Original Research

Interpreting the parables of the Galilean Jesus: A social-scientific approach

Ernest van Eck
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 65, No 1 | a308 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v65i1.308 | © 2009 Ernest van Eck | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 06 July 2009 | Published: 16 September 2009

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Abstract

This article proposes a methodology for interpreting the parables of Jesus. The methodology put forward has as starting point two convictions. Firstly, the difference between the context of Jesus’ parables as told by Jesus the Galilean in 30 CE and the literary context of the parables in the gospels has to be taken seriously. Secondly, an effort has to be made to at least try to avoid the fallacies of ethnocentrism and anachronism when interpreting the parables. In an effort to achieve this goal it is argued that social-scientific criticism presents itself as the obvious line of approach. Operating from these two convictions, the method being proposed is explained by using 12 statements (or theses) which are discussed as concisely and comprehensively as possible. It is inter alia argued that the central theme of Jesus’ parables was the non-apocalyptic kingdom of God, that the parables are atypical stories (comparisons), and that the parables depict Jesus as a social prophet.

Keywords

parables; Galilee; Galilean Jesus; socialscientific analysis; parable interpretation

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