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Understanding Jesus' New Testament Parables (FREE DOWNLOAD)

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Understanding Jesus' New Testament Parables (FREE DOWNLOAD)
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Free Introduction to Jesus' Parables. Provides information sufficient to understand and apply Jesus' New Testament parables as the original hearers, recognizing the teaching moment intended, allowing application to be made in our world today.

Parable is the English translation of the Greek noun defining a short fictitious story illustrating a moral attitude or a religious principle. The English noun is often construed as an allegory (a story told using symbolic fictional figures and actions of truths and generalizations about human existence) or fable (a story told which is a fictitious narrative or statement built around legendary tales of supernatural happenings intended to enforce a usual truth) or a legend (a story handed down from a time in the distant past, often popular and regarded as historical – however, often not verifiable). Construing parables using these methods are outside of the definition of Greek noun.

The stories Jesus told, as recorded in the gospels, must be defined and understood by the definition of the Greek noun consisting of para (meaning “alongside”) and ballein (meaning “to throw”). Translated into English, it literally means, “to throw alongside for comparison. This Greek noun does not reflect any of these other meanings, however, they are often improperly included as part of the definition. The teachers at Alexandra, Egypt incorporated these modifications during and after the second century. They had little in common with the community life in Palestine during the time of Jesus and were without any basis for interpreting the parables. Thus, they translated Jesus’ parables as an allegory (as defined above).

This allegoric teaching was accepted by other early church fathers, and by the Fifth Century, was the basis of understanding Jesus’ parables. This continued until the Seventeenth Century discoveries of manuscripts and common writings (on broken pieces of pottery) dating back to Jesus’ day. These discoveries led to the compiling and publishing of dictionaries (Greek Lexicons) by James Moulton & George Milligan (The Vocabulary of the Greek Testament Illustrated from Papyri and other non-literary sources); H.G. Liddell and R. Scott (A Greek-English Lexicon, published by Oxford University Press); and Walter Bauer and Frederick Danker (A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature); all of which greatly assisted in understanding New Testament Greek, especially, the parables of Jesus.

Building on these discoveries, the community life as it existed in Jesus’ day was reconstructed, providing a basis for understanding the setting of each parable as understood by the original listeners. This publication provides general details about understanding the community life and how Jesus’ parables were taken directly from the community setting. This includes the local customs, practices, and the local community protocol expected by the original hearers. Without this understanding, the original meaning is lost, and the spiritual application built on the original meaning missed.

Intended use: for individual study and/or small group study as they prepare to study the parables of Jesus. We highly recommend taking advantage of this free resource before reading the other studies on parables available on this site.

Author: This eBook is a joint work by the pastoral and ministry staff of Biblical Teaching Publishers, LLC, based on over 60 years of combined ministry and teaching of parables. This eBook version was compiled by the Editor of BTP.

  1. Introduction
  2. The Storyteller
  3. What is a Parable?
  4. The Problems of Understanding Jesus’ Parables
  5. Gaining Insight by Asking Questions
  6. Putting These Questions into Perspective
  7. The Use of Parables
  8. Application of the Four Key Questions
  9. The Use of Reference Points
  10. Literary Styles Overview
  11. Parallel structure – this example is from Luke 21:23-24:
  12. Prose structure – this example is from Luke 15:8-10:
  13. Parabolic Ballad – this example is from Luke 6:32-36:
  14. Chiasm – this example is from Matthew 7:6.
  15. Structure Review
  16. Summary
  17. Acknowledgements
  18. Endnotes
Approximately 3,900 words in the body of this ebook.
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