Short Stories by Jesus: The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi

Amy-Jill Levine. HarperOne, $25.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-06-156101-6
Those who view parables as easy nuggets of feel-good sentiment need to think again. Levine (The Misunderstood Jew), professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt University and an affiliated professor of Jewish Studies at Cambridge University, shows how despite their brevity, Jesus’s tales have disturbed from the very beginning. Readers hoping that Levine’s expertise will lead to singular and definitive meanings for the oft-perplexing parables that she discusses will be disappointed. On the contrary, she shows how the biblical stories’ defiance of narrow understandings and application is reason for celebration. But not every interpretation is equally credible, however. “Context matters,” Levine notes. Lucky for readers, she provides such information in an easy manner, covering topics from ancient Jewish-Samaritan relations to the Hebrew/Jewish background of New Testament literature. Levine also provides correctives to popular, anti-Semitic interpretations. As the text enlightens, it also emboldens critical application of Jesus’s ancient stories to modern hearts and minds. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/11/2014
Release date: 09/01/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 352 pages - 978-0-06-219819-8
Paperback - 352 pages - 978-0-06-156103-0
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