Syria: A Thriving Center for Early Christianity?

Most astute readers of the New Testament understand that Jesus and his first followers were Jews who came from Palestine, specifically the Roman province of Judea as well as the Herodian tetrarchy that included Galilee. But after Jesus’ crucifixion, the new Jewish sect of the Nazarenes quickly spread beyond the traditional borders of Israel into what is called the Diaspora, where Jews were dispersed across the Gentile nations. The Acts of the Apostles lists the home countries for many Jews who heard the preaching of the apostles while visiting Jerusalem (Acts 2:9-11). Acts also relates how, following their early persecution in Jerusalem (8:1), Greek-speaking Jewish-Christians fled to the Diaspora and brought word of their new faith in the messiah Jesus. Among these fruitful missionary fields was the Roman province of Syria.

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The Meaning behind Jesus’ Parable of the Unjust Steward

One of the story forms Jesus used to communicate his message, according to the gospels, was the parable. Nearly all scholars acknowledge the authenticity of this characteristic of Jesus’ teaching. Some of the parables we encounter in the gospels, however, are enigmatic to say the least. In fact, Jesus is even quoted as saying that an element of mystery in his parables was intentional so that outsiders could not discern their meaning (Mark 4:11-12). Certainly one of the most inscrutable of Jesus’ parables is the one often called the “Unjust Steward” only found in the Gospel of Luke. It concerns what we might call today a business manager and his boss whom Jesus calls a “rich man.” The rich man was likely an absentee landholder with large agricultural possessions in an area in which he did not reside.

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