parable


Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Wikipedia.

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 ?
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.
For, though nobody knew with the least precision what Mr Merdle's business was, except that it was to coin money, these were the terms in which everybody defined it on all ceremonious occasions, and which it was the last new polite reading of the parable of the camel and the needle's eye to accept without inquiry.
I could not yet imagine what he aimed at, and told him I granted all he had said, and thanked him that he would so far concern himself for us: and begged he would explain the particulars of what he had observed, that like Joshua, to take his own parable, I might put away the accursed thing from us.
and Madame de Villefort were beginning to speak in parables, appeared to pay no attention to the conversation, and feigned to be busily engaged in watching Edward, who was mischievously pouring some ink into the bird's water-glass.
Porthos, my friend, you know I am descended on the father's side from the Prophets and on the mother's from the Sybils, and that I only speak in parables and riddles.
When we consider the great diversity of the human character, influenced as it is by education, by opportunity, and by the physical and moral conditions of the creature, my dear hearers,” he earnestly concluded “it can excite no surprise that creeds so very different in their tendencies should grow out of a religion revealed, it is true, but whose revelations are obscured by the lapse of ages, and whose doctrines were, after the fashion of the countries in which they were first promulgated, frequently delivered in parables, and in a language abounding in metaphors and loaded with figures.
Oh, don't talk in these parables," cried Flambeau impatiently.
Speaking in parables, I will observe that, if America was a monarchy instead of a republic and people here had titles, Eddy would be a certainty for first Earl of Pearl Street.
They are parables, prophecies, myths, symbols, revelations, aspirations after an unknown world.