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date: 16 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines parables in both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament. A review of the history of parable interpretation reveals how many complex issues surround even the identification, let alone the interpretation, of biblical parables. This essay briefly examines some modern readings of very popular biblical parables, noting how as scholars change or “shift” their methodologies, operating assumptions, or narrative focus, the central themes or “meaning” of the parable they are reading shifts, as well. Parables are deceptively complex narratives, and reading biblical parables involves a creative engagement with their complexity. Sifting through the questions and problems raised by biblical parables, and the shifting interpretive assumptions and interests as a result, creates awareness of the array what parables might “mean.” In the end, the meaning of a parable lies in the process of interpretation itself—in the affectual component of a parable—and transcends simple articulation.

Keywords: Hebrew Bible, mashal, New Testament, prodigal son, David (king), Nathan, Jotham, allegory, biblical parable, good Samaritan

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