Original Research - Special Collection: T.F.J. Dreyer Dedication

In the kingdom everybody has enough – A social-scientific and realistic reading of the parable of the lost sheep (Lk 15:4–6)

Ernest van Eck
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 67, No 3 | a1067 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v67i3.1067 | © 2011 Ernest van Eck | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 22 April 2011 | Published: 04 November 2011

About the author(s)

Ernest van Eck, University of Pretoria, South Africa


This article presents a social-scientific and realistic interpretation of the parable of the lost sheep (Lk 15:4–6). Attention is given to the history of the interpretation of the parable, its integrity and authenticity, and verisimilitude. It is argued that the Lukan-version (Q 15:4–6) of the parable represents the earliest layer of the historical Jesus-tradition. Specific attention is given to the social and economic registers presupposed in the parable, as well as certain cultural norms and values of the first-century Mediterranean world in which Jesus told the parable. The conclusion reached is that the parable exemplifies several aspects of the kingdom of God, aspects that are also present in several other parables that Jesus told about the kingdom.


social-scientific criticism; historical Jesus; parable of the lost sheep; parable interpretation; shepherds


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1. When patrons are patrons: A social-scientific and realistic reading of the parable of the Feast (Lk 14:16b–23)
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