This parable story about the dishonest household manager or steward can only be found in Luke, not in any of the other gospel stories. Luke indicated that Jesus said to his disciples (Ἔλεγεν δὲ καὶ πρὸς τοὺς μαθητάς) that there was a rich man (Ἄνθρωπός τις ἦν πλούσιος). He had a manager of his affairs, a household manager, a steward, or a guardian (ὃς εἶχεν οἰκονόμον). Luke used this unique Greek word οἰκονομεῖν, meaning household manager. Although traditionally, he has been called a steward in English, household manager seems more correct. However, charges were brought to the rich man (καὶ οὗτος διεβλήθη αὐτῷ). This Greek word διεβλήθη is found once in the New Testament literature, only here in this story or parable of Luke. The word διεβλήθη means slander, complaint, or accusation. Someone had accused this manager of squandering or wasting this rich man’s property or possessions (ὡς διασκορπίζων τὰ ὑπάρχοντα αὐτοῦ). This rich man had a house manager taking care of his possessions. Apparently, it was reported to him, that his manager was not doing a good job and may have been taking some of his property. It is not exactly clear, but there were some problems. Have you ever had a problem with someone who was to manage something for you?
This saying about it being better to be blind in one eye can also be found in Matthew, chapter 18:9, almost word for word. This warning was almost the same as the warning about the stumbling hand and foot. Jesus then spoke about the problem of wandering eyes. Mark indicated that Jesus said that if your eye causes you to stumble or sin (καὶ ἐὰν ὁ ὀφθαλμός σου σκανδαλίζῃ σε), cast it out, gouge it out, or pluck it out (ἔκβαλε αὐτόν). It would be better for you to enter the kingdom of God (εἰσελθεῖν εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ Θεοῦ) blind in one eye or one eyed (καλόν σέ ἐστιν μονόφθαλμον) than to have two eyes (ἢ δύο ὀφθαλμοὺς) but thrown into Gehenna or hell (ἔχοντα βληθῆναι εἰς τὴν γέενναν). The Greek word for hell “γέενναν” or the English Gehenna was based on the Hebrew word Gehinnom. That was the name of the valley south of Jerusalem where burning child sacrifices would take place. You were better off with one eye than being in these hell fires with two eyes. Whatever, the temptation, stumbling block or snare was, get rid of it, even if it is your eye. This message was clear. One eyed, one foot, or one hand was better than eternal fire.
This saying about better to be lame than sin can also be found in Matthew chapter 18:8, with some minor changes, since he united the hand and foot together. In a rather harsh statement, Mark indicated that Jesus said that if your foot (καὶ ἐὰν ὁ πούς σου) causes you to stumble or sin (σκανδαλίζῃ σε), cut it off (ἀπόκοψον αὐτόν). It would be better for you to enter life lame (καλόν ἐστίν σε εἰσελθεῖν εἰς τὴν ζωὴν χωλόν) than to have two feet (ἢ τοὺς δύο πόδας) but thrown into Gehenna or hell (ἔχοντα βληθῆναι εἰς τὴν γέενναν). The Greek word for hell was “γέενναν” or the English Gehenna, based on the Hebrew word Gehinnom. That was the name of the valley south of Jerusalem where burning child sacrifices would take place. Whatever, the temptation, stumbling block, or snare was, get rid of it, even if it was one of your own feet.
This saying about better to be maimed than sin can also be found in Matthew chapter 18:8, with some minor changes since he united the hand and foot together. In a rather harsh statement, Mark indicated that Jesus said that if your hand caused you to stumble, sin, or scandalize others (Καὶ ἐὰν σκανδαλίσῃ σε ἡ χείρ σου), cut it off (ἀπόκοψον αὐτήν). It would be better for you to enter life maimed or crippled (καλόν ἐστιν σε κυλλὸν εἰσελθεῖν εἰς τὴν ζωὴν) than to have two hands (ἢ δύο χεῖρας). Then you would go away into Gehenna (ἀπελθεῖν εἰς τὴν γέενναν), the unquenchable fire (εἰς τὸ πῦρ τὸ ἄσβεστον). The Greek word for hell was “γέενναν” or the English Gehenna, based on the Hebrew word Gehinnom. That was the name of the valley south of Jerusalem where burning child sacrifices would take place. You were better off maimed with one hand than being in these everlasting hell fires. Whatever, the temptation, stumbling block, or snare, get rid of it, even if it is one of your own hands.
This attack on the Pharisees and Scribes is somewhat similar to the attack that John the Baptist had against the Pharisees and Sadducees earlier in Matthew, chapter 3:7. When they came to be baptized by John, he was critical of both the Pharisees and the Sadducees. He told them that they were like a group of vipers or poisonous snakes (Γεννήματα ἐχιδνῶν), who would kill young people. Here there is no mention of the Sadducees. But the Pharisees and Scribes are called snakes (ὄφεις) and a brood of vipers or a group of poisonous snakes (γεννήματα ἐχιδνῶν). Jesus wanted to know how they could escape (πῶς φύγητε) being sentenced to Gehenna or hell (ἀπὸ τῆς κρίσεως τῆς γεέννης). The Greek word for hell “γέενναν” or the English Gehenna was based on the Hebrew word Gehinnom that was the name of the valley south of Jerusalem where burning child sacrifices would take place.
The first form of biblical interpretation is the literal meaning. The text says what it says, so there. Anyone who can read, can simply pick up the book and read it. That is all that it takes to understand the Bible. Just read it. Perhaps the English is a little old fashioned, but that is no big deal. Jesus walked down the road. That is all there is in the literal sense.
The New Testament was written in Greek, so I must be even more cautious when dealing with the meanings of English or Latin terms derived from the Greek biblical texts. At the time of the New Testament writings, Alexandria had a larger Jewish population than Jerusalem. Greek was spoken by more Jews than Hebrew. How did the early followers of Jesus Christ understand themselves and their symbolic activities? Why did all these early Jewish followers of Jesus write in Greek, instead of Hebrew?
Who is Qoheleth? At the heart of his biblical book is the question of authorship. This author says that these are the words of Qoheleth, the son of David, who is a King in Jerusalem. The automatic response is, of course, that this is another name for King Solomon, the Jerusalem King who was the son of King David. However, here is the problem. The authorship and themes represent a 3rd century BCE time as probably one of the last books of the Hebrew Bible. Qoheleth, the term that I will use, is a Hebrew word qahal that means something to do with an assembly or congregation. Thus the Greek translation title of έκκλασία was translated into Latin and English Ecclesiastes, refers to one pertaining to a congregation. In this association with an assembly, was this person a preacher or teacher? Many have translated Qoheleth as a teacher. I prefer to use the original Hebrew title as in the Bible of Jerusalem, just as I have done with the term “Yahweh.” Thus we have a 3rd century Jewish individual presenting what he believes to be the words of King Solomon of the 10th century BCE. This book fits in the Bible right behind the Proverbs of Solomon.