Back to the Basics: Revisiting a Traditional Interpretation of the Unjust Steward

This is the second paper I wrote this semester for my New Testament Exegesis class on the Parable of the Unjust Steward in Luke 16:1-13. Click on the link below to access the PDF.

Back to the Basics: Revisiting a Traditional Interpretation of the Parable of the Unjust Steward

It’s pretty lengthy, but the gist of it in blog-lingo is this:  A lot of times we tend to shrug off this parable because it’s just plain hard to understand.  How could the master possibly commend the manager when he’s just been swindled?  Well, Jesus’ listeners felt the same way about the parable of the “good” Samaritan or the “righteous” tax collector.  Those parables don’t shock us because we don’t have preconceived notions of what Samaritans or tax collectors should be like.  But because we still find dishonesty offensive in our culture, this parable retains its full shock value. “For the first time, we ourselves must truly grapple with the idea that an unrighteous person may, in fact, be better than a Christian at some aspect of spirituality.”  Therefore, we should seek to make use of what we have been given to glorify God.

And I wrote about a lot of other stuff too, like where the parable ends and how it relates to the larger context and all sorts of widely debated scholarly issues.  If you can wade through the Bible major jargon, go for it.  If you actually read it all, leave me a comment and I’ll give you a cookie.

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Lauren, I just finished reading your paper on the unjust steward, and I commend you for your research, observations, and an over-all well written research paper. I must admit that I have never studied/researched this parable/story to that extend, having always taken the more traditional view I guess.

    I believe the text makes it clear that the manager was commended for his shrewdness and cleverness rather than for his dishonesty/injustice. Even if it wasn’t completely clear from the text, I think we would come to this conclusion in order for the story to harmonize with other teachings of Jesus.

    I like the New Living Translation for verse 8: “The rich man had to admire the dishonest rascal for being so shrewd. And it is true that the children of this world are more shrewd in dealing with the world around them than are the children of the light.”

    I like your observation, Lauren, that Jesus often used images and metaphors that were intended to shake people out of their complacency.

    I agree with your conclusion drawn from the story: Christians should seek to make the most use of what we have been given to glorify God. I especially like one of your closing comments, “Christians should thus use their wealth not for momentary gain or pleasure, but as an investment, a trust which guarantees that they will later be rewarded with the true riches of the kingdom.”

    Thanks for sharing your paper, Lauren.


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