Thursday, August 21, 2014

Chapters 3, 4, & 5 so far, and an announcement

John Calvin, A Harmony of the Gospels
Faculty meetings for the fall semester started yesterday, so my pace of research and writing the book will slow significantly. I will be teaching two classes this fall (Introduction to Biblical Literature and Introduction to the New Testament), will continue serving as Director of the Pierce Institute for Leadership and Community Service, and will be doing the other things that all faculty members do (advising students, committee work, etc.). I will also continue to serve as co-editor of Emory Studies in Early Christianity (ESEC) and have been named as associate editor of the Rhetoric of Religious Antiquity (RRA) series, which includes forthcoming Sociorhetorical Exploration Commentaries (SREC). All of these volumes will now be published by the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) Press in Atlanta (the other main editors are Professor Vernon K. Robbins of Emory University and Professor Duane F. Watson of Malone University in Ohio).

Now on to my progress on the rest of the parables book:

I wrote the first two chapters of the book following the chronological order of the people/items I was covering. Since May, however, I have been jumping between sections of chapters 3, 4, and 5. This change in approach first started because I needed to write two sections of chapter 5 (the Blues; Thomas Hart Benton) for my June lecture in England. Then I returned to chapter three and wrote about John Bunyan--a long and difficult section to write. So then I decided to write about the images on the parables by John Everett Millais, which was a refreshing change of pace. 

Now I am primarily focusing on Chapter 3 but am still moving back and forth every once in a while to chapters 4 and 5 (I have written sections on William Blake and Elsa Tamez). That process is helping me to balance out the chapters more, and it is also giving me more time to select the final choices for chapter 3.

Here are the people/interpretations about whom/which I have written so far in these last three chapters:

Update on Chapter 1:

I decided to add a section on a kontakion about the Prodigal Son by Romanos the Melodist. I have just finished writing about the kontakion and a brief biography of Romanos to set the context. Chapter 1 is now over 30,000 words (it needs to be ~20,000).

Chapter 3:

  • Rembrandt
  • Martin Luther (focusing more on his sermons)
  • John Calvin (focusing more on his commentary, A Harmony of the Gospels)
  • John Bunyan
  • William Shakespeare
Next up: Anna Janz (and the Ausbund), George Herbert, and probably Bloemaert. I am also trying to decide between covering Maldonatus or Bartolom├ę de las Casas (I haven't found much material on the latter with connections to the parables).

Chapter 4:
  • William Blake
  • John Everett Millais 
Next up: Tolstoy, Kierkegaard, Fanny Crosby. Then probably Sojourner Truth, Emily Dickinson, and Washington Irving.

Chapter 5:
  • Thomas Hart Benton
  • Parables and the Blues (Blind Willie Johnson, Blind Joe Taggart, Robert Wilkins)
  • Elsa Tamez
Next up: Flannery O'Connor, Olivia Butler, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (Howard Thurman is an option instead).

I also have several other people/works to include in these three final chapters, and I have many ideas/options. I also will need to include a very small number of parables scholars, like the ones I wrote about in my What Are They Saying About the Parables? People such as Trench, J├╝licher, Jeremias, et al. 


  1. A colleague of mine at Oxford College of Emory University (Joe Johnson) just recommended that I take a look at Amos Bronson Alcott (1799-1888; the father of Louisa May Alcott) for Chapter 4. In particular, Alcott's use of the parables in his pedagogy (see his Conversations with Children on the Gospels: Volume I, 1836; Volume II, 1837). I'm getting those books from the library later this week.

  2. Bravo! And keep up the good work!


What are They saying about the Parables? (Chapter 4 , part 5): More contributions from Ruben Zimmermann

Zimmermann’s single-authored book, Puzzling the Parables of Jesus , introduces his “integrative method” to English-speaking audiences in ord...