All of us have read Jesus' parables. Some parables have been read over and over through the years.
How often, though, have we read a parable and then found ourselves thinking, "Now what did that just mean?"
Parables (and other storytelling techniques such as fables) are foundational to communication in the ancient Near Eastern culture. Both the Jewish Rabbis and their audiences were expecting teachings to be expressed in vivid stories that captured their imagination.
Telling a parable with a simple story helped the listeners carry the teaching about God with them as they went about their day. The story, woven together with Biblical references, points to "truth-principles" about God, his kingdom, or how we are to live our lives. The story allows the lesson to be told and re-told. Over time, the truth contained within emerges in powerful ways.
There are many good books on parables. I will provide a reference to three.
The first book - mentioned in the video - is by Kenneth E. Bailey. If you want to understand more about Jesus and the Eastern Culture as well as a number of his parables, this book is a must-read. Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes: Cultural Studies in the Gospels
The second book is by Brad Young and explores many of Jesus' parables through a Rabbinic perspective: The Parables: Jewish Tradition and Christian Interpretation
The final book, which I mention in the video, is best if you're further down the road in your studies. The book is a compilation of Rabbinic Parables, but the authors do not spend time going through Jesus' parables.
They Also Taught in Parables: Rabbinic Parables from the First Centuries of the Christian Era by McArthur and Johnston.
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The Bible is an ancient Near Eastern document. As such, communication is always preferred in a "concrete" manner. One of the ways of making an abstract idea "concrete" - and therefore easier to communicate - is to speak in metaphor using something that everyone would know from their surroundings.
A favorite is the use of specific plants. It is the characteristics of the particular plant which carries the message.
In today's video, we look at a peculiar plant that is used by Jeremiah to communicate about those who do not place their trust in God. Join us as we explore this desert plant of Jeremiah 17.
For this lesson I refer to a book by Nogah Hareuveni called Desert and Shepherd in our Biblical Heritage.
As a note - Nogah Hareuveni is Jewish - so the "our" in the title of his book "in our Biblical Heritage" refers to Jewish heritage. Many of his quotes are from Jewish writings such as the Mishna or Talmud.
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Scott Broberg - I have a Masters of Divinity (MDiv) from Bethel Seminary - San Diego.
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