March 30-April 27, 2015
MONDAY AFTERNOON 12:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.
When I was a child, a well-meaning person explained to me that Jesus used parables when he taught because he wanted to communicate deep, spiritual truths in plain and easy-to-understand ways. That person, I now know, was completely wrong. Parables usually raise as many questions as they answer. Yes, the parables speak of easy-to-imagine ideas and situations. But they also draw us into the complexities and mysteries of Jesus’ teaching about “the kingdom of God.” You’ll come away from the course with a deeper understanding of the parables’ power to shape how we think about Christian faith, as well as an appreciation for the ways the parables make interpreting the Bible both challenging and fun.
No reading is required for this course. However, the following books are recommended for those who wish to spend more time in studying the parables. There are many, many books on the parables. These six can get you started on the road toward deeper study, depending on where you already are on that road. They are listed here from most introductory to most complex.
Alyce M. McKenzie, The Parables for Today (Westminster John Knox Press)
A basic, clear, and recommended introduction
John Claypool, Stories Jesus Still Tells: The Parables (Cowley Publications)
Essentially a series of deep and thoughtful meditations or sermons on 12 of the parables
Bernard Brandon Scott, Re-Imagine the World: An Introduction to the Parables of Jesus (Polebridge Press)
An investigation of the parables that is as historically focused as it is theologically focused
Amy-Jill Levine, Short Stories by Jesus: The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi (HarperOne)
An in-depth study of about a dozen parables with an eye on their historical settings and their multifaceted ability to unsettle our comfortable assumptions about God
Robert Farrar Capon, Kingdom, Grace, Judgment: Paradox, Outrage, and Vindication in the Parables of Jesus (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.)
A longer book, and accordingly more in-depth and occasionally technical in its focus
Arland J. Hultgren, The Parables of Jesus: A Commentary (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.)
A very thorough and scholarly analysis of all the parables in the Gospels
Matthew Skinner, Associate Professor of New Testament