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1. "An earthly story with a heavenly meaning?". Parables. 2. Greek (parabole) = to cast along side of. Hebrew ( mashal ) = a proverbial comparison. These words cover a range of figures of speech. Characteristics:. 1. Unhistorical but not antihistorical . Parables.

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1. "An earthly story with a heavenly meaning?"


2. Greek (parabole) = to cast along side of.

Hebrew (mashal) = a proverbial comparison.

These words cover a range of figures of speech.



1. Unhistorical but not antihistorical


3. Unexpected turn of events

4. End Stress (Ryken)--the last line is the punch, therefore most important.

5. Evidence of careful composition

2. Often 3 principle characters

6. Simple vocabulary

7. Little embellishment to the story lines or characters

8. Setting, Story, Application


Rabbinic Parables:

There are more than 2,000 Rabbinic parables that span several centuries but not can be proven to predate Jesus’.


1. Begin: “To what shall I compare this”

2. Use from lesser to greater logic

3. Short, with 2-3 main characters which often compare the wicked and righteous

4. They use stock images

5. They may either reveal or conceal


Rabbinic Parables:

How Jesus’ parables are different from other Rabbis:


1. Jesus’ parables were not always allegorical (although they are in John)

2. They are all (35) about the Kingdom

3. Rabbinic parables reinforce conventional wisdom and/or exegesis

4. The degree of explicit interpretation in the rabbinic texts regularly exceeds that of the Gospels


Why Use Parables:

1. To reveal difficult truths in simple language


2. They are easy to remember

3. Stories are easy to listen to and gain attention

4. They persuade people to action

5. To conceal truth


Concealing purpose of parables

"A parable is one of those stories in the Bible which sounds at first like a pleasant yarn but keeps something up its sleeve which pops out and leaves you flat" A.M. Hunter, Interpreting Parables, Westminster, 1976, p. 14.


Passages to Consider: Isaiah 6:8-13; Matthew 13:10-17; John 3:17-19; 12:36-43; Romans 11:5-14


Concealing is based on:

1. God’s response to our sin.

2. Our refusal to listen. Like sleeping through an alarm clock.


3. God’s foreknowledge

4. Mutual rejection of men and God (e.g. Pharaoh).

5. Purging of the Remnant (Is. 6:11-13; Rom. 11:5-8).

6. Opening for the Gentiles (Rom. 11:9ff.)