International Q Project
IQP reconstructs the original Q parable as follows:
... a certain person, on taking a trip, called ten of his slaves and gave them ten minas [and said to them: Do business until I come]. ... [After a long time] the master of those slaves comes and settles accounts with them. And the first [came] saying: Master, your mina has produced ten more minas. And he said to him: Well done, good slave, you have been faithful over a pittance, I will set you over much. And the [second] came saying: Master, your mina has earned five minas. He said to [him: Well done, good slave, you have been faithful over a pittance,] I will set you over much. And the other came saying: Master, [I knew] you, that you are a hard person, reaping where you did not sow and gathering up from where you did not winnow; and, scared, I [went and] hid [your mina] in [the ground]. Here, you have what belongs to you. he said to him: Wicked slave! You knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather up from where I have not winnowed? [Then you had go invest] my money [with the] money [changers]! And at my coming I would have received what belongs to me plus interest. So take from him the mina and give it to the one who has the ten minas.
- Luke 19:12b-27
- Luke 19:12b,14,25
- Luke 19:13,15-24
- Matt 25:14-30
- Matt 25:14-28
- GNaz 18
The commentary in The Five Gospels (p. 374) notes that "a strong majority of the Fellows" concluded that Jesus could have told the core parable that has been variously adapted by Luke and Matthew. The original parable comprised the following elements:
Someone leaving on a trip leaves money in trust with his slaves.
1. The slaves deal with the entrusted money in different ways.
2. The master of the slaves returns and proceeds to settle the accounts.
3. The trustworthy slaves are rewarded.
4. The untrustworthy slave is deprived of the funds which are given to the most productive slave.</font>
Samuel T. Lachs
Lachs [Rabbinic Commentary on the New Testament, 341] notes that the Lukan version may be based on the visit to Rome by Archelaus to seek confirmation that he was to inherit a portion of Herod the Great's kingdom following his father's death. However, the phenomenon of a wealthy slave owner leaving property in trust while away on business hardly seems to require any particular historical event to prompt this version. The specific features found in Luke's version may simply reflect the different social and historical setting of Luke-Acts, which some date to early 2C.
Lachs [p, 341] also notes that burying money or valuables, or any entrusted property, in the ground was considered the safest way to keep a bailment and freeing oneself of any responsibility for their loss. This is also reflected in various parables of Jesus, as well as being a blessing for archaeology.
Ched Myers & Eric DeBode
Myers & DeBode note the problematic nature of this familiar parable:
This has been for many an unsettling story. It seems to promote ruthless business practices (v. 20), usury (v. 27), and the cynical view that the rich will only get richer while the poor become destitute (v.29). Moreover, if we assume, as does the traditional reading, that the master is a figure for God, it is a severe portrait indeed: an absentee lord (v. 15) who cares only about profit maximization (v. 21), this character is hardhearted (v. 24) and ruthless (v. 30).