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Episode 190 Puzzling the Parables (Part 1) with R. Zimmerman

Episode 190 Puzzling the Parables Part 1 with Dr. Ruben Zimmerman

On a regular basis scholars and leaders come to the Lanier Theological Library to stay a few days, weeks or months.  While there, they stay in some amazing cottages on our property. 

Most of the time we leave them in peace so they can read and research as they wish.  Occasionally, we ask them to teach a class, be interviewed, share a meal, or do a podcast. 

Recently, Dr. Ruben Zimmermann was resident at the library.  We asked him to sit down and talk about a recent book of his.  This podcast is part 1 of that conversation.

Who Is Ruben Zimmermann?

Ruben Zimmermann is a German Professor of the New Testament and ethics at the University of Mainz.  He is married to a theologian who teaches at the University of Siegen. 

They have four children, chickens, and a great garden.  He studied at the University of Heidelberg, Erlangen, Bonn, and at a school in Santiago, Chile. 

He has written and edited several books, most in German.  But occasionally he writes in Engliish.

Puzzling the Parables

Scholars and readers of Scripture debate exactly what is a parable?  Zimmerman has come up with six features he says are typical of the parables of Jesus.

He discusses those in an important book he wrote: Puzzling the Parables of Jesus: Method and Interpretation (Fortress Press)

They also debate whether this or that passage is a parable or whether Jesus really said it or not.  That leads to the question of the historical Jesus. 

And it has become fashionable to claim that parables are absent from the Gospel of John altogether.  Zimmerman does not think so. 

Properly understood, there are several parables in the Gospel of John.  What seems clear is that Jesus is remembered by all the Gospels as being a teller of parables. 

Zimmerman’s book goes on to discuss methods used in the interpretation of parables. 

While he does not delve into the interpretation of all 104 parables (according to his counting), he does dig deeply into several parables in the Gospels to show how it ought to be done.

More Resources

Check out his book: Puzzling the Parables of Jesus: Methods and Interpretation (Fortress Press)

You can get a transcript of this podcast by, clicking here.

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