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

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

by John Dominic Crossan


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The world’s foremost Jesus scholar John Dominic Crossan shows us how the parables present throughout the New Testament not only reveal what Jesus wanted to teach but also provide the key for explaining how the Gospels’ writers sought to explain the Prophet of Nazareth to the world. In this meaningful exploration of the metaphorical stories told by Jesus and the Gospel writers, Crossan combines the biblical expertise of his The Greatest Prayer with a historical and social analysis that harkens closely to his Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography, creating an illuminating and nuanced exploration of the Scripture that fans of Marcus Borg and Bart Ehrman will find fascinating and essential.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061875700
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 02/05/2013
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 259
Sales rank: 431,397
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.61(d)

About 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, How to Read the Bible and Still Be a Christian, God and Empire, Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography, The Greatest Prayer, The Last Week, and The Power of Parable. He lives in Minneola, Florida.

Table of Contents

Prologue Story and Metaphor 1

Part I Parables Told by Jesus

1 Riddle Parables 13

So That They May Not Understand

2 Example Parables 29

Go and Do-or Don't Do-Likewise

3 Challenge Parables: Part I 45

Down from Jerusalem to Jericho

4 Challenge Parables: Part II 65

The Word Against the Word

5 Challenge Parables: Part III 89

Let Anyone with Ears to Hear Listen!

6 The Kingdom of God 113

The Challenge of Collaboration

The Lure of Parabolic History 141

Caesar at the Rubicon

Part II Parables Told about Jesus

7 A Hymn for the Nameless 157

The Parable Gospel according to Mark

8 Rhetorical Violence 177

The Parable Gospel according to Matthew

9 Rome as the New Jerusalem 197

The Parable Gospel according to Luke-Acts

10 The Visionary Dream of God 219

The Parable Gospel according to John

Epilogue History and Parable 243

Scripture Index 253

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.”

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The Power of Parable: How Fiction by Jesus Became Fiction about Jesus 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 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.
DubiousDisciple on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Crossan ponders, ¿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?¿In other words, are the stories of Jesus really book-length parables? Crossan presents three such parables in the Old Testament: Job, Ruth and Jonah. Ruth challenges a part of the Bible, Jonah challenges the whole of the Bible, and Job challenges the God of the Bible. But isn¿t there a major difference between the Old Testament books and the Gospels? Were the characters in these stories historical, the way we think of Jesus? So Crossan presents the story of Caesar at the Rubicon as ¿parabolic history¿ to show how even historical characters can be the subject of the development of parables.Crossan separates parables by their flavor: riddle, example, challenge, and attack parables. I found the discussion of several New Testament parables insightful, but they served only as a lead-in to the bigger topic. In part 2, Crossan takes on the four Gospels each as a whole, presenting the meaning of them as book-length parables ¿ what they challenge, what they attack.It is not really the historicity of the Gospels which Crossan contests, but their evangelical purpose. The undercurrent of truth, or lack thereof, is not the focus of his book; it is the way the stories are bent into parable, and what these book-length parables mean. Thought-provoking and well-written, a great read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago