New spin on parable of the talents?

by euripides 1 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • euripides

    Luke 19:11-28

    I received the following message (abbreviated) from a colleague describing a new interpretation of the identity of the 'nobleman' in the parable of the talents (a/k/a parable of the pounds) as wrought by Latin American liberation theology:

    "The nobleman gets rich by charging people
    interest. All through the Middle Ages, charging
    interest was considered a sin because one was not
    loving one's neighbor as oneself. (sic) In this light, the
    nobleman would not be symbolizing God but rather seen
    as a "bad guy". Those servants who also charged
    interest were playing along with the game and would
    also be evil. The final servant recognized the
    profiteering for what it was and chose not to
    participate in it. In this sense, Christ was
    criticizing this system in his final sentence and
    lauding those who do not participate in it."

    While this makes for a creative modern spin, I seriously don't think it's textually justified. My understanding (apart from WT) had been than in the Lucan spin to the Churches, the slaves were the collective Churches (and Churches are people) and their talents might have been various forms of resources. Written from the perspective of the churches vis-a-vis the synagogue communities of 80-90 CE, this was an indictment of those Churches who were not cultivating Jesus worship in the way they were supposed to. Further, the author couches the telling of this parable in Jesus' approach to Jerusalem and his assumption of authority, thus leading the hearer/reader to draw the inference that Jesus is the nobleman, not a 'villain.' I am interested in all of your thoughts and comments, both upon the alternate spin, the traditional one, my understanding, and the WT spin, of course!


  • Narkissos

    Hi Euripides,

    Both interpretations share the common (mis?)conception that a parable should be read as an allegory (implying a term-to-term correspondence, A means A', B means B', etc.), as is practiced in Mark 4 etc. but is probably not the earliest point of the parables. Interestingly the amoral parables in Luke (ex. 16:1ff) are probably closer to the general working of the parable, in a cynic-like style.

    One very interesting read in this regard (and many others) is Eberhard Jüngel's Gott als Geheimnis der Welt (God or the Mystery of the World? -- I don't know if it has been translated into English but I guess so).

    Edit: found it: Eberhard Jüngel, God as the Mystery of the World, trans. Darrell Guder (Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans, 1983).

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