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THE SHEPHERD OF HERMAS

asking for the interpretations of the par­ ables. But since you are so persistent, I will interpret for you the parable of the field and everything that follows it, that you may make these things known to all. Listen, now,” he said, “and understand these things. 2 The field is this world. And the lord of the field is the one who created all things and completed them and empow­ ered them. The son is the Holy Spirit and the slave is the Son of God. The vines are this people, which he has planted. 3 The fence-posts are the Lord’s holy angels who surround his people. The weeds that were removed from the vine­ yard are the lawless deeds of the slaves of God. The foods that he sent to him from his dinner are the commandments he has given his people through his Son. The friends and advisors are the holy angels who were created first. And the absence of the master is the time that remains until his coming.” 4 I said to him, “Lord, all these things are great, marvelous, and glorious. How could I have understood them? No one else could have understood them either, even if he were extremely insightful. Yet, Lord,” I said, “explain to me what I am about to ask you.” 5 “Say what you wish,” he said. “Why, Lord,” I asked, “is the Son of God rep­ resented as a slave in the parable?” (V, 6) “Listen,” he said; “the Son of God is not represented as a slave, but as one who has great authority and lordship.” “I don’t see how, Lord,” I replied. 2 “Because,” he said, “God planted the vineyard—that is, he created the people and handed them over to his Son. And the Son appointed the angels over them, to protect each one. And he cleansed their

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sins through great labor, bearing up under his many labors. For a vine cannot be dug around without labor or toil. 3 And so, when he had cleansed the sins of the people he showed them the paths of life, giving them the law, which he received from his Father. 4 You see, then,” he said, “that he is the Lord of the people, having received all authority from his Father. But listen to what it means that the Lord took his Son, along with the glorious angels, as a counselor about the slave’s inheritance. 5 God made the Holy Spirit dwell in the flesh that he desired,m even though it pre-existed and created all things. This flesh, then, in which the Holy Spirit dwelled, served well as the Spirit’s slave, for it conducted itself in reverence and purity, not defiling the Spirit at all. 6 Since it lived in a good and pure way, cooperating with the Spirit and working with it in everything it did, behaving in a strong and manly way, God chose it to be a partner with the Holy Spirit. For the conduct of this flesh was pleasing, be­ cause it was not defiled on earth while bearing the Holy Spirit. 7 Thus he took his Son and the glori­ ous angels as counselors, so that this flesh, which served blamelessly as the Spirit’s slave, might have a place of res­ idence and not appear to have lost the reward for serving as a slave. For all flesh in which the Holy Spirit has dwelled— and which has been found undefiled and spotless—will receive a reward. 8 Now you have the interpretation of this parable.”

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(V, 7) “I am very glad to have heard this interpretation, Lord,” I

Meaning obscure

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