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: CT9018S

Unit status: Approved (Major revision)

Points: 24.0

Unit level: Postgraduate Elective

Unit discipline: Systematic Theology

Proposing College: Stirling College

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Learning outcomes


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


Formulate and apply critical criteria for evaluating parable hermeneutics in contemporary use of language in Christian theology;


Demonstrate a critical awareness of parable uses in diverse theological and literary contexts;


Formulate critical criteria for evaluating the function of literary genres in the communication of theology.


Exhibit competence in formulating research criteria and methods for engaging gospel writings and Christian literature

Unit sequence

The unit gives focus to central hermeneutical themes of Christian theology. Prerequisite: PG Foundational, Introduction to 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.

Ebeling, G. Word and Faith. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1963.

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.

Marion, J-L. The Visible and the Revealed. Trans. Christian M. Gschwandtner and others. New York: Fordham UP, 2008.

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.

Via, D.O. The Parables: Their Literary and Existential Dimensions. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1967.

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. ed. Hermeneutik der Gleichnisse Jesu: Methodische Neuansätze zum Verstehen urchristlicher Parabeltexte. Tübingen: Geplante Publikation, 2008.

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


Type Description Word count Weight (%)
Document Study 1000 15.0
Document Study 1000 15.0
Document Study 1000 15.0
Document Study 1000 15.0
Essay 3500 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