Jesus loved to tell parables—perplexing, yet revealing stories that teach us, spiritually blind and self-deceived as we are, to see reality beyond ourselves and to know God's love and loving demands on our lives. They also lead us to acknowledge the darkness in ourselves.
David Gowler explores the layers of meaning in Jesus' parables, which were "created and preserved in conversation with both Jewish and Greco-Roman cultural environments." Mikeal Parsons invites us to join the early Christians in reading them as allegories about God.
Barbara Reid, O. P., examines the violent endings in the parables unique to Matthew. Dorothy Jean Weaver considers Jesus' striking parables concerning wealth and possessions in the Gospel of Luke. And James Edwards asks why the Gospel of Mark, which frequently calls Jesus "the Teacher," so sparingly records his instruction. Mark is preparing us to hear Jesus' teaching, he suggests. "The spoken word is, of course, necessary, but as an interpretation of what Jesus does rather than as a substitute for it."
Clarence Jordan was an unusually able interpreter of Jesus' parables, Joel Snider observes. His academic study, small-town background, and experiences in establishing the interracial Koinonia Farm in the 1940s shaped Jordan's reading of the parables in "the Cotton Patch."
The study guides and lesson plans integrate Bible study, prayer, and worship to help us embrace the practical implications of Christ's teachings. The guides can be used in a series or individually. You may download and reproduce them for personal or group use.
- "The Contexts of Jesus' Parables," by David B. Gowler
- "Hearing a Parable with the Early Church," by Mikeal C. Parsons
- "Matthew's Nonviolent Jesus and Violent Parables," by Barbara E. Reid, O. P.
- "Hazmats or Good Gifts?" by Dorothy Jean Weaver
- "Hearing Is Believing," by James R. Edwards
- "Hearing Parables in the Patch," by Joel Snider
- "A Gesture of Reconciliation," by Heidi J. Hornik and Mikeal C. Parsons, on Guercino's Return of the Prodigal Son
- "Go and Do Likewise," by Heidi J. Hornik, on Jacopo Bassano's Good Samaritan and He Qi's The Good Samaritan
Hymn and Worship Service
- "Hands of the Father," by William D. Shiell
- "Mark and the Biggest Parable of All," by Martha Sterne
- Other Voices, Quotations on Parables
- "Interpreting the Parables' Recent Interpreters," by Scott Huelin
- Craig L. Blomberg, Interpreting the Parables
- Robert Farrar Capon, Kingdom, Grace, Judgment: Paradox, Outrage, and Vindication in the Parables of Jesus
- Barbara Green, Like a Tree Planted: An Exploration of Psalms and Parables Through Metaphor