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Introduction Of all the words and teachings of Jesus Christ in the Gospels none so accurately reflect his distinctive expression as do the more than forty parables that the evangelists attribute to him Indeed for theologians as much as for Christians in general no other passages seem to so perfectly capture distinctive voice and genius of Jesus as do the parables This being said however it must be acknowledged that there is considerable controversy over the structure the theology and the very purpose of the parables themselves For example some theologians argue that differences between the parables in the various Gospels reflect differences in the theological approach of the evangelists Other theologians argue that parables were intended by Jesus to fascinate outsiders while being unnecessary to those with an intimate relationship with Him and His Word This paper will examine the tradition and interpretative of the parables It will be argued that minor textual differences exist between parables in different gospels but all reflect the singular theology and ministry of Jesus Moreover the interpretation of the purpose of the parables as differentiating between an in and an outsider group will be shown to be based on a misreading of a Gospel passage Finally it will be demonstrated that the significance of the parables for modern Christians lies in their power to translate complex theological issues into everyday terminology and in the process allow us to establish an intimate awareness of the presence of Jesus in our lives The Problem of the Parables Any discussion of the parables must first address the question raised in the Gospel of Mark where Jesus seems to imply that the purpose of parables is to confuse his mass audiences while to his Apostles he explains everything Indeed few passages in the Gospels have received as much critical attention as has this one When Jesus was alone with the Twelve and his other companions they questioned him about the
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