Friday, March 10, 2006

Talents Remixed

I'm reading Ched Myer's Binding the Strong Man: A Political Reading of Mark's Story of Jesus. Incredible book. Been reading it for a couple months now. Wow. Mind-blowing.

I just was in a conversation about investment, savings, future planning. We pondered the Parable of the Talents. We had always heard it as a pro-investment story. Ched says that we might have once again domesticized one of Jesus' truly subversive parables again. The article is worth the read.

A snippet...

When the sociocultural context indigenous to the story is ignored or suppressed, however, we inevitably recontextualize the story in terms of our own unconscious political assumptions. Our imposed schema often defy the coherence of the text itself.

More importantly, though, this interpretive strategy functions to domesticate the parable to conform with our status quo. Thus stories meant to challenge our preconceptions are used to legitimate them. In this way, we disarm the some of the Gospels' most powerful rhetorical weapons--weapons whose very intent is to rescue believers from domestication by that same status quo.


Michael said...

i was totally ready to look at the parable of the talents afresh.

i was dissapointed in the article though.

it is almost laughable how blind the author is to his own bias. his conclusions about what the parable means and what various symbols in the parables represent is so obviously strongly culturally influenced.

so while i found the article interesting and provocative, in the end i didn't like it much. guess i was hoping for a more realistic version of truth instead of yet another "i have finally uncovered the true essence"

Melvin Bray said...

I loved the article. It finally allowed two of Jesus' parables to read as a cohesive whole, instead of having certain key phrases in each stand conspicuously out of place with most interpretations.

In response to Michael's comment before me, how does one ever interpret anything outside of some type of cultural influence? The question is how close one's cultural influences are to the story's original context. Or maybe, how honest one is in admitting forthrightly that the cultural influences in her interpretation may or may not approximate the orginal context of the story.

Admitting that everyone has some bias (can the myth of objectivity ever die), I don't find Myer's bias laughable; I find it refreshing. At least its an honest attempt to more closely approximate the context of Jesus' day (even if Myer's writing has a little more absolutely authoritative feel than I believe anyone has the right to be about anything that happened 2000-and-some-odd-years ago and wasn't written down until likely many years after the actual occurance).

Ryan Lee Sharp said...

Just in case I forget, here is the new link since the old one is dead...