The Power of Parable: How Fiction by Jesus Became Fiction about Jesus

The Power of Parable: How Fiction by Jesus Became Fiction about Jesus

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by John Dominic Crossan
     
 

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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

Overview

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?
—from The Power of Parable

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.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Crossan (emeritus, DePaul Univ.; The Greatest Prayer; The Historical Jesus) is one of the most admired as well as one of the most controversial scholars of the New Testament in general and the life of Jesus in particular. His latest book examines the ways that the teaching method of Jesus, who challenged his audiences with the parable, an early form of fiction, came to be applied to Jesus's own life story and argues that we should be wary of applying literal historical standards to texts from the ancient world. VERDICT 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.
Booklist
"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."
John Shelby Spong
“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.”
Marvin Meyer
“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.”
Amy-Jill Levine
“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.”
Rev. David Felten & Rev. Jeff Procter-Murphy
“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.”
Marcus J. Borg
“A remarkable and important book for Christians and for all who seek to understand the Bible better—Crossan 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.”
Booklist (starred review)
“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.”
Reverend - David Felten & Jeff Procter-Murphy
"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."

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061875694
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
03/06/2012
Pages:
272
Sales rank:
806,542
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.00(d)

What People are saying about this

Amy-Jill Levine
“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.”
Marcus J. Borg
“A remarkable and important book for Christians and for all who seek to understand the Bible better—Crossan 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 Shelby Spong
“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.”
Marvin Meyer
“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.”
David Felten & Jeff Procter-Murphy
“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.”

Meet the Author

John Dominic Crossan, professor emeritus at DePaul University, is widely regarded as the foremost historical Jesus scholar of our time. He is the author of several bestselling books, including The Historical Jesus and Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography. He lives in Minneola, Florida.

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The Power of Parable: How Fiction by Jesus Became Fiction about Jesus 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
rtink More than 1 year ago
Dominic Crossan is one of the leading authors in the Historical Jesus movement. He knows his subject well and presents it in a lively fashion. This book will give you a fresh understanding of the Parables of Jesus that you studied as a child. A great book!
TedMorgan More than 1 year ago
I recommend any work by John Crossan. He is a lucid writer but he is also subtle. I find rereading his books slowly after a quick review is helpful. This work leaves some questions open for me—I am never quite certain what Dr. Crossan means but he does turn focus from some quite outdated thought such as existential readings of the New Testament to fertile new ground that was first introduced in Germany about a 100 years ago. This is a rewarding book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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