Parables and the Historical Jesus

It is sometimes said that in the parables of Jesus we hear the true ipsissima vox Jesu: the real voice of Jesus. Joachim Jeremias, for example, begins his classic The Parables of Jesus by stating that the we “may be confident” that we stand on a particularly firm historical ground. The parables reflect the sorts of things we might expect in the teaching of a first century Jewish rabbi. The images are drawn from the life of the common people of Galilee and Judea. Many have an apocalyptic edge to them that we know was common among people of the Second Temple Period.

Yet many scholars wonder if the parables as we read them in the gospels accurately reflect the original form and content of Jesus’ teaching. Is it possible to interpret the parables in the context of the life and teaching of Jesus? Can we know that the parables reflect true voice of Jesus? Or to put it another way, have the original parables been creatively adapted and re-applied to the situation of a later church or community by the gospel writers?

Until the middle of the nineteenth century, the parables were assumed authentic but the original intent of Jesus’ teaching was set aside in favor of elaborate allegories which applied to the time of the interpreter. Details of the story became fodder for preaching the gospel or some moral lesson, often incorporating elements of later church theology. For example, Augustine took the “meaning” of the oil in the parable of the Good Samaritan as the Holy Spirit, and the inn-keeper as Paul. Nothing in the parable even hints at this meaning, the “message” is from the mind of the interpreter.

This allegorical method was overturned by Adolf Jülicher. He effectively challenged popular allegorical interpretations by applying form criticism the parables. He argued that the parables were not allegories. He rejected the detailed and imaginative interpretations (Paul as the inn-keeper, etc.) Instead, parables had a single message, a “moral of the story” which could be expressed simple timeless truth. Rejecting allegory was a great contribution to the study of parables, but Jülicher also cast doubt on the possibility of knowing the original setting of the parables of Jesus. Elements of a given parable could have been added to the parable to make it more “up to date” and to make it more applicable to the present church. For Jülicher , it was not possible to know if Jesus was the original speaker of a given parable.

Here is a thought experiment you can try: Retell the story of the Prodigal Son to a group of junior high boys. How much of the story do you change in order to make it “current”? How does the son spend his inheritance? (Big car, big TV, women, gambling, etc.) If you retell the story to a group of elderly ladies at their home Bible Study, my guess is that the prodigal spends his money differently (shawls and Matlock videos?)  I imagine that a retelling of the Prodigal Son will have more than a few different details in an African village, or in a European city, or in a village in Vietnam.  But the core of the story will always remain the same, the point of the story does not change.

It is natural for their to be some shifting of details when a story is retold, but the sense of the story remains the same.  Jülicher was right to reject allegory, but perhaps he went too far by placing the stories into a later context beyond that of the historical Jesus.

How much adaptation is there in the parables as we have them int he Synoptic Gospels?  Did the gospel writers adapt the parables to a new (later) context?  What is at stake theologically if they did?

Luke 18:9-14 – The Pharisee and the Tax Collector

Since I am preaching on this parable this weekend at Rush Creek, I have been reading quite a bit on Luke 18 lately.  Jesus makes a clear contrast between two men, a Pharisee and a tax collector.  Everyone knows Pharisees are  good, religious people and the tax collectors are desperately sinful and greedy traitors.  The twist in the parable is that the Pharisee does everything right from a religious perspective, yet does not “receive grace.”  The tax collector is inept at religious duty and rather embarrassing in his inability to pray the right prayers.  Both men in this story have a chance to receive grace from God, they have a chance to receive forgiveness and “go away justified.” Why does the Pharisee not forgiven? Jesus is not condemning the spiritual discipline and devotion of the Pharisee in this parable (or anywhere else, for that matter).

In Verse 9, we are told that the parable is a response to “those that were confident in their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else.” The prefect participle πεποιθότας (pepoithotas) indicates they have been (already) convinced they are right with God.  But they are not simply self-confident:  they “despise” others. The verb ἐξουθενέω (exoutheneo) has the connotation of disdain, “to show by one’s attitude or manner of treatment that an entity has no merit or worth” (BAGD). Imagine a very wealthy person who treats the “help” poorly. The poor servants are not worthy of consideration at all, they care mistreated or simply ignored as people.  This is the attitude of those Jesus targets with this parable.

Jesus’ ministry is focused on these despised people, the outsiders and outcasts who are beneath consideration in polite society of religion of the first century. It is obvious that other Jewish teachers would love to see these outsiders return to covenant faithfulness and “get right with God.” The difference between Jesus and most religious groups in first-century Judea was that Jesus sat down and ate with sinners, showed them some respect, and forgave their sins. If the stories of rabbi Shammai reflect his character, he might have taken a stick to a person who came to him and asked “what must I do to be saved?”  If someone did want to repent and they asked an Essene what was required, they would be given a fairly hefty Manual of Discipline and put on probation for three years!

We are not told who the self-righteous in Luke 18 are, but the first group that comes to mind are the Pharisees. Jesus is questioned by a Pharisee in Luke 17:20, but the persons being taught in chapter 18 are the disciples. Jesus does not answer the Pharisee, but teaches his disciples in 17:22. In 18:1 the disciples are still the focus of the teaching.  There may be no connection at all between the Pharisee of 17:20 and this parable.

If this is true, then it is likely that there were a few disciples who were self-righteous, perhaps a bit arrogant because they knew since they were following Jesus, they were “right” and the Pharisees were wrong. The parable is not aimed at “those arrogant Pharisees over there,” but at Jesus’ closest followers, the inner circle of disciples who were appointed by Jesus himself.  Instead of the imaginary legalistic Pharisee, Jesus is pointing his finger and Peter, James and John.  He is telling them that they are not right with God just because they joined the right teacher or (finally) understood that Jesus is the  Messiah.  They too have to ask for mercy and experience the grace of God.

Jesus’ parable also points a finger at us.  Modern (American) Christians can be an arrogant lot. We think that we have been so close to God for so long that we (obviously) are the closest to God. Sinners need to shape up and be more like us if they want to be right with God.   Instead of a Pharisee, or “those disciples back then,” put yourself in this parable – are you the Pharisee?

You are not right with God because you gave up your sins, as if that is even possible.  You are not right with God because you endured a particular religious ritual.  You are not right with God because you kept the ten commandments for most of your life.  You are not right with God because you are a good person.

You are not “right with God” because you signed the right doctrinal statement or can quote the proper creed, or because you attend the right church, or because you have the best worship music, or because your book sold 20 million copies.

You are not right with God because you don’t drink coffee at Starbucks, or because you do eat a particular chicken sandwich, or because you shoot guns, or you do not own guns, or you voted for the right candidate.

You are right with God because you asked for mercy and experienced his grace.

The Sheep and the Goats – Matthew 25:31-46 (Part 2)

What they have done is taken care of “the least of these” is very simple practical ways, usually described as social responsibilities, things that were valued by the Jews at the time of Jesus. The idea that a righteous person takes care of the poor and needy is found throughout the Hebrew Bible and rabbinic thought and becomes cornerstone to Christian ethics.

Job defends himself by arguing that he has not defrauded the poor (Job 31:16-21).  These same sorts of “good deeds” are typical of righteous Jews in the Second Temple Period.  For example, Tobit 4:16-17: “Give some of your food to the hungry, and some of your clothing to the naked. Give all your surplus as alms, and do not let your eye begrudge your giving of alms. Place your bread on the grave of the righteous, but give none to sinners.”  Likewise, Sirach 7:35 says “Do not hesitate to visit the sick, because for such deeds you will be loved.  Feeding the hungry and giving drink to the thirsty are things which the person of God does because they are God’s people (Prov 25:21, Ezek 18:7-9).

The sheep are also praised for sheltering the foreigner and stranger as well as clothing the naked.  This pair deals with basic hospitality requirements in the Ancient Near East. The word for stranger may mean someone from your country that is passing through your village or someone from another country.  Think of this as “when I was an immigrant, refugee, etc. in your land, you sheltered me.”  In b.Shab we read “Hospitality to the wayfarer is greater than welcoming the presence of the Shekinah.”  Job claims that “no stranger had to spend the night in the street, for my door was always open to the traveler” (Job 31:32)

They also visit the sick and the prisoner.  Visiting the sick becomes a key virtue in the early Church (see James 5:14, for example).  Visiting the prisoner was necessary since the Greco-Roman prison system did not provide any food, water, or other needs for prisoners.  If the person was to survive in prison, there had to be friends on the outside to bring the person food and water.

The Testament of Joseph 1:5–6 “I was sold into slavery, and the Lord of all made me free; I  was taken into captivity, and His strong hand succoured me. I  was beset with hunger, and the Lord Himself nourished me. I  was alone, and God comforted me; I  was sick, and the Lord visited me; I  was in prison, and my God showed favor to me.

Babylonian Talmud (t. Bab. Nedarim) “he that does not visit the sick, is as if he shed blood:  says another, he that visits the sick is the cause of his living; and he that does not visit the sick, is the cause of his death: and, says a third, whoever visits the sick shall be preserved from the damnation of hell.”  Visiting of the sick was reckoned, by the Jews, a very worthy action: they speak great things of it, and as what will be highly rewarded hereafter.”

There is a question of application here – usually this verse is used to guilt people into giving to a food drive or money to a homeless shelter.  While that application is fine (I am a big fan of helping the poor), but I am not so sure that is what Jesus is talking about.  The people who enter “eternal life” are those who have actually done the will of God by caring for the least of the brothers.  In every other text in the gospel of Matthew, the brothers of Jesus are the disciples, the Jews who are following Jesus.  It is possible that Jesus is not referring to the generic poor of all ages, but specifically the disciples who will suffer greatly for their testimony.

The Sheep and the Goats – Matthew 25:31-46 (Part 1)

This pericope is a grand conclusion to the Olivet Discourse and sums up many of the eschatological themes in Matthew.  But is this a parable? Not in the normal sense of a parable, it is more of an apocalyptic prophecy with parabolic elements.  The story is usually treated as a parable, despite the fact it is not a story drawn from everyday life.  As an apocalyptic prophecy, the Sheep and Goats is an interpretation and re-application of themes from the Hebrew Bible to a new situation.

Clearly the “Son of Man” is not a symbol, Jesus is identifying himself as the one who will be doing the final judgment.  There is, however, a shift from Son of Man to “the King” in verse 34.  The King in this parable is not necessarily a metaphor for Jesus but an actual title of Jesus that he will have at that time.  That Jesus sees himself as the central character in this parable helps us to read the previous parables – Jesus is the king who went away, Jesus is the bridegroom.

The Sheep and the Goats are metaphorical elements that parallel the Wise and foolish virgins and the productive and unproductive servants in the parable of the talents. The elements of the judgment are not to be taken as metaphors, what the sheep do and what the goats do not do should be understood as a part of the judgment that they are facing at the end of the age.  The wise virgin and prepared servant are more or less like the Sheep, the foolish virgin and the unprepared servant are more or less like the goats.

It is probably best to see this is prophecy that is using the metaphor of the separation of sheep and goats to indicate that at the end of the age the nations will be separated and judged.  The basis of that judgment will be the treatment of the “least of these brothers of mine.” This prophecy may be based on several passages from the Hebrew Bible.  For example,  Ezekiel 34:11-17 describes Israel as a flock in need of a true shepherd.  It is quite possible that the Sheep and Goats of Matthew 25 is a reflection on Ezekiel 34:16: “As for you, my flock, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will judge between one sheep and another, and between rams and goats.”  Compare also Joel 3:12: “Let the nations be roused; let them advance into the Valley of Jehoshaphat, for there I will sit to judge all the nations on every side.”  The Animal Apocalypse in the 1 Enoch is very similar – the sheep represent Israel, while other animals represent the nations.

Like any of the parables, this story must be read in the context of the first listeners.  The shocking end of the parables of the kingdom is that those that thought they were getting into the kingdom are not going to be there, and those that were on the outside do get in.   The ruling Jews thought that they were going to be in the kingdom, in fact, they were the “keepers of the kingdom of God.”  Yet when Messiah came, they did not recognize him.  They never really had much of a chance to since they were not caring for the poor and the needy as they ought.  Jesus is very critical of the Pharisees who liked their fine things, or the people giving in the temple and mocking the widow and her mite.

On the other hand, the underclass probably did not think of themselves are serious candidates for the first to get into the kingdom.  They were told repeatedly that they were the unclean, “sinners and tax-collectors.”  Yet they will enter the kingdom, and those that were accepting and caring for this underclass, as Jesus was, will enter as well.

Matthew 25:1-13 – The Parable of the Ten Virgins

This parable is an interesting example for parable study since it is often dismissed as a creation of the later church to explain the long-delay of the return of the Lord.  The parable is an allegory created by Matthew to explain why Jesus did not return as quickly as anticipated. For example, Eta Linnemann said that this parable “is certainly a creation of the early Church. A Christian prophet or teacher unknown to us uttered it in the name and spirit of Jesus.” (Parables, 126).

I would rather read this parable in the context of the others in Matthew 24-25.  The parable was intended to use common typology for Israel’s relationship with God found in the Hebrew Bible. For example, the relationship of God and Israel is pictured in the Old Testament as a marital relationship (Isa 54:4-6, 62:4-5, Ezek 16, Hosea).  The fact the main event in the parable is a wedding feast also may allude to the great victory banquet at the end of the ate (Isa 25:6-8).  If we follow Blomberg’s method for interpreting parables, then the bridegroom is the central character, the two sets of bridesmaids are the contrasting characters.  This would imply strongly that the bridegroom is God / Jesus, since in most of these sorts of parables God is in that central position.   The ten virgins or bridesmaids would then refer to the followers of Jesus who are waiting for his return.  Five are prepared for a long interim, the other five are not.

But other elements are not intended to be typological at all.  For example, the oil is sometimes equated to good works, or the merchants with the Church. (If you want to be ready for the return of Jesus, go and do good works in the Church?)  Likewise the closing of the door.   This is the “judgment” of the five foolish virgins, they are shut out of the wedding feast, not allowed to come in and serve their master.

What makes the bridesmaids “wise” or “foolish”?  It cannot be that they fell asleep, both are said to get drowsy and fall asleep.  The delay was so long that normal life had to go on. The issue is that the foolish five are unprepared for the long wait.  The type of lamp they used would need to be refueled when the groom arrived.  They did not think ahead and prepare for a lengthy wait. By preparing themselves, the five wise bridesmaids are allowed to join the groom and enter into the wedding feast.

But what of the unprepared virgins?  Why are they judged harshly?  The shutting of the door is an indication of final judgment:  there is no longer any way for them to get into the kingdom, they have missed out. The groom’s response to their please is that he does not know them.  This reminds us of 7:21-23, and 21:37.  In 7:21-23 Jesus says that not everyone that cries out “Lord Lord” will be in the kingdom, the same words are used here, the virgins cry out “Lord Lord” (NIV = Sir Sir!)

The groom’s response is exactly what Jesus said in Matthew 7:23 and is a rabbinical formula to dismiss a student.   The implication is that they had the same opportunity to be ready, and that since they were not ready at the right time, they will have no part in the kingdom.  They remain outside, in the dark.  The fact is, they were always in the dark and only thought that they would enter into the Wedding Feast.

This is yet another example in Jesus’ teaching of a shocking reversal.  Those who think that they ought to be in the kingdom do not get in.  For me, this is a sober warning to the present, complacent church which thinks that when Jesus returns he is going to approve of what we have been doing.  I suspect not a few people will be on the outside, shouting out to Jesus, “Did we not do miracles in your name?  Did we not vote in your name?”   While it may be dark on the outside, it will certainly be crowded.

The Parables of Jesus: Literary Approaches

Beginning with Ernst Fuchs, however, parables have increasingly been examined as “language events” which are analogies that get at the heart of reality.   In general, the authors of many of these studies are trained in literature outside of biblical studies and therefore open to ideas antithetical to Jülicher.  These studies represent a shift from “parables as similitudes” to “parables as metaphors” and there is far more acceptance of the idea of a parable as an allegory.  In fact, there is often a healthy respect for allegory as a literary genre before approaching Jesus’ parables.  These studies also reject the possibility of reconstructing any historical context for the parables as a misguided goal since the parables ought to be understood solely as units of literature.  There is a marked trend away from authorial intent as a valid goal of interpretation.  Simply put, the original author and historical context no longer have a bearing on the interpretation of the parable.

I will touch on one example of the types of studies that came out of this literary movement.  As a founding member of the SBL Parables group, John Dominic Crossan followed Funk’s lead in his work on the parables in a bewildering number of articles which employ at various times virtually every literary-critical method.   As an engaging writer, reading Crossan is always a joy, but one is always left wondering what he really thinks.  At times he seems to be playing with the parables and other literature just because he can.  He creates new combinations of diverse literature which challenge in unanticipated ways, but ultimately leave one wondering if there is anything in his reading which Jesus might have recognized as one of his parables!

For Crossan, the parables are the “preaching itself and are not merely serving the purpose of a lesson”  Crossan argues “the parable does not belong to the realm of didactic tools and pedagogic tactics but comes from the world of poetic metaphors and symbolic expressions.”   Yet parables are not allegories, because an allegory can still be reduced to some propositional statement. Because of this assumption that the parables are art, Crossan is free to approach these stories as stories, employing a structuralist or deconstructionalist method.

In his later writings, Crossan has argued that parables are polyvalent – parables are capable of many meanings since they are capable of being read in many contexts.  The interpreter “plays” with the parable and creates a new and unique meaning from the plot of the parable.  The same reader may return to the text on multiple occasions and develop quite different readings of the same parable.  The reader has changed and may sense new connections and insights from the same text.  Crossan has made a pass at the parables from the perspective of deconstructionism as well.  In this version of his thinking on parables, he follows Derrida closely, arguing that metaphor creates a “void” which requires the reader to create meaning through the “free play of interpretations.”

What is remarkable about literary approaches to the Parables is how they embrace rather obtuse literary methods in order to make the parables say anything.  This strikes me as an intellectual version of the allegorical method.  For most of these types of studies, the reader is more important that the author.  In fact, the reader “creates meaning” when the parable is read.  The same parable could be read at ten different times by the same person and new meaning may be created each time.  What the author meant does not really matter, whether that is the Historical Jesus or the gospel writer.

For the record, I am a firm believer in “authorial intent.”  My approach to the Parables is to place the story in the context of the Life of Jesus.  The point of the parable is exactly the point which Jesus intended.  However, literary studies are right about a few things – I can read the same parable at different times in my life and hear something different every time.  To me, this is not a creation of meaning.  The parables were designed to have various levels of meaning, complex nuances which may resonate with some people and not with others.

While it is easy enough to dismiss literary studies as dated relics of postmodernism, they might have struck on something which was lost when Jülicher declared the allegorical method dead.  Were the Parables intended as open ended, polyvalent stories by Jesus?

Bibliography:  John D. Crossan:

In Parables: The Challenge of the Historical Jesus (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1973).
“Servant Parables of Jesus,”  Semeia 1 (1974): 17-62.
“Metamodel for Polyvalent Narration,” Semeia 9 (1977): 105-47
“Difference and Divinity,” Semeia 23 (1982): 29-40 .

The Parables of Jesus: “Realized Eschatology” in the Parables

C. H. Dodd’s  Parables of the Kingdom was a major step forward from the foundation of Jülicher.  Dodd attempted to read the parables in their proper historical context (Sitz im Leben Jesu), but he also attempted to deal with the problem of eschatology raised by Schweitzer.  Schweitzer argued that Jesus thought of the kingdom as present in his own ministry and that his actions in Jerusalem would bring the kingdom fully into the world.  Dodd, on the other hand, understood the kingdom of God as having fully arrived with the ministry of Jesus.  Jesus is not reforming Judaism or correcting their misunderstanding of the Kingdom, he is creating something new.  The parable of the Patched Garment and Wineskins, for example, indicate that the old has already passed away and the new has already come.  Jesus has not come to reform Judaism, but to bring “something entirely new, which cannot be accomplished by the traditional system” (117).  There is no future eschatological climax to history, history has reached it’s fulfillment in the person of Jesus. The parables of the kingdom are an attempt by the early church to take the words of Jesus and create a new eschatology as an alternative to that of the Jews of the Second Temple period (35-6).

This “realized eschatology” controls Dodd’s reading of the parables so that he occasionally detects places where the evangelists have obscured Jesus meaning.  For example, the parables of the talents was originally about the Pharisees and ethical conduct but the early church adapted it to the delay of the parousia.  But the eschatological parables are from Jesus himself, there is no long drawn out period of oral transformation within the life of the church (122-39).  Form criticism is correct that the parable must be taken out of the artificial context of the Gospels, but Dodd does not propose a method of determining the artificial context.

Dodd deals with the eschatological parables in his chapter on “parables of crisis.”  By this point in his book he has repeatedly argued that Jesus was not expecting a future apocalyptic kingdom, so he merely re-affirms his belief that the apocalyptic interpretation of these parables is a secondary addition developed by the early church.  In the parable of the Faithful and Unfaithful Servants in Matthew 24:45-51 and Luke 12:42-36, Jesus’ original parable concerned responsibility of those charged to lead and faithfulness to the task given. He had the chief scribes and teachers of the law in mind, not a future coming kingdom.  That idea was “naturally enough and legitimately enough re-applied” by the early church to a new situation (160).  The parable of the Thief at Night (Mt 24:43-44, Lk 12:39-40) originally referred to the coming persecutions of Jesus and his disciples, and the destruction of Jerusalem.  Both the Faithful Servants and the Thief in the Night parables referred to something that was already happening in the ministry of Jesus, but the early church took them over and re-applied them to the situation present after the resurrection (170-71).

The evidence for this is the re-use of the saying (which Dodd would associate with Q) in 1 Thessalonians 5.  For Dodd, Paul is re-applying something he picked up form the traditional sayings of Jesus and re-applying it for the Thessalonian church(168).   The parable of the Ten Virgins is interpreted in a similar fashion.  Jesus taught preparedness for the “developments which were actually in process in the ministry of Jesus” (178).

Dodd’s chief contribution, so-called “realized eschatology” attempted to deal with the apocalyptic Jesus described by Schweitzer in such a way that did justice to both the texts which describe the kingdom as present and those which describe the kingdom as future.  This theological position will be extremely influential on subsequent parables studies, especially those by Smith and Jeremias.

But is a fully-realized eschatology the best way to read all of the parables?  I am not at all happy with ignoring parables which seem to be “apocalyptic” as later additions and not from the Historical Jesus. The Ten Virgins and the Talents seem to teach a long delay before the return of the Lord.  This may not be a product of the church but a genuine apocalyptic teaching from Jesus.  Dodd contributes much, but by removing the apocalyptic from the Parables he robs them of their Second Temple Period context.

C. H. Dodd, The Parables of Jesus (New York: Scribners 1935))

Parables of Jesus: Are These Stories “Allegories”?

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?

Bibliography:

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).