I keep finding out that what most people think parables are about is wrong

In other words

Often, the Standard & Obvious Plain Meaning of the Story, is directly the opposite to what Jesus probably meant or how his first listeners probably would have understood it

(this Sunday in the RCL)

Master gives three slaves money. Two of them make more money. One buries it. The one who buries it is punished.

Moral of the story:
Use the gifts that God gave you. Don't bury your talent in the dirt. #BestLife #Blessed

So, 1st of all, Nikky was reading Herzog on parables as Pedagogy of the Oppressed, and in that framework the master is NOT GOD, but rather the present system of economic injustice in which landlords & slave owners profit by the work of others, "reaping what [they] did not sow...
...gathering where [they] had not scattered".
And the third servant is (as a colleague's son, unfamiliar with the story and hearing it for the first time put it) "obviously the hero of the story."

(3, maybe of ?)
The first two DOUBLED THEIR MONEY. They weren't playing the stock market or arbitraging commodity price differences or doing value added service. These are house slaves buying the labor of field slaves.

The third refused to participate.

The Master tells the 3rd that the least he could do is make "interest" from lending it out. Some English translations have "usury," which is probably more accurate to what the Master wants the slave to do.

There weren't really banks like we know them back then. "Interest" does not mean 1.2% APR on a Savings Account.

The Master is telling the slave to be a loan shark to desperate farmers.

In a situation remarkably similar to American Farming in the 20th and 21st century, wealthy money lenders make loans to struggling subsistence farmers who *at least* own a handful of earth where they can sit under their own vine and fig tree...

..., earth that they will use as a guarantee on the loan.

When the loan inevitably defaults, the money lenders seize the farm, throwing the former owners out into the cold, with their teeth chattering. Or they become slaves, where once they were free.

Those who have more get more, those who have nothing are left with less than nothing. In other words, in debt. Less than nothing is a negative balance.

Again, the third slave refuses to participate. He is thrown out into the cold, chattering his teeth.

Herzog (I am told - I have not read yet) argues, apparently convincingly, that Jesus's listeners would have understood it this way. This is precisely what the poor of Jesus's time were dealing with.

So where did we get the idea that God is a slaver who desires profit?

Well, I can't tell you who first thought of it, but I can now tell you why your Bible might say so.

Nikky noticed a tense change from the Wise & Foolish Virgins (the Kingdom of Heaven will be) to the Talents (it is like), and (in NRSV) Jesus doesn't say anything about this story being like the Kingdom of Heaven. He could just as well be saying "currently, it is like"

Now, I can read Latin a bit. I have zero Greek but I know how to use a concordance, and also I have insomnia, so here we are.

(If you *KNOW* Greek or Latin, please correct me. If you are, like me, an amateur with Google looking to argue, please just don't.)

My findings...
Neither Greek nor Latin begin with "the Kingdom of Heaven will be (or is) like". They both say something akin to
"it is like..."

Accordingly, the earliest English translations say something vague.

"[the kingdom of heaven]" was first inserted (as far as I can tell) as a gloss in the Geneva Bible, bc the referent of "it" is unclear. Neither Wycliff nor the Great Bible have it.

The Geneva Bible displaced the Great Bible bc ppl liked it more. The translators of the Geneva Bible were proto-Puritans (GB NT published 1557, first use of "Puritan" is 1560s, referring to Geneva Calvinists in discussion of the vestment controversy).

The Puritans who came on the Mayflower read the Geneva Bible. It was the most popular translation during the life of Shakespeare, who quotes it whenever referencing Scripture. Oliver Cromwell was still reading it during the English Civil War.

One notable individual who never read an English, Latin, or Greek version that said the Talents Parable is about the Kingdom of Heaven: Thomas Cranmer, author of the first Book of Common Prayer, who died the year before Geneva was published.

The gloss persists through most English translations, notably the KJV (probably the most read English Bible in history) and the NIV, the most popular contemporary English translation among conservative Christians. The Message also does it.

NAB and NABRE (American Roman Catholics) say
"it" (unspecified) "will be".
SV & RSV also do this.

NRSV corrects to "it is" - present tense. unspecified referent, which is supported (as far as I can tell) in both Greek & Latin, as well as the earliest English translations.

Oh, do you want me to also talk about fucking TALENTS?

Gr&Lat have versions of the word, which meant gold coins. In English it also meant gold but by the 14th century ppl were using it in the contemporary sense - one's natural, God give abilities.

So the translators at Geneva knew that English readers would hear "natural abilities" at least as much as "gold coins", which was not the case in Koine Greek or Vulgar Latin.

(Wycliff, God bless him, has "bezants")

The unBiblical connection between the talents of the parable and your school talent show was actively reinforced by sermons that all make the same point you heard from some dumb sermon or children's Bible.

The Puritans who wrote and read the Geneva Bible were the Pilgrims who displaced Indigenous peoples and set the stage for American Christianity.

Their certainty that God is a harsh master who punishes unprofitable slaves became enshrined in the King James Bible, a translation that sought unity above truth, a work designed to be tolerable to the intolerant.

Anglicanism's vaunted "via media" was not between Cath & Prot. It was between a smart reform and a fanatical one. The fanatics threatened to leave, so the smarties bent and bent and compromised and the fanatics left anyway, leaving behind damage that could not be repaired.

And that's why you were told that the Parable of the Evil Slave Owner and the Courageous Slave Who, Nevertheless, Persisted is actually the Parable of Live Your Best Life.


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More from @adammichaelwood

14 Nov
Don't read if you'll hear my wife preach tomorrow
To you who think the Parable of the Talents is about how we should make the best use of what God gave us, I ask…

Is God a harsh slave master who reaps where he did not sow and gathers what he did not scatter?
Does the God you serve think of any person as worthless?

Does your Father in Heaven cast any of his children into the outer darkness for being lazy and wicked?

Do you worship a God who gives more to those who have, and takes from those who have nothing?
Read 6 tweets
13 Nov
I lived at a seminary for five years. I know a lot of priests.

Of the three most incompetent, immature I have known, two are at least late 40s. The other is mid 30s. (All white men who fucking sailed through ordination process.)

2 of 3 should NEVER have been ordained.
(The 3rd is a good guy who could be a good priest with better formation, mentorship, and therapy. Which he has not gotten.)

Of the two most competent, mature priests I know personally. one is 34 and the other is late 40s or (maybe?) early 50s.
"should NEVER be ordained" isnt IMHO from my own theology of priesthood

The 2 are -in the opinion of MANY mutual acquaintances- faithless, narcissistic, incompetent, & potentially abusive

that parish&dio committees & TWO FUCKING BISHOPS let them through is a srs failure
Read 4 tweets

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