NASSCAL Member Publication: Charles Hedrick’s Parabolic Figures or Narrative Fictions?

Charles W. Hedrick. Parabolic Figures or Narrative Fictions? Seminal Essays on the Story of Jesus. Eugene, OR: Cascade, 2016.

Charles Hedrick is a founding member of the NASSCAL board. He describes the book in a post on his blog Wry Thoughts about Religion:

In the book I contend that parables do not teach moral and religious lessons; they are not, in whole or part, theological figures for the church. Rather parables are realistic narrative fictions told to Judean peasants, and like all effective fiction literature the stories are designed to draw auditors (and now readers) into their story worlds where auditors and readers make discoveries about themselves by finding their ideas challenged and subverted—or affirmed, by the stories.The parables have endings but not final resolutions, because the endings raise new complications for careful readers, which require further resolution.  The narrative contexts and interpretations supplied by the evangelists constitute an attempt by the early church to bring the secular narratives of Jesus under the control of the church’s later religious perspectives.  Each narrative represents a fragment of Jesus’ secular vision of reality.

As I began this approach to parables over twenty years ago, I found myself moving further outside the mainstream of parables scholarship, both ecclesiastical and critical. I explored a literary approach to the parables in a series of early essays that, among other things, set out what I considered the basic rationale for a literary approach to the parables of Jesus.  These early essays form the central section of the book, published in recently edited form along with previously unpublished critiques of a strictly literary approach to the parables and my response to my critics.