The Gospel in Parable: Metaphor, Narrative, and Theology in the Synoptic Gospels

The Gospel in Parable: Metaphor, Narrative, and Theology in the Synoptic Gospels

The Gospel in Parable: Metaphor, Narrative, and Theology in the Synoptic Gospels

The Gospel in Parable: Metaphor, Narrative, and Theology in the Synoptic Gospels

Excerpt

Not another book on the parables! So exclaimed a colleague, himself the author of a fine book on the parables, when I mentioned that I had the present work in mind. During its gestation, I felt often that his exclamation was a prediction. Still, behind his surprise was a well-grounded sense that there was no dearth of excellent studies of the parables (see Bibliography).

Yet the parables, like all great literary and artistic works, are ever old and ever new and resist capture by any one movement or period, not to say by any one book. This work arose from a concern that an area of parable study remained relatively uncharted. For the past century the parables have served as the royal road to the life, teaching, and self-understanding of Jesus. Their primary literary context, however, is their location in the different Gospels. My purpose is to wed recent parable study to the results of redaction criticism of the Synoptic Gospels. From my work with the parables over a number of years, my conviction is that they offer a Gospel in miniature and at the same time give shape, direction, and meaning to the Gospels in which they are found. To study the parables of the Gospels is to study the gospel in parable.

The subtitle of my study is in debt to Paul Ricoeur’s description of the parables as a combination of the metaphoric process and the narrative form (see below, pp. 10–11). My initial chapter takes its title in conscious echo of John Ciardi’s wonderful book How Does a . . .

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