Lenin’s Gospels

In: Biblical Interpretation
Roland Boer Renmin University of China, China; University of New Castle, Australia

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Lenin and the Gospels: This surprising conjunction is the focus of this article. Virtually unknown is the fact that Lenin was fond of citing, quoting, interpreting and appropriating in an innovative fashion the parables and sayings found in the mouth of Jesus. This study begins by analyzing the organizing parable of the tares and wheat in Lenin’s crucial early text, What Is To Be Done? (). From there it moves to consider his wider engagements with the Gospels, again with an emphasis on parables and sayings such as the sower, the narrow gate and path, the lost shepherd and the good shepherd. Apart from exploring the permutations of Lenin’s interpretations, a crucial question is why he should do so. The key lies in the earthy, agricultural nature of these preferred parables and the worldviews constructed by peasants and workers in revolutionary Russia.

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