Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Starting a conversation

If the audience of this new blog begins to grow, I hope we can start some conversations about (1) details of the reception history of the parables (e.g., the Rembrandt posts below) and (2) what people/things definitely should be included in the book (e.g., Wazo of Li├Ęge on the parable of the Wheat and Weeds?)

I look forward to any input readers of this blog might have about both of those issues and more.

All the best.

11 comments:

  1. Looking forward to the book and the blog! Will you discuss the use of some parables (like the workers in the vineyard) in popular discussions of economic topics, like income inequality, taxes, and the Occupy Wall St. movement?

    Eric T.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the question, Eric. One of the things I hope this blog will do is to give me additional insights into what should be included in the book. Each chapter has room for about 12-15 people/things, so there are many, many difficult choices to make.

      I hadn't thought about those modern examples specifically, but many of the selections in each chapter will address economic issues (because of the nature of Jesus’ teachings). In the early church, for example, economic issues are significant concerns for John Chrysostom and Ephrem the Syrian, both of whom will be in the book. The Workers in the Vineyard parable, though, was most often interpreted allegorically in the early church and the Middle Ages (e.g., either as dispensations in salvation history or as stages of life for a human being). Even Chrysostom, who limits allegorical interpretations, interprets that parable in an allegorical (albeit limited) way. In later years, we see other options. In chapter 4, for example, I intend to cover John Ruskin, who discusses the social and economic implications of the parable of the Workers in the Vineyard (Fors Clavigera 8.86.8 and Unto This Last).

      As far as 20th/21st centuries, I don't yet have anything that is as recent as Occupy. I do have a couple examples from modern times so far that I hope to cover: While doing some research at the UNC Art Museum, for example, I discovered a fantastic Thomas Hart Benton print of the Prodigal Son that addresses economic issues. I also have Clarence Jordan (Cotton Patch Gospels) and other people in mind. I look forward to hearing about other options!

      What I hope is that people will read the contributions of those like Chrysostom and Ephrem and also find them applicable to today in some ways.

      Delete
    2. Thanks for the reply, David. The examples you've listed sound quite interesting and insightful, and I'll be especially interested in the Ruskin and Jordan sections myself, though I agree that Chrysostom and Ephrem should have much to offer us today.

      In response to ruminari's comment down thread, I'd also encourage you to perhaps at least consider Ian Pollack's work. Pollack is a professional illustrator, but in recent years has taken on a huge personal project of illustrating key scenes from the Bible, a text that apparently intrigued (if not so much inspired) him earlier in his life.

      Here's a link to his parables' collection, which also includes links to his other biblical work and some biographical information: http://ianpollock.co.uk/mp2012/parables2012/parablesthumbs.html

      Eric T.

      Delete
    3. Thanks again, Eric, especially for the website to the parable collection (and thanks again to ruminari as well). Some very interesting works by Pollack--none of which I had seen before--that will take me quite a while to digest.

      Delete
  2. Will you include any Ian Pollack? I particularly like his "Parable of the Talents."

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wow. I must confess I have never seen that work. What is it that strikes you about that painting? I must look at his other works as well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like the playful multiple images of talents. I wonder if it has some commentary on justice with respect to a utilitarian view of persons (slavery, commodification of human labor). And I like the idea of the property owner being a part of a cycle of labor.
      And I love the fact that it's not pretty. It's startling--which I think a parable should be.

      --Nancy

      Delete
    2. Thanks. The Two Debtors jumps out at me as well. Startling; yes, indeed (perhaps like C. H. Dodd's "strangeness" in his definition of parable). One thing I wonder, based on a comment by Walter Melion here at Emory, is not just how art can work "parabolically," but also how parables can work "visually." The dialogic nature is fascinating to me.

      Delete
    3. and Pollock's images can make you laugh, too. which may have been the response of the crowds at some of the parables.

      Delete
  4. Have you seen this by Shawn Kelley on the (ideologically disturbing) use of parables in modern (i.e. C19 onward) scholarship and might be be useful?

    http://booksandjournals.brillonline.com/content/journals/10.1163/17455197-01102003

    James Crossley

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks very much, James. I had not seen that yet. I'll take a look.

      Delete

Answers to some questions from Paul Moldovan about the parables of Jesus

I was delighted to answer a few questions from Paul Moldovan about the parables of Jesus. Paul is an Masters of Divinity student at George F...