Bultmann on parables (was Mark 4)

From: Greg Carey - Religion (CAREY@rhodes.edu)
Date: Tue Jun 17 1997 - 14:46:33 EDT

Bultmann's form-critical categories for the parables, once the first step for
exegesis students, have now been surpassed by more flexible models. Bultmann
had the genius to recognize that the parables couldn't all be gathered under
one category; however, he still aspired to provide genus and species for every
phenomenon. Enlightening as they are, such rigid boundaries suffer because
they can't account for:
        a. the difference between the parables of Jesus and the parables of
the Gospels;
        b. how ancient audiences would likely have experienced the parables; or
        c. how the parables contribute to their larger narrative contexts
(i.e. the broader narrative rhetoric of each of the gospels).

Groundbreaking work by Robert Funk, John Dominic Crossan, Dan Via, and Mary Ann
Tolbert began to shift the issue. The most up-to-date MAJOR study of the
parables is: Bernard Brandon Scott, Hear Then the Parable. Scott, however,
largely ignores (c), whereas Tolbert and Mikeal C. Parsons, among others, are
exploring the parables in their larger contexts. I've just begun (two papers,
no publications yet) a study of the L parables as they might relate to Luke's
intended audience, without worrying about their origins within or beyond Jesus'
ministry. If any of ya'll are interested, I'll be trying out this approach
with the Samaritan parable at the November SBL meeting in San Francisco.

Greg Carey
Department of Religious Studies
Rhodes College
Memphis TN 38112 USA

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