A major reoccurring issue is the use of the allegorical hermeneutic which dominated the study of parables until the work of Adolf Jülicher. Jülicher’s magisterial work is rightly considered to be a scholarly watershed because he so resoundingly rejected any allegorical interpretation of the parables. Virtually everyone agreed with Jülicher’s rejection of allegory, yet scholars have struggled to be consistent with this rejection of allegory with varying degrees of success. In recent years allegory has made something of a comeback as a scholarly method of interpretation, although with serious safeguards in order to avoid the excesses of the early and medieval church.
A related issue involves the purpose of parables. Until Jülicher the purpose was to convey hidden meaning which could only be understood through the allegorical method. After Jülicher, the purpose of a parable was to express a single point, usually a timeless aphorism or an “existential decision.” But since this one-point meaning often failed to fully express the depth of meaning possible in the parables, literary methods of reading parables have experimented with multiple applications and meanings which sometimes give the impression of a return to an allegorical method without any controls. “Meaning” can multiply indefinitely. Developments in philosophical hermeneutics have had a great influence on parables scholarship, occasionally providing new and helpful insights, but more often confusing the “meaning of meaning” to the point of absurdity.
Identifying the genre of parables may help sort out this problem. Prior to Jülicher the parables, like the rest of scripture, were equivalent to allegories. Jülicher was the first to attempt to define parables in terms of simile and similitude rather than metaphor and allegory. This definition held until Robert Funk suggested parables are “extended metaphors.” More recently, Craig Blomberg has suggested that parables are in fact allegories, if one understands an ancient allegory properly (Interpreting the Parables, 165). For Blomberg, the parables teach one “point” per character. For example, Blomberg would find a lesson in the character of the Prodigal Son, but also in the Father and the Other Brother. Jülicher would find only a single point. Literary methods popular in the 1960’s could find many different “readings” all dependant on the reader’s creativity, not the author’s intent.
Do the parables have a “single point” can they be interpreted in a variety of ways? Does the reader create meaning as the experience the parable? I am more or less convinced by Blomberg that there are several layers to the meaning of a parable, but is this opening a door for a return to allegorical methods?
Craig L. Blomberg, Interpreting the Parables (Downers Grove: Inver-Varsity, 1990).
Robert Funk, Language, Hermeneutic, and Word of God: The Problem of Language in the New Testament and Contemporary Theology (New York: Harper & Row, 1966).
29 thoughts on “Parables of Jesus: Are These Stories “Allegories”?”
Parables can be interpreted in numerous ways. In the Greek, it “comes from two words that mean “to throw alongside,” alluding to the symbolic or analogical nature of a parable. It is a story with two levels of meaning” (Blomberg Pg. 299-300). The Parables of Jesus have been treated as detailed allegories throughout the history of the church (Blomberg Pg. 300). “The most famous example was Augustine’s treatment of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-35) as a story about Adm who left the heavenly city and was attacked by Satan. The Law and the Prophets were unable to save him, but Christ, the Samaritan did rescue him, taking him to the church for safekeeping until he should return” (Blomberg Pg. 300). Augustine did get two levels out of that parable. Parables “draw people into seemingly innocuous story only to confront them with the demands of discipleship in ways that subvert conventional religious tradition and expectation” (Blomberg Pg. 300). If the stories are exactly that, it was quoted that there are more than one way to disciple someone. I think that Julich is somewhat contradicting himself when he “challenges his two main points head-on: Jesus’ parables may not be the detailed allegories that the church often made them, but they do have limited number of allegorical elements” (Blomberg Pg. 300-301). He says that Jesus’ parables do not have detailed allegories in them, but have some allegorical elements. Even though they do not go into detail, they still have some evidence of allegories. As I quoted Blomberg earlier with the meaning of parable in the Greek, how could a parable not have two meanings if the Greek for parable means “to throw alongside, being a story with two levels of meaning?” (Blomberg Pg. 299-300).
I would like to focus on the second question at hand. “Does the reader create meaning as the (I’m assuming this is supposed to be they!) experience the parable?”
Is there really a set way to interrupt something? Or does it depend on the reader, and what time period they are reading it in? I may be way out of line and un-theological here, but how are we supposed to know exactly what Jesus is trying to say with these stories? I agree with the fact that we have to look at the parables with the idea of who Jesus was speaking to and the time frame, but also have to realize that God meant for the Bible to be carried on throughout the years to reach us today, so how do the stories apply to us? Blomberg brings up a more recent idea of how to look at the parables in his book Jesus and the Gospels, which I find very interesting. “They draw people into a seemingly innocuous story only to confront them with the demands of discipleship in ways that subvert conventional religious tradition and expectation”(300).
I do not believe that parables necessarily symbolize one thing and one thing only, I do believe that they have many ideas and teachings that can be interpreted based on the person reading it.
I agree with Joey in the fact that we can’t just assume and interpret what Jesus says in his parables. With that said that must mean we have to be open to the idea that there could be multiple reasonings for these stories and lessons they teach. Naturally, it’s very easy to read a parable and try to relate it to your life somehow, because we want everything the Bible said to help us out with whatever situation we may be facing at that moment, not that it’s a bad thing but we may be overseeing another main point that Jesus was trying to get across because we are focused on ourselves and how it can apply to us.
Joey asks some really good honest questions in relation to how readers create meaning as they dive into the parables. I would like to add a few to the mix. How would a reader interpret a parable without input a perspective from their cultural context and other aspects of their background? Can a reader connect with a parable without interpreting themselves and their time period into it? We are always looking for application and relevance in looking at scripture or for that matter any important text we read. On one level we may care what the parable meant originally to its hearers but we are often ultimately more concerned with its personal application.
Jesus acknowledges in Mark 4:10-12, that the secrets of the kingdom have been revealed to the disciples but to everyone else, parables are the teachings of Jesus. Some will hear and never understand while others will look but never see. It seems clear from these verses that Jesus’ teachings had layers of meaning. It the crowds the parables meant one thing while the disciples had further insight into their purposes. Jesus often left parables “out to dry” rather than explaining their meaning. He was not afraid to allow the crowds, religious leaders, disciples, ect. to develop multiple interpretations of the parable’s meanings. Sometimes Jesus gave explanation while other times he just told the story. Often though in Old Testament tradition rabbis would provide explanation when using parables. Its just like Jesus to shake up in traditional way of doing things.
I think that there are different meanings within the parables. It makes sense to me that Jesus would get multiple points across when He would be telling a parable. To get these points across I believe Jesus did indeed use metaphors in some parables. Blomberg says, “The proper antidote to excessive allegorization is not to exclude allegory from parables altogether but to insist that any claim about a certain detail standing for something else in a given passage must fit with what an early first-century Jewish audience could have grasped” (302). I agree with Anna in the fact that it would be hard not to view a parable in a way that is not skewed by our culture. In the same way we need to look at Jesus to find more out about Him, we need to put ourselves in the 1st Century Jewish culture to get the meaning behind the stories.
In church today our pastor talked about Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. He said that Jesus often threw a spiritual message when talking about literally with disciples. For example, in John 13, Simon Peter asked Jesus if He was going to wash his feet. Then Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am now doing, but later you will understand.” Peter said, “No you shall never wash my feet.” Here is when Jesus throws in a spiritual message by saying, “Unless I wash you, you have no part of me.” Jesus is obviously talking about how he needs to wash our sins away for us to have a relationship with Him in Heaven. This makes me think that Jesus could make his parables work the same way. He may be talking one way and also have metaphorical meanings behind every story and possibly even every character.
I like what you are saying here Greg. I agree with you about Parables having more than one meaning. There can be more than one point to a Parable. The way I see it is this, there is usually more than one perspective you can put yourself in throughout a parable. As an example, in the parable of the Good Samaritan I could get a main point if i put myself in the shoes of the Samaritan, or I could get a totally different point if I go from the view of the traveler. I believe Jesus was the greatest communicator the world has ever seen and I believe that he could easily use one story to convey more than one proposition.
I think so often people portray a parable as a sermon, and that it has to have one main “take away” from it. Jesus can use one story to convey as many “take aways” as he wants.
I also think it is very important to fully understand the culture Jesus was talking to and about. There is no way we will ever fully understand Jesus’ parables if we don’t understand his audience. By understanding the audience we will then be able understand why Jesus uses the words he does to convey his message. I also think, that it is only then that we will be able to fully understand the meaning Jesus has for his parables.
I agree with Greg that, “we need to look at Jesus to find more out about Him, we need to put ourselves in the 1st Century Jewish culture to get the meaning behind the stories.” Though it is interesting how even Rabbinic Judaism sought to use other parables as exegesis of a text of Scripture (Blomberg 308). Jesus spoke within the culture of the first century Jew and their for certain meanings of the text are lost without close study of the specific culture that is addressed. While parables may have a specific cultural context they also present “the very core of the authentic teachings of Jesus… his distinct and characteristic manner of illustrating the kingdom of God” (Blomberg 308). These truths about the kingdom of God are for all mankind. Therefore the parables must contain a message that transcends the culture of first century Jews but ours as well.
I like what you’re saying here Anna that, “These truths about the kingdom of God are for all mankind.” I think the most important aspect of reading the parables is seeking what truths of God are being presented in the story. I believe that the parables were told specifically to those people at that time, and that there was direct application to the culture/time period. At the same time though, I also believe that God transcends time, and human understanding. I don’t think it’s unfeasible to say that the reader experiences each parable, but I’m not sure I agree with the comment that each reader “creates meaning as they experience the parable.” Each reader may experience the parables in a little different light, and may be spoken to by God in a little different way, but we have to be very careful in relying on the “experience” and how we interpret it. That’s why it’s necessary to find what truth of God is being spoken through the parable. Through other scripture, context, and what God says about himself through other scripture, we should contrast the parables. Most importantly though, we can’t lose the story and experience aspect as we study further. We need to have a balance, and be open to God speaking to us through our experience reading the scripture, along with digging into the context.
“Does the reader create meaning as the(y) experience the parable?” Every bit of me says no way! I do not believe that the reader creates meaning in a text. God creates that meaning and the meaning lies within the context, author, and audience it is spoken to. It is our responsibility as readers to understand that context and search for that meaning. I believe that the application that someone sees and has is going to be different. That is what lies with the reader. However, it is valuable to understand that the application stems from the meaning of the text. I believe it is our responsibility as readers to understand the meaning of the text to its original audience and then bridge that gap to properly interpret and apply it to our lives.
I agree with Blomberg in saying that in every character we find a lesson. I believe that in these parables that Jesus told, we can find more than one application depending on the parable and the number of characters in that parable. I believe that because Jesus was usually speaking to multiple people at one time, he would be sure to include multiple applications so as to reach everyone in the room. I do not believe though that the meaning is based on our “experience.” I agree with Greg in saying that the meaning is to be looked at through a “1st century Jewish culture.” The meaning needs to be derived from what we know about that period of time and the context around it. I really like how Brent put it, “God creates that meaning and the meaning lies within the context, author, and audience it is spoken to.” I truly believe that there is only one meaning and that is the original meaning, but I believe that there can be multiple applications that can be applied to our culture today.
More recently, Craig Blomberg has suggested that parables are in fact allegories, if one understands an ancient allegory properly (Interpreting the Parables, 165). – Plong. It seems that in topics like these, the majority of people want to either have it strictly allegorical or literal and that there never seems to be a desire for the middle [being able to say yes to both, but allowing context like Brent said to determine the meaning of parables]. ON the other hand, There does appear as if the authors have an alternative meaning…which I don’t believe takes away from the parable at all. While I do agree with you Brent, the reality is that “each evangelist has his own distinct theological emphases surrounding Jesus’ miracles” [Blomberg 318]. Because of that, Blomberg goes on further to make a case that Mark contrasts the miracle-working Messiah with the suffering Messiah by his relegation of almost all of his miracles to the first half of his Gospel [ch.1-8] as well as Matthew and Luke. The important thing to note within the question plong stated above is to realize that the primary focus is Christological – “to demonstrate that Jesus is the divine Messiah and that the kingdom of God is now breaking into human history with new force” [Blomberg 317].
This idea of readers creating meaning is quite the hot topic in this discussion. Although I certainly disagree with this statement as their original meaning, there is no doubt that people definitely read their own lives into Jesus’ teaching through parables quite often. This leads me to question the purpose of parables in the first place. I do not necessarily like the word “allegorical” to describe them, as allegories have a different connotation in our modern society than may have been dealt with in previous thought. I prefer to think of parables as Jesus putting His heavenly meaning and ideas into modern (by modern, I mean “first century”) contextual experiences. Most allegories we think of in our society are outlandish, fictional fantasies that may represent Spiritual ideas, but Jesus’ parables related to the Jews (and gentiles) of His day. There may have been multiple levels of understanding (not necessarily “meaning”) on the part of the hearers, but I believe that was part of Jesus’ objective. He gave a broad, theologically rich story that people with different levels of knowledge, different upbringings, different perspectives could all get something equally important out of. Just as we understand more each time we read a parable, so others would learn more than others from them. Similarly, many pastors incorporate the same logic in their sermons, simply coming down to their audience’s level, while still remaining authoritative. Jesus knew what He was doing; He was, after all, the perfect teacher.
Do the parables have a “single point” can they be interpreted in a variety of ways? Does the reader create meaning as the experience the parable? I am more or less convinced by Blomberg that there are several layers to the meaning of a parable, but is this opening a door for a return to allegorical methods?
During the reading section for Blombergs chapter, he mentions Jülicher as defining parables in one main paint. But I also think Blomberg makes it clear that there is one main point per character of the story. On page 301 he writes, “look for one main point associated with each main character or group of characters in the parables.” He then mentions that this approach will lead to three main points.
When it comes to the interpretation of the parable I think it is important to ask questions such as who is speaking the parable, to whom are they speaking to, what is the message they are trying to communicate? As a reader looking into the parables we need to understand the background of what is being communicated and why to be able to apply the interpretation. The parable itself communicates a truth in an allegorical or story approach. However to interpret the parable with an allegorical method I don’t think is correct. Sure you can interpret it with creativity, but is that interpretation biblical? Is your conclusion of the parable what the text is actually saying? There is a good point of this is Blomberg’s section about the parable with the good Samaritan and how some one allegorized it as Jesus taking the guy to church. I would say that wasn’t the point of the parable.
I believe that there can be many different meanings in the parables that we read. I think that some people may read the parables and see something that I don’t see and I may see something that they will never see. I think that this can be opening the door that has been closed on allegorical methods. With how many times everything has changed over the years of all the arguing it is hard to say where it will go next. I think that it is hard to say that there is only one way to interrupt that is being said.
I agree with what many are saying in that there can be multiple meanings. I liked Blomberg’s argument about each main character of the parable having a main point. I think taking a look at the different perspectives of the parable, something different can be learned or known from doing this. When we look at these parables, we must also make sure to look at it with the original audience in mind. Blomberg gives the example of labeling the “inn” in the Good Samaritan as the church. This could not be. because the church didn’t yet exist, said Blomberg (pp. 302). I understand that it may be very easy to construct our own ideas about what the parable, actually means, and that is why it’s so important to go back to the context of it. As far as allegorical concerns go, Blomberg says, “But with almost every parable, some brief introductory or concluding remarks by either Jesus or the evangelist narrating the story imply that main characters in the passage carry allegorical freight”, (pp.302). He gives the example of the prodigal son, and what the characters in the parable stand for. Thus making the parable have some allegorical form.
It seems that my opinion would agree with everyone else. I do not confine the parables to just one basic concept that Christ is trying to convey through them. It seems that yes there are one overal themes for each parable, but I would then argue that each one has a sub-lesson to be learned. For instance the prodical son. Many of us have heard the messages that what is being told is that God forgives and is waiting for each one of us to return. But, then there are those sub-points that are not so obvious, like what can we learn from the older brother, the father, and a historical context? There is more to learn from each parable, and we cannot confine them to one meaning. Like Joey pointed out, and Long poses as a question. It depends on the reader or the audience themselves. My experiences would lead me to understand the prodical son as one meaning, where a person from Haitti would probably bring forth some other meaning because of their experiences.
Personally I have gone from a strictly literal (black and white) perspective on the Gospels to a more open approach. On many occasions people pull scriptures out of the Bible and the Gospels to benefit their own agenda. I think it is important to always look at scripture as a whole. Every piece of scripture has a rhyme and a reason. Like Moses and Brent were talking about, it is important to always look at the context (what is going on around that specific piece of scripture). God can use anything to speak to us. So if one meditates on the scriptures day and night (Psalm 1:2), God will speak to them. Who am I to judge what God is speaking to a certain individual? Since the beginning God has desired a relationship with us. Jesus uses these different parables to conect with us and those who He was teaching to at that time. I like what Jed said about the different sub-points in realtion to reaching many different people. The parables were designed to present truth in a new and moving way. Overall parables do present one main theme but when explored further other points can be found.
I hear what everyone is saying here and I agree with what is being posited… however I am compelled to ask the question, isn’t all of this reader interpretation one of the main driving forces behind the splitting of churches and founding of new denominations? Yes I agree that an understanding of culture, context and original meaning is important to understand parables and Yes I agree with the individuals who said that God can use parables to transcend time but that being said, this transcendence of the parables… are the situations that the first century faced really that much different that the ones that we are facing today? My particular belief is no, we are dealing with many of the same issues that the first century believers and even Jesus himself was facing. This gives rise to the possibility that we CAN in fact interpret the parables in our own time and fashion because we are dealing with the same problems, albeit in a different culture with greater technological advances.
Let me start out by saying the parables do not seem to have the purpose of conforming to the readers view: saying what it means to Him/her today. Jesus had a purpose in saying them and we cannot forget exactly who He was talking to. Also we have to understand what certain words meant to Jewish tradition and culture. I don’t know if I like the term limited allegory in describing Jesus’ meaning in parables, it sounds to technical. I does seem like there are different ways that a parable can be taken. Some of these other interpretations seem useful to the church today, but are they the intended use? I think so because of II Timothy 3:16-17. For example the GBC Ministry team used the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15. We thought that a better title for this parable is “The lost sons” because it was not only the son that ran away that was in trouble but it was the angry older brother who was in trouble to. A reader can look through the eyes of the three main people involved in the parable. There is the “Wayward individual,” God, and the “conservative religious folk” involved in the story (Blomburg p.340). It seems like Jesus is talking to the crowds that have been following Him for a while as well as the “tax collectors and “sinners” (Luke 15:1).” Lets just say I wish I was there to see it.
I really like where joey is going with what she is saying about no one ever being able to know exactly what point Jesus was trying to make in his parables. Yes, I do believe that every person will interpret the scripture in the way they feel they should. As for the question of do these stories apply to us today? Now questions like this one kind of bug me. I know there are areas in the Bible where Jesus is talking to a certain group of people. However, God intened the Bible to be carried out until his return and that means we are to follow his word. People who “pick and choose” what they want to believe or follow out of the Bible drive me nuts. I do not believe that is what God intended us to do with his word. I think he wants us to follow his word in all that we do.
After reading this post and reading the chapter in Strauss it is tough to decide if the parables are allegories, the chapter has a section about the nature of parables and it pretty much says everything that you said in this post but honestly I think the reader or listener does create the meaning as they are experiencing it. I think that Jesus had an intended purpose for these parables and wanted to give off a certain message but I think those certain messages can be interpreted in several different ways seeing that not everyone thinks the same or has been through the same experiences in life. People relate to things and view things very differently than others so it’s hard to say exactly what the parables are. Like you said in this post, Blomberg could find a lesson in each character of a story while Julicher would only see one point. They are interpreting the situation differently based on their experiences and where they come from. I don’t believe that neither is wrong because everyone has different points of view. Me and you could read a story and you could think that there were many lessons learned and I could only see one main point throughout the story, it doesn’t mean neither of us are wrong, it’s just simply our perceptions and how we perceive things.
At first glance, it can be easy to understand how some readers would see allegory in the parables as it can give a sense of meaning to a story that might not make much sense otherwise. I would say that anytime someone reads something that does not quite make literal sense, it is the tendency to try and interpret meaning into it. I would agree that parables can have more than one meaning. Strauss seems to agree with Bloomburg that “parables often contain allegorical elements and that sometimes a parable may take more than one point” (540).
However, I think it is also so important to not simply take that idea and just run with it. This does not give license to apply any meaning you choose to the words of Jesus. While the reader may find a particular meaning, it must be done with a critical eye to the cultural context in which the parable was originally given. Snodgrass says “the practice of turning parables into allegories that Jesus never intended must be resisted at every point. We seek the illocutionary intent of a parable, the communicative intent and purpose for which it was told” (29). Many works of literature have been written with allegorical elements, including some Dr. Seuss stories. If you were to take a course on these works, you would study the cultural and societal context of the time it was written to determine what the author intended to convey with their allegories. The same should be done when studying the parables. Jesus had a specific reason for telling each of these parables, that holds as much truth then as it does now. I like how Snodgrass says, “Jesus does not need to be saved from allegory” (29). Our job as readers is to carefully and thoughtfully determine what the message was He is communicating through the parable, not simply what we want it to be.
I think the nature of parables lends themselves to be interpreted in different ways even though that may not be the intent of the author. It’s so easy to find multiple applications within a story that doesn’t directly say what it intended to communicate. That leads to problems like finding a meaning that may be good but not necessarily what the author intended to communicate. I don’t think that we should put a limit to only one point per parable, but we shouldn’t go through every part trying to find a hidden meaning of the passage that may not exist. This really comes to just having a good interpretive journey. If you are reading the parable with the intent to prove a point, then you have missed the point. For example, Strauss uses the story of the prodigal son to show that the main intent is God’s love but other things could be drawn from the story like how the brother can be used to show people who don’t share the concern for those out of the Father’s love. This is a great point that can be drawn from the parable without stretching the meaning too far.
I think a lot of people try to over complicate and over think biblical concepts and parables, using them for their own benefit or just trying to put too much pressure on their Biblical knowledge. While I think there can be some deep meaning behind these parables, I don’t think Jesus was trying to make his parables riddles. Jesus’s reason behind the parables was to exemplify a concept through a relatable scenario that would create a deeper understanding within his disciples, which is why it is so valuable that we understand the context and the cultural atmosphere of each parable. I don’t believe that the point of these parables was to have some deep allegorical meaning to us in the world today, but they were specific and relatable stories that helped get to a main point, and that main point is what can be applied to our current society.
I believe that as Jesus spoke in parables to his disciples and those others around Him in order to convey multiple points of teaching, not a single point. I agree with Blomberg that though there may be a main idea he is getting across, I think multiple aspects of the parable were interpreted as added ideas to be learned. I don’t agree with the extreme use of allegorical interpretation with most teaching and instructions in scripture, but when it comes to parables I am more likely to take an allegorical interpretive approach. It’s important, as Eli was explaining that we don’t look for ways to teach scripture, or parables specifically, that don’t align with what the biblical audience was supposed to conclude.
I agree that there is certainly more depth to Jesus’ parables. We are designed to be creative and curious. Naturally, we want to find out more about the details and meaning of events that we encounter. I agree that looking deeper into the characters and the settings of Jesus’ parables should not be a way to find “meanings of meanings” but a chance to see the fullness and completeness of Jesus’ lesson in each parable (Long, 2010). It is vastly important that we do not get misguided or too excited about trying to find other meanings that we miss out on the blessing of Jesus’ parables to mankind. After all, what Jesus meant for the parables to mean is absolutely enough and does not need our human expansion. I think that our creativity in allegories is especially dangerous when the lesson of a parable is left crystal clear by Jesus directly explaining them. This happens in Luke 18 when Jesus tells the story of how a prideful Pharisees’ prayer does not justify him, but a humble tax collector’s cry justifies him (Luke 18). The lesson of this parable is made clear by Jesus is Luke 18:14, and “the point of the parable is the danger of pride and self righteousness” (Struass, 2007). When Jesus’ lesson is clear we can look deeper into the details and layers of parables and then see those details as different aspects of support for the main lesson rather than a new lesson. In order to make sure that we do not put ourselves in the way of God’s message Strauss emphasized six key values to filter our idea of a parable’s meaning though. We are to “always interpret…though the context of Jesus’ ministry”, focus on the “central message of the kingdom of God”, “be aware of culture, historical, and literary allusions”, “seek the primary point”, “be cautious concerning allegorical elements”, and lastly be “examining the context” (Strauss, 2007). I think that these are great boundaries for our interpretations of allegories.
There is a lot that makes me weary of this way of approaching parables. The way existentialism sets the perception of truth by the reader and their response as reasoning for parables rather than to understand the speaker’s motive for the message is dangerous. Struass talked about how the parables were designed to “reveal and conceal” explaining that God did not allow everyone to grasp what Jesus was saying (Struass, 2007). This supports the idea the reader’s interpretation and response do not change the reality of the purpose of parables. Strauss also showed how the Bible is clear that many people were “ever seeing, but never perceiving, and ever hearing, but never understanding” (Mark 4:12). Regardless of the readers/hearers response the meaning of the parables does not change, and God’s plan is fulfilled.
In my opinion I think that determining whether a parable is allegorical or not is situational. For example, I think that there are some narratives in which the purpose of the narrative is pretty straightforward. While some people might search for other meanings, I believe some stories just have very distinct points. On the other hand, I do believe that there are some parables that go beyond the obvious, and require people to consider different points/concepts in the parables. Parables often need to be interpreted, and the analogies/metaphors must be deciphered. It is rare to be able to just look at a parable and take it literally. This is a great example of why it is so important to read parables multiple times for a better understanding, and maybe also confer with others. Different people do create different meanings after all, and two heads is better than one. Because of this I think it is fair to say that parables can be classified as allegorical.
Personally, I think that everyone can interpret anything in any way they want if they really feel the need. So yes, parables can be interpreted in many different ways. I think it’s interesting to look at each character in the parable and pull a lesson from them each because Christ could have intended for this. I think that each reader can create their own interpretation as they read and experience it. Not even along the lines of parables, people in general interpret things in different ways depending on their own personal experiences. I agree entirely with Blomberg in that there are many different layers to interpretation of each parable. There is always surface level understanding and a much deeper level. With parables which are stories meaning something else, it is entirely possible to pull meaning from nearly every individual piece of the parables which is fascinating. However, yes, this is opening the door to returning to allegorical hermeneutics which is not the best way to interpret because it is really easy to stray away from the intended meaning of the text.