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The Power of Parables: How Fiction by Jesus Became Fiction About Jesus
HarperOne / 2012 / Hardcover
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In 1969, I was teaching at two seminaries in the Chicago area. One of my courses was on the parables by Jesus and the other was on the resurrection stories about Jesus. I had observed that the parabolic stories by Jesus seemed remarkably similar to the resurrection stories about Jesus. Were the latter intended as parables just as much as the former? Had we been reading parable, presuming history, and misunderstanding both?
So begins the quest of renowned Jesus scholar John Dominic Crossan as he unlocks the true meanings and purposes of parable in the Bible so that modern Christians can respond genuinely to Jesus's call to fully participate in the kingdom of God. In The Power of Parable, Crossan examines Jesus's parables and identifies what he calls the "challenge parable" as Jesus's chosen teaching tool for gently urging his followers to probe, question, and debate the ideological absolutes of religious faith and the presuppositions of social, political, and economic traditions.
Moving from parables by Jesus to parables about Jesus, Crossan then presents the four gospels as "megaparables." By revealing how the gospels are not reflections of the actual biography of Jesus but rather (mis)interpretations by the gospel writers themselves, Crossan reaffirms the power of parables to challenge and enable us to co-create with God a world of justice, love, and peace.
John Dominic Crossan,professor emeritus at DePaul University, iswidely regarded as the foremost historicalJesus scholar of our time. He currentlyserves as the president of the Society of BiblicalLiterature. He is the author of severalbestselling books, including The HistoricalJesus; Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography; and,most recently, The Greatest Prayer. Crossanlives in Minneola, Florida.
“A refreshing and stunningly insightful treatment of the gospels as parables. In this book John Dominic Crossan has solidified his reputation as the greatest New Testament scholar of our generation.”
“John Dominic Crossan, who has given the world a series of insightful books on Jesus, has done it again. His innovative presentation… offers a brilliant new way of looking at parable and metaphor in the gospels and in the life of Jesus of Nazareth.”
“Moving from the parables of Israel’s Scriptures to the parables told by Jesus of Nazareth to the parables of his life recorded in the ancient Gospels, Crossan combines acute historical investigation with challenging theological observation. In so doing, he recovers the profundity, and the provocation, of the biblical tradition.”
“This book is like unto a virus, which a crafty leprechaun took, and infected our preferred operating systems with a Jesus O/S, that is incompatible with previous versions. Verily I say unto ye, Fortunate is the church if a little Crossan goes viral. It may leaveneth the whole lump.”
“A remarkable and important book for Christians and for all who seek to understand the Bible betterCrossan combines his customary literary and historical brilliance with fresh insights that illuminate not only the parables of Jesus but much of the Bible as a whole.”
“John Dominic Crossan has done it again. His innovative presentation of how Jesus told stories about God’s kingdom and how the gospel authors told stories about Jesus offers a brilliant new way of looking at parable and metaphor in the gospels and in the life of Jesus of Nazareth.”
“A fascinating book, written with Crossan’s usual lucidity but likely to disturb conservative Christians; a must for most academic and seminary libraries as well as many church groups and pastors.”
“Crossan’s exceptional clarity and methodical presentation combine to make this one of the best, most enthralling Bible-study courses many readers will ever take.”
“Offers valuable and accessible insights into the intentions of the evangelists and the revolutionary content of the gospels.”
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