Our understanding of Scripture must always be open to refinement. All interpretations of Scripture need to be tentatively final. They have to be final in the sense that obedience cannot not wait for the disciple to read yet one more technical article in biblical studies. At the same time, all efforts in biblical interpretation are flawed. Our interpretation of Scripture, therefore, must never be closed to correction and revision.

One of the biblical stories that warrants a fresh look is the parable of the pounds. Lesslie Newbigin talks about the "plausibility structures" through which all of us see the world. What he means is that each of us perceives reality through the lenses of our language, culture, history, politics, economic theories, religion and military. As Westerners, one of our lenses is capitalism. Does the parable of the pounds need to be liberated from the presuppositions of capitalism that perhaps have unconsciously influenced our translations and interpretations of this story?

With this question in mind the introduction to the parable, whether from Luke or his source, makes clear that some of Jesus' followers were apocalyptic enthusiasts. The story before the telling of this parable concludes with Jesus saying to Zacchaes and his friends, "Today salvation has come to this house" (Lk 19:9). Jesus and his disciples were on their way to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover, which was a joyful recollection of political liberation from Egypt. The phrase "today salvation has come" is dripping with apocalyptic overtones. If salvation has come for a hated tax collector like Zaccheas, it surely has arrived for the nation! Passover is the perfect time for "the day of the LORD" (Amos 5:18) to appear. The text states that Jesus taught this parable, "because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately" (Lk 19:11).

 

 

from page 397, Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes