The challenge we face in interpreting the parables . . . involves “modernizing” the message of Jesus authentically—making it relevant for contemporary society—without anachronizing or domesticating his message.So, for me, the most important aspect of parable interpretation is to explore what parables want of us. Parables make demands on their hearers/readers; they have ethical implications. Their goal is not just to persuade people to see the world, God, themselves, and other human beings in strikingly new ways; parables also demand that their hearers/readers respond by putting those new or changed perceptions into practice in concrete ways in their everyday lives.The parable, with deep roots in Jesus's Jewish tradition, thus demolishes any distinction between neighbor and the “other” in a way that honors the juxtaposition of “you shall love your neighbor as yourself”—quoted by the lawyer and affirmed by Jesus—and the “you shall love the alien as yourself.” The alien, the “other,” is also one’s neighbor that one must love as oneself in word and in deed. This parable, in a number of ways, breaks down prejudices, shatters stereotypes, and demonstrates how we are to treat each other.
I will post the second half as soon as it appears. I also have some reception history pieces soon to be published that I will share soon as well.