Everybody's Got One
A blog. An opinion. An elimination orifice. A dream. An agenda. A past. A hidden talent. A conceptual filter. A cross. A charism (often the same). A task. A wound. A destiny. A lost love. A blind spot. A bad habit. A secret. A passion. A soul ... okay, maybe not everybody ...
Sunday, November 24, 2002

 

Blogging even less than usual because of something fluish, but I did want to note this as the ecclesial year runs out: last Wednesday's gospel from Luke was a variant of the previous Sunday's gospel from Matthew with some very interesting differences. First, the context: in Luke's version, Jesus is drawing near to Jerusalem; in Matthew, he's already there. Second, the framing of the story and the whole distribution of money to the servants: Matthew only mentions a man going on a journey, while Luke speaks of a king going off to have his crown confirmed – presumably to Rome – amidst some pretty serious opposition. Third, the amounts dispersed: in Matthew, the three servants get different amounts of seed capital; in Luke the amounts are the same, shifting the emphasis to the different results the three achieve. In Matthew, two of them produce a 100% ROI (on different amounts) and one produces 0%; Luke's range is from 1000% to 500% to 0% (not so shabby, except for the last – although we have no idea of the time period involved.)

Luke's story has a purpose to it – to show the new king who in his employ is productive and who is deadwood, and who deserves greater responsibilities under his leadership (Jack Welch would be proud) – and a very sharp sting at the end, for which the firing of the deadwood is only prologue. Matthew's point, it appears, is the far more comfy one that we're all given different gifts and our responsibility is to do something with them for God (in which case return appears to be guaranteed, or at least assumed). No surprise which one was chosen for Sunday proclamation to all the faithful every third year, and which one left for the more serious everyday Christians to ponder.

My question is, Which came first? Which has the greater textual validity? The story doesn't appear in Mark, the first gospel written. (Perhaps in Q – I haven't bothered to check the reconstruction estimates.) So did Matthew strip down a parable from the tradition, or did Luke embellish one? Since Luke's variant is more uncomfortable, knottier, more difficult to deal with, I suspect the former. Luke's version is more like the Jesus nobody could understand except with hindsight and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

posted by Kelly | 6:08 PM link
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