My article in Journal for the Study of the New Testament appeared today. Here’s the abstract:
Discussions of the parable of the workers in the vineyard (Mt. 20.1-16) tend to rely on two key assumptions: (1) the parable eliminates ‘merit’ and replaces it with ‘grace’; (2) the parable is the hermeneutical key to all of Matthew’s other discussions of rewards, if not the entire New Testament. This article challenges these assumptions and offers a reassessment of divine recompense in Matthew. Matthew 19.16–20.16 does not set aside ‘merit’ in place of ‘grace’ but contrasts generous wages faithfully repaid by God with even more generous wages. The Gospel as a whole emphasizes that disciples must earn treasure in heaven and forgive others their debts to enter the kingdom; those who refuse to work and who refuse to forgive will be damned. At the same time, however, God’s repayment of deeds is not according to strict desert, but goes far beyond what workers have earned.
This was a spin-off project from my book on Matthew, which should also appear sometime soon.