Slog Bible Study: Luke 19:23-27


I'm starting to have second thoughts about this "Bible".
That's the New Testament that everyone's been talking about! Prosperity Gospel IS the word of the Lord.

Glory to God!!!

what fucked up version of the "bible" are you citing now, Goldy?
Obviously jesus is no liberal.
cause a liberal would have taken everything from the guys who actually worked and produced and given it to the slacker mooches.....
That sounds like what kings do.
"Now bring me the enemies who have said mean things about me on Twitter. Kill them while I watch!"
I'd like to ask Jesus something about that parable: Okay, the lord (small-l) rewards the servants who work to increase their talents and punishes the servant who locks his talents away. Okay. We get it. But. What about the servant who works just as hard and loses the principal?
Luke 19:13 (KJV):
And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come.
@3, here's the King James Version if you prefer.

@Everyone else, you do realize that this is a parable, right? And that the point being made isn't the "prosperity Gospel" one, but rather that it's incumbent on the religious not just to "hoard" their faith to themselves but also to get out in the community and spread an increase it. Basically, consider it an ancient world method of creating a viral meme.

As for killing all of those who reject the king, we've always known that Christianity has always threatened the faithless with death and hell.
@9 Hmph. My KJV says 'talents' not 'pounds.' I thought the KJV was supposed to be the ultimate, definitive version. How can there be DIFFERING ultimate, definitive versions?
First, Goldy, if you’re going to take this parable on, the entire bit is Luke 19: 11-27. Focusing on the last five lines only, it’s easily taken out of context. (A variation of this can also be found via Matthew 25:14-30.)

One key point to keep in mind with this verse is that it borrows from a historical event, which the Apostles likely mentally referenced when told the parable. When Herod the Great died in 4 BC, he divided his kingdom between Herod Antipas, Herod Philip and Archelaus. Archelaus, who had been given Judea, went to Rome to ask that they validate his inheritance, as they were overlords of Herod’s kingdom, and they had to validate Herod’s distribution of power before it become legitimate. Archelaus was challenged by a delegation of 50 eminent Jews, who did not want him as their King. (Rome confirmed Archelaus’ inheritance, but did not name him King.)

Even taken completely in its proper context, this is a tough lesson to learn. Succinctly, this is about trust, tests and rewards. I also believe it’s about how one interprets one’s relationship with God when it comes to free will versus authority.

God gives us talents, which we shouldn’t hide or not make use of, but which we are obligated to use. God gives us free will and trusts us to do what is right with these talents, which is in effect a test. The reward is that as you increasingly benefit from making full use of your talents, so also do your responsibilities increase. (That no responsibility is required of those whose lot in life improves is alluded to in Goldy’s snippet of Scripture, which is inaccurate.)

As for those having, more will be given, and those who have little, it will be taken away, it can be interpreted in two ways, both of which I would consider valid. If you have a talent or skill, it must be improved upon, or neglect over time will result in its loss. It also displays an unfortunate way of humanity – those that have often acquire more, and those that don’t have much are often targets of which what little they have will be taken away. (This latter point would also be reinforced by the Apostles’ learned and living experience with “Oriental” leaders, of which Herod is, unfortunately, a prime example.)

Finally, the servant that was punished for hiding his money away interpreted his master as harsh and cruel, who demanded and expected gain on his behalf when he did not labor for it. Thus the servant did nothing for fear of doing wrong in his master’s eyes.

My personal interpretation of this is twofold. First, it comes down to the idea of whether or not mankind has free will or not. It assumes that we have no free agency over our lives. I would say we do, but that sometimes the choices we have to make are very hard, and sometimes the results of mankind’s cumulative actions are horrific. And we don’t want to accept, often, this fact, whether it’s in our personal lives or with regard to the paths mankind takes as a whole.

Second, I interpret this as that God wants us to seek our talents and develop them, even at the risk of periodic failure, and that doing so not only improves our individual lives, but those of mankind as a whole, keeping in mind the increased responsibilities that come with the benefits.
Nobody can even agree on what a "talent" is, @11. It seemed to vary depending on whether you're in the Old or New Testament, whether you're in Israel, whether you're talking gold or silver. So it may have come down to a dispute in the printing shops, or a slap-fight among typesetters. I guess even the KJV worked like open-source software.
Clearly this king was a previous incarnation of Ayn Rand.
That's my brother's FAVORITE passage. He'd recite that till I wanted to puke.
@12 : I was thinking the same thing--there's more to this parable. Also, parables are always really complicated to dissect, with lots of layers of meaning. Nice work explaining it, I agree with your interpretations.
@12 : Palamedes, I was thinking some of the same things. Parables are brilliantly complex with multiple layers of meaning. You did a nice job of taking this one apart.
I did not realize Chase Bank was that old.
Redistribution of wealth is totally conservative and Godly as long as you're not redistributing it more evenly.
@19 - You're welcome. Dad was a seminarian for a bit, and some of it stuck.
Our minister did a full sermon on the Matthew version of this parable two weeks ago:…

There are two basic ways to interpret this parable, with one of them being the "spread Gods gifts around and don't bury them in the ground" version someone mentioned above, which is also Native American tradition. As described in the sermon, the Native Americans were surprised when a peace pipe given to a Puritan was kept rather than passed along to the next gift recipient - gifts freely given and regiven and so forth (unfortunately leading to the term "Indian giver" rather than the more appropriate "white man taker.")

However, another way to look at this parable is as an example of the way things are, but shouldn't be - the rich get richer and the poor get poorer so what are you going to do abut it? What the rich man has done to the servant is wrong, and unfair - are you just going to stand there and accept it?

One nice thing about parables is that they generate a lot of discussion....
What shitty translation of the bible are you using, the Dan Brown Version?
@19 "Parables are brilliantly complex "

Yes. So brilliant that common folk can't understand them making them worthless to themselves.
@12, recent scientific research indicates that humans do not have "free will." In particular, a person's "decision" is actually made before the person is conscious of having made the decision.

How would you interpret that "parable" given that free will is an illusion?
@12, your sophistication and command of nuance are admirable, but I can't help but feel like your response is a lot more about what you bring to the table than what that crappy little parable brings.

You're reading a whole lot more into a stupid old story than is really there. What you read into it tells me that you're a thoughtful person, but you don't need to hang that thoughtfulness up on the flimsy framework of a poorly-translated folk tale.

And anyway, I'm having a damned hard time taking any moral lesson from a story where the arbiter concludes with, "Bring my political enemies, and kill them while I watch!" That's not "tough" or complex; it's barbaric bullshit.
Long story short, the allegory says use your God given gifts to increase his flock of believers or else go to hell.
Well put, 27.
@27 and beyond:

One interpretation is that this is an example of very bad behavior by the master, not something to be emulated. The servant is placed in the untenable position of either increasing the wealth of a bad man or being punished, and some scholars think the people of the time would have identified with the third servant as a martyr.

Here is part of the sermon I mentioned above:

*In the children’s lectionary Bible we have, Jesus tells the story and asks, “Do you like my story?” The listeners assure him they do not. Jesus says, “I’m glad you didn’t like my story. I didn’t like it, either…My story is about the way things are [the rich get richer and the poor people get poorer]. But that’s not the way they should be.” The implication for the faithful, then, is “What are you going to do about it?”*