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Criticizing Wealth

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Chapter Summary

The wealthy landowner in 12:16-20 was judged foolish by God and avaricious by Jesus and the father in 15:11-32 failed to account for the seriousness of his younger son's wasteful, consumptive lifestyle abroad. One need not call upon the peasantry's supposed antipathy toward an "exploitative and predatory" wealthy elite in first century Palestine in order to frame this character in negative terms. According to Jesus, wealth eventually fails and be displaced by a fair, equitable distribution of resources. As creator, God ultimately owns all of the land and its resources, and human beings are but stewards who, one day, have their stewardship taken away. Overconsumption and waste have been criticized consistently in each of the three parables, but with Jesus' final statement, "You cannot serve God and mammon", and readers find their first clear, uncompromising critique of wealth itself.

Keywords: God; Jesus; landowner; mammon; overconsumption; Palestine; steward; wealth



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