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Parables make up one-third of Jesus' speech in the New Testament. In this volume, Richard Lischer provides an expert guide to these parables and proposes an important distinction between reading and interpreting the parables.
Emphasizing the importance of reading the parables versus interpreting them, Lischer asserts that reading offers a kind of breathing space to explore historical, literary, theological, and socio-political dimensions of the parables and their various meanings, whereas interpreting implies an expert and critical position that must be defended.
Lischer lays out four theories for reading parables: 1) parables obscure truth; 2) parables teach many truths; 3) parables teach one truth; and 4) parables undermine the truth. Ultimately, he concludes that biblical parables undermine dominant myths called "the truth" to shine light on the Truth that is Jesus, God's presence with us.
"With his keen literary eye and finely tuned theological perception, Richard Lischer teaches us how to read the parables of Jesus anew, to read them not merely by ourselves or for ourselves but in the company of many others. Lischer enables us to read these great texts with the Gospel writers, with the poor, with the saints, and with all who are in the human condition; and as a result of Lischer's wise guidance, the parables have 'perpetual youth,' as Irenaeus would say, and overflow with abundance. This is a contribution to parables studies not to be missed." — Thomas G. Long, Bandy Professor of Preaching, Candler School of Theology, Emory University
"From master teacher, preacher, and scholar, Richard Lischer, we receive the gift of a close and faithful reading of the parables. His perspective illuminates the parables' potency for any human condition, whether poor or privileged. These stories told by Jesus still speak today and are not only to be read but also lived out in the world. Beware, reader—this is not just an interpretation; this is faith-filled gospel proclamation!" — Luke A. Powery, Dean of the Chapel, Duke University
"Paraboles à la Lischer: Sift approximately twoscore years of homiletics with a decade of pastoral experience. Measure organic, free-range historical study of Scripture into a batter comprising a cup of literary cream, finely grated philosophy, and a dash of political pepper. Whisk in zest of imagery and words freshly squeezed. Carefully strain out all clichés; never overwork the mixture. Pour the blend evenly into a deep theology and bake over a steady, high intelligence. Let cool slightly though not completely before devouring. Yield: Incalculable." — C. Clifton Black, Otto A. Piper Professor of Biblical Theology, Princeton Theological Seminary
"This is the book I have been waiting for! Lischer generously takes account of the wide range of approaches to Jesus' parables both academic and homiletical. He shows how these gospel mini-stories that we know so well crack open to reveal glimpses of surprising radiance that can quicken our own imaginations, provoke transformative action in our communities, and guide us in the parabolic art of preaching itself." — Heidi B, Neumark, Pastor, Trinity Lutheran Church of Manhattan, and Executive Director, Trinity Place Shelter
"It is easy to use the parables of Jesus as metaphors for our own agenda. But this book courageously plunges us into the role these 'stories' played in the first century, and along the way the reader gets a breathtaking new glimpse of the Word of God." — M. Craig Barnes, President, Princeton Theological Seminary
Richard Lischer is James T. and Alice Mead Cleland Professor of Preaching at Duke Divinity School. He is the author of several books, including Open Secrets: A Memoir of Faith and Discovery and Stations of the Heart: Parting with a Son.