Original Research - Special Collection: Africa Platform for NT Scholars

Narratological reading of poverty-related parables (Lk 12:13–21; 14:15–24; 16:19–31)

Olubiyi A. Adewale
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 77, No 1 | a6214 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v77i1.6214 | © 2021 Olubiyi A. Adewale | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 22 June 2020 | Published: 30 April 2021

About the author(s)

Olubiyi A. Adewale, Department of Religious Studies, Faculty of Arts, National Open University of Nigeria, Abuja; and Department of New Testament and Related Literature, Faculty of Theology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa, Nigeria


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Abstract

Nigeria is an example of developing countries characterised by mass poverty in the midst of plenty. Coincidentally, the Nigerian church is stupendously rich. Pastor Emmanuel, a former National Coordinator of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Germany, notes that the annual revenue of the Nigeria church in 2014 is over ₦3 trillion while surprisingly, the national budget is ₦4.69tn for the year. Gigantic buildings, exotic cars and private jets are the hallmarks of the church’s wealth. Some pastors acquire jets ranging from ₦2.3 to ₦6.4 billion with additional ₦8.4bn for maintenance and salaries annually. Surrounded by this ‘affluence’ are thousands of poor, unemployed and barely surviving church members. This calls for the need to examine what Lukan Jesus would have wanted the church to do with her wealth. This article examines Lukan parables on the rich and the poor using narratological method. Thus, the parables’ context, the characterisation and the plot is analysed, including lexical-syntactical relationships. Finally, the lessons derived is used via socio-scientific reading of the Nigerian situation to arrive at a theology of social action for the poor. Most parables are open-ended, a literary device that ensures the readers take a decision, therefore the message focuses on the church rather than individual Christians.

Contribution: The article recommends that church-owned institutions should make education accessible to the poor, rise against socio-economic policies that will impoverish people while seeking economic independence of the poor. Finally, the church should also integrate the differently-abled into the church.


Keywords

narratology; Lukan parables; poverty; social-action; social-scientific reading; post-colonial hermeneutics; African hermeneutics.

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