The Parables of Jesus: A Social Psychological Approach

Volume 19
Fall 1991
The Parables of Jesus: A Social Psychological Approach

This article examines certain parables of Jesus as psychosocial documents, describing the reactions of various individuals to social situations. The justification for such an approach lies in Jesus'€™ intense concern over the commitments people make and the similarity between his teaching stories and the stories of other itinerant Middle-Eastern teachers-from Old Testament times to the present. Many such stories can be seen as reports on negotiations between individuals in a confusing and dangerous world. The methodological framework for this approach is provided by Erwin Goffman'€™s (1974) frame analysis, a frame being commitment, a set of assumptions within which an individual chooses to function. Goffman'€™s complex scheme is applied to the Parable of the Wedding Guest, the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard, and the Parable of the Prodigal Son. However, the author'€™s contention is that analysis of all the parables in which social interaction occurs can be enriched by Goffman'€™s method.

J.R. King
257 - 266
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