Parables of Jesus

parable

parable, the term translates the Hebrew word "mashal" —a term denoting a metaphor, or an enigmatic saying or an analogy. In the Greco-Roman rhetorical tradition, however, "parables" were illustrative narrative examples. Jewish teachers of the 1st cent. AD made use of comparisons in narrative form to clarify scripture. As used in the Gospels, the "parable" not only denotes metaphors, analogies, and enigmatic statements, but also short illustrative narratives. In Jesus' parables, the speaker compares an observable, natural, or human phenomenon to the Kingdom (i.e. the rule) of God. Some of these challenge and mystify or even attack the hearer. Other parables are allegories. The major themes of the parables of Jesus include the contrast between the old and new age now dawning in the ministry of Jesus; the necessity of radical decisions; the gradual but sure growth of the Kingdom of God on earth; God's way of relating to people; and God's invitation for people to enter his Kingdom.

See W. S. Kissinger, The Parables of Jesus (1979); R. W. Funk, Parables and Presence (1982); J. Marcus, The Mystery of the Kingdom of God (1986).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2013, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

The Parables of Jesus
Luise Schottroff; Linda M. Maloney.
Fortress Press, 2006
The Parables of Jesus: A Commentary
Arland J. Hultgren.
William B. Eerdmans, 2000
The Parables of Jesus
Joachim Jeremias.
Charles Scribner's Sons, 1963 (Revised edition)
Jesus and Israel's Traditions of Judgement and Restoration
Steven M. Bryan.
Cambridge University Press, 2002
Librarian’s tip: "Prophetic Criticism in the Parables" begins on p. 46
The Origins of Christianity: A Historical Introduction to the New Testament
Schuyler Brown.
Oxford University Press, 1993 (Revised edition)
Librarian’s tip: "Jesus' Parables" begins on p. 66
The Earliest Records of Jesus: A Companion to the Synopsis of the First Three Gospels
Francis Wright Beare; Albert Huck.
Abingdon Press, 1962
Librarian’s tip: "A Collection of Parables" begins on p. 104
The Kingdom of God in the Teaching of Jesus
Norman Perrin.
Westminster Press, 1963
Librarian’s tip: "The Interpretation of the Parables of the Kingdom" begins on p. 73
The Cambridge Companion to Jesus
Markus Bockmuehl.
Cambridge University Press, 2001
Librarian’s tip: "Parables and Aphorisms" begins on p. 61
Parables for Our Time: Rereading New Testament Scholarship after the Holocaust
Tania Oldenhage.
Oxford University Press, 2002
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