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Are there Parables in John? It is Time to Revisit the Question

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image of Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus

A point of agreement between historical-Jesus scholarship and Johannine scholarship is that there are no parables in the Fourth Gospel. The following article, however, questions this consensus on both historical and literary grounds. Drawing on the insights of memory research, the following discussion will not seek to peer 'behind' the text, but rather embraces the text itself as a historical document of the memory of Jesus. Additionally, new genre theories necessitate a shift in the application of form criticism to the parable genre. Taking these new methodological insights into account, one finds texts in John that have the same right to be called 'parables' as texts found in the Synoptic Gospels. Furthermore, these Johannine parables, in their specific form of remembering, preserve and reveal important theological aspects of Jesus' parables.


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