THE SHEPHERD OF HERMAS
(V, 2) “Listen to this parable I am about to tell you; for it relates to fasting. 2 There was a person who owned a ﬁeld and many slaves, and he planted a vineyard in part of the ﬁeld. And he chose a certain slave who was most trustworthy and pleasing to him; and when he was about to go on a journey, he called him in and said to him, ‘Take this vineyard that I have planted and build a fence around it before I return, and do nothing else to the vineyard. Do what I have commanded and I will set you free.’ And the master of the slave went away on his journey. 3 When he had gone, his slave took the vineyard and built a fence around it. And when he ﬁnished the fence he saw that the vineyard was full of weeds. 4 And so he reasoned to himself, ‘I have ﬁnished what the lord commanded; so now I will dig in this vineyard. Once it is dug it will be more attractive, and without the weeds it will give more fruit, since it will not be choked by the weeds.’ So he dug the vineyard and removed all the weeds that were in it. And that vine yard became more attractive and ﬂourish ing, since there were no weeds that could choke it. 5 After some time the master of both ﬁeld and slave returned and came into the vineyard. When he saw that the vine yard was attractively fenced and even more that it was dug, with all the weeds removed, and that the vines were ﬂour ishing, he was extremely pleased with what the slave had done. 6 So he called his beloved son, who was to be his heir, and his friends, who served as his advisors, and he told them everything he had commanded his slave and everything he found accomplished. And they congratulated the slave for the good testimony that the master had given him.
7 He said to them, ‘I promised to free this slave if he did what I commanded him. And he did what I commanded and an additional good work in my vineyard besides. He has pleased me greatly. In exchange for the work he has done I want to make him a fellow heir with my son; for when he thought of the good deed, he did not leave it alone, but he accom plished it.’ 8 The master’s son approved of the idea that the slave should become his fellow heir. 9 After some days the master of the house gave a dinner and sent a number of foods to the slave from his table. When the slave received the food his master sent, he took what he needed and distributed the rest to his fellow slaves. 10 His fellow slaves took the food gladly, and began also to pray for him, that he might ﬁnd even greater favor with the master, since he had treated them so well. 11 The master heard everything that happened and was again extremely pleased at what the slave had done. And so he once more assembled his friends and his son, and he reported to them what the slave had done with the foods he had received. And they approved even more heartily his plan to make the slave his son’s fellow heir.”
(V, 3) I said to him, “Lord, I do not know what these parables mean and cannot understand them, unless you explain them to me.” 2 “I will explain everything to you,” he said, “and show you the meaning of everything I tell you. Guard what the Lord commands and you will be accept able to him and enrolled among those who keep his commandments. 3 But if you do anything good beyond