Short Stories by Jesus: The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi

Short Stories by Jesus: The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi

by Amy-Jill Levine


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The renowned biblical scholar, author of The Misunderstood Jew, and general editor for The Jewish Annotated New Testament interweaves history and spiritual analysis to explore Jesus’ most popular teaching parables, exposing their misinterpretations and making them lively and relevant for modern readers.

Jesus was a skilled storyteller and perceptive teacher who used parables from everyday life to effectively convey his message and meaning. Life in first-century Palestine was very different from our world today, and many traditional interpretations of Jesus’ stories ignore this disparity and have often allowed anti-Semitism and misogyny to color their perspectives.

In this wise, entertaining, and educational book, Amy-Jill Levine offers a fresh, timely reinterpretation of Jesus’ narratives. In Short Stories by Jesus, she analyzes these “problems with parables,” taking readers back in time to understand how their original Jewish audience understood them. Levine reveals the parables’ connections to first-century economic and agricultural life, social customs and morality, Jewish scriptures and Roman culture. With this revitalized understanding, she interprets these moving stories for the contemporary reader, showing how the parables are not just about Jesus, but are also about us—and when read rightly, still challenge and provoke us two thousand years later.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061561030
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 09/15/2015
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 44,640
Product dimensions: 7.90(w) x 5.30(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Amy-Jill Levine is University Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of New Testament Studies, and Professor of Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt Divinity School and College of Arts and Science in Nashville, Tennessee; Affiliated Professor at the Centre for the Study of Jewish-Christian Relations at Cambridge; and a self-described "Yankee Jewish feminist who teaches in a predominantly Christian divinity school in the buckle of the Bible Belt." She is the author of The Misunderstood Jew, The Meaning of the Bible (coauthored with Douglas Knight), and the editor of The Jewish Annotated New Testament.

Table of Contents

Introduction: How We Domesticate Jesus's Provocative Stories 1

1 Lost Sheep, Lost Coin, Lost Son 25

2 The Good Samaritan 71

3 The Kingdom of Heaven Is like Yeast 107

4 The Pearl of Great Price 127

5 The Mustard Seed 151

6 The Pharisee and the Tax Collector 169

7 The Laborers in the Vineyard 197

8 The Widow and the Judge 221

9 The Rich Man and Lazarus 247

Conclusion: The Power of Disturbing Stories 275

Acknowledgments 283

Notes 287

Index 309

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Short Stories by Jesus: The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TaffysDad More than 1 year ago
Dr. Levine probes these familiar parables from every direction imaginable to illustrate how a first-century Jewish audience might have heard them. She literally takes them word by word to place the stories in context, citing word usage in other parts of the New Testament and contemporaneous Jewish writers, to wring every nuance out of the stories. She may be a little overly sensitive about certain Christian homilists who she sees as somewhat anti-Jewish in their interpretations. Her humor is infectious, like her comment that the prodigal son was not the kind of Jewish boy she'd want her daughter to date.