Religion and Science in the Parable of the Unjust Steward

Satisfactory Essays
ABSTRACT: The Parable of the Unjust Steward should be interpreted allegorically, its literal interpretation shown to be impossible. Certain facts make this parable unique: a lord as the Lord; divine possessions; the symbolism of the house interpreted as a human being; the material principles of the world understood as the governor of a human being; the Lord’s debtors as spiritual teachers of various kinds; theological doctrines with their own theogonic and cosmogonic views, all claiming to know the truth in its wholeness. Their debts consist of their misunderstandings and errors which have caused the difference between them and truth. Examples of the part of the material principles of the world in correcting theological doctrines are adduced. Two different kinds of debt are considered. I conclude that ‘make to yourselves friends of the riches of unrighteousness’ means that the material reasons of the world, the wisdom of this age, must be used for the good of spiritual teachings.

The subject I am going to approach may at first glance seem not to belong at all to the subject of the current session. However we shall see that the subsequent material has the most immediate connection to the theme of philosophy of religion. The question is of the Parable of the Unjust Steward.

Before I begin the interpretation itself, let me remark that this parable is a text unique with respect to its isolation from the rest of the texts of the Bible. For in all of Scripture there is not even the slightest reference to this parable. And the Parable of the Unjust Steward has remained in the darkness of misunderstanding not only after the first glance, but even after the thousandth one. No exegete has ever been able to give an interpretation which is free of internal and other contradictions. This fact also makes this parable unique. So much for the rule declaring that closer an interpreter to the time of Scripture better is his chance to penetrate into the mystery of it, which lies at the base of the habit of magnifying the opinions of the Church Fathers.

It will not be out of place here to recall the words of Maimonides: "a story which is repugnant to both reason and common sense ... contains a profound allegory ... and the greater absurdity of the letter, the deeper the wisdom of the spirit." We have just such a case.
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