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Revisiting the Parable of the Prodigal Son for Decolonization: Luke's Reconfiguration of Oikos in 15:11-32

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image of Biblical Interpretation

The early Christian Gospels' most radical construction of the household (oikos) helps to create extensive opportunities and freedoms over and against the constraints of the Roman Empire. In particular, the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) provides a transformative awareness of living and interacting under the Empire and writes its empowering effects into the present context of grassroots people. The paterfamilias of the parable is crossing the boundary of colonial oikos which has been least traversed. While going back and forth interacting with his sons, the paterfamilias erases the borderline and releases oikos from the economic, social, and cultural constructions of colonial power. Jesus' oikos emerges not from a moral regarding good economic discipline and earnings, but rather from real needs and real community under the mercy and grace of a God who levels all boundaries: "every valley" and "every mountain." This essay is a postcolonial reading of the Parable of the Prodigal Son from an East Asian perspective.

Affiliations: 1: Vanderbilt University


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