Should we admire the shrewd steward (Luke 16.1–9)? Moral exemplarism and Christian ethics

Theology Thumbnail

Abstract: The parable of the shrewd steward (Luke 16.1–9) is notoriously difficult to interpret. We encounter a figure who, when threatened with dismissal, dishonestly erases the debts of his master’s debtors. Yet, surprisingly, the master commends the steward. So, what exactly are we meant to admire in the steward? With help from Linda Zagzebski’s theory of moral exemplarism, I discuss why we should – and should not – consider the steward to be morally exemplary. I also consider the place of moral exemplars within Christian ethics.