Puzzling the Parables of Jesus: Methods and Interpretation
Modern scholarship on the parables has long been preoccupied with asking what Jesus himself said and what he intended to accomplish with his parables. Ruben Zimmermann moves beyond that agenda to explore the dynamics of parabolic speech in all its...
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Modern scholarship on the parables has long been preoccupied with asking what Jesus himself said and what he intended to accomplish with his parables. Ruben Zimmermann moves beyond that agenda to explore the dynamics of parabolic speech in all its rich complexity. Introductory chapters address the history of research and distinguish historical from literary and reader-oriented approaches, then set out a postmodern hermeneutic that analyzes narrative elements and context, maps the sociohistorical background, explores stock metaphors and symbols, and opens up contemporary horizons of interpretation. Subsequent chapters then focus on one parable from early Christian sources (Q, Mark, Matthew, Luke, John, and the Gospel of Thomas) to explore how parables function in each literary context. Over all reigns the principle that the meaning or theological "message" of a parable cannot be extracted from the parabolic form; thus the parables continue to invite hearers' and readers' involvement to the present day.
Ruben Zimmermann is professor of New Testament studies in the department of Protestant theology at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany, and coeditor of Imagery in the Gospel of John (2006), Moral Language in the New Testament (2010), Character Studies in the Fourth Gospel (2013), and, on the parables, Kompendium der Gleichnisse Jesu (2007) and Hermeneutik der Gleichnisse Jesu (2008).
- Part I: Three Approaches To Parables; 1. Introduction; 2. Understanding The Parables Over The Past Century: An Overview Of The History Of Research; 3. Historical Approaches: Parables As Media For Remembering Jesus; 4. Literary Approaches: The Parable Genre - A New Definition; 5. Reader-oriented Approaches: A Playing Field For Polyvalent Parables; Part Ii: How To Exegete A Parable; 6. Reading And Analyzing Parables; 7. The Lost Sheep (q/luke 15:1-7) And The Parables In Q; 8. The Mustard Seed (mark 4:30-32) And The Parables In Mark; 9. The Ten Virgins (matt. 25:1-13) And The Parables In Matthew.