Our Thursday posts focus on material from the New Testament. As part of our fourfold priority of history, integrity, truth, and Scripture we consider it important to read and review significant scholarly work with both the Old and New Testaments. Jesus’ teaching in parables is often noted by interpreters. Dr. Scaer asks what the purpose of the parables is, then works to see how the parables in Matthew 12-13 help us understand the overall purpose of the text.
Scaer, David P. Discourses in Matthew: Jesus Teaches the Church. St. Louis: Concordia, 2004. Kindle Electronic Edition.
Chapter 10, “The Third Discourse: The Parables (12:46-13:53)” Loc. 5849-6479.
Matthew’s third discourse consists mainly of Jesus’ parables. He introduces the parables in 12:46 and concludes with a transition statement in 13:53. Throughout the Third Discourse those who hear and do Jesus’ words are the true Israel (Scaer 2004, Loc. 5858). Scaer briefly introduces and illustrates parables as teachings which describe situations using figurative language. Here the disciples learn about themselves (Scaer 2004, Loc. 5874). Situations and people resemble other situations and people serving to point out reality or impossible concepts. The ongoing purpose of the parables is partly to enable disciples to enter into Jesus’ world (Scaer 2004, Loc. 5941). These parables, further, require some response of belief on the part of the hearer (Scaer 2004, Loc. 5975). They are not simply for enjoyment. Scaer goes on to discuss some historic ways of interpreting the Sermon on the Mount and the parables (Scaer 2004, Loc. 5991).
Despite the wide diversity of figurative motives in the parables, Scaer asserts further interpretive challenges. The parables are “shells for divine mysteries” (Scaer 2004, Loc. 6016) but it is not always clear what those mysteries are. One of the jobs of the apostles is to pass on the mysteries to other people (Scaer 2004, Loc. 6025).
Scaer asks then about interpretation (Scaer 2004, Loc. 6051). Specifically, why does Matthew give an explanation of the sower and the weeds? This would indicate the parables can be understood by average readers.
Next, Scaer discusses the seven parables of the discourse (Scaer 2004, Loc. 6075). He identifies Jesus as the one active in each. He observes that the parables progress deliberately, with a thought from one taken up in the next (Scaer 2004, Loc. 6084). This is consistent with the idea of Matthew as one catechetical curriculum. Learners are adding to their grasp of the Christian faith bit by bit. Scaer continues with numerous examples illustrating interpretation. His comments are an admirable guide to careful exegetical thought processes.
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