For far too long, Lauri Thurén argues, the parables of Jesus have been read either as allegories encoding Christian theology—including the theological message of one or another Gospel writer—or as tantalizing clues to the authentic voice of Jesus. Thurén proposes instead to read the parables “unplugged” from any assumptions beyond those given in the narrative situation in the text, on the common-sense premise that the very form of the parable works to propose a (sometimes startling) resolution to a particular problem. Thurén applies his method to the parables in Luke with some surprising results involving the Evangelist’s overall narrative purposes and the discrete purposes of individual parables in supporting the authority of Jesus, proclaiming God’s love, exhorting steadfastness, and so on. Eschatological and allegorical readings are equally unlikely, according to Thurén’s results. This study is sure to spark learned discussion among scholars, preachers, and students for years to come.
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