Sunday, June 21, 2009

Bailey On The Parables

Part 6- Introduction to Interpretation

This is a 16th century painting by Pieter Bruegel entitled-The Blind Leading The Blind. This is not to say that Bailey is blind- but that he has tunnel vision. May my tunnel vision complement his.

I agree with much of what he says in his intro. I agree with Bailey that parables may have more than one point- contrary to some theories. In fact, I would contend that parables may even have more than one 'end stress' point- contrary to other theories.

Then there is the added difficulty of determining which of these sayings... are parables. Some scholars will count twice as many parables as another may count. Bailey defines a parable as "an extended metaphor". Seems some scholars see extended metaphors- where others have a blind spot.

Bailey's intent in his subsequent exegesis- is to to "unlock new meanings" (281) in the parables, by giving us cultural vision. With the hope that these "cultural glasses" will allow us to focus on the extremes of the analogies. Like probing the galaxies with a telescope. Yet I doubt that Jesus intended us to- decipher his Words as a Hubble.
I believe that the parables of Jesus had universal appeal, to a particular audience (yes, even uncultured children). I believe that His parables continue to have universal appeal, to a particular audience.
That the Father gives glasses to those He chooses. And those glasses he gives are introspective.
No doubt Bailey's cultural glasses, are of little internal use. Even Jesus disciples, wearing those cultural glasses- were blind to His internal intent (Mark 4:13).

In fact, I believe that the parable of The Prodigal Son (which Bailey uses as an example in this intro)- when looked at through these lenses, displays a problematic picture. A picture that would have given me grief in dealing with my own prodigals. We'll be looking at some of the more problematic pictures in the next post. Perhaps we shall look at Bailey's exegesis of The Prodigal Son (it is in another book) in a subsequent review.

Finally, it is Bailey's hope that these "cultural glasses" will give us a "critical realism" in keeping with "N.T.Wright"(283). Really? In keeping with a scholar that denies much of the Pauline canon? In keeping with a scholar that offers us rose-colored glasses for his vision of Hell?

Perhaps we would all be better off blind. And consign Bailey's glasses to eternal torment.

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