Matt. 9.16-17

Mark 2.21-22

Luke 5.36-38

16 No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak.

21 No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak;

36 He also told them a parable: 'No one tears a piece from a new cloak and puts it on an old

for the patch Dulls awav from thecloak, and a worse tear is made. 17

the patch pulls away from it. the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. 22

cloak; otherwise the new will tear, and the piece from the new will not match the old. 37 And no one puts new wine into

Neither do thev out new wine

And no one puts new wine into

into old wineskins; otherwise.

old wineskins; otherwise, the

old wineskins; otherwise the

the wineskins

wine will burst the

new wine will burst the

and the wine is spilled, and the

and the wine is

wineskins and will be spilled,

wineskins are destroyed; but they put new wine into new and so both are preserved.

and so are the wineskins; but new wine is for new wineskins.

and the wineskins destroyed. 38 But new wine must be put into new wineskins'.

Matthew and Luke appear to be dependent on Mark for their tradition, though we note in the case of all three characteristic features of oral retelling. That is to say, several of the pecularities of each make better sense as free retellings of the tradition which retain the main point in more or less the same words but vary the details, rather than as literary editing.288 Marriage and the wedding banquet was obvious imagery for the restoration of Israel;289 Jesus evidently used it on other occasions.290 The imagery obviously gives voice to a sense of climax and fresh beginnings, evoking joy and celebration — a time for feasting, not for fasting.291 Similarly, the mini-parables of unshrunk cloth and new wine indicate a new beginning which marks a sharp disjunction with what has gone before. The new cannot be contained with(in) the old without loss, though it is also noteworthy that both Mark and Matthew in their own retelling express a concern for the wineskins as well as the wine.292

A similar note is struck in two of Matthew's kingdom parables which have closer parallels in the Gospel of Thomas: the hidden treasure and the pearl of great value (Matt. 13.44-46).

Matt. 13.44-46

44 The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

GTh 109,76

The kingdom is like a man who had a treasure (hidden) in his field without knowing it. And (after) he died, he left it to his (son. The) son knew nothing (about it). He accepted that field and sold (it). And he who bought it went ploughing (and found) the treasure. He began to lend money at interest to whomever he wished.

288. In the case of Mark 2.18-20, most regard 2.20 (or 2.19b-20) as an added gloss (in the light of Jesus' death) in order to explain and justify the resumption of fasting as a Christian discipline (cf. Acts 13.2-3; 14.23; 2 Cor. 6.5; 11.27; Did. 8.1); see, e.g., Perrin, Rediscovering 79-80; Pesch, Markusevangelium 174-76; Ebner, Jesus 188-91; and the careful analysis of Meier, Marginal Jew 2.439-50; Beasley-Murray, Jesus and the Kingdom 138-42 is more sympathetic to the view that the whole saying goes back to Jesus. Both the Jesus Seminar (Funk, Five Gospels 47, 49) and Ludemann (Jesus 18) think it likely that 2.(18a-)19 and (21-)22 go back to Jesus in some form. On voluntary fasts in early Judaism see, e.g., Holmen, Jesus 12834.

289. Isa. 49.18; 54.1-8; 62.4-6; Hos. 2.19-20. The possibility that the parable contains an implicit christological claim (Jesus as the bridegroom) is quite often canvassed (see, e.g., discussion in Beasley-Murray, Jesus andthe Kingdom 140-41; Holmen, Jesus 153 n. 385); that is no doubt how it was retold in the early churches, but Jesus may simply have used the imagery of the kingdom present as a wedding banquet to justify his own 'feasting not fasting' attitude. See also below, chapter 15 n. 154.

290. See above, §12.4f. It is also worth noting that 'the wedding guests' (literally 'the sons of the bridechamber') is a semitism (Davies and Allison, Matthew 2.109).

Thomas retains an echo of the saying, but devoid of eschatological significance: 'When the bridegroom comes out of the bride-chamber, then let them fast and pray' (GTh 104).

292. Here again Thomas retains the echo, but as practical advice for good husbandry without any of the sense of something new at stake: 'No one drinks old wine and immediately desires to drink new wine. And new wine is not put into old wineskins, lest they burst; nor is old wine put into new wineskins, lest it spoil it. No one sews an old patch on a new garment, because a tear would result' (GTh 47.3-4).

45 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; 46 on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.

76 The kingdom of the Father is like a merchant who had merchandise (and) who found a pearl. This merchant was prudent. He got rid of the merchandise and bought the one pearl for himself.

Here it is the kingdom which is explicitly in view: one stumbles upon it with surprise, the opportunity of a lifetime; it is of huge value; it is worth exchanging all that one possesses in order to attain it.293 More to the immediate point, it is being discovered now; the transformation implied does not await some future consum-mation.294 The fact that the parables are also attested by Thomas confirms that they were more widely known than just in Matthew's circle, though, as in other cases, the Thomas tradition seems to have been In contrast, Mat thew's version is wholly consistent with what we have already reviewed in § 12.5.

These two parables contain the only explicit reference to the 'kingdom' so far in §12.5, though, of course, the two parts of Mark 1.15a should be taken together, and Luke no doubt understood the good news preached by Jesus as the good news of the kingdom. More explicitly to the point is a saying which only Luke attests, though Thomas provides further attestation (GTh 3, 113; cf. 51).296 On being asked by Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus answered: 'the kingdom of God is not coming with signs that can be observed (paratereseos),291 nor will they say, "Look, here it is!" or "There it is!" For, look,

293. Jeremias, Parables 198-200. To make his point memorable Jesus was evidently prepared to cite an action of dubious morality (cf. Luke 16.1-8a) (Funk, Five Gospels 196-97; Ludemann, Jesus 186); on the legality of the action (failure to inform the owner of the field) see Hultgren, Parables 411-12.

294. Becker, Jesus 239-40. Cf. J. D. Crossan, In Parables: The Challenge of the Historical Jesus (1973; New York: Harper and Row, 1985) 34-35, though Beasley-Murray fairly cautions against pressing the point as an attack on 'an idolatry of time' (Jesus and the Kingdom 112-13).

295. Note particularly the final sentence of GTh 109; on the Gnostic overtones see Hultgren, Parables 410-11. In GTh 76 the contrast is softer: the pearl is not exceptional, and the merchant parts only with his merchandise in order to buy it — a parable of prudent business practice rather than a life-changing decision.

296. The Jesus Seminar give a positive judgment on both Luke 17.20-21 and GTh 113.2-4 (Funk, Five Gospels 364-65, 531-32), though Ludemann for some reason refrains from ajudg-ment regarding the historicity of Luke 17.20-21 (Jesus 374). Merkel takes Luke 17.20-21 as one of two 'absolutely certain words' (the other is Matt. as the firm core round which to gather traditions which cohere ('Gottesherrschaft' 142-47), and Keck thinks it is the only saying in which Jesus asserted the kingdom's presence (Who Is Jesus?76-77). Sanders, however, in line with his conviction that the 'present' sayings are dubious, retains his opinion that Luke composed the verses 'unaided by a transmitted saying of Jesus' (Historical Figure 177).

297. 'In this Lucan context it [parateresis] refers neither to the [Pharisaic] "observance" of the Law nor to observance of cultic rites; it is to be understood instead in the Hellenistic sense, of watching for premonitory signs (e.g., from heaven) or of an apocalyptic allusion to the kingdom of God is298 among you (entos hymön)' (Luke 17.20-21).299 This was a key saying for the old Liberal questers. They took the final phrase as 'within you', a quite legitimate rendering, and as thus supporting the idea of the kingdom as a spiritual force within individuals, improving them morally and motivating them to do good.300 But that would hardly be how Luke understood the phrase: he has Jesus making the pronouncement to Pharisees!301 'Among you' is much the more favoured rendering today.302 What is probably most significant about the saying for us is the tension it displays between the idea of the kingdom's coming and the idea of its presence: the kingdom's future coming is not a matter of calculation; the kingdom is already present. The future coming is not denied, only its calculability; but attention is directed rather to its presence.

Whatever we make of particular details and individual sayings, the same noteworthy fact emerges as in the previous case (§ 12.5a). We hear the same note of realised expectation, of something climactic of eschatological significance already happening, of something new breaking through old traditions, of God's kingdom as an unexpected discovery of life-changing import, of a present reality of God's rule

"times and seasons" (e.g., Wis 8:8; 1 Thess 5:1; cf. Mark 13.32; Matt 24.36), i.e. a sort ofes-chatological timetable' (Fitzmyer, Luke 1160; fuller discussion with similar conclusions in Beasley-Murray, Jesus and the Kingdom 99-100; Meier, Marginal Jew 2.424-26). Perrin extends the point: Jesus 'equally categorically rejected the treatment of the myth as allegory and its symbols as steno-symbols' {Language 45).

298. To translate the final clause with a future sense ('is to be'; 'will [suddenly] be', Jeremias, Proclamation 101) would lose the saying's more obvious antithesis, which can only be partially restored by inferring in addition something like 'is to be suddenly' (Beasley-Murray, Jesus and the Kingdom 102).

299. GTh 3: '. . . the kingdom is within you and outside you . . .'; GTh 113: 'His disci-ple(s) said to him: On what day does the kingdom come? (He said) It does not come when one expects (it). They will not say, Look, here! or Look, there! But the kingdom of the Father is spread out upon the earth, and men do not see it'.

300. E.g., Harnack, What Is Christianity? 55-57, 63; Dalman, Words of Jesus 145-47; J. Wellhausen, Das Evangelium Lucae (Berlin: Georg Reimer, 1904) 95; among current opinion note also C. C. Caragounis, 'Kingdom of God/Kingdom of Heaven', DJG 417-30 (here 423-24); T. Holmen, 'The Alternatives of the Kingdom: Encountering the Semantic Restrictions of Luke 17,20-21 (entos hymön)' ,ZNW 87 (1996) 204-29. The interpretation is early and was shared by the rendering in GTh 3 and, it would appear, Dial. Sav. 16. See further Beasley-Murray, Jesus and the Kingdom 98-99, 100-101.

See further Meier, Marginal Jew 2.426-27 and n.

302. See, e.g., Kümmel, Promise33-35; Perrin, Rediscovering!3-74; Beasley-Murray, Jesus and the Kingdom 100-102, though Beasley-Murray and Fitzmyer are attracted by the sense 'within your grasp' (Luke 1161-62; also Wright, Jesus 469; McKnight, New Vision 102103; cf. Theissen and Merz, Historical Jesus 260-61: 'The saying remains a riddle'). But that would also weaken the saying's contrast (Meier, Marginal Jew 2.427). Meier goes on to give good reasons for seeing in the saying a recollection of Jesus' teaching (428-30), including a possible reconstruction of the underlying Aramaic (483 n. 144).

which renders speculation as to its future irrelevant. This note, then, is clearly registered in all strands which go to make up the Synoptic (and Thomas) tradition, and all three Evangelists regarded it as particularly characteristic of Jesus' mission. It can hardly have been otherwise with the tradition on which they drew.

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