Fortress Press

Parables Unplugged: Reading the Lukan Parables in Their Rhetorical Context

Parables Unplugged

Reading the Lukan Parables in Their Rhetorical Context

Lauri Thurén (Author)


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For far too long, Lauri Thurén argues, the parables of Jesus have been read either as allegories encoding Christian theology—including the theological message of one or another Gospel writer—or as tantalizing clues to the authentic voice of Jesus. Thurén proposes instead to read the parables "unplugged" from any assumptions beyond those given in the narrative situation in the text, on the common-sense premise that the very form of the parable works to propose a (sometimes startling) resolution to a particular problem. Thurén applies his method to the parables in Luke with some surprising results involving the Evangelist’s overall narrative purposes and the discrete purposes of individual parables in supporting the authority of Jesus, proclaiming God's love, exhorting steadfastness, and so on. Eschatological and allegorical readings are equally unlikely, according to Thurén's results. This study is sure to spark learned discussion among scholars, preachers, and students for years to come. 
  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9780800699796
  • eBook ISBN 9781451465266
  • Dimensions 6 x 9
  • Pages 208
  • Publication Date November 1, 2014


1. Introduction: Toward a Natural Hearing
2. The Bad Samaritan (Luke 10)
3. Odd Images of God (Luke 11:5-13; 18:1-8)
4. Persuading the Pharisees (Luke 15)
5. The Steward on Trial (Luke 16:1-9)
6. A Final Plea: The Wicked Tenants (Luke 20:9-19)
7. The Father of the Bride (Luke 14:12-24)
8. The Rich Man in Hell (Luke 16:19-31)
9. Conclusion



"Professor Thurén offers a new and impressive approach to understanding the Lukan parables through scrutinizing their persuasive features. He sets forth a systematic methodology by employing the work of Stephen Toulmin on argumentation. Thurén has explored in detail Lukan parable interpretation and demonstrated dramatically the new perspectives persuasion analysis brings to bear. Future parable studies must attend to Thurén’s insights." 
Thomas H. Olbricht, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Religion
Pepperdine University

"With his customary incisiveness, clarity, and lack of nonsense, Lauri Thurén here analyzes the meaning of the major Lukan parables in the light of their precise function in the actual situation of argumentation within the narrative itself. The result is a set of readings that are both surprising and strikingly sensible, a breath of fresh air in an area of research that has too often been overloaded with an extrinsic search for deeper meaning."
—Troels Engberg-Pedersen
University of Copenhagen
“Parable research focuses largely on historical, sociological, and allegorical readings—approaches that often lead to unnecessary assumptions and supplementation of information to the biblical text. Thurén, a world renowned scholar in rhetorical approaches, detaches the parables from their assumptions and existing perspectives. Focusing on the Lukan parables, Thurén experiments with a reading that respects their original function as pieces of persuasive argumentation in their own contexts. He asks, ‘What did Luke the Author, and his hero, Jesus the Narrator, want to achieve with these stories?’ Biblical scholars, pastors, and students will greatly benefit from Thurén’s fresh approach to these ancient narratives."
—Gert J. Steyn
University of Pretoria
"In his new book Lauri Thurén has mastered a seemingly impossible task: to provide the international scholarly community with a fresh perspective on some of the most studied texts of the New Testament, namely the Lukan parables. By limiting their analysis to the literary level, Thurén rediscovers both their clarity and their persuasive power. Parables Unplugged redefines the field of parables research and will definitely remain most influential in the years to come."
—Christos Karakolis
Theological School, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens

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