The parable is not, however, unique to Jesus – consider this passage from Sirach 11:18-19
18 A man may become rich through a miser’s life, and this is his allotted reward: 19 When he says: “I have found rest, now I will feast on my possessions,” He does not know how long it will be till he dies and leaves them to others.
It is possible Jesus’ parable finds it roots in Sirach even if it is not directly dependent upon it. The parable stands within the Wisdom tradition of Israel in which it is held that having or seeking wealth can be a person’s downfall (cf. Ps 49:1-20; Sir 31:1-11 – as well as outside the canon of Scripture in 1 Enoch 97:8-10; 98:3). Continue reading
“Take care to guard against all greed” The text uses two verbs (horate & phylassesthe) in the present tense imperatives, i.e., continual action, in other words “continually take care” and “continually guard yourself from.” Perhaps this is a Lucan warning that the human condition is akin to alcoholics and their desire for alcohol, we are never cured of our greediness. We are always in recovery; always in need to watch out for and to guard ourselves from this evil power in our lives. Continue reading
The dispute and the parable appears only in Luke among the gospels, situated within the ongoing travel narrative as Jesus and the disciples move ever forward towards Jerusalem.
Although the inheritance in question (v.13) is not specifically mentioned as land, given the parable’s setting (v.16) one might safely assume land was the issue. Perhaps a word or two on land and inheritance. For the OT laws of inheritance, see Num. 27:1–11; 36:7–9; Deut. 21:16–17 – shown at the end of this document. Continue reading
13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me.” 14 He replied to him, “Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?” 15 Then he said to the crowd, “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.” 16 Then he told them a parable. “There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest. 17 He asked himself, ‘What shall I do, for I do not have space to store my harvest?’ 18 And he said, ‘This is what I shall do: I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones. There I shall store all my grain and other goods 19 and I shall say to myself, “Now as for you, you have so many good things stored up for many years, rest, eat, drink, be merry!” 20 But God said to him, ‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’ 21 Thus will it be for the one who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich in what matters to God.” Continue reading