Jesus the Victimizer?
Thurén, Lauri (2014)
The Donner Institute, Åbo Akademi
Professor Lauri Thurén, PhD (theology), is a leading expert in rhetorical and argumentative studies of the New Testament. He is Professor of Biblical Studies at the University of Eastern Finland. His major publications include Parables Unplugged: Reading the Lukan Parables in Their Rhetorical Context (Fortress Press, 2014), Derhetorizing Paul: A Dynamic Perspective on Pauline Theology and the Law (Mohr Siebeck 2000), and Argument and Theology in 1 Peter: The Origins of Christian Paraenesis (Sheffield Academic Press, 1995). Currently, Thurén is interested in studying the parables of Jesus from a literary and rhetorical- perspective.
Jesus’ antagonistic encounters with the Pharisees serve traditionally as a basis for the poor relationship between Christianity and Judaism. The conflict stories epitomized by Jesus’ parables have been assessed as descriptions of how he either justifiably revealed his adversaries’ falseness or falsely defamed them. These stories are used to justify later religious conflicts. I shall argue that the traditional anti-Pharisaic interpretations of Jesus’ parables have an inadequate basis in the actual stories. Instead, they are due to two axiomatic perspectives that dominate the interpretation: ill-fitting allegorical explanations and/or the search for some historical context. Both approaches have resulted in manipulating the parables, either by curtailing them or by importing into them information of which their actual audience(s) were unaware.