Saturday, March 04, 2006

One can basically raise 4 questions from this parable:

1. In what way was the manager dishonest?
This happens to be fundamental to the meaning of the whole parable. We weren't told how the manager squandered the master's wealth. However, he was already been called a "dishonest manager". His subsequent conduct however strangely and only resulted in praise from his master. It therefore begs the question: was his subsequent action really dishonest and corrupt?

2. What is the Palestinian economic situation reflected in the parable?
Derrett has suggested that among the practices in the Near Eastern countries are agency and usury. Therefore it would be possible that the manager acted as an agent for the master. In this case, any criminal act on the part of the manager will have no bearing of accountability on the master. He could therefore been practising various dishonest acts to gain profit for himself: for example, renting and lending out his master's land and goods for usury without his master's knowledge. Now that he is in the risk of being dismissed, he summoned the debtors to forgo his own profits to get in the good books of society lest he needs favours from them after losing his job.

3. Why does the master approve of the manager's actions?
The master would not have known of the manager's usurious transactions. He would most probably release them himself if they would later come to light. The manager's craftiness and prudence in releasing the debts, which as not the master's, to win favour in his impending dismissal -- earned his master's praise.

4. What is the point of comparison in the parable?
The conclusion of the parable is clear in v.8a: the master approved of that dishonest manager cause he had acted prudently. He has used his own wealth to insure his future in the face of crisis.

Fitzmyer's contribution to the understanding of the parable brings up some interesting points. However, this will serve only as a harbinger of more to discover because scholars and critics have seen to differ in their interpretation of the parable.

Maeghan

Fitzmyer, Joseph A. "The Story of the Dishonest Manager (Lk 16:1-13)." Theological Studies (1964): 23-42.
Picture from http://office.microsoft.com/

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