Exile And The Purpose Of Jesus’ Parables (Mark 4:10-12; Matt 13:10-17; Luke 8:9-10) -- By: Douglas S. McComiskey

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 51:1 (Mar 2008)
Article: Exile And The Purpose Of Jesus’ Parables (Mark 4:10-12; Matt 13:10-17; Luke 8:9-10)
Author: Douglas S. McComiskey


Exile And The Purpose Of Jesus’ Parables (Mark 4:10-12; Matt 13:10-17; Luke 8:9-10)

Douglas S. McComiskey

Douglas S. McComiskey is professor of New Testament at Ridley College, 160 The Avenue, Parkville Vic, 3052 Australia.

Jesus’ statement regarding his use of parables (Mark 4:10–12; Matt 13:10–17; Luke 8:9–10) has always been a challenge to scholars because it contains a cluster of difficult exegetical and theological issues, which are especially intense in Mark 4:10–12. For example: What is the “secret” of the kingdom of God? How is it “given” to the disciples? What are the lines along which Jesus divides disciples from “those outside”? What is the function of the Isa 6:9–10 quotation in his argument? and, perhaps the most important and difficult question: Does he desire that certain people not be saved? Various types of responses have been offered, especially for the last question. We will first sketch the solutions to the last question in broad strokes to demonstrate the need for a new proposal, and the remainder of the article will present a new proposal with discussion that covers all of the questions asked above and more. Our focus throughout will be primarily on Mark’s version of the pericope, but we will cover Luke’s and Matthew’s thoroughly as the issues in those texts parallel or supplement those in Mark. Thorough evaluations of the various proposals are available in the literature, which the reader is encouraged to consult, but for brevity’s sake we will devote the vast majority of space to the presentation of a new proposal that avoids many of the weaknesses inherent in the other offerings.1

The contention of this article is that, contrary to the standard approaches to Jesus’ purpose statement, Jesus adopts a meaning for Isa 6:9–10 virtually identical to the original meaning in Isaiah. The fundamental differences are that Jesus applies the passage to his own ministry and speaks the words at a different stage of salvation history. The first difference is significant. Jesus attributes an Isaianic character to his own preaching. Certainly the words of Isa 6:9–10 originally applied to the prophet Isaiah and, I would

suggest, not to Jesus.2 Nevertheless, it is legitimate for Jesus to emp...

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