Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Jesus was no capitalist usurer

Brad offers a reading of the parable in Luke 19.11-27 that may turn a few common assumptions on their head. But to my mind it makes a lot of sense of some otherwise uncomfortable details.

The implications of this reading are significant, since it removes one of the few passages used by defenders of usury to claim that Jesus (implicitly) overturns the scriptural prohibition against charging interest on a loan. It goes without saying that this practice is a central pillar of our present economic system.


Brad Littlejohn said...

Thanks Byron, glad to be of service!

I'm afraid I wasn't being a very good parishioner in church Sunday, as I was working the post up in my head instead of listening to the sermon properly. :-\

Matheson said...

Interesting reading. Could it be that more of Jesus' parables about the kingdom of God are actually meant to be ironic? This is definitely a new thought, for me at least! It would put a whole new spin on heaps of parables.

Two that springs to mind immediately are the parable of the persistent widow and the story about the guy knocking at his friend's door in the middle of the night. Maybe these and other parables are actually comedy - tongue in cheek parodies that mock popular misconceptions of God's kingdom.

In which case they would indeed be words spoken in public for those who have ears but cannot hear. They speak in irony the truth of Lk 11.9-13. In other words, maybe we are reading in the parables not just 'riddles' but messages hidden in layers of irony?

Maybe this is not so new. But it does contradict the story I'm usually told, which is that if there are details in the parables that don't seem to fit analogically, then that's because the parables are simple stories intended to make one simple point and the details don't matter.