Wim J.C. Weren, «The Use of Isaiah 5,1-7 in the Parable of the Tenants (Mark 12,1-12; Matthew 21,33-46)», Vol. 79 (1998) 1-26
This article attempts to prove the following theses. The parable of the tenants in Mark 12,1-12 has been constructed on the basis of the vineyard song in Isa 5,1-7. There are connections with the Hebrew text as well as with the LXX version. The later exegesis of Isa 5,1-7 as it is found in the Targum and in 4Q500 has also left traces in the parable. The connections with Isaiah were already present in the original form and they are enlarged in the subsequent phases of the tradition. Matthew has taken almost all references from Mark but he additionaly made links to Isa 5,1-7 which he did not derive from Mark.
The Hebrew text of Isa 5,1-7 forms the starting point of a long and intensive interpretation process. Within that process the versions of the LXX and the Targum represent two relatively independent moments. In both cases elements from the Hebrew text are copied but a number of other elements are fundamentally changed. Here we encounter the fascinating phenomenon that a text from the Hebrew bible is again and again at the basis of new texts. From 4Q500 we can gather that the interpretation offered by the targumist was current in Jesus' and Matthew's time.
The parable of the tenants is a new link in this sequence. Mark's version contains so many traces that point to the influence of the song from Isaiah that one can safely assume that the parable was to a large extent construed on the basis of that ancient song. It is especially important that Mark 12,1-12 is not only interwoven with the versions of Isa 5,1-7 in the Hebrew text and the LXX, but is also closely linked to the interpretations of that text in 4Q500 and the Targum.
The similarities between Mark 12,1-12 and Isa 5,1-7 have been borrowed by Matthew with some minor changes. Moreover, he has further strengthened the connection between the parable and Isa 5,1-7. This means that the song from Isaiah not only played a productive role in the genesis of Mark's version of the parable, but that Matthew, too, in his rendering of the parable in his turn tried to link up with the whole gamut of interpretations that sprang from the Hebrew text of Isa 5,1-7. This point sheds new light on Matthew's use of Scripture: his use of Isa 5,1-7 is partly determined by the elements that were already available in his source (Mark's version). However, he has also himself construed the interpretation offered in Mark 12,1-12 in the light of the broad interpretation history of Isa 5,1-7. Therefore, that text not only influenced older layers in the tradition of the parable but also the way in which that parable was adapted by Matthew at a later stage.
The example that was elaborated here shows that Matthew tried to found Jesus' criticism of the Jewish leaders on the Scriptures 56. The juridical gist of Isa 5,1-7 is fully exploited, such