Monday, July 30, 2012

The Power of Parable by John Dominic Crossan

With the tagline, "How fiction by Jesus became fiction about Jesus" you know this is going to be another wild ride from Crossan.

Crossan is a big name in the Historical Jesus circle. His scholarly work explores what was actually going on in the First Century Israel and what was embellished in our Bible.

This book does not shy away from Crossan's belief that many of the stories found in the four Gospels are not  factual. Crossan uses this book to explain that the Gospels are in fact parables about Jesus' ministry.

The first part of this book lays out the argument concerning the parables Jesus told. Crossan gives us examples of Riddle Parables (so that the listener may not understand), Example Parables (go and do likewise), and Challenge Parables. Crossan points to most, if not all of Jesus' parables circled the challenge definition.

The exciting part of this book comes at the latter half. This is where Crossan dives into the, seeminly controversial, claim that the gospels were written as parable and not historical biography.

Crossan states that Mark wrote a Challenge Parable using Jesus' life to confront sects within Judaism.

Matthew was written as an attack parable with Jesus preaching against hatred and violent rhetoric but then going back on his own word and attacking the religious elite. Crossan explores examples of Matthew repeating a story found in Mark's gospel yet adding harsher language coming from Jesus.

The gospel of Luke-Acts is reported to be an attack on Judaism while also a challenge to Rome. A challenge to allow Christianity to have the same religious loopholes that Judaism held under Roman law.

John's gospel is also a hybrid of attack and challenge within Christianity itself.

In the end, you get the idea that Crossan believes the gospel writers had a hand in furthering anti-Semite sentiment with them having all this anger against the Jews and using Jesus as the example.

Like many of Crossan's books that I read, I really enjoy the detailed work and ease with which I can understand his points. I find myself nodding my head in agreement with his ideas and then, all of a sudden, he takes a sharp left turn. I'm stuck with a moment's whiplash and wonder where he can skew so far away.

No matter what you believe about Scripture, you will be impressed with Crossan's conclusions.

This book was provided for review, at no cost, by Harper One Publishing.

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