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Review of Biblical Literature Blog

Puzzling the Parables of Jesus: Methods and Interpretation
Zimmermann, Ruben

Minneapolis: Fortress, 2015 pp. xiv + 481. $39.00


Description: Modern scholarship on the parables has long been preoccupied with asking what Jesus himself said and what he intended to accomplish with his parables. Ruben Zimmermann moves beyond that agenda to explore the dynamics of parabolic speech in all their rich complexity. Introductory chapters address the history of research and distinguish historical from literary and reader-oriented approaches, then set out a postmodern hermeneutic that analyzes narrative elements and context, maps the sociohistorical background, explores stock metaphors and symbols, and opens up contemporary horizons of interpretation. Subsequent chapters then focus on one parable from early Christian sources (Q, Mark, Matthew, Luke, John, and the Gospel of Thomas) to explore how parables function in each literary context. Over all reigns the principle that the meaning or theological ďmessageĒ of a parable cannot be extracted from the parabolic form; thus the parables continue to invite hearersí and readersí involvement to the present day.

Subjects: Bible, New Testament, Synoptic Gospels, Johannine Literature, John, Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha, New Testament Apocrypha, Gospels, Literature, Methods, Historical Approaches, History, Form, Tradition and Redaction Criticism, Literary Approaches, The Gospel of Thomas

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Review by Thomas E. Goud
Published 8/15/2019
Citation: Thomas E. Goud, review of Ruben Zimmermann, Puzzling the Parables of Jesus: Methods and Interpretation, Review of Biblical Literature [http://www.bookreviews.org] (2019).


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