parable

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parable,

the term translates the Hebrew word "mashal"—a term denoting a metaphor, or an enigmatic saying or an analogy. In the Greco-Roman rhetorical tradition, however, "parables" were illustrative narrative examples. Jewish teachers of the 1st cent. A.D. made use of comparisons in narrative form to clarify scripture. As used in the Gospels, the "parable" not only denotes metaphors, analogies, and enigmatic statements, but also short illustrative narratives. In Jesus' parables, the speaker compares an observable, natural, or human phenomenon to the Kingdom (i.e. the rule) of God. Some of these challenge and mystify or even attack the hearer. Other parables are allegories. The major themes of the parables of Jesus include the contrast between the old and new age now dawning in the ministry of Jesus; the necessity of radical decisions; the gradual but sure growth of the Kingdom of God on earth; God's way of relating to people; and God's invitation for people to enter his Kingdom.

Bibliography

See W. S. Kissinger, The Parables of Jesus (1979); R. W. Funk, Parables and Presence (1982); J. Marcus, The Mystery of the Kingdom of God (1986).

Parable

 

a didactic and allegorical literary genre closely resembling the fable and differing from it in the following ways: the parable form arises only within a certain context; the parable does not require a developed plot and may be a simple comparison, although the comparison retains its own abundant symbolism; the parable tends to convey profound religious or moralistic wisdom.

Different types of parables are encountered throughout folklore and literature. However, in epochs with a tendency toward didacticism and allegory the parable was a model for other genres, such as Near Eastern instructive prose, for example the Old Testament and the Syrian Wisdom of Ahikar. The parable was also a model for early Christian and medieval literature: examples are such gospel parables as the parable of the Prodigal Son. In these epochs, when readers perceived any story as a parable, the genre’s poetics predominated. The parable lacked the descriptiveness of ancient or of modern European prose fiction: nature and objects are mentioned only when necessary, and the action takes place as if on a bare stage. As a rule, the personae of parables lack both external features and a personality in the sense of a totality of inner traits; they appear as products not of literary observation but of ethical choice.

In the late 19th century and in the 20th century, a number of writers saw in the economy and pithiness of the parable a model for their own literary work. L. N. Tolstoy attempted to subordinate prose to the laws of the parable. Kafka was influenced by the centuries-old parable tradition, as were the intellectuals Sartre, Camus, Anouilh, and G. Marcel; here characters and settings as traditionally understood were excluded. The parable continues to attract writers seeking ethical bases for human existence; an example is the role of parable devices in the works of B. Brecht.

REFERENCES

Dobrotvorskii, S. “Pritcha v drevne-russkoi dukhovnoi pis’mennosti.” Pravoslavnyi sobesednik, April, 1864.
Likhachev, D. S. Poetika drevnerusskoi literatury, 2nd ed. Leningrad, 1971.
Jeremias, J. Die Gleichnisse Jesu, 5th ed. Gottingen, 1958.
Lambert, W. Babylonian Wisdom Literature. Oxford, 1960.

S. S. AVERINTSEV

parable

1. a short story that uses familiar events to illustrate a religious or ethical point
2. any of the stories of this kind told by Jesus Christ
References in classic literature ?
There was nothing more at Jerusalem to be seen, except the traditional houses of Dives and Lazarus of the parable, the Tombs of the Kings, and those of the Judges; the spot where they stoned one of the disciples to death, and beheaded another; the room and the table made celebrated by the Last Supper; the fig-tree that Jesus withered; a number of historical places about Gethsemane and the Mount of Olives, and fifteen or twenty others in different portions of the city itself.
He thought of Cronshaw's parable of the Persian carpet.
He remembered the parable of the unjust judge, and though he had previously felt sure that he ought to refuse, he now began to hesitate and, having hesitated, took to prayer and prayed until a decision formed itself in his soul.
Your readers will possibly comprehend that the Atlantic, in this parable, stands for the mighty ocean of ether through which we drift and that the bunch of corks represents the little and obscure planetary system to which we belong.
men, and it was not for nothing that he read us this parable.
And this use of examples or images, though truly Socratic in origin, is enlarged by the genius of Plato into the form of an allegory or parable, which embodies in the concrete what has been already described, or is about to be described, in the abstract.
Time and space are but physiological colors which the eye makes, but the soul is light: where it is, is day; where it was, is night; and history is an impertinence and an injury if it be any thing more than a cheerful apologue or parable of my being and becoming.
Hump, do you know the parable of the sower who went forth to sow?
And also this parable give I unto you: Not a few who meant to cast out their devil, went thereby into the swine themselves.
It was in the Umpqua Valley that they heard the parable of the white sparrow.
The Parable is the designed use of language purposely intended to convey a hidden and secret meaning other than that contained in the words themselves; and which may or may not bear a special reference to the hearer, or reader.
Had I now had the sense to have gone back to Hull, and have gone home, I had been happy, and my father, as in our blessed Saviour's parable, had even killed the fatted calf for me; for hearing the ship I went away in was cast away in Yarmouth Roads, it was a great while before he had any assurances that I was not drowned.