Who in the World Was JesusISBN: 9780761870418
This book scrutinizes the 39 parables attributed to Jesus in the Gospels. Jesus was a part of a story-telling society in the first century land of Israel. A popular maxim characterizes them as "earthly stories with heavenly meanings." They often appear that way in context of the Gospels of the New Testament. However, if you retroject them back into the dynamic context of the life and activity of Jesus they suddenly assume not just a "spiritual" but also a more "earthly" vibrancy. Knowing that context the reactions of his contemporaries become clear: we can grasp how they were heard, what people would think of the parables' message and the character of the messenger. Jesus' society was in a crisis and part of the intent of Jesus was to address that crisis and rescue his beloved nation from disaster. Story telling changes the way people think and makes them more attentive to new ideas. Although to describe Jesus' message as subversive may seem to be a distasteful characterization, his parables were meant to subvert popular thought and belief. In this he was completely faithful, however, to Israel's faith which, at its deepest level, rebels against the powers of this world. In the parables we meet Jesus "on the ground" as he walked the hills of the Galilee, gathered hearers in the villages, and sat among his contemporaries and called them to revolutionize mind and heart and, as the prophets of old also had implored the nation, to return to the gracious heart of their God. In this reading of the parables the reader will be surprised, challenged, and perhaps even be disturbed by the Jesus who emerges in his stories we call parables.