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Robin Parry is the husband of but one wife (Carol) and the father of the two most beautiful girls in the universe (Hannah and Jessica). He also has a lovely cat called Monty (who has only three legs). Living in the city of Worcester, UK, he works as an Editor for Wipf and Stock — a US-based theological publisher. Robin was a Sixth Form College teacher for 11 years and has worked in publishing since 2001 (2001–2010 for Paternoster and 2010– for W&S).

Friday, 25 November 2011

Reading the Bible Again . . . for the First Time

Here is Matthew 25:14–30 put into a more modern setting by Brian Logan of The Church of the Servant King in Eugene. He adds that this is in a pretty rough state and he's happy to receive any suggestions for improvement. But I think it is very interesting. It certainly made me think.

A Transposition:
25:14 "For it is as if a mafia boss, going back to the old country,
summoned his henchmen and entrusted his crime syndicate to them;

25:15 to Joey, he gave the meth, heroin, and prostitution businesses,
to Anton the extortion & protection racket, to Pauli his loan shark
business, to each according to his ability. Then he went off to Italy.

25:16 Joey, the one who had received the meth, heroin, and
prostitution businesses sent off at once his dealers and pimps, and
made 1.5 million dollars.

25:17 In the same way, Anton, the one who had the extortion &
protection rackets made a half mil.

25:18 But Pauli, the one who had received the loan shark business was
afraid to break any legs and so, loaned out no money and holed up with
his brother, Louie.

25:19 After a nice, long vacation in Sicily, the mob boss came to
settle up with his henchmen.

25:20 Then Joey, the one who had received the meth, heroin, and
prostitution businesses came forward, bringing two suitcases full of
dough, saying, 'Tony, you handed over to me the meth, heroin, and
prostitution businesses; see, I have made you 1500 grand and some
change.'

25:21 The mob boss said to him, 'you've done well, good and
trustworthy paisan; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will
make you my right hand man; Come with me to Atlantic City for some
wine, women and song.'

25:22 And Anton, the one with the extortion and protection rackets
also came forward, saying, 'Boss, you handed over to me these two
businesses; see, I have made you 500 grand.'

25:23 The mob boss said to him, 'You've done good, as well. You have
been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of the
lower Eastside; And you, come with me to Atlantic City, as well

25:24 Then Pauli, the one who was given the loan shark business also
came forward, saying, 'Boss, I knew that you were a harsh man,
breaking legs and busting chops;

25:25 so I was afraid, and I went to my brother, Louie's, with the
cash and didn't spend a dime. Here's your 250 grand in full.'

25:26 But mob boss replied, 'You stupid idiot! You knew, did you, that
I bust chops and break legs?

25:27 Then you ought to have invested my money in an annuity with a
guaranteed return for these five years while I've been in Sicily, and
on my return I wouldn't only be holding these 250 g's, but 100 grand
in interest.

25:28 So take this loan shark business from him, and give it to Joey,
the one with the meth, heroin, and prostitution businesses.

25:29 For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will
have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they
have will be taken away.

25:30 As for this worthless idiot, he's not one of us; break his legs,
bust his chops and throw him into the river to drown.

Of course, you need to get the accent right. I can hear it in my head but I cannot get it to come out of my mouth.

Anyway, Brian's point is that first century readers would have seen the characters in Jesus' parable as unsavory types who exploit the vulnerable peasants rather than as positive characters. He is aiming to recapture that sense for us.

I have not looked into this parable myself so I am not committing myself to this take on it but it is certainly thought-provoking.

I wonder what you think.

7 comments:

Andy Goodliff said...

This is similar to the reading offer by Brian Walsh and Sylvia Keesmmat in their paper in Jesus, Paul and the People of God, exploring Tom Wright's theology.

Erin said...

I find this interesting, but is this parable saying the Father is like the ruthless boss who reaps where he doesn't sow? Who values monetary profit so highly?

Here are two links I would highly recommend which put forward an alternative interpretation of the parable. I am still thinking it all through. I've always been taught the parable is about the Father as the 'boss' and the three workers representing lives and the way we use our talents or God-given resources. My doubts making me wonder...What kind of a Father is He???

I now am thinking completely differently. Please read these posts...and I'd really love to hear what you and other readers think.

http://provoketive.com/2011/11/13/parable-of-the-talents-a-slave-narrative-of-injustice-and-oppression/

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/faithforward/2011/11/the-parable-of-the-three-slaves-an-occupy-tale/

They are both by the same author...with the same premise...the second given in the context of the Occupy movement.

James Goetz said...

I need to do more research to evaluate if that is an accurate paraphrase. Regardless, What was Pauli thinking? :-)

Matt said...

The parable of the whistleblower isn't a new concept, but certainly one worth researching.

Anonymous said...

The original has always seem this startling to me.

After centuries of being taught that God is love, and that the rich man can't get into heaven, it's still strangely disconcerting to find an out-and-out and explicit advocacy of Capitalism - including making money from charging interest on loans - inserted in our Bibles.

Robert Hagedorn said...

Challenge yourself. Google First Scandal.

Angie said...

Anonymous, the capitalist mode of production and the goal of capitalizing on one's God-given ability (roughly, self-interest) has a subtle, though very consistent Biblical basis. Greed and complete egoism, of course, do not.