This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
JESUS METHODS OF TEACHIN ESPEICALLY IN PARABLES
[Pick the date]
UNIVERSITY OF EDINBURGH
FACULTY OF DIVINITY AND RELIGIOUS SUTDIES
JESUS AS TEACHER
JESUS METHODS OF TEACHING ESPECIALY IN PARABLES
BY: REVEREND EMMANUEL BAHADUR
DEPARARTMENT OF CHRISTIAN ETHICS AND PRACTICAL THEOLOGY NEW COLLEGE SUPERVISOR: DR. J.I.M MCDONALD
CHAPTER ONE CHAPTER TWO CHEPTER THREE SUMMARY CONCLUSION BIBLIOGRAPHY
My purpose in writing this essay is to demonstrate that although Jesus uses the teaching methods of his contemporary Jewish rabbis yet his main focus is to bring his audience, through his parables, to an encounter with God and so to the decision to accept or reject.
Chapter one focuses on Jesus as a teacher. Chapter two describes the teaching methods used by Jesus, especially his parables. Chapter three contains my personal assessment of Jesus Methods of teaching in parables.
In this chapter, we shall discuss Jesus role as a teacher and ask what the New Testament tells us about the means, material and purpose of his teaching.
Jesus enters into this world as a human. His ministry seems to be three fold. The Evangelists record shows that Jesus went through Galilee, teaching and preaching and healing (Matthew 4:23) but throughout the Gospel writings his teaching ministry precedes those of preaching and healing. Robert H. Stein, while focusing on him as a teacher, argues that one group may emphasize that Jesus was /is the Prophet , another Savior another Lord , another Messiah ET. In some circles, however, the role of Jesus has been minimized partly perhaps because of the reaction to the portrait of Jesus as a teacher which characterized nineteenth century liberalism. Nevertheless, within the four Gospels one of the titles most frequently used to describe Jesus is Teacher . The title is used of Jesus forty five times. 1
Jesus calls himself a teacher (Matthew 23:10). His disciples, common people and the rabbis gave him the same title. T.T.Manson, While commenting on the same issue, argues that Jesus is called rabbi not only by his own disciples (Matthew 9:38) or by members of the public (Mark (9:17) but by the learned themselves (Mark 12:14, 32). This suggests that they recognized him as a competent scholar who could meet them on their own grounds.2 but there should have been some reason for his recognition as a teacher. Stein Quotes Jeremian and thus argues that although Jesus had not gone through the normal prescribed course of instruction, his wisdom and manner of teaching
1 Stein, Robert H. the method and message of Jesus Teachings Westminster press 1978 page 1 2 Manson T.W. The Teaching of Jesus Cambridge University Press 1935 Page 48
Resembled that of the other rabbis, so that is was not unnatural to apply this title to him 3 therefore we can say that Jesus wisdom , skill and manner of teaching were the qualification of this recognition. Jesus uses parables as a means of teaching whish was known and popular to the people of his time. The Gospel records the fact that throughout his teaching ministry, Jesus spoke in parables, in face he never spoke to them without parables. (Matthew 13:34) Bruce Chilton, while commenting on the issue, says Parables are clearly a teaching device, an imaginative projection of meanings on Jesus Part; not his invention as far as the form is concerned, for the rabbis certainly used them, but the focusing of images, the performance of stories which present some kind of parallel with human life as his hearers knew it and suggest deeper levels of meaning which they could pursue but never exhaust. 4
Hence we say that although Jesus used parables as a means or device to teach the people which were not new yet his parables carried a deeper level of meaning which his audience could achieve. But the question is what is the theme of Jesus parables in the context of his contemporary rabbis or Old Testament teachers and prophets? Let us see to it! Jesus and the rabbis of the time use the parables to clarify and teach the main themes of their religious and ethical issues. The chief concern of the rabbis is the exposition of the law. The themes of Jesus proclamation and teaching however, is the Kingdom of God, with particular stress upon its eschatological significance (Mark 1:15). It is further argued that his treatment of his theme was not that of
3 Stein, Robert H. the method and message of Jesus Teachings Westminster press 1978 page 1 4 Chilton, Bruce Jesus and the Kingdom SPCK 1987 page 62
Apocalyptic visionary who wrote the Parables of Enoch (cf especially Enoch 37-71), but that of the Prophets who used the theme regarding imminent arrival of God s Kingdom as an occasion for practical religious preaching and instruction. Hence we can say that the theme/ aim of Jesus Parables is not that of Jewish rabbi or Enoch s Parables but that of the Old Testament Prophets who spoke regarding the imminent coming of God s Kingdom of God is among you . Jesus as a teacher builds a close relationship with his disciples and followers. According to Matthew ( 12:46 to 13:1-2), before he starts teaching parables on one occasion his mother and brothers come to see him and Jesus, knowing that they have come to speak to him, points towards his disciples and takes his followers as brothers, sister, mother. He also creates an atmosphere of intimacy with publicans, sinners and prostitutes, throwing parties for the rejected people of his time. (Luke 15:12). His opponents call him a friend of sinners and the fact remains that he is a friend of sinners. But the fact remains that his relationship with the Jewish leadership is unpleasant. He calls them hypocrites! The most import thing which we see in Jesus as a teacher is that though he was and is diving, he comes in a spirit of servitude ( Ephesians 2:6) , taking the form of a human. Through his humanity he transcends God. In him the audience of the time and the reader of any age can have an encounter with God.
5 The Interpreter s Dictionary of the Bible Abingdon Press, New York 1962
JESUS METHODS OF TEACHING WITH SPECIAL REERENCE TO PARABLES
Throughout this ministry Jesus travels from one place to another usual in the company of his disciples and other people. Sometimes he is at the sea shore and on another occasion at the mountains or in the fields, teaching his disciples or people, so he can rightly be called an itinerant teacher who, like a mobile library, is always ready to impart the truth. He is one who most of the time, has his teaching sessions in the open air. Although Jesus does not have the benefit of the modern day techniques of communication, like films and television and video, yet in his methods of teaching he does use visual aids. In most of the parables the scenes are changing and characters (mostly male) are introduced which present contras or comparison to the minds of his hearers and give them an opportunity to decide. But the scenes are not set according to the mind or expectation of the audience for they are either crude or difficult to accept. For example, in the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) which has three main characters and is set before a lawyer, Jesus presents a comparison. Joachim Jeremias, while commenting on the issue says According to the triadic form of popular stories, the audience would have expected a third character, namely after the priest and the Levite an Israelite layman, they would hence have expected the parable to have an anti clerical point. It would have been completely unexpected and disconcerting to them to hear that the third character, who fulfilled the duty of love, was a Samaritan. Hence it is clear that Jesus had intentionally chosen an extreme example. 6
6 Jeremias J. The Parables of Jesus Revised edition SCM Press Ltd. 1972 page 204
Likewise, in the parables of the prodigal son, which is set before opponents of the Gospel, we have three main characters with a variety of scenes. The first part of the story ends with a welcoming heart of a father towards a repentant son and it has thrill in it, but the story takes an unpleasant turn with the coming of the elder son.
In this parable the divine attitude to the repentant sinner is contrasted with the human in the figures of the father and the elder brother respectively 7. Thus, through this method Jesus brings his audiences into a situation where they themselves can look into the situation and decide. Jesus uses the question method y asking a question either as a prefix or appended to the story or the question put or implied may be clearly answered. Manson, while commenting on the issue, argues that in the Parable of the Vineyard, the narration is followed by the query What will the Lord of the Vineyard do? Similarly in the Parable of the two sons which of the two did the will of his father? of the two debtors (Luke 7:42) which of these three seems to you to have been neighbor to him that fell among thieves? or the question stated or implied maybe explicitly answered; the Rich Fool So is everyone that layeth up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God; Pharisees and Publicans This man went down to his house justified rather than the other .8 Manson continues to comment and thus says in all these and similar cases the object of the parable is to work through imagination and understanding of the parables in order to arouse the conscience and the real goal of the parabolic teaching is not attained unless the conscience is aroused, unless, confronted by the story of the Rich Fool for example, the conscience says thou art the man or by the Good Samaritan This is what thou must be 9
7 Manson T.W 8 ibid 9 ibid
Pages 70 & 72 page 71 page 71
Hence the purpose of putting a question in the parable is to arouse the conscience of the audience, followed by an encounter with God.
Jesus uses dialogue in his parables. Linnemann says that the parables are a form of speech. Its original situation is communication, dialogue . She continues to remark that even when it is only the narrator who speaks, a conversation is really taking place the Narrator, she says has already anticipated the possible objections of the hearers because it is to overcome such resistance that he has chosen the parable as his form of speech. 10 So in the parable of wheat and darnel (Matthew 13: 24-30) there is an element of dialogue in the story between the farmer and his men and the concerns shown by the farmers men have been answered by the farmer. In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31) we see a dialogue is going on between the rich man and Abraham. The first parable is set before a crowd and the disciples and there is no reaction whatsoever afterwards, except that of the disciples, likewise the parable of the Sower, have not understood it and they ask for an explanation ( Matthew 13:36). The other parable in this case is narrated before the Pharisees who loved money and were scoffing at him, but in this case also there is no such reaction following the parable. Hence, in these two parables, we may say that Jesus has anticipated the possible objections of the hearers. Whether they are agreed or not is another issue. On the other hand, sometimes it is not only the dialogue is brought into the story but there is a dialogue either at the beginning or at the end of the story. For example, in the parable of the Good Samaritan, there is a dialogue at the end when Jesus asks the lawyer to go and do likewise.
10 Linneman E. parables of Jesus SPCK London 1966
Argumentation is another method which Jesus uses in his parables. Parables are meant to be a form of argument. It is for this reason that they have only one point of comparison says Linnemann. 11 for example, in the parable of the laborers in the vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16), which is set after the question of a rich man about the goodness he must do in order to see the Kingdom of God (Matthew 19:16), we have an argument between the steward and the laborers who were employed early morning. In this parable Linnemann argues that an ordered system is violated not because the owner is still taking on workmen in the late evening, nor because those who came last receive a whole denarius for one single hour s work. The expectations of the those who worked the whole day that they would receive correspondingly more, rests upon the confidence that the ordered system of pay would be followed in all cases. But since the householder pays them only the stipulated denarius the system is infringed. This is what calls forth the protest of the day laborers. [ you have made them equal to us ]. The master of the house is able, however to show that the breach of the ordered system of justice was in truth the appearance of goodness, and goodness cannot be disapproved 12. Hence he makes it clear that the moral values cannot be disapproved.
Jesus brings another method of teaching in his parables which are the use of the natural phenomenon or human relation. For example in the parable of wheat and tares (Matthews 13:24-30) we see a portrayal of natural phenomenon. C.H Dodd says: it s a realistic story or agricultural life, told vividly and naturally. Attention is fixed upon the moment at which the farmer becomes aware that there are weeds among the corn. The spiteful act of an enemy is a part of the dramatic machinery of the story and has no independent significance. He regrets the weeds; buy is quite content to leave things as they, know that the harvest will provide the opportunity for separating wheat and weeds. 13 the other parables, i.e. laborers in the vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16); lost sheep, lost coin, prodigal son (Luke 15) are some of the examples of this case.
11 ibid 12 ibid 13 Dodd C.H The parables of the Kingdom
page 23 page 86 pages 184 & 185
In these cases, comments Manson some natural phenomenon or human relation is used to suggest or symbolize a religious truth. The primary appeal is thus to the faith and insight of the hearers. 14 Another teaching method he uses is that of the common man s language in his parables. We know language conveys meaning and Jesus has an art of using common men s language. Hugh Anderson comments that Jesus addresses his hearers in the common place language of everyday life, of nature and man, of fields and fishing, sheep and goats, coins and lamp, workmen and bosses, saving and debts. And this ordinary language itself becomes the vehicle conveying his message of the nearness of God and putting men on the spot where they have to decide for or against. 15 Finally, we come to another method of teaching in parables, which are two folds. Firstly, some of his parables are easy and his hearers can easily decide what to do or what not to do. For example, those of the lost sheep and coins (Luke 15:3-10) are easy to understand because they are taken from day to day situations. In such cases Jesus uses a familiar situation and the audiences are drawn to the heart of the parable where they can have an encounter with God. On the other hand, Jesus also comes with some difficult parables and such parables are not easy to encounter. For example, in Luke 15, where Jesus teaches two easy parables he then proceeds on to a difficult one. The parable of the prodigal son. This parable is hard to have an encounter for a Jew who has the churlish attitude of the respectable elder brother 16 or the parable of the Good Samaritan is also not easy to digest for it presents the caricature of the faithless Jew or a failure of Judaism. So, by using these difficult methods, he brings his audience to a situation where they can have an encounter with God and decide.
14 Manson T.W The Teaching of Jesus 15 Anderson Hugh Jesus 16 Dodd C.H The Parables of the Kingdom
pages 72 page 52 Page 120
In this chapter, as a Minister of the Church of Pakistan and a Christian educator at Gujranwala Theological Seminary, I present my personal views about Jesus method of teaching in parables. Before doing so I find it necessary to write a few lines about my country and context. Pakistan is a Muslim, male dominated society belonging to the third world. The Christians are only 3% to 4 % of the population. The Muslim fundamentalists work as a pressure group among the masses and even influence the Government policies. Since the fall of the late Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto, the resurgence of Islam is rapidly increasing and because of the Blasphemy Act no one is allowed to say or write anything against their Prophet or The Book. We, and especially young people and children, are attached by different questions. For example do you believe Muhammad as a Prophet or Quran as a revealed book? Why do you not become Muslim? they even call us Mushrik or Kaphar because of our belief in the Triune God. They either pull or push or even throw us into a situation where they expect us to say something about their religion or Prophecy. Our negative answer to their conviction can be a matter of life and death for us. And the fact remains that there are some Christians, who, under the Blasphemy Act, have been put behind bars. There have been such occasions when some of our Christian s parliamentarians and religious leaders were on the hit list of the militants for charges of raising their voices against the Blasphemy Act. Therefore, in such a situation, the question of having a Christian /Muslim dialogue for a Christian of any age or probably any background is not being encouraged an even the evangelism of a Muslim, of it is not kept top secret (which is impossible), can be a matter of life and death for the Christian community and for the seeker after the Gospel and converts also. But the question remains how do I find Jesus methods of teaching, especially in my context are they applicable in my situation? Let us consider the issue! I am of the opinion that Jesus methods of argument or dialogical approach in a context of Christian/Muslim dialogue in Pakistan is, probably, not now applicable where a fanatic or fundamentalist Muslim is involved. However, in a deeply rooted friendly atmosphere they may perhaps be used. For example, this Christian / Muslim dialogue is even now being used at the
Christian Study Centre in Rawalpindi. Other Christian institutions or individuals are reluctant to have it. On the other hand Para Church organizations are also using this method while imparting Bible courses to their Muslim and Christian students. But its aim is not to encourage comparative religious study. For example, Pakistan Bible correspondence School has got four centers at different places. Last year at their main center only out of twelve hundred students, there were nine hundred Muslims taking Bible study course. During the completion of their course they have an opportunity to write their questions and get the answers from a qualified member of staff and at the same time these centers also run correspondence clubs where most of the members are Muslims. Once every month or two they meet to discuss the different issue arising out of the courses in the presence of a facilitator. On occasions this ministry has faced fanatical opposition but it has continued for more than thirty years. Hence, in this model, even though the situation is tense yet still a face to face dialogical approach is being used and in addition to that , dialogues are also taking place through correspondence and in clubs and in the Churches as well. Jesus uses the question method in his parables to arouse the conscience of his audience and thus allow them to decide for themselves. He never imposes any view on them. We, on the other hand, use this method in our Sunday school and Bible study groups but our weak area in this case is that we try to impose our viewpoint on the participants. I think that Jesus question method, with a free choice to the listener, is much better. In such an atmosphere emerges a genuine decision either to accept or reject. Another method we have discussed is the changing of the scene and thus by contrast and comparison situation the listeners are brought into a new world. When hatred and prejudice are prevailing in the context, the audience is asked to decide to go and do likewise . From my own experience, I can say that in my own country and likewise other countries, racial, religious and class distinctions exist. Even within the Christian community people livening in the slums are hated by those living in the village areas or cities not only because of their poverty but also the jobs that they are involved in. But, now for the last few years, these walls are breaking down. Presently in churches there is not such an unpleasant atmosphere as there used to be. In my own parish we have people from all backgrounds. Together, they worship and take Holy Communion from the same cup. This change has come mainly because churches for the last thirty years have been mostly telling the Gospel stories. And in fact it has been rare that one could listen to a sermon from the Old Testament. People used to say that since it is easy to narrate a Gospel story so the Pastors are
not preaching from the Old Testament, not knowing [ as I can see it now ] that God was using them to lessen the atmosphere of hatred and prejudice. Therefore, I am convinced that this method was and is providing an opportunity to the audience and the global church to encounter God and make a decision. Jesus uses another method in his parables. Most of his parables have male characters. It indicates a viewpoint that he is anti-feminist and is influenced by the Jewish male dominated society. But the Gospel records the fact that he includes children, sinners, women and even prostitutes in his fellowship and two of these parables have female characters i.e. the lost coin and the widow appealing before a judge for justice. Hence I can say that the presentation of the male character shows what the male characters were doing at that time and the bringing in of these characters does not deny his concern and love for the oppressed class. Lastly, I must say that Jesus knows the art of how to use a common man s language in his parables. I am of the view that what Linnemann has said the parables of Jesus have passed down to us but the language event that they affected cannot be passed down. It is not affected for us just by our own reading or listening to the parables; we do not stand in the same situation as the original listeners. Our language has changed in the course of history. 17. So in Pakistan and in other countries as well, his language event can be made intelligible by interpreting the word of God. To conclude, I say that the methods of Jesus are subject to change and alteration and could only be used according to the situation and context.
17 Linnemann Etta
The Parables of Jesus
In the first chapter we have seen that Jesus teaching ministry in the New Testament is prominent and that he is regarded as a teacher by his contemporary Jewish Rabbis. We have also seen that the use of parables is not new but that Jesus theme in his parables is different from those of the rabbis or as seen in Enoch s Parables. Jesus theme is that of the Old Testament prophets, the Kingdom of God. In addition, we have discussed that Jesus throws invitations to sinners, children, ad women, creating a friendly relationship with them. However, he has an unpleasant relationship with the Jewish rabbis whom he calls hypocrites!
In the second Chapter we have discussed that by contrast method Jesus brings his audience to a new world. By asking question he wants to capture this imagination and understanding; by dialogue he wants to anticipate the objection of his hearers; by argument he says that moral values cannot be disapproved; by natural phenomenon or human relations, a religious truth has been presented; and his chosen language serves as a vehicle conveying his message of the nearness of God. In the third chapter I have given my personal views about Jesus methods of teaching and have said that in my context a dialogical approach for Christians/Muslim engagement can be dangerous, although perhaps profitable in a friendly atmosphere. But at the same time his method is still being used in areas like correspondence schools etc. it requires wisdom to know when and where to use it without bringing disaster upon the community. Questions, argument and comparison can also be used as methods to encourage a healthy and open atmosphere. The language method can be used with the exposition of the Word of God.
To conclude, I say that in all his teaching methods Jesus main purpose is to bring his audience to a stage where they have an encounter with God and decide either to say Yes or No .
BIBLIOGRAPHY Anderson, Hugh (editor) Jesus Prentice Hall, Inc. New Jersey 1967 Chilton, Bruce and McDonald J.I.M Jesus and the Kingdom SPCK London 1987 Dodd, C.H. The Parables of the Kingdom Nisbet and Co. London 1935[reprint 1941]
The Parables of Jesus [revised edition] SCM London 1972
Parables of Jesus SPCK London 1966
The Teaching of Jesus Cambridge University Press 1935
The Method and Message of Jesus Teachings The Westminster Press Philadelphia 1978 The Interpreters Dictionary of the Bible Abingdon Press New York 1962
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.