Talk:Parable of the Unjust Steward
What the heck is this supposed to mean, anyway?
Difficult only for some people
I'm modifying the introduction a little, because the parable is not difficult to understand. But it has been for some people who don't understand a few principles about reading the bible.Mdvaden 19:40, 13 August 2007 (UTC)
- Actually, many biblical scholars have categorized this passage as difficult. See "Stories with intent.."--Nowa (talk) 23:46, 8 July 2012 (UTC)
Consistency. Removed link of commercial site blog citing no basis or resources for content.
Broad Context and the Greek word "kai"
The understanding of the parable hinges on the PLACEMENT of the word "also" which is derived from the Greek "kai". I tried to include this information via the external link Figure of Speech Parable: Luke 16 Page but one user deleted the informational link, without adding the information or contributing to the discussion page.
If the Greek word "kai" (also) is used, the meaning changes depending on whether "also" is placed before a word or after a word - here, "disciples" in Luke 16:1. In one spot, it means that Jesus said the parable exclusively to them in addition to something else he said to them. In another spot, it means totally different, that he told the parable to THEM in addtion to SOMEONE ELSE.
In Luke 16:1 the "kai" or "also" is placed before "disciples" in the Greek text and completely limits the entire meaning to Jesus addressing the disciples in addition to someone else. This requires going all the way back to Luke 15:1-3 to see who the full audience was. Which included the Scribes and Pharisees.
This sets the context and further shows why they got bent out of shape. They then become the "unjust" steward of the parable. Thus, the parable is not difficult to understand, unless people make it hard to understand by not laying the premise.
Steward's Salary compared to "just" or "unjust"
The steward was not exactly commended for wisdom. It was more for "shrewdness" and not exactly BECAUSE of the shrewdness. It hinges on the "had" (past tense). The steward "had" already been shrewd, and changed circumstances; due to the outcome of the shrewdness, the master offered praise. It can be deserved because the scripture clearly defines UNJUST for the steward and there is not way of getting around that.
A steward had right to forgive debt, and surely could have reduced his salary. But that is not a PROBABLE outcome. Because the parable deals with being JUST versus UNJUST. Scripture also dictates that just living includes properity and that a man is worthy of his hire. If a steward eliminated the worthiness of his hire, he would not be subjecting himself to prospering, being compensated properly, nor doing things decently and in order.
Even if we twisted it so that he did reconcile loss by taking reduced pay, that could easily leave the original accusation standing as a true report of negligence or damage. The justness was based on what occured before the financial changes to records, not afterward. If the steward had to change the paperwork to recover the loss, then its almost certain he was rightly turned in.
In that case, its NOT PROBABLE, or near IMPOSSIBLE that a loss to his wage or commission was any reason to be commended.Mdvaden 22:31, 13 August 2007 (UTC)
Infringement seems reversed
Copyright concerns were listed for evaluation here. Thanks for bringing this up for review. Archives cannot confirm the date of first publication of that external site. But we see what seems to be the natural development of this text, which begins here. An IP editor that same day added a line that we now find a bit lower, here. Months later, the word "the" was added here, which brings it closer to that suspected source. A month later, it was further expanded here towards that source. All evidence I can find suggests it was written here. --Moonriddengirl (talk) 02:07, 2 June 2009 (UTC)
The interpretation of the parable given, referencing Green's and Phillips' commentaries points toward a justification by works theology. This interpretation is not acceptable for those Christians who hold to salvation by grace theology, which is no small portion of world Christians. The interpretation given states that our works of using wealth (mammon) to help the poor will secure a place for us in eternal life. Can this interpretation be branched into two to include one that does not state such a theology? Sources among the commentaries on Luke include Arthur Just's Luke 9:51-24:53 in the Concordia Commentary series. One can also make an argument that the Biblical Text does not explicitly identify our works of supporting the poor and that they buy us anything. So the theology of salvation by works is imported and therefore importing salvation by grace is equally valid. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Buchs (talk • contribs) 01:39, 1 August 2010 (UTC)
- I don't see the interpretation as teaching justification by works; just saying that good works are, well, good. -- Radagast3 (talk) 02:32, 1 August 2010 (UTC)
First, It Is A Parable
Personal interpretation is intended. The use of Parable is a Socratic method of teaching, condemning, praising or saying anything without being held completely responsible for it: the hearer of the story must include his or her own interpretation. Obviously it can be divided with the theological argument between works and grace but there are many more interpretations. If Jesus' disciples are the Unjust Steward then perhaps he is saying that in order to remain in Jesus' shadow they must cast their own. This is just one interpretation based on analogy that the Lord is Jesus, who requires the apostle "be perfect", convert, transmit the Lord's will, but in order to do that he must convince the debtors (sinners - people who don't believe in him) to give Jesus what is owed to him (total devotion). The apostles can't force the sinners to devote their lives to Jesus, but they can convince them to devote part of their lives to him (hence the forgiving of some debt). This exacts the hierarchy: the sinner owes Jesus his soul but will only give part of it and won't give all if demanded (will end up in debtor's prison - hell), the sinner is entirely unjust and evil for this reason. The apostle who is Jesus' servant and has been given the legal right to forgive debt, does so for the sinner in order to transform a totally evil person into a totally good one (this is a technicality) but at the same time he cheats the lord of money (devotion to him) because otherwise he would be cast out of the Lord's employ because he can't recover any debt (all or nothing scheme). Even though the apostle is unjust because he is forgiving the sinner in order to devote himself, this is the only way to be a true devotee of Jesus. Perhaps it is a means of humbling the disciples: while the sinners are evil, for all his devotion the apostle is still unjust. Forgiveness trickles down, I suppose.
This is reflective of mystery cults in general, especially Pythagorean who devote themselves entirely to purity and asceticism but are required to teach what they know from their personal Daemon. A lot of it is incommunicable and requires years of philosophical devotion. How do you do what is required of you when very few people will follow you into a temple and begin their year of silence? If everyone was a Pythagorean adept, then there would be no civilization, no food, no clothing, no people to teach! This paradox, or catch 22 is part of the statement "the only thing I know is that I know nothing". They forgive the layman his understandable inability to completely devote himself to Pythagorean principles and take the burden on themselves in order to teach what they can. The orders of initiation in many mystery religions do this in successive stages, or perhaps like nesting Russian dolls, gauging the level of devotion and slowly bringing the initiate into the highest degree.
I think this article needs to add some more of the philosophical interpretations as well as the dogmatic. This is why the New Testament is so interesting. The Torah has Midrash to evolve the ancient myths of the Old Testament with the philosophical knowledge learned by the Jews in Zoroastrian Persia and Babylon. Christians don't have midrash, instead they have a bridge built from the hollow myth to the deeper spiritual philosophy of mystery cults like Mithrais and Attis and the efforts of Gnostics in the Jesus myth.
Disagree & another interpretation
First I have to disagree with your Socratic vision. Either you believe in God and Jesus, and - if so - finding the meaning to his words is indeed a meaningful task, and an important task for those who also believe and who search for the meaning in his words. Either you don't but then? Who cares? You're being just a literary critic of some "publication" which is merely irrelevant to those like you who don't believe.
For me this parable makes perfect sense in the light of the written facts:
- steward is accused unto his lord for WASTING LORDS'S GOODS (just accused);
- the lord request the steward to give an account of his stewardship (it is also implied that he will eventually lose his job as the lord's steward);
- steward decides to act in favour of being received into people houses. In other words he contemplates to create a Plan B for himself, in case things went wrong. They still did not since
- now steward actually WASTES LORDS'S GOODS condoning part of them ALL of the lord's debtors. In other words: he forgive those who has trespassed against his lord's goods, which he as the steward is in charge of;
- only now the lord labels the steward as UNJUST and
- COMMENDS THE UNJUST STEWARD, because "he had done [i.e. WASTED LORDS'S GOODS] wisely". Of course steward's act was not a pure charity, since he hoped to receive "well publicity" or at least be received into debtors' houses. But still "forgiving those who trespassed against us" is, as in my opinion Jesus tries to conveys us, the only wise method of wasting our goods in order to "Make ourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness" serving God not mammon. Yet we need to be cautious not to be deceived or ripped by anybody in this process: "If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own?". Kind of an "unsocratic" mystery. Guswen (talk) 01:42, 25 September 2013 (UTC)