Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Matthew 20.1-16 Translations and Notes - RCL Year A Lectionary 25/ 17th Sunday After Pentecost

Image generated by DALL-E with prompt "a 3D rendering of migrant workers and a boss in a grape vineyard"
Matthew 20.1-16 is the RCL Year A assigned reading for Lectionary 25/ 17th Sunday After Pentecost. It's the parable usually called "Laborers in the Vineyard." When I teach this parable, I label as "All in a Day's Wage" or "The Line Forms at the Rear."

It's a well-told story, and I try to capture more of the conversational tone in my translation. (Cf. link below.) I think that one of the challenges of the parable for modern hearers is that we want fairness, not equality. This parable is closer to Marx's "From each according to ability, to each according to need." It also is a dramatization of the Lord's Prayer petition, "Give us today our daily bread." 

One more thing... The closing to the parable is the well-known, "So the last will be first, and the first will be last." I suspect that most people picture this as a vertical / hierarchical kind of reversal. I think that's problematic, because it means there will be an endless cycle of reversals. Think instead of a vertical / hierarchical order being changed into a horizontal equality. I.e., it really means that the first will be the same as the last and the last the same as the first. That's what I think God's dominion looks like.

Here's the link to the downloadable file. My translation is on the last 2 pages.

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