Merlin (with spoilers) talent and not using it, heading rapidly off topic

Philip.Belben at Philip.Belben at
Wed Jun 4 05:39:00 EDT 2003

Minnow, quoting someone:

>>There is a school of thought
>>that says failing to make use of ones talents is immoral - up to a point.
> Maybe they are going by Matthew, 25, 14-30.  The bible does seem to suggest
> in places that not making the most of what God has provided is if not
> sinful certainly silly.  (Though I think the talents there are an alligator
> for the Word of God or some such, but that isn't how it generally gets
> quoted.)

I'm not sure I understand you here.

A talent was an amount of money (for pedants, a unit of weight that corresponded
to money according to a precious metal standard).  In the parable, various
servants were given amounts of money, and judged on the use to which they had
put them, as measured by the profit they'd made.  (I can't remember which two
gospels the story is in, but in one gospel they were judged on amount of cash,
and in the other on percentage return.)

This is usually taken as referring to the innate abilities that we receive from
God - hence the word Talent has entered our language with this particular
metaphorical meaning.

I don't see how it can refer to the Word.  Yes, I'd agree that in the context
someone who hid away the Word would be subject to the same condemnation, but the
idea of giving different amounts to each servant (again I can't remember which
version of the story this is in) isn't really consistent with this.  Nor is the
idea of taking the talent from the man who had one and giving it to him who had

> Mind you, the other place that gets quoted on this subject, Matthew, 5, 15,
> always struck me as daft, because if one lit a candle and put it under a
> bushel, pretty soon there would be a great deal more light than if you put
> the candle onto a candlestick; the bushel would surely go up in flames!

I don't see that this need be any more dangerous than a Chinese paper lantern.
A bushel is quite a large basket.

But the real point here is that parables are not meant to be taken literally.
(Oops!  I've just taken the reins of my hobby horse.  Better get on before it
bolts).  One can usually get people to see this with New Testament parables, but
it's amazing how many won't see it with those in the Old Testament.   (Reins in
hobby horse and guides carefully back to stall)


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