Then Brown goes on to one of the most staggering arguments in this five volume series (and there are no shortage of these): “Or consider this parable of Jesus, one that proved to be incredibly prophetic just forty years after his death and resurrection:
“Listen to another parable: there was a landowner who planted a vineyard, he put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and went away on a journey. When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit. The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. Then he sent more servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way. Last of all , he sent his son to them. ‘They will respect my son’ he said.
But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, ‘This is the heir, Come, let’s kill him and take away the inheritance.’ So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.
Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?
“He will bring those wretches to an evil end” they replied, “and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at the harvest time.”
Jesus said to them, “have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?
Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces but he on whom it falls will be crushed.” (Matt. 21:33-44)
Do you understand his words?
This is a teaching of Jesus that Brown is proudly holding up as an example of Jesus’ amazing ethical and spiritual insight with no parallel in the rabbinic writings.
Indeed. You will not find a parallel to this in any of the rabbinic writings, and for good reason. This evil parable of Jesus is a blood-soaked stain on the history of Christianity.
What is the point of the parable? And how does Brown see its fulfillment forty years after Jesus’ death?
The owner of the vineyard is God, while the tenants are the Jewish people. The son of the landowner is Jesus and the murder of the son is the crucifixion of Jesus. In the parable, Jesus tells us the motives behind the murder of the son of the landowner: “But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, ‘This is the heir, Come, let’s kill him and take away the inheritance”. In other words, they identified landowner’s son as the landowner’s son, and they killed him because they wanted his inheritance. To transpose this onto the events surrounding the crucifixion, Jesus is saying that the Jews who killed him knew that he was who claimed to be, and killed him because they somehow thought that by killing him they would take that which belongs to him. Jesus is not done. He tells us that the guilt of the tenants belongs to all of them and the whole lot of them will be punished by having the vineyard taken from them. In the real world, he puts the guilt of the crucifixion upon all the Jews and tells them that the kingdom of God will be taken from them and given to others. Brown sees a fulfillment to this pronouncement in the destruction of the Second Temple and in the rise of the Church.
Words fail to convey the evil that is inherent to this parable.
How many Jews were involved in the crucifixion of Jesus? – perhaps a handful. Why did they want to kill him? According to the very same Christian Scriptures we have two answers to this question; either because they considered Jesus to be a blasphemer (Matthew 26:65), or because they were frightened of the Roman reaction to his claims (John 11:50). The accusation that is implicit in Jesus’ parable, namely that the Jews KNEW that he was who he claimed to be and killed him anyway – has no basis in reality. The idea that they killed him because they wanted something that belonged to him is ridiculous to begin with. What did he have that they thought they could take? The idea that all the Jewish people are guilty for the crimes of a few, is also immoral and unethical. Yet on the basis of this teaching, Christian Europe decided that all the Jews are guilty of deicide – having committed the sin, with full knowledge of the severity of the act.
This lead to teachings of hate and dehumanization that have their roots on this evil parable, but continued to flourish in what Brown sees as an “incredibly prophetic” fulfillment of Jesus’ words. As the Church spread, so did its Jew-hatred deepen – persecution, of every sort, incitement to murder, murder, Crusades, Inquisition and holocaust – all have their roots in this evil parable. And this is what Brown holds up as something we should be impressed with?
Just look at the hypocrisy – which is really too small a word to describe two millennia of crime. It was a few Jews who killed Jesus who never believed for a second that he was the son of God. Brown is satisfied with the judgment that all Jews should now lose the kingdom of God. So who inherited that kingdom? Who are the good tenants that Brown is happy to see tending the vineyard as an expression of justice served? The Church! The Church who killed and tortured millions of people who are explicitly identified by Scripture as God’s firstborn son (Exodus 4:22, Jeremiah 31:8). If the killing of one son requires that you lose the kingdom, what does the killing of several million do for you? But for Brown, justice is served. The Jews lost it, and the Church got it – and Brown sees this as an “incredibly prophetic” fulfillment!?
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal