The parable about the talents in Matthew 25:14-30 : exegesis and its application to the use your talents projects in the south west synod of Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus
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This master thesis is situated in the field of New Testament studies and has its focus on the parable about the talents in Matthew 25:14-30: Exegesis and its application to the use your talents project in the South West Synod (SWS) of Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus. The question of research is: What is the use of talents according to Matthew 25:14-30? And why are the congregations of the SWS not efficient in using talents for social and economic transformation of the community? With the method of exegesis in Matthew 25:14-30, and with empirical analysis, this thesis seeks to answer the research question. The main focus is to find out how the parable of talents is appropriately understood exegetically and how it is applied and practiced in the SWS congregations. One of the two large chapters, chapter 2, analyzes the text in Matthew in order to find the historical message and the meaning of the text with special emphasis on how the use of the talents is understood exegetically in the pericope. The next large chapter, chapter 3, analyzes how the parable about the talents in Matthew 25:14-30 is understood and applied practically in the congregations of the SWS. As the next step, chapter 4 seeks to compare the exegesis with the empirical analysis, and to analyze the texts historical, theological and ethical aspects with the understanding and practice of the congregations of the SWS. The findings of this thesis are that in the historical context of the parable, the master (ὁ θύρηος) and slaves (oi δούιοi) relation was based on the legally acknowledged lordship which benefits the faithful slave, but in the congregations‟ historical context, the master is considered and experienced to be hostile and exploitive to his slaves, as the master expressed in the NT by the Greek word δεζπόηες (e.g., 1Tim. 6:1), and that the monetary value of one talent was about 6,000 denarii, which is analogous to today‟s $ 800,000, but this is not known to the congregations in the SWS. This shows that the parable needs an appropriate interpretation in order to communicate its message to the congregations in the SWS. Theologically, the word “gained” (ἐθέρδεζελ) in Matthew 25:16-17, meant losing one‟s privilege for the sake of the wellbeing of others, but in the congregations it has been understood as the increasing of the talents for the effective servant: this also needs to be corrected. The exegesis of Matthew 25: 18, 24-25 finds that the third servant buried his talent because he had a wrong attitude to God. Regarding this view, the empirical analysis verified that the wrong attitude to God in the ii disciple occurs in the primary evangelism approach which lacks to focus on practical aspects of faith, and this indicates that evangelism and use of the talents must be integrated to ensure the holistic nature of the church. This thesis also finds that it is appropriate and important to focus on the eschatological aspects of the text (Matthew 25:24-30) to enhance the use of talents in the congregations, whereas only the moralizing approach is strongly emphasized in the „Use of your talents‟ project. Finally, this thesis finds some practical relations of using talents and helping the needy, and disciplining the church members based on the exegesis of Matthew 25: 16-17, 28, 31-46 and the empirical analysis.
Master's thesis in Theology. School of Mission and Theology, December 2019