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First published in German as Die rabbinschen Gleichnisse und der Gleichniserzähler Jesus in 1981—and now translated into English for the first time—this seminal work by Professor David Flusser remains an important and unparalleled contribution on Jesus as a storyteller in the Jewish rabbinic tradition. Using a literary approach to study extant rabbinic parables, he argues that Jesus’ parables belong to a genre that exists only in rabbinic literature and the New Testament. In order to analyze the theology behind Jesus’ parables, we need to understand them as a first-century literary art form.

In a summary of the book, Flusser writes: “I am firmly convinced with fellow researchers that it is possible to get reasonably close to the original wording of Jesus’ teaching. But this is only the case when the otherwise usual method of literary criticism is applied to the text of the Synoptic Gospels, and when, moreover, one is willing and able to be guided by knowledge of Judaism. I certainly admit that the words of Jesus, including his parables, were edited by Greek redactors and subsequently by the evangelists. Nevertheless, I believe it is often possible to separate the ‘shell’ from the ‘nut’ by applying a better synoptic theory. . . . As I have argued several times, the parables of Jesus belong to the genre of the rabbinic parables. Therefore, valid statements about Jesus’ parables, whether these regard their essence or their literary quality, can only be made when one has first dealt with the essence and literary form of the rabbinic parables.”

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