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Archive for May 11th, 2012

Michael Brown on A Queer Thing Happened to America

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GO TO PART XV

I. Identifying Parables

a. Definitions

i.      Popularly defined as “an earthly story with a heavenly meaning.[1]

ii.      Stein holds that it is“A figure of speech in which there is a brief or extended comparison.”[2]

iii.      Comes from a Greek term “parabole” which “means literally to ‘throw alongside,’ and that’s what parables do.  They make comparisons.  They align one thing next to another to clarify the second.”[3]

iv.      “Realistic stories, simple in construction and didactic—in purpose, that convey religious truth and in which the details often have a significance beyond their literal narrative meaning.”[4]

b. Three Classification

Since Parables are hard to define, as if it was on a sliding scale of forms.  It is helpful to think of it in terms of three classifications.  Here it is presented from more complex to simpler forms:

i.      Parable proper[5]

1. Also called “True parable.”[6]

2. It is story-like[7], with narrative elements of plot, character and setting.[8]

ii.      Similitude

These “are more like illustrations taken from everyday life that Jesus used to make a point.”[9]

iii.      Parabolic Sayings[10]

These are in reality metaphors and similes.[11]

II. Principles in interpreting New Testament Parables

a. Since Parable Proper is a type of narrative in its form[12], principles of interpreting narratives would apply to these parables.

b. Pay attention for “lead-in”

i.      What was stated or happening in the moment before the parable was given?

ii.      “The lead-in establishes a set of expectations in the listener/reader so that we expect the parable to illustrate a concept.”[13]

iii.      It is something like stepping on a land mine, which sets off the parable being delivered.

iv.      Example: Luke 15:2.

c. Look for obvious language of comparison

i.      Words such as “like” or “as” are indicators of comparison which is important in interpreting meanings.

ii.      Example: Matthew 13:33.

d. Pay attention to any summary of the parable given[14]

i.      Does the text itself tells us what it means?

ii.      What does the narrator who wrote the Gospels has to say?[15]

iii.      What did Jesus have to say about the parable itself?

e. Consider how the passage fits into the whole of the narrative

i.      What section of the epistles is the passage coming from?

ii.      “Sometimes the placement of the parables in the Gospel suggests meaning.”[16]

f. Find out about the historical background of the materials mentioned in the Parable.

i.      In considering the nature of parables as, the background ought to be taken seriously.

ii.      Be aware that “the various terms used in the parable evoke attitudes and responses in the reader today which are quite different from and even antithetical to those evoked in the hearers in Jesus’ day.”[17]

iii.      Example: The Samaritan mentioned in the parable of the Good Samaritan is shocking to the original Jewish hearers, and it is our job to enter into the Biblical world and understand what was going on.

iv.      Background material to the Epistle can be found within the Scriptures itself:

1. Does the Old Testament inform us of certain practices and values that can illuminate the parable?

2. Are their practices and values that is mentioned in the Gospels which put the parables object lessons in perspective?

v.      Background materials can be found outside of the Scriptures as well: 1st Century primary sources, Bible hand books, sources on archaeology, texts on history, commentaries, etc.


[1] Rober H. Stein, An Introduction to the Parables of Jesus, (Philadelphia: The Westminister Press), 15.

[2] Ibid, 22.

[3] Jeffrey Arthurs, Preaching With Variety: How to Re-Create the Dynamics of Biblical Genres, (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications), 103.

[4] Leland Ryken, How to Read the Bible as Literature, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), 202.

[5] Jeffrey Arthurs, Preaching With Variety: How to Re-Create the Dynamics of Biblical Genres, (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications), 103.

[6] Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart., How to Read the Bible for All its Worth, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), 137.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Jeffrey Arthurs, Preaching With Variety: How to Re-Create the Dynamics of Biblical Genres, (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications), 104.

[9] Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart., How to Read the Bible for All its Worth, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), 138.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Jeffrey Arthurs, Preaching With Variety: How to Re-Create the Dynamics of Biblical Genres, (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications), 109.

[13] Ibid, 116.

[14] Ibid, 117.

[15] Rober H. Stein, An Introduction to the Parables of Jesus, (Philadelphia: The Westminister Press), 78.

[16] Jeffrey Arthurs, Preaching With Variety: How to Re-Create the Dynamics of Biblical Genres, (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications), 117.

[17] Rober H. Stein, An Introduction to the Parables of Jesus, (Philadelphia: The Westminister Press), 75.

 

GO TO APPENDIX 2

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