This unit will explore theological approaches to parables of the Synoptic Gospels, giving particular attention to the hermeneutical qualities identified in parables, such as brevity and paradox, disclosure and concealment, metaphorical images, narrative surprise, sense of momentous event and imperative to response. Exploration of the impact of these interpretive qualities on the use of language in Christian theology forms a complementary focus. Selected examples of theological writing that replicate many hermeneutical effects identified with parables will be used in these explorations.

Unit code: CT2018S

Unit status: Approved (Major revision)

Points: 18.0

Unit level: Undergraduate Level 2

Unit discipline: Systematic Theology

Proposing College: Stirling College

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Learning outcomes


Identify and begin critically to evaluate diverse theological approaches to the parables of the Synoptic Gospels;


Identify examples of parable hermeneutics in contemporary use of language in Christian theology;


Identify literary features common to diverse expressions of parable and theological discourse.


Unit sequence

The unit gives focus to central hermeneutical themes of Christian theology. Prerequisite: Foundational unit in Systematic Theology


Rotating lecture/discussion/group work over 3 hours per week

Indicative Bibliography

Donahue, J.R. The Gospel in Parable: Metaphor, Narrative, and Theology in the Synoptic Gospels. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1988.

Drury, J. The Parables in the Gospels: History and Allegory. London: SPCK, 1985.

Houlden, L. ed. Jesus: The Complete Guide. London: Continuum, 2005.

Jüngel, E. God as the Mystery of the World: In the Foundation of the Theology of the Crucified One in the Dispute between Theism and Atheism, trans. Darrell L. Guder. Grand Rapids and Edinburgh: Eerdmans and T&T Clark, 1983.

Levine, A. J. Short Stories by Jesus: The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi. New York: HarperCollins, 2015.

Ricoeur, P. Figuring the Sacred: Religion, Narrative, and Imagination, trans. D. Pellauer, Edited. M. Wallace. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 1995.

Snodgrass, K.R. Stories with Intent: A Comprehensive Guide to the Parables of Jesus. Second edition. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2018.

Westermann, C. The Parables of Jesus in the Light of the Old Testament. Trans. F.W. Golka & A.H.B. Logan. Edinburgh: T&T Clark (Fortress Minneapolis), 1990.

Zimmermann, R. Puzzling the Parables of Jesus: Methods and Interpretation, Minneapolis: Fortress, 2015.


Type Description Word count Weight (%)
Document Study

500 word document study

500 15.0
Document Study

500 word document study

500 15.0
Document Study

500 word document study

500 15.0
Document Study

500 word document study

500 15.0

2000 word essay

2000 40.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by Maggie Kappelhoff on 8 Oct, 2020

Unit record last updated: 2021-06-07 08:43:51 +1000