Jesus’ Twin Parables

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Conducting research on the Gospels, the late Robert L. Lindsey discovered Jesus' teaching format: incident, teaching discourse and two concluding parables. In this article he discusses Jesus' double parables.

The wit and wisdom of Jesus’ parables, and the economy of their words, have convinced many scholars that in these allegories one can hear the very voice of Jesus. The twentieth-century, German scholar, Joachim Jeremias pointed out the many Semitisms in the Greek texts of the Gospels and contended that, at least in many parables, we have the literal words of Jesus.

I believe that Jesus normally employed twin parables in his teaching. These double parables usually concluded his teaching discourses and served to emphasize whatever point or points he was making in his teaching. I think it is now possible to identify the “partner parables” and to place them in their original contexts.

For the most part, scholars who have written about the parables have tended to ignore the significance of twin parables despite recognizing that some do exist. Jeremias, for instance, believed the existence of a parable that appears to be a “twin” is due to the imitation of an original parable by a later editor. This approach illustrates the tendency of many modern scholars who have become skeptical of the reliability of the synoptic materials. My view is that it would be impossible to reconstruct so many complete stories (composed of an incident, a teaching discourse, and concluded with twin parables) if these stories had not existed before the chronology of Jesus’ biography was disturbed by the author of the source I have named the Anthology. It is this source, primarily, that provided the parables we find in Matthew and Luke, which are the Gospels containing most of Jesus’ discourses and parables.

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