I’m currently reading the paper presented by Sylvia C. Keesmaat and Brian J. Walsh at the 2010 Wheaton College Theological conference on N.T. Wright. They are discussing the (lack of) economic justice concerns in Wright’s JVG. They come upon the parable of the talents in Luke 19.11-26, which is, as they note, set in the house of Zaccheaus. I’ve had always heard and thus always read that the Parable of the Talents was about using God’s, ironically, talents to increase the kingdom of God with punishment for those who do not. It never occurred to be to read it in the light of the economic issues of 1st century Palestine as I had other portions of the Gospels, particularly Luke.
Anyway, they note that interest charged was not a good thing, especially if you were following the (Levitical) Law (of which Luke was a fan of). To read Jesus as praising this sort of behavior would have Jesus decrying the Law and praising a 1000% return on investment. Further, they note that the clothe was used for contaminated uses. Also, I note the excuse given by the peasant,
I was afraid because you are a hard man to deal with, taking what isn’t yours and harvesting crops you didn’t plant.’ (Luk 19:21 NLT)
Surely the landowner is not God who steals and deals, is he? Not. They make a good point as well when they note that the parable ends rather brutally. And remember, this is set in the house of the tax-collector who by tradition had to increase through interest and taking what wasn’t his by law with force and had come to follow Christ.
This paper is presented in a dialogue for, with Sylvia and Brian talking to each other about N.T. Wright’s works and theology which seems to stop just start of economic justice. Yet, in this work, they present ideas for growth which are reflective of Wright’s leadership in opening, or as someone else said, adding substance to, the Scriptures. It would seem that 1st Century Palestine had more in common with 21st century America than just a few religious zealots proclaiming the end of the world while vying for the title of Messiah.
The title refers to my method of bible study, in which I listen with intent to others on their views of the Text and then suddenly drop bombs. I’m not sure if it is as fun when it happens to me as when it happens to others.