The Historical Jesus as Seen through the Parables: Jesus' Understanding of His Mission as Revealed by the Parables of the Sower, the Mustard Seed and the Wicked Husbandmen

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historical Jesus, parables, Christianity, Jesus in the Jewish community, kerygma, historiography


Biblical Studies | Christianity | Comparative Literature | History | History of Religions of Western Origin | Jewish Studies | Religion


The nineteenth century quest of the historical Jesus centered on the development of various biographies of Jesus of Nazareth. History was viewed as those facts, i.e. names, places, dates, events, causes, effects, which could be established by objective scholarship. In contrast, modern historiography has recognized that the objective, factual level is only one dimension of history. History in its deepest sense lies in man's understanding of his existence--the stance or outlook from which he acts and deals with the world. "History is the act of intention, the commitment, the meaning for the participants behind the external occurrence."

This paper will seek to encounter the historical Jesus on this deeper level, to determine how he viewed his role and mission within the Jewish community. The difficulty of this task lies in the fact that the true words and message of Jesus exist amid the proclamation of the early church. All of the tradition concerning him survived only if it served some function in the life and message of the early Christian community. Material was altered and in some cases created by the church to fit the needs of the kerygma, the early Christian preaching.

The analysis in this study will be limited to the three main parables which appear in Mark and are paralleled in Matthew and Luke: the Sower, the Mustard Seed and the Wicked Husbandmen. The objective of this study is to show that the early church's interpretation of Jesus is valid.

Department 1 Awarding Honors Status

Religious Studies

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