Note: If you
are registered for this course, please read the letter to the participants from
Professor Rollins: letter
in .pdf letter
in Microsoft Word
he said nothing to them without a parable.”
. . we live in story like fish in the sea.”
- John Dominic Crossan
“Because there are innumerable things beyond the range of
human understanding, we constantly use symbolic terms to represent concepts that
we cannot define or fully comprehend. This is one reason why all religions
employ symbolic language or images.”
-C. G. Jung
can give his people better stories than the ones they live in is like the priest
in whose hands common bread and wine become capable of feeding the very soul,
and he may think of forging in some invisible smithy the uncreated conscience of
are profoundly dialogic and do not pretend to be the last word because, in
parable, the last word is continually granted to others . . . . .”
the Gospel always, and when necessary use words.”
- St. Francis
Books for Purchase
David B. What Are They Saying About the Parables? New York: Paulist
Arland J. The Parables of Jesus: A Commentary, The Bible in Its World.
Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2002.
Bernard Brandon. Re-Imagine the World: An Introduction to the Parables of
Jesus: Polebridge Press, 2001.
Jr., Burton, ed. Gospel Parallels: A Comparison of the Synoptic Gospels
(5th ed.; Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1992) [= GP
1. To appreciate the historical, literary, social, cultural,
religious, and psycho-spiritual matrix from which the Gospel
parables have come.
2. To explore the roster of forty-two parables found in the
Synoptic Gospels and the Gospel of Thomas, with an in-depth study of
To appreciate the place of the parable in the life and
ministry of Jesus of Nazareth and to come to a fuller understanding
of the “kingdom of God” or “reign of God” as the central
motif of Jesus’ teaching in parables.
4. To appreciate the history of parable research and scholarly
contribution to our understanding of the nature and meaning of
parable, past and present.
5. To explore the role of imagination, story, and symbol in the
life of the human species, as exemplified in the rich literary
tradition of the Hebrew Scriptures, the New Testament, and beyond.
Daily attendance at all sessions. Classroom exchange is as important as
the reading. (For credit and CEU students, each hour of absence = reduction of
one third of the letter attendance grade; consistent tardiness also reduces the
grade. See the instructor for “makeup” in case of an emergency). (1/6 of the
Readings. See the attached letter to participants.
Book Report*: Credit/CEU
participants will make one book report presentation
[a five-minute class presentation (ungraded), plus a written version to the
instructor for grading; see below]. Select a title from the attached list of
books on Reserve in the library and register your choice with Reserve librarian,
Marie Rovero. (If someone has already selected the title you must choose
another.) Be prepared to present
your book review any time on Tuesday through Friday (a definite time for your
report will be set at our first session on Monday).
class presentation should include one xeroxed sheet for class distribution,
citing author, title, and publication data,
listing a quotation or two that captures the essence of the book, and a
few statements or examples that spell out the contribution (or lack of same) to
the subject of parables. Would you
recommend the book?
written review (due not later than August 15) is to include the following: (a) a
fairly detailed précis of the book and its purpose, (b) a thoughtful discussion
of five to ten ideas you have found helpful, informative, or problematic,
explaining why, and (c) a conclusion evaluating the book’s relevance and value
for the course. Maximum length:
seven pages. (2/6 of the grade).
Participation in a group parable analysis (ungraded), requiring a little
thought and a small piece of the preparation.
Final Project* for credit/CEU participants: a 10-15 page paper on a
parable of your choice, following a set of guidelines to be distributed on
Monday. The paper is due approximately four to six weeks after the conclusion of
the course but not later than August 15 (with extensions possible; see below). A
3x5 card listing your parable selection and the reasons for your choice is due
the last day of class for approval by the instructor. Final papers are due four
to six weeks after the course and must be mailed/delivered to the instructor’s
address in hard copy with a SASE for return. Students electing an
“incomplete” are responsible to submit the Hartford Seminary “incomplete
course form” to the instructor prior to August 15. (3/6 of the grade)
of credit and CEU participants only. All academic papers are to conform to
conventional technical, grammatical, and stylistic standards referred to in
the General Guidelines for a Research Paper. The Hartford Seminary Grading
Guidelines will be the standard of evaluation for the course.
of the compactness of the week, reading assignments are best done
prior to the course, bringing notes from your reading to class.)
Schedule and Reading Assignments
Prospectus: Setting the Stage for Parable Study and Priming
the Pump for Gospel Study. Background Reading:
Gowler, chaps. 4, 5, and 7; Scott, pp. 1-20, and Hultgren, pp. 1-19.
Approaches to the Parables: An Archaeology of Meaning
A. Background Reading: Gowler, chap. 1; Scott, Chaps. 3
“Leaven,” 4 “Mustard Seed,” & 11 “Dinner Party ; Hultgren,
B. Workshop: Please note that Hultgren’s commentary is cited for
each parable below with the symbol “H” plus the section number, e.g. 2.2,
noted in Hultgren’s Table of
Contents, pp. vii - ix
Parable of the Leaven Mt 13.33; Lk 13.20-21; Thomas 96 (H 8.36)
b. Parable of the
Mustard Seed Mk
4.30-32; Mt 13.31-32; Lk 13.18-19; Thomas 20 (H 8.35)
Parable of the Guests Invited to the Feast (the Wedding) Mt 22.1-14; Lk 14. 16-24; Thomas 64 (H 7.31
Parable of the Persistent Friend at Midnight
Lk 11.5-8 ( H 5.20)
A. Background Reading: Gowler, chaps. 2-3; Scott, chaps. 6 “Hidden
Treasure,” 7 “Samaritan.”
Wednesday Literary Approaches: The Parable as a Work of Art
a. Parable of the Hidden Treasure in the Field
Mt 13.44; Thomas 109 (H 8.37)
b. Parable of the Good Samaritan Lk 10.25-37 (H 3.6)
c. Parable of the Sower and the Seed Mk 4.3-8, 13-20; Mt 13.3-8, 18-23; Lk 8.5-8,11-15; Thomas 9 (H 5.16)
d. Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus
Lk 16. 19-31 (H 3.8)
Approaches: The Parable as Subversive
Background Reading: Gowler, chap. 6; Hultgren, pp. 430-452; Scott, chaps.
8 “The Prodigals,” & 5 “The Empty Jar.”
a. Parable of the Prodigal Son
Lk 15. 11-32 (H 2.5)
b. Parable of the Woman
Carrying a Jar (Gospel of Thomas) (H pp. 443-44)
c. Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Publican) Lk 18.10-14 (H 3.9)
d. Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard
Mt 20. 1-16 (H 2.2.)
The Parable and
the Imaginative Dimension in the History of the Species
A. Background Reading: Scott,
chaps. 9 “The Shrewd Manager,” 10 “The Unforgiving Slave,”
11 “Re-Imagining the World,” and 12 “Epilogue”
a. Parable of the Unjust
or Shrewd Manager Lk
16. 1-8 (H 4.13)
b. Parable of the
Unforgiving Slave Mt
18.23-25 (H 2.1)
c. Parable of the Talents Mt
25. 14-30 (H 5.26)
d. Parable of the Final Judgment
Mt 25.31-46 (H 6.30)
Report Selection List for Credit Students
of these books are on library reserve for signing up and taking out. You may
also choose from the fuller academic bibliography in Hultgren The Parables of
Boucher, Madeleine. The
Parables. Wilmington, DE: Michael Glazier, 1981.
James. The Silence of Jesus: The Authentic Voice of the Historical Man.
Philadelphia: Fortress, 1983.
John Dominic. In Parables: The Challenge of the Historical Jesus. New
York: Harper & Row, 1973
Philip L. A Word Fitly Spoken. Albany: SUNY Press, 1995.
John R., SJ. The Gospel in Parable: Metaphor, Narrative, and Theology in
the Synoptic Gospels. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1988.
John. The Parables in the Gospels: History and Allegory. New York:
Richard Q. The Parables of Jesus: Recovering the Art of Listening.
Minneapolis: Fortress, 1997.
Charles. Parables as Poetic Fictions: The Creative Voice of Jesus.
Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1994.
William R. Parables as Subversive Speech. Louisville: Westminster/ John
Jan. Out of the Treasure: The Parables in the Gospel of Matthew. Grand
Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1992.
Eta. The Jesus of the Parables: Introduction and Exposition. London:
Harvey K. , and Robert M. Johnston. They Also Taught in Parables: Parables
from the First Centuries of
the Christian Era. Grand Rapids: Zondervan,, 1990.
Sallie. Speaking in Parables:. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1975.
Todd. Candles In The Dark: A Treasury Of The World's Most Inspiring
Parables: John Wiley & Sons, 2002.
Andrew. Painfully Clear: The Parables of Jesus. Sheffield: Sheffield
Academic Press, 1996.
Pheme. Jesus as Teacher. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990.
Norman. Jesus and the Language of the Kingdom. Philadelphia: Fortress,
The Wisdom and Wit of Rabbi Jesus. Nashville: Westminster/John
Bernard Brandon. Hear Then the Parable: A Commentary on the Parables of
Jesus. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1989.
Bernard Brandon. Jesus, Symbol-Maker for the Kingdom. Philadelphia:
V. George, ed. Jesus and His Parables. Edinburgh: T & T Clark,
David. Parables in Midrash: Narrative and Exegesis in Rabbinic Literature.
Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1994.
Clemens , and Michael Wyschogrod, eds. Parable and Story in Judaism and
Christianity. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist, 1989.
Dan Otto. The Parables: Their Literary and Existential Dimension.
Philadelphia: Fortress, 1967.
Claus. The Parables of Jesus in Light of the Old Testament.
Minneapolis: Fortress, 1990.
Amos. The Language of the Gospel: Early Christian Rhetoric. New York:
Harper & Row, 1971.
Abigail. The Parables of Jesus: And Their Place in Christian Art:
Penguin Studio, 1998.
Walter. The Human Being: Jesus and The Enigma of the Son of the Man.
Minneapolis: Fortress, 2001.
Walter. The Powers That Be: Theology for a New Millennium. New York:
Brad H. The Parables: Hendrickson Publishers, 1998.