A SOCIAL-SCIENTIFIC READING OF THE PARABLE OF THE SHREWD STEWARD IN LUKE 16:1-9 IN A CONTEXT OF CORRUPTION
AbstractUnderstanding the parables of Jesus is difficult, complicated, and sometimes controversial. In the case of the parable of the shrewd steward, this is particularly true. The parable as recorded in Luke 16:1-9, has for many years been a source of bewilderment and confusion for scholars (Combrink 1996:286; Kloppenborg 1989:474). Ford (2000:10) and Herzog (1994:233) state that, of all the parables that are accredited to Jesus, it is generally held to be among the most difficult to comprehend. In the words of Scott (1989:255), “[t]his master’s praise for his unjust steward has created confusion, controversy, and embarrassment in the interpretation of the parable”, for how could the master praise the servant for such an unjust act? The master’s praise is especially problematic in the social, political, cultural and economic context of the author of this article (Nigeria), where corruption is no longer seen as a vice but as a virtue. The question is, how can the parable, which seems to encourage dishonesty, be read, and understood in a context of corruption? It is this question this paper will attempt to answer.
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