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The Gospel in Parable [Paperback]

By John Donahue (Author), Johnr Donahue (Author) & J. R. Donahue (Author)
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Item description for The Gospel in Parable by John Donahue, Johnr Donahue & J. R. Donahue...

This book is helpful in reviewing the parables that are in the gospel in context to the time that they were written. It provides several thought provoking interpretations.

Publishers Description
Professor Donahue here argues that "the parables of Jesus" offer a Gospel in miniature, while at the same time giving shape, direction, and meaning to the Gospels in which they appear. "To study the parables of the Gospels is to study the gospel in parable." After surveying recent discussions of parable, metaphor, and narrative, Donahue examines and interprets the parables of Mark, Matthew, and Luke as texts in the context of the theology of each of these Gospels. Finally, he outlines what "The Gospel in Parable" looks like and offers suggestions for the proclamation of parables today.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Fortress Press
Pages   268
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.4" Width: 5.5" Height: 0.7"
Weight:   0.7 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jan 1, 1990
Publisher   Augsburg Fortress Publishers
ISBN  0800624807  
ISBN13  9780800624804  

Availability  139 units.
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More About John Donahue, Johnr Donahue & J. R. Donahue

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! John Donahue is the author of "An Island Far from Home," He lives in Massachusetts.

John Donahue currently resides in Baltimore, in the state of Maryland. John Donahue was born in 1951.

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1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Bible & Other Sacred Texts > Bible > New Testament
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Commentaries > Commentaries
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Criticism & Interpretation > Criticism & Interpretation

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Reviews - What do customers think about The Gospel in Parable?

A Great resource for studying Synoptic Parables. Buy It!  Dec 13, 2007
`The Gospel in Parable' by John R. Donahue, S.J., the Professor of New Testament at the Jesuit School of Theology, Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, California is a superior resource for all sorts of lay and pastoral Bible reading.
The very first thing I should mention is that this is a seriously scholarly work on the Synoptic Gospels, not simply a retelling of the Synoptic parables. If one is allergic to footnotes and Greek words (even though they are transliterated into English script), this book may not be for you.
The other side of the coin is that this book is, pardon the expression, a godsend, when one is studying some of the more difficult parables. One may be surprised to discover that there are some parables which reveal far, far more than simple lessons. It is far more surprising that there are parables which no one, over the last 200 years of `critical' biblical scholarship, has successfully interpreted to everyone's satisfaction.
Examples of these two cases are unique to Luke and appear in chapters 15 and 16 respectively.
The first, at Luke 15:11-32 is commonly labeled `the prodigal son', even though the son's wasteful ways has little to do with the moral of the parable. This may be one of the longest parables, and it delivers depths of meaning central to Luke's theology and to Christian theology in general. One witness to this is its being cited early in Rudolph Bultmann's `Theology of the New Testament' as the cornerstone of synoptic theology. Another Lucan parable, the Good Samaritan, is similarly deep, but even that is less famous `in story and song' than this little drama. As Donahue describes, in great detail, both parables highlight the core differences between the synoptic evangelists' description of the official Jewish legalism and the righteousness borne of love which is the heart of Jesus kerygma. Donahue more than adequately explains why many consider this parable so important.
The second, at Luke 16:1 - 13 is a different kettle of fish entirely. This is the poster boy for those who may wish to demonstrate that the Christian scriptures need professional interpretation, and can in no way be taken as literally true. While the previous parable has a single clear and joyous interpretation, this story strikes me as lecture notes taken a month ago, and being read now, for the first time (probably in a cram session at 2 AM for a midterm examination). This analogy is not so far from the facts of the Gospel as one may think. Recall that Luke is at least two generations removed from first person contact with Jesus' preaching. And, if the story was being reported to him from a single source, it is quite possible some details got lost in the transmission. If the opaque parable itself, from verses 1 - 8a, is not puzzling enough, the three comments on the parable in verses 8b - 13 do little to clear up the intended meaning of the text. Donahue does a better job of giving us a perspective on this parable than the four different commentaries on Luke I have read. Most of this is due to the fact that Donahue, unlike fellow Catholic, Joseph Fitzmyer, has no favorite interpretation to sell. Rather, he illuminates the difficulty of the pericope by surveying the three most popular interpretations of the story. I suspect that like me, Donahue finds the last one the most convincing, or at least the most satisfying, as it is based on parallels to the famous `prodigal son' story.
Fortunately, as a Lutheran, I believe that lay readers can understand the scripture themselves. But, as Luther would have been the first to agree, this cannot be done without serious study and learned advice (as he was wont to provide with long commentaries on several books of the Bible). Brother Donahue has provided us with some of the very best kind of advice for understanding the synoptic parables. I will add that his book offers a terrific starting point for a Bible study group who wish to approach the scriptures by studying the parables!
The seeds are planted...  Jun 5, 2003
Donahue's book 'The Gospel in Parable' is an interesting text that looks at parables in the three synoptic gospels Matthew, Mark and Luke (parables as a rule are not found in John; this of course is subject to interpretation). The parables in these gospels, as the gospels themselves, take on different aspects that lend themselves to multiple interpretations.

Before looking at each gospel individually, Donahue looks at parables generally by asking the question, 'How does a parable mean?' This question might at first glance seem grammatically incorrect, but it highlights an important insight about parables. 'Through the language of Jesus we are in contact with his imagination as it brings to expression his self-understanding of his mission and his struggle with the mystery of his Father's will.' Donahue likens parables both to stories and to poetry in the way they can have meaning without a dry, academic or scientific exposition of facts. Parables as text become somewhat problematic on several levels: the language and underlying assumptions thereof differs from today's language; parables today are viewed as written text rather than oral stories; parables as stories fall victim occasionally to the same kinds of problems that stories generally have with regard to plot, character, and context. However, for all their weaknesses, often in true parabolic fashion, they exhibit a timeless strength that continues to speak to people in new ways.

Donahue suggests that Ricoeur's analysis of parables following the pattern of orientation, disorientation and reorientation shows that for all the realism inherent in the parables, it is precisely their ability to shatter through familiar imagines with new and strange twists that give parables their power. Similarly, the narrative theological style that is part and parcel of gospel parables matches in many ways the patterns of everyday life and the stories of the lives of those who hear the parable stories.

Donahue devotes a chapter each to the parables of Mark, of Matthew and of Luke. In Mark, Donahue looks at the parables in Mark 4 (mysteries of the kingdom), Mark 12 (salvation history) and Mark 13 (community life between 'times'). Many of the parables in Mark deal with seeds and growth. 'The seed parables acquire a christological overtone and function as parables of hope for the community. Just as the seed has its own power and dynamism which is revealed in the harvest, so too does the mystery of the kingdom.' Other parables such as the fig tree, the doorkeeper and the wicked tenants illustrate aspects of communal life and the kind of message Jesus was sent to impart, the kind of gospel the community is called to embrace.

Matthew has far more parables than Mark. It shares four with Mark, nine with Luke, and has ten unique to itself. Matthean parables are far more likely than Mark to have human actors and situations - there is less a tendency to go with metaphors taken from nature. Matthew also seems to have a greater tendency to set up a contrast and reversal of fortune. Being concerned with human agents, justice emerges as a principle topic. These are not always 'common sense' justice parables - the story of the labourers in the vineyard strikes at the heart of fairness for most people who work for an hourly wage.
Matthew also has many eschatological parables looking toward the end times.

The gospel of Luke has more parables than any other gospel, including some like the Good Samaritan (perhaps the most popular of parables) which are unique to Luke. 'With Luke we enter a world different from that of Matthew and Mark. The drama in Luke's parables arises less from the mystery of nature or the threat of judgment than from the mystery of human interaction.' Most parables in Luke occur during the 'travel narrative' section -- while Jesus is 'on the way'.

The final chapter draws many of the details and major themes together to look at a more comprehensive voice of the gospels in parable. There is no single, unified voice here, but a diversity of voices akin to a choir, all singing toward the same music, while each having something unique and wonderful to add. Donahue shows that parables are not unique to Christian spirituality - in religious traditions where parables play a large part, such as rabbinic Judaism, Sufism, and Buddhism, they are an integral part of the director-student relationship in communicating a tradition, in the quest for self-understanding and in directing a person to the mystery of God. Donahue's final notes are toward those who preach today using parabolic material - he urges the preachers to stay true to the spirit of parables by preaching in an open-ended and metaphorical way.

Donahue's writing style is clear and concise. The organisation of the book is good, with several indexes and an extensive bibliography of other books on parable material and other biblical studies. This is a very useful book for preachers, students, scholars, and others who want greater insight into one of the primary teaching methods of Jesus.

John Donahue, S.J. is a professor of New Testament at the Jesuit School of Theology, Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, California.
Simple but profound...  Feb 11, 2001
Father Donahue writes as though his words sound like he speaks! If true, that re-emphasizes his interesting way of using words.

His headings as Parable as Text; Parable in Context; Literary Context; Theological Contest, keep his commentary in focus. Most of his footnotes are brief and pointed, except for the longest, "Excursus on the Ministry of Women" from Elisabeth S. Fiorenza.

He relies strongly upon C. H. Dodd, J. D. Crossan, J. Fitzmyer, and Jeremias. Following a long Bibliography there are helpful Indexes of Parables, Citations, and Authors.

All-in-all my current interest in "Preaching Parables" places this simple yet profound text alongside A. J. Hultgren, who is more recently published. Donahue is motivator to consult further with Crossan, Dodd, etc. May it become deservedly popular.

A nice guide for a small faith sharing group  Dec 20, 1999
My wife and I are involved in a Renew group at our parish and have found the book helpful in reviewing the parables in the Gospels. The book provides context to the times the Gospels were written as well as several thought provoking interpretations.

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