The Parables

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    Bailey, Kenneth E.

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    "Rejoice with Me: Luke 15:1-10", an excerpt from The Cross & the Prodigal: Luke 15 Through the Eyes of Middle Eastern Peasants

    "Violent storms arise quickly on the Sea of Galilee. Even seasoned sailors such as Peter and John were sometimes caught in them. Luke 15 begins with rumblings more ominous than thunder over the lake. The religious establishment felt threatened by the innovator in their midst. When he told these stories, Jesus was himself on the way to Jerusalem, where the storm would break on him in an attempt to eliminate the threat he posed to the ruling elite. The three deceptively simple stories in Luke 15 build toward a tense climax in the confrontation between the father and the older son at the end of the parable of the prodigal son."
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    Bailey, Mark L.

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    Guidelines for Interpreting Jesus' Parables

    "A proper hermeneutical methodology for the parables must take into account the nature and purpose of the parables as both a particular genre of literature and the reasons Christ employed them. From the historical, literary, and cultural contexts, the structure and details of the parabolic narratives may be studied to exegete the central truth of the parables, which usually have as their referent some specific aspect of God's kingdom program."
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    Bailey, Mark L.

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    The Parable of the Sower and the Soils

    "All three Synoptic Gospels include the parable of the sower with Jesus' interpretation of it...While this parable is not introduced with the formula characteristic of the other kingdom parables in this chapter, the interpretation (vv. 18-23) identifies the seed sown on each soil as 'the word of the kingdom,' thereby identifying this as a kingdom parable...This parable provides not only a forceful challenge to believers but also gives a warning to unbelievers. For the not-yet-responsive, this parable serves to challenge them to receive the Word of God and to enjoy its productivity in their lives."
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    Bailey, Mark L.

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    The Parable of the Tares

    "The parable of the tares of the field is the second parable Jesus 'put' before the crowds (Matt. 13:24). Like the parable of the sower, this one conveys through an analogy truths relative to the kingdom of heaven. The parable of the tares appears only in Matthew (13:24–30) and is one of three (along with the sower and the dragnet) that Jesus interpreted (vv. 36-43). It continues the agricultural metaphor of seed and harvest...This parable describes a stage in God's kingdom program that has already begun-- the present form of God's rule, which is explained as 'the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven' (v. 11)."
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    Blomberg, Craig L.

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    The Miracles as Parables

    "...[T]he nature miracles and the parables attributed to Jesus in the New Testament strikingly parallel each other both in their overall function in the gospels and in many specific details of their contents. Perhaps one of the reasons the miracle stories have so often been found incredible is because these parallels have been overlooked, and the events have therefore not been interpreted as they were originally intended to be. Why do the four evangelists describe Jesus stilling a storm and walking on water, feeding the multitudes and changing water into wine, or withering a fig tree but guiding the disciples to a phenomenal catch of fish, to cite the six stories to be examined here? Is there any reason for believing in some kind of historical events underlying these narratives, especially since the rise of Religionsgeschichte, which has uncovered extra-canonical parallels whose historicity is seldom accepted even by the most conservative scholars?"
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    Davis, Christian R.

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    Structural Analysis of Jesus’ Narrative Parables: A Conservative Approach

    "Recent structuralistic criticism of Jesus' parables usually uses naturalistic assumptions, but structuralism can also use conservative assumptions about the text...Twenty-seven parables are reduced in five steps to 'actantial schemata,' then classified into four categories based on the completions or negations of schemata and the relationships between schemata within each parable. Each category teaches a different underlying message. Further structuralistic study might supplement traditional biblical hermeneutics."
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    Doerksen, Vernon D.

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    The Interpretation of Parables

    "By a consideration of the great number of parables, one can note the importance of them in Christ's ministry. Ramm has written, 'The importance of the study of the parables is to be found in their sheer number representing a large part of the text of the Gospels.' And he further makes an important observation, 'Any doctrine of the kingdom or eschatology which ignores a careful study of the parables cannot be adequate.' The individual parables have been interpreted in many diverse ways, from the extreme allegorical method of Augustine to the topical method of Chrysostom. Hubbard vividly states, 'They have been made the stalking-horse for all kinds of false doctrine and not a little sheer nonsense besides.'It is necessary, therefore, to determine hermeneutical principles for the uncovering of Biblical truth contained in the parables."
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    Forbes, Greg

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    Repentance and Conflict in the Parable of the Lost Son (Luke 15:11-32)

    "Although commentators have been divided as to whether the father, the younger son or the elder son is the pivotal player in the story, all three characters play a crucial role and contribute to the overall interpretation of the parable. There also continues to be disagreement over the interpretation of the parable, particularly as to whether the first section deals with the theme of repentance or not, and whether in the second part the elder son acts as a referent for the Jewish religious leaders. The aim of this paper is to analyze the story bearing these two issues in mind."
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    Gowler, David B.

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    Parables and their Social Contexts

    "One of the most fruitful developments in New Testament scholarship is the emergence of studies concerning the social and cultural contexts of the first-century Mediterranean world [1]. Many social and cultural elements found in ancient literature are not usually self-evident to modern readers, so aspects of the parables are virtually incomprehensible without an understanding of the social and cultural processes which influence these texts. The aim of this chapter, then, is to explore some of the significant social elements reflected in these parables." - This article is Chapter 6 in What Are They Saying About the Parables?
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    Ireland, Dennis J.

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    A History of Recent Interpretation of the Parable of the Unjust Steward

    "There is little question that the parable of the unjust steward in Luke 16:1-13 is one of the most difficult of all Jesus' parables to interpret. In this pericope a steward seems to be commended for dishonest behavior and made an example for Jesus' disciples. As one of the most influential interpreters of the parable has said, 'Much as commentators disagree as to the meaning of the parable of the Steward, all are agreed as to the embarrassment it has caused.' It has been called the crux interpretum among the parables, the 'problem child of parable exegesis,' 'the prince among the difficult parables,' and 'a notorious puzzle'...It is against this backdrop that I offer the following history of recent interpretation of the parable of the unjust steward."
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    Johnson, Alan F.

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    Assurance for Man: The Fallacy of Translating Anaideia by "Persistence" in Luke 11:5-8

    "One of the most exciting areas today in NT studies is the interpretation of the parables...Our intent is to bring to bear certain features of this rich background material and recent interpretive trends on the interpretation of the parable of the 'friend at midnight' in Luke 11:5-8. It is our thesis that this parable about prayer has been misunderstood by the Church since earliest times. Traditionally the parable has been interpreted to mean that 'persistence' in prayer will eventually move God to answer. This paper will argue that the traditional understanding is both exegetically and theologically indefensible."
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    Kistemaker, Simon J.

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    Jesus as Story Teller: Literary Perspectives on the Parables

    "Several literary features of Jesus’ parables are noteworthy. In some respects Matthew’s recorded parables differ from Luke’s in presenting colorless sketches. Luke’s parables, on the other hand, are vivid and full of color. Parables in both Gospels, however, are characterized by contrasts. All the parables demonstrate artistry in their unity, coherence, balance, contrast, recurrence, and symmetry. Jesus’ repetition of similar parables on separate occasions illustrates His goal of giving emphasis by way of repetition. By using open-ended parables, Jesus drew His listeners into real-life situations and presented them with the need for a decision on their parts. Allegory in Jesus’ parables brought people into familiar surroundings and highlighted the mercy of God toward sinners. All in all, the parables of Jesus were in a category all their own and were quite distinct from other parabolic teachings in their timelessness and universality."
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    Laughery, Gregory J.

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    Reading Jesus' Parables According to J.D. Crossan and P.Ricouer

    "There has been a fair amount of lively discussion over the last twenty - five years concerning the interpretation of Jesus' parables. This study does not intend to cover the diversity of views proposed over this period, but is restricted to a more modest aim. We shall briefly examine the work of J. D. Crossan and Paul Ricoeur and their contribution to the interpretation of Jesus' parables. Our aim is to bring more sharply into focus some of the hermeneutical issues at stake in today's discussion. It is essential, in the light of new hermeneutical perspectives and arguments, that Biblical interpreters and exegetes become more familiar with the dynamics involved in recent interpretative efforts which influence the understanding and interpretation of Jesus' parables."
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    Marshall, I. Howard

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    Eschatology and the Parables

    "The subject which has occupied us here has been the limited one of considering the eschatological teaching of the parables of Jesus. We have provisionally adopted the interpretation of the eschatological teaching of Jesus given by W. G. Kümmel and others, and it has proved possible to interpret the parables in a satisfactory manner along such lines. We have also seen that on the one hand the interpretation of the parables in terms of realized eschatology leads to forced explanations of many of them, and on the other hand the interpretation of the teaching of Jesus in terms of an imminent coming of the kingdom fails to do justice to the parables and leads to an unnecessarily sceptical estimate of their authenticity."
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    Pagenkemper, Karl E.

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    Rejection Imagery in the Synoptic Parables, Part 1.

    "Synthesizing a biblically based soteriology, especially when attempting to relate works to faith, is an area of theology that attracts much attention. One aspect of the relationship of works to faith pertains to the requirements for entrance into or rejection from the kingdom of God. This two-part series discusses how Jesus' parables contribute to this area of theology. After clarifying the meaning of 'rejection,' this first article identifies the parables important to the topic and explores the imagery used to describe this rejection."
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    Pagenkemper, Karl E.

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    Rejection Imagery in the Synoptic Parables, Part 2.

    "The first article in this two-part series looked at imagery from Jesus' parables in the Synoptic Gospels that point to an eschatological rejection (thus the so-called 'rejection' motif). Seven elements of imagery were examined...In each case the rejection signified not simply a rejection from some of the privileges of the kingdom, but rather a complete rejection from the coming eschatological kingdom. The ones rejected did not have any connection with the salvation Jesus offered. This article discusses the criteria on which the eschatological judgments themselves are made. That is, what criteria did the master or king in each of these parables employ to determine ultimate (i.e., eschatological) rejection or acceptance?"
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    Young, Brad H.

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    "Introduction: Gospel and Rabbinic Parables", Chapter 1 of The Parables: Jewish Tradition and Christian Interpretation

    "The identity of thought and the theological significance of the message of the parables, providing a means to understand God and to view humanity, suggest a shared environment. The theological solidarity between Jesus and the Jewish sages too often has been minimized in parable study. The differences will never be appreciated until the full impact of the unity of the theological thought of Jesus and his contemporaries is realized. While the parables serve multifaceted functions in diverse literary contexts, they effectively communicate the deep spiritual values of religious faith. In reality these metaphoric story illustrations possess the ability to transcend religious philosophies and to break into the everyday lives of the listeners."
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    deSilva, David A.

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    The Parable of the Prudent Steward and its Lucan Context

    "The Parable of the Prudent Steward (Luke 16:1-8), or the 'Unjust Steward' as it is commonly known, presents several problems to the reader which scholars have multiplied into incalculable difficulties...It is the aim of this study, after establishing the boundaries of the parable itself, to analyze first what the parable by itself achieves in its hearers/readers, namely the setting up (for imitation) of a picture of one who prudently responds to the present, though unexpected, eschatological moment of decision. Then, more briefly, we will examine how the tradition preserves for the hearer/reader a concrete plan for meeting the demands of the eschatological moment and thus for gaining the commendation and welcome of the Master."