The Power of Parables

Essays on the Comparative Study of Jewish and Christian Parables


The Power of Parables documents the surprising ways in which Jewish and Christian parables bridge religion with daily life. This 2019 conference volume rediscovers the original power of parables to shock and affect their audience, which has since been reduced by centuries of preaching and repetition. Not only do parables enhance the perspective on Scripture or the kingdom of heaven, they also change the sensory regime of the audience in perceiving the outer world. The theological differences in their applications appear secondary in view of their powerful rhetoric and suggest a shared genre.
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Eric Ottenheijm is Associate Professor of Jewish Studies and Biblical Studies at Utrecht University. Ottenheijm is president of the Compendia Foundation (CRINT Series, Brill), and member of the Editorial Board of Jewish and Christian Perspectives (Brill). His research focusses on rabbinic and Synoptic parables and the Jewish context of the Gospel of Matthew.

Marcel Poorthuis is Emeritus Professor in Interreligious Dialogue at Tilburg University. His dissertation (1992, Utrecht) dealt with the French-Jewish philosopher Emmanuel Levinas. He published about Catholicism, Judaism, Buddhism, and philosophy. He is co-editor of the international series Jewish and Christian Perspectives (Brill). His latest book publication is Rituals in interreligious dialogue: bridge or barrier? (Cambridge Scholars 2020).

Annette Merz is Professor of New Testament at the Protestant Theological University in Amsterdam and Groningen. Her dissertation (2001, Heidelberg) dealt with the Pastoral Epistles in the New Testament. She has published monographs and articles on the Historical Jesus and the Synoptic tradition on miracles and parables and on the later Pauline tradition, especially on the Pastoral Epistles and the Acts of Paul. Another focus is the reception history of New Testament texts regarding gender and slavery.

Eric Ottenheijm, Marcel Poorthuis and Annette Merz

Part 1: Parables and Realism

1 Genres of Parables: A Cognitive Approach
Gerd Theissen

2 A Parable of the Lost Temple? Archaeology, Intertextuality, and Rhetoric in Matt 21:33−46
Eric Ottenheijm and Boaz Zissu

3 Whom Do You Invite to the Table? Connections between the Dropsical Guest and the Meal Parables in Luke 14:1–24
Bart J. Koet

4 Parable and Ritual in Changing Contexts
Adiel Kadari

5 Sorting out “New and Old” (Matt 13:52) as Changing Money: Rabbinic and Synoptic Parables on Scriptural Knowledge
Eric Ottenheijm

6 The Rabbinic Mashal and the Ancient Fable: Prospects for a Changing Perspective
Justin David Strong

Part 2: Parables and Application

7 Parables between Folk and Elite
Tal Ilan

8 Money and Torah in Early Christian and Early Rabbinic Parables
Lieve M. Teugels

9 On Fields, the Poor Human Condition, and the Advantage of One Teacher: Four Rabbinic Parables in Avot de Rabbi Nathan
Marcel Poorthuis

10 Honouring Human Agency and Autonomy: Children as Agents in New Testament and Early Rabbinic Parables
Annette Merz and Albertina Oegema

11 Father’s Child: Fatherhood in the Rabbinic Parables of Song of Songs Rabbah
Tamar Kadari

12 Why Are Biblical Verses Not Quoted in Parables? A Cultural-Cognitive Explanation
Ronit Nikolsky

13 Moses’s Prayer and the Nimshal as Scriptural Mosaic
Arnon Atzmon

Part 3: Parables and Social Reality

14 Metaphors, Parables, and the Bildfeld
Petra von Gemünden

15 Jesus’s Parables Create Collective Identity: Parables of Growth through the Lens of Social Identity Theory
Ruben Zimmermann

16 Host and Guests: Some Features of the Eschatological Banquet in Rabbinic Parables and Gospels
Reuven Kiperwasser

17 New Testament and Rabbinic Slave Parables at the Intersection between Fiction and Reality
Catherine Hezser

18 Parables between Realism and Ideology
Anders Martinsen

19 Building a Fence Around the Vineyard: The Shepherd of Hermas’s Fifth Parable in Light of Comparative Parable Research
Martijn J. Stoutjesdijk

20 The Land of Israel as Diasporic Topos in Rabbinic Parables
Constanza Cordoni

Index of Ancient Sources
Index of Modern Authors
Index of Names and Subjects
This book is relevant for students and scholars of Theology, Religious Studies (Late Antiquity), Rabbinic Judaism, the New Testament, the History of Christianity, Comparative Religion, and Folklore Studies. It may also be relevant for philosophers, pedagogues, psychologists, or social linguistics.
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