Thoughts on studying the Parables
The word parable is from the Greek word parabole, meaning a placing one thing by the side of another; a comparison, simile, or similitude. Hauck says it “compares two things from different fields in order to elucidate [clarify] the unfamiliar by means of the familiar.” Dodd defines it as “…a metaphor or simile drawn from nature or common life, arresting the hearer by its vividness or strangeness, and leaving the mind in sufficient doubt about its precise application to rouse it into active thought.” A parable is not a fable, for it is not trivial or fantasy. It is not a myth in that it is not a creation of folklore. Mickelsen notes that, “Parables by their very nature are the opposite of abstractions.” Zuck simplifies the definition of a parable as “a true-to-life story to illustrate or illuminate a truth.” A parable is a living vehicle of teaching. It paints a picture from life to make or illustrate a point.
My rules for dealing with parables:
1. Do not go beyond what we are told in the parable.
2. Search out the basic or main point of comparison which is stressed by the speaker or writer. Give the explicit identification in the parable and context. We are not to overextend the metaphors.
3. All sub-points in the parable are given to support, define, or clarify the main point.
Explain the basic and essential truths of the parable and why they are important to the original readers and us today. Stay on point.