The Parable Of The Unjust Steward (Luke 16:1-13): A Reexamination Of The Traditional View In Light Of Recent Challenges -- By: Dave L. Mathewson

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 38:1 (Mar 1995)
Article: The Parable Of The Unjust Steward (Luke 16:1-13): A Reexamination Of The Traditional View In Light Of Recent Challenges
Author: Dave L. Mathewson


The Parable Of The Unjust Steward (Luke 16:1-13):
A Reexamination Of The Traditional View
In Light Of Recent Challenges

Dave L. Mathewson*

The parable of the unjust steward in Luke 16:1–13 is well known for its vexing exegetical difficulties. Who is the kyrios of v. 8? Why would he praise a dishonest steward? How could Jesus possibly hold the steward up as an example for his followers? What is the relationship of vv. 8b–13 to the rest of the parable? J. S. Kloppenborg goes so far as to say that “in the ninety years since the publication of Adolf Jülicher’s monumental study on the parables of Jesus there is hardly a consensus on any single aspect of this parable.”1

Traditionally Luke 16:1–13 has been understood as portraying a steward who cheats his master but who is commended for his wisdom, a quality to be imitated by Christ’s disciples in their use of material possessions in light of the coming eschatological kingdom. But the difficulties in the parable have elicited a variety of challenges to this consensus. In answer to the question of how a master could praise a dishonest steward, some scholars have postulated on socioeconomic grounds that the steward’s actions were not really unjust at all and that he was merely releasing his commission.2 Others have seen the parable as a clear case of irony or have appealed to textual emendation or mistranslations of an Aramaic original. Furthermore most scholars deny that vv. 8b–13 have anything to do with the original parable and that the parable has anything to do with wealth.3

Recently, however, a significant and comprehensive treatment of Luke 16:1–13 by D. J. Ireland has convincingly reasserted and defended the traditional understanding of the parable against these and other challenges.4

* Dave Mathewson is pastor of Cardwell Community Church, 289 McKeown Lane, Cardwell, MT 59721.

After surveying a wide array of challenges to the traditional interpretation and unity of Luke 16:1–13 Ireland finds them wanting and concludes that the traditional interpretation still remains the most plausible on exegetical, contextual and theological grounds. A ste...

You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
Click here to subscribe
visitor : : uid: ()