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The Parables of Jesus: Recovering the Art of Listening

Author: 
Richard Q. Ford (Author)
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Description

In this startlingly original interpretation, Ford explores seven of the longer parables attributed to Jesus. Bypassing the assumption that the superior character represents God and the subordinate one the Christian believer, Ford focuses instead on how persons, long separated by inequality, are called upon to collaborate.

Drawing on his own psychotherapy training, Ford offers novel insights into ways the characters persist in their mutual misunderstandings. He then shows how Jesus' stories envelop listeners in these same distortions, only to lure them—and ourselves—into the work of imagining reconciliation.
ISBN: 
9780800629380
Price: 
$20.00
Release date: 
November 5, 1997
Pages: 
192
Width: 
6
Height: 
9

Endorsements

"One feature makes this book special, another makes it extraordinary. It is not new for biblical scholars to move into realms of psychotherapy where they walk as amateurs. It is much more novel for a professional psychotherapist to move into biblical studies with enough preparation to be far beyond amateur standing. But it is this book's subtitle that makes it extraordinary. It is about the lost art of 'listening,' about dialogues rather than twin simultaneous monologues, about personal and social interaction, especially in cases of inequality. With care, delicacy, and tenderness, Richard Ford listens to parable characters reacting to one another, imagines client and therapist in analogous situations, and teaches us all to shut up long enough to hear another's voice."
--John Dominic Crossan
author of The Historical Jesus


"Ford's interpretation of the parables is provocative and creative . . . Preachers will find here loads of fresh approaches to texts that seem to have been preached to death."
--Robert Kysar
Candler School of Theology
Emory University

Table of Contents

Introduction
  • Idealizing the Superior Character
  • Collapsing Parable Time
  • Ignoring What Does Not Make Sense
  • The Work of Parable Listening
I. A Manager and a Rich Man
  • What Makes the Manager Squander
  • The Listener's Contribution
  • Some Resources from Psychotherapy
  • The Manager's Inability to Speak
  • The Rich Man's Inability to Hear
  • The Manager's Despair
  • The Rich Man's Bind
  • Listening the Way a Therapist Listens
  • An Invitation to Decide
II. Three Slaves and a Master
  • The Exploited Called Upon to Exploit
  • The Last Slave's Impotence
  • The Master's Disappointment
  • The Last Slave's Potency
  • Integrity vs. Mimicry
III. A Slave and a Master
  • The Slave's Motive
  • Can the Master Change the World?
  • Weighing Magnanimity Against Oppression
  • Guilt Provoking Punishment
  • Anger Contrasted with Grief
  • The Listener's Decision
  • Forgiving and Psychotherapy
  • Forgiving While Controlling
  • Forgiving and Equality
IV. A Widow and a Judge and Tenant Farmers and a Landlord: A Beginning Inquiry
  • Barriers to Understanding
  • Speechlessness Enhancing Distortion
  • The Absence of Outside Authority
  • The Creation of Alien Worlds
V. A Widow and a Judge and Tenant Farmers and a Landlord: A Further Inquiry
  • Using "Transference" to Understand Alien Worlds
  • Using "Project Identification" to Understand Alien Worlds
  • The Listener as Passive Recipient or Authoritative Observer
VI. A Younger Son and a Father
  • Parental Giving or Parental Depriving?
  • The Listener's Choosing
  • Separation and Boundaries
  • Separation and Regression
  • Separation and Fragmentation
  • Rescue or Repetition?
  • Exclusion Hidden within Inclusion
VII. An Elder Son and a Father and Laborers and a Landowner
  • Giving So Much and Receiving So Little
  • Paternal Failure and Fraternal Envy
  • Remaining Stuck by Insisting the Other Move
  • Pulling Back in Order to Go Forward
  • Acting Justly or Just Being Civilized?
  • Hoping to Be Honorable While Given to Greed
  • Voicelessness
  • A Too-Insistent Voice
  • Using Generosity to Cover Up Control
VIII. How Are These Stories Told—and Heard?
  • How Are These Stories Told?
  • The Presence of Irony
  • The Nature of the Kingdom of God
  • How Are These Stories Heard?
  • Inclusion Leading to Novel Possibility
Appendix. Two Sons and a Father in the Book of Genesis
  • The Elder Son
  • The Younger Son
  • The Linking Symbol of "Robe"
  • How the God of Some Becomes the God of All
Acknowledgements
Notes
Bibliography
Index