Summary: This parable is deeply embedded in Middle Eastern tradition and culture, and it is to that culture that interpreters should turn.
By the fourth century the parable of the unjust manager ..... which we read today ...... and the parable of the prodigal son were separated by ..... a chapter division.
If the monks who established those divisions ...... had kept the two parables in the same chapter, ....... The entire history of the interpretation of this parable ..... I believe.... would be different.
This Parable and the Prodigal Son both have a noble master who demonstrates extraordinary grace to one who has become wayward.
Both stories contain an ignoble son or manager ..... who wastes the master's resources.
In both cases the son or manager ..... unknowingly or knowingly ..... throws himself ..... on the mercy of the noble master.
These parallels suggest ..... that the parable of the unjust manager needs to be examined in light of the three parables that proceed it. The Lost Sheep---The Lost Coin and the Prodigal Son.
I am convinced that this story continues to discuss ...... the theological theme ..... that appears in the parable of the prodigal son.
The subject is........ God, ... sin, .... grace and salvation... It is Not honesty when dealing ..... with money.
Superficially, .... the parable appears to present the story of a manager .....who cheats his master .... and is commended by Jesus for being a liar and a thief.
This parable is deeply embedded in Middle Eastern tradition and culture, ...... and it is to that culture ..... that interpreters should turn.
(Slow) How would Jesus' listeners ..... have heard this parable?
How would they have responded to it?
The scene states,
BIBLE "That a rich man had a manager... and charges were made against the manager for wasting the rich man's goods." END
Who brought these charges?
We are not told, ...... but the natural assumption is that the masters friends in the community told him ..... Not to trust his manager.
If the reports were from other servants, ..... the master would most certainly have investigated further.
Clearly, ..... the reports are from sources that the master ..... considers very reliable.
Now.... If the rich man had been a scoundrel, ...... the community would not have bothered to report ..... the managers wrongful activities.
The first line of the parable reveals three kinds of people: the manager, .... his master ..... and the community.
To grasp the parable's thrust, ..... the character of each ...... needs to be understood.
In this parable the community is just offstage .....but is still an important part of what happens .... on stage.
In all the parables of Jesus, ..... when there are two major characters: .... one is ignoble, and the other is always noble.
Both are never evil.
In this case, the manager is a liar and a thief, ...... but there is No Hint that the master is dishonest.
In addition,..... the reader must decide whether the story is about bankers .... or a story about farmers.
The language clearly presupposes a farming scene.
It focuses on rents to be paid by tenant's ...... and the rents are in the form of agricultural produce.... Not money.
The Greek word oikonomos (Oy-ka-no- mos) translated manager in this parable ..... can mean a manager of a farm or ...... a banker's agent.
Middle Eastern .... Arabic, Syriac and Coptic versions of this parable, ..... have consistently translated this keyword as: "estate manager" not as "banker."
After being informed of the managers dishonesty, the owner summons the manager and asks, ..... "What is this I hear about you?"
This question ...is a classic Middle Eastern opener... that is used before .... such a confrontation.
The manager does not know what information has reached the master, ..... and if he panics on hearing this question ... it will no doubt give the master ..... A great deal of insight.
But this particular manager ..... is too clever.
Indeed, ..... the master has probably used this same technique with his other servants.
What is this I hear of you?
The manager knows the game ..... and refuses to play.
He responds to this direct order ... with complete silence.
After a few tense moments, ... the master realizes that he cannot extract any new information from the manager, .......
But he already has enough reliable information ..... to fire him.
Accordingly, the master continues, BIBLE "Give me an accounting of your management,... You cannot be my manager any longer." END
The Greek word translated "accounting" has a distinct article attached to it .... which means ..... "the account books."
The manager is not asked to "balance the books" but to "turn them in."
In short, ...... he is fired on the spot.
Under Rabbinic Law at the time:
The appointment and powers of an agent may be revoked at any time with or without good cause, ........