but Köstenberger’s comments are spot on. My wife’s post was actually far more positive than it probably would have been if I had written it—these months have been far darker and more challenging than she represents. I think (or hope) the Lord is using the process of being torn down (and spending most days feeling like a failure) in order to cultivate in me the long-term fruit of scholarly and ministry humility.

  3. Sir, I am a senior at Southwestern Assemblies of God University and I would like to use your paper as a source. Would it be possible to acquire the entire paper as research material.
    Thank you.

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