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Contending that Jesus' narrative parables are more poetic than metaphoric, Charles Hedrick argues that parables should be understood solely on their own terms and not on the terms of the Gospel writers' contexts into which they have been placed or of the agendas of the later church. Hedrick charts new territory as he dares readers to recover the "imaginative fiction" of Jesus' parables. Hedrick's dissatisfaction with figurative and metaphorical approaches or approaches that argue for a particular "meaning" or a "single interpretation" especially those attempting to tie a parable's meaning to the "kingdom of God" diverges sharply from the modern consensus and breaks new ground in parable studies.
"Jesus told parables. Gospel writers give them diverse readings. Modern exegetes give them even more diverse readings. Hedrick chronicles both diversities and then poses a new question. How would those parables, precisely as poetic but realistic stories, have sounded to Jesus' first hearers 'in the context of Israel's fictions about itself'? His book emphasizes original audience reaction, and its signal achievement is to have said something new, interesting, and provocative in the very crowded field of parables research."
"Charles Hedrick's "Parables as Poetic Fictions" places the story character of Jesus' parables at the center of attention. His innovative use of Aristotle's poetics pioneers the place of sound in the structuring of the parables and provides a way of understanding how the story is organized. This book must be on the shelf of anyone interested in the parables."
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