Baker Academic

Friday, February 3, 2017

Update Your Parables Bibliography

Readers of this blog know that I have a very high opinion of Stories with Intent by Klyne Snodgrass. And, yes, I am willing to admit that part of my reasoning is that I like saying the name Klyne Snodgrass. SWI is still the most comprehensive book on the parables ever written. But while you were binge-watching Stranger Things the topic of parables has become a trend.

David Gowler, The Parables after Jesus: Their Imaginative Receptions across Two Millennia

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

R. Steven Notley and Ze'ev Safrai, Parables of the Sages

John P. Meier A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus, Volume V: Probing the Authenticity of the Parables

Amy-Jill Levine, Short Stories by Jesus: the Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi
For a comparison of these last two books by Brant Pitre (who studied under both authors) see:

So what am I missing? Any other recent treatments of Jesus' parables or parables in the ANE more generally?



  1. Great post, Anthony! Thanks for alerting us to all of these, the first three of which I have not yet gotten to read. Any thoughts on this recent growth in Parables research? I'm thinking here of the contrast with the quest in the 80s, which emphasized actions of Jesus almost to the exclusive of sayings (e.g., E. P. Sanders). Any reasons for a 'return to the parables'? I'm also with you on the impressive work of Snodgrass. That thing is a gold-mine of information and insight.

    1. All good questions. I am working through Zimmermann now and trying to form a few coherent thoughts. Definitely worth a read!

  2. Gene Stecher
    Chambersburg, Pa.

    Other recent treatments of Jesus' parables?

    Hedrick, Charles W. Parabolic Figures or Narrative Fictions? Seminal Essays on the Stories of Jesus.
    Cascade Books, 2016.

    From the Intro(xii-xiii)): "In my view we have no idea how Jesus used his brief narratives. While Mark's view of the purpose of the parables is likely pre-Markan, (4:10-12) it does not go back to Jesus. Hence, if anything comes from Jesus it is the stories alone. And that means literary settings, and the comparative frames introducing the stories, along with their appended interpretations derive from the early communities, the gospel writers or both, as part of their strategy for understanding the stories. Even their designation in the gospels as 'parables' derives from the early Christian strategy for understanding the stories."

    "What the synoptic writers describe as parables are in form narratives--realistic fictional narratives that disclose aspects of Palestinian antiquity. The question of how the parables function.....should arise from what the parables are in themselves, rather than from simply accepting the synoptic interpretive strategy that they are generally figurative. Successful fiction narrative, on the other hand, draws attention to itself and is not deliberately referential, even though it can be, and has been, read in that manner."

  3. Stephen I Wright _Jesus the Story Teller_.

  4. Richard Lischer, 'Reading the Parables' (WJK, 2014)