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Topic 7 The Parables A. A.Nature of parables 1. 1.Terminology a. a.Parabolē = a “casting alongside” – comparison. b. b.Mashal = “to be like” – any kind.

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Presentation on theme: "Topic 7 The Parables A. A.Nature of parables 1. 1.Terminology a. a.Parabolē = a “casting alongside” – comparison. b. b.Mashal = “to be like” – any kind."— Presentation transcript:

1 Topic 7 The Parables A. A.Nature of parables 1. 1.Terminology a. a.Parabolē = a “casting alongside” – comparison. b. b.Mashal = “to be like” – any kind of figurative language (proverb, riddle, simile, metaphor, parable, allegory) Compares familiar with unfamiliar. a. a.Pop. definition: “an earthly story with a heavenly meaning.” b. b.C. H. Dodd: “a metaphor or simile drawn from nature or common life, arresting the hearer by its vividness or strangeness, and leaving the mind in sufficient doubt about its precise application to tease it into active thought.”

2 B. B.Parables and allegories 1. 1.Allegory a. a.Artificial story – each element stands for something else. b. b.Incomprehensible unless you have the “key.” c. c.“Allegory of the Eagles” (Ezek. 17:1-21): 1) 1)Great eagle= Nebuchadnezzar 2) 2)Top of cedar= house of David 3) 3)Young twig= Jehoiachin 4) 4)Land of trade= Babylonia 5) 5)Seed of the land= Zedekiah 6) 6)Second eagle= Pharaoh of Egypt (Warns that Zedekiah’s pro-Egyptian schemes risk the wrath of Babylonia.) 2. 2.Parable a. a.True-to-life story – story as a whole makes a point. b. b.Details function within story and do not always have a symbolic reference. c. c.Prodigal Son (Luke 15): 1) 1)Father treats prodigal as God treats repenting sinners. 2) 2)Robe, ring, shoes, etc. are stage props in story.

3 B. B.Parables and allegories – cont. 3.Conclusion a. a.Jesus mainly told parables rather than allegories. b. b.Distinction is not absolute – many parables have allegorical features or interpretations (some of which may be secondary). c. c.Generally, it is best not to overly “allegorize” the details. C. C.Authenticity of the parables 1. 1.Most scholars recognize authenticity of the parables. a. a.Found in Mk., Q, M, L, and Thomas (“multiple attestation”). b. b.Stories are drawn from everyday life of rural Palestine (“Palestinian culture and environment”). c. c.Jeremias: parables are the very “bedrock of the tradition.” 2. 2.Adapted to meet needs of early church and evangelists. a. a.Expansion of details (sometimes allegorizing). b. b.Addition of a brief application. c. c.Addition of an allegorical interpretation. d. d.Placement within a gospel.

4 D. D.Types of parables (see Tatum, p. 20) 1. 1.Similitudes a. a.Brief narrative of a typical event ( usually present tense ). b. b.Mustard Seed; Leaven; Lost Sheep Story parables a. a.Longer narrative of a particular event (usually past tense). b. b.Workers in Vineyard; Prodigal Son Example stories a. a.Stories which are not comparisons but demonstrate conduct to be imitated or avoided. b. b.Good Samaritan; Pharisee & Tax Collector.

5 E. E.Major interpreters of the parables 1. 1.Pre-critical period a. a.Mostly interpreted allegorically. b. b.Augustine on Good Samaritan: 1) 1)Traveler= Adam 2) 2)Jerusalem= Paradise 3) 3)Going down= the Fall 4) 4)Jericho= mortality 5) 5)Robbers= Satan and his angels 6) 6)Wounds= effects of sin 7) 7)Priest= Law 8) 8)Levite= Prophets 9) 9)Samaritan= Jesus 10) 10)Oil & wine= Sacraments 11) 11)Inn= Church 12) 12)Innkeeper= Paul

6 E. E.Major interpreters of the parables – cont A. Jülicher (1888) a. a.Demolished allegorical approach. b. b.Parable has “a single point of comparison.” c. c.Reduced each parable to a general moral truth: 1) 1)Good Samaritan: “the self-sacrificial act of love is the highest value in the eyes of God and men.” 2) 2)Unjust Steward : “wise use of the present is the condition of a happy future.” 3. 3.C. H. Dodd (1935) a. a.Parables must be understood in historical context of Jesus’ ministry; used parables to reconstruct message of Jesus. b. b.Parables teach that kingdom of God is already present in Jesus’ ministry (“realized eschatology”). c. c.Lost Sheep/Lost Coin/Prodigal Son: defend Jesus’ concern for outcasts; God’s reign is present offering forgiveness. d. d.Hidden Treasure/Pearl of Great: “it is within your power to possess (the kingdom) here and now, if…you will throw caution to the wind: ‘Follow me!’”

7 E. E.Major interpreters of the parables – cont J. Jeremias (1954) a. a.Most influential parable interpreter of 20 th cent. b. b.Interpreted in context of Jesus’ ministry (like Dodd). c. c.More balanced view of kingdom: already present but not yet in fullness. d. d.Worked back through “transformations” and re- editing to reconstruct earliest form. 1) 1)Parables form “the bedrock of the tradition.” 2) 2)The ipsissima vox Jesu (“the very voice of Jesus himself”). e. e.Good Samaritan: depicts the boundless love which is the proper quality of life for one overcome by the Good News of the kingdom. f. f.Mustard Seed: assures that in spite of appearances God’s reign is already dawning in Jesus’ ministry and its fullness will appear in due course.

8 E. E.Major interpreters of the parables – cont New “literary” approach: Via (1967) and Crossan (1973) a. a.Views parables as “works of art.” b. b.Do not teach/illustrate a truth but provoke reaction. c. c.Cf. Nathan’s parable to David (1 Sam. 12). d. d.D. O. Via (1967) 1) 1)Parables are “aesthetic objects.” 2) 2)Cannot be reduced to propositional statements. 3) 3)Have power to draw listener into world of story; experiences reality a new way. 4) 4)Transforms listener’s “self-understanding.” e. e.J. D. Crossan (1973) 1) 1)Good Samaritan is a “parable of reversal.” 2) 2)Turns hearer’s world upside down. 3) 3)Forced to say the impossible: “Good + Samaritan.” 4) 4)In same way, kingdom of God turns world upside down. 5) 5)Does not teach about the kingdom but allows hearer to experience it.

9 F. F.Examples 1. 1.Mustard Seed (# 97 Mk. 4:30-32 par.) a. a.Old view: “seed parables” (Mk. 4) are “parables of growth;” seed grows naturally into kingdom of God. b. b.Now: “parables of contrast;” certainty of kingdom’s appearance in spite of unlikely beginnings. c. c.Contrasts small beginning (tiny seed) with great result (tall mustard bush; cf. kingdom as cedar in Ezek. 17:22-23; Ps. 104:16 ). d. d.Context: skepticism about Jesus’ ministry (motley band of followers; questionable conduct; official opposition; etc.). e. e.Jeremias: assurance that kingdom is “embryonically” present in Jesus’ ministry, though it takes faith to see it now; fullness will appear in due course. f. f.Crossan: parodies conventional notions of kingdom; it comes not like a mighty cedar but as an obnoxious weed (cf. kudzu).

10 F. F.Examples – cont. 2.Sower (# 90 Mk. 4:1-9 par.) a. a.Pop. view: focuses on 4 soils as different responses to gospel. b. b.Scholars: “parable of contrast;” contrasts 3 groups of wasted seed with 4 th productive group. c. c.Farmer expects some waste but is confident of a harvest. d. d.Super-abundant harvest exceeds expectations; points to the coming kingdom of God. e. e.Context: doubts about failures and setbacks in Jesus’ ministry ( lack of response; hostility; desertions; slowness of kingdom to appear ). f. f.Invites confidence that, despite failures and setbacks, the kingdom of God will come like a great harvest. 1) 1)Jesus renounces use of force, violence, and short-cut methods. 2) 2)Chooses instead the method of sowing the word, waiting for response, and trusting God for results.

11 F. F.Examples – cont. 3.Interpretation of Sower (# 93 Mk. 4:13-20 par.) a. a.One of 3 parables with appended interpretation (cf. Wheat & Weeds; Fishnet in Mt. 13). b. b.Widely considered secondary; added by church to apply to new situation. 1) 1)Hellenistic language and Christian terminology (“the word” = Christian gospel). 2) 2)Reflects situation of early church (rejection; persecution; lure of wealth; etc.). 3) 3)Thomas has parable without interpretation. c. c.Turns parable into an allegory focused on individual soils as responses to the gospel: 1) 1)Seed = the word (gospel). 2) 2)Path = Satan stealing the word. 3) 3)Rocky soil = persecution. 4) 4)Thorns = cares of the world. 5) 5)Good soil = fruitful believers. d. d.Exhorts Christian hearers to consider the sincerity of their own response to the gospel lest they fail to prove faithful.

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