Economic Rationalism – A Radical Reading of the Parable of the Talents

See Matthew 25:14-30. Never liked this one much – probably because as a self-perceived “one talent” person I have always seen the third guy as hardly done by. But what if we read the story differently from the traditional morality tale, “protestant work ethic” approach? What if we heard this story through the ears of the original hearers, the anawim, the “poor of the land”? They weren’t out to make profits – they just wanted to survive. The huge amounts of money involved were beyond their perception – even the one talent of silver would seem like a million dollars to them. Their subsistence system was conceptually out of sync with the harsh profiteering of the owner and his two minions. The third servant bucks the system – refuses to play the game and is cast out. Sounds suspiciously like the one who came not to lord it over us but to serve! Could go on, but let’s just leave it as a teaser. See here for an article pursuing this line (it’s on page 12). I have long ago come to the conclusion that this is the true intention of Jesus’ parables – to tease hearers into kingdom awareness rather than provide moral maxims.

Published by wonderingpilgrim

Not really retired but reshaped and reshaping. Now a pilgrim at large ready to engage with what each day brings.

2 thoughts on “Economic Rationalism – A Radical Reading of the Parable of the Talents

  1. I like the concept and your way of thinking. I can’t say if it is right or wrong but it is different. There is evidence in the Bible that God expects people to sin and does not condemn them because of their short coming. But in this case the Bible says:

    KJV Matthew 25:29-30
    29. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.
    30. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

    Not good news for the one talent man. Anyway I don’t think God is talking about money in this parable. Let’s face it, God can create all the money anyone would want. What He is referring to is the ability.

    Too bad they used the word talent for money. This confuses people. God is not referring to anyone’s talents. In this parable God is referring to the use of the abilities God gives us.

    KJV Matthew 25:15
    15. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.

    Check out the word ability in a concordance. You may be surprised at what you find.

    Keep up the thinking out of the box. Glad to see someone else thinks for themselves instead of just repeating what they have been told.


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