Original Research - Special Collection: Old Testament and New Testament Studies

Die gelykenisse van Jesus: Allegorieë of simbole van sosiale transformasie?

Ernest van Eck
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 71, No 3 | a3030 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v71i3.3030 | © 2015 Ernest van Eck | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 07 May 2015 | Published: 11 September 2015

About the author(s)

Ernest van Eck, Department of New Testament Studies, Faculty of Theology, University of Pretoria, South Africa


The parables of Jesus: Allegories or symbols of social transformation? This article reflects on a possible methodology that can be used to interpret the parables of Jesus preserved in the Synoptics (and the Gospel of Thomas). It is argued that the available versions of the parables of Jesus have already been allegorised, and that this should be taken into consideration when the extant versions of parables are interpreted as parables of the historical Jesus. The parables should also, as far as possible, be interpreted against the social realia evoked by the parables. In this endeavour, Roman-Egypt inscriptions and papyri are in most cases the only sources available. The article concludes with a few examples, illustrating the possibilities of interpretation when the proposed methodology is applied.


Parable interpretation; allegory; papyri; social-scientific criticism; historical Jesus


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