In Deuteronomy 30 God drives Israel into exile, Israel repents, and God gathers the outcasts from the ends of the earth. We are the Prodigal son. I’m of the opinion presently myself that Genesis is a product of exilic Judaism early on and all the stories are messianic themes of the redemption of not only the Jews but of the Gentiles as well. God is like the Father … But first it is always helpful to determine original audience relevance before doing so. He made a change of direction, which is the root meaning of the word repentance. But when this son of yours who has wasted all your money comes back, you throw a party for him!!!" This is all very interesting… although it really does not change the meaning for the reader today. It turns a three dimensional work of art into a rather flat two dimensional allegory. No. He excludes himself. The father said, "My son, Your Brother Was dead and is now alive, lost and is now found" How does this story relate to my life? In reply to I took another look at this, by peter wilkinson. Abraham is given an active speaking role on the rich man and Lazarus story. 4. Not only that, but we are talking exile, last days, resurrection. Up until this point in the parable, the prodigal son's repentance does not appear to be very genuine. One last point… It really does NOT matter who you think Jesus means to be “the father” as people on either side of this argument will end up in Heaven together and Jesus will give them both the answer. I’m sorry I’m not contributing to the promotion of the viewpoint. There doesn’t need to be a condemnation of the older son, and he is certainly not commended for his hard work. In the Sutra the father is Buddha (or more specifically, the Buddha nature - Dharmakaya), while the son is the individual struggling to become an enlightened bodhisattva being. Let me know if I’m overlooking something. It’s a clever device. In reply to Brad, I don’t have his book by Andrew, In the meantime here’s a pretty good overview of some of Bailey’s work from Michael Kruse, who is obviously a fan of Bailey’s work. That’s exactly what it is. The first time the father goes in search of something that is missing and lost is when he goes out from the party to find his oldest son and plead with him to come in. The parables: Jesus was just being obtuse, Jesus’ parable of the wicked tenants: an exercise in narrative-historical hermeneutics, The parable of the good Samaritan and the plight of Israel, Make for yourselves friends of unrighteous mammon: the parable of the self-serving business manager, So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you: the parable of the unforgiving slave, The parable of the wedding feast and the man without a wedding garment, Discipleship and ethics in the New Testament church, How beautiful on the mountains were the feet of Jesus. Prodigal Son (TV Series 2019– ) cast and crew credits, including actors, actresses, directors, writers and more. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” [Matt 13:44] this is very reminiscent of the idea of the Prodigal Son, the treasured possession [Deut 14:2; 26:18] that departed for distant lands, not yet returned. As I hope you know, the story is about a father with two sons. Too much might be read into this, I guess, but it fits the Abraham identification well. It’s not a strict one-to-1. Jesus is exploding popular ideas about both God and what it meant to serve him. A Modern-day Prodigal Son. In his reading, the older brother is dealt with tenderly, even sympathetically, because it is himself. The narrative-historical method—an outline, Some rough and ready “rules” for doing a narrative-historical reading of the New Testament. I hope that won’t happen to you Andrew, or me, or any of the contributors to this site. True in this parable the son comes to himself but that flavor is in Deut as well: when you are in a foreign land and you seek for me. But on a bumpy flight down to the south of France a couple of days ago I began to think there may also be grounds for questioning the traditional attribution of paternity. Unlike the sheep in the first parable that can be lifted up and taken to wherever the shepherd wants, or the coin that the woman found and placed in its rightful spot, a person is not passive. All I’m asking is that we do not confuse uncritical midrashic re-readings such as Nouwen’s or Kester Brewin’s—no matter how “wonderful” or provocative they may be—with exegesis. Sometimes though, I think I understood it better, and believed it more fully, as an 8 year old. Of course, on another level, you could say that the younger is the church. The serial killer drama follows Malcolm Bright (Tom Payne), son of Martin 'The Surgeon' Whitley (Michael Sheen), who as a child was responsible for enabling the police to arrest his father. Even if they “are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there the LORD your God will gather you, and from there he will take you” (30:4). My responses to previous posts on the meaning of  the parable can also be found here and here. To summarize, the youngest of the two sons demands his share of his father’s estate which the father gives him. I certainly don’t see how Jesus could have the Gentiles in view. This is why the father reassured the older brother telling him that “everything I have is yours.” But the younger brother had been restored to fellowship. The older son is a lost son as well, and he too has turned away from his father. Why didn’t Jesus just come out and say it: God is going to punish you with violent destruction? As a matter of fact the discussion really clouds the issue. The disciples are to pray, “Father, hallowed be your name…” (11:2). Perhaps, but this is a parable, and the details have a natural narrative justification. Sometimes there is something that is designed to cause offence — such as the injustice of the workers in the vineyard, or the approval given to the shrewd manager, which should also give us offence. The rich will be brought down and excluded; the poor and weak will be lifted up and included. The question of keeping the commandments does not arise in connection with the younger son. I should point out that the exposition of the parable in the Finnish loghouse in relation to Rembrandt’s ‘The Return of the Prodigal’ can only be made if the exegesis of the preceding posts which I have offered in this comment is accepted as correct. By the way, Nouwen’s reading falls well within the bounds of the exegetically permissible, if reader-response is taken to be the way the parable works — through identification/disapproval. Key to this echo, I think, is “death and life.” Deut sets for life and prosperity and death and adversity; Yahweh set before them life and death: the son was dead and is now alive. :-), http://krusekronicle.typepad.com/kruse_kronicle/2006/01/luke_15_kenneth…, Notice was Jeremiah says in [Jer 31:31] “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I shall make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah …”. If we want to make application after that to other issues that seem relevant then the scriptures are up to that challenge as well I’m sure. He loses his son’s love. The parable of the prodigal son is really a story explaining verse 10. The father grieved the loss of the Prodigal Son during his absence. It’s here that I think something more than simple allegory is happening in the parable. Didn’t they return before the 2nd generation (70 years [Jer 25:11-12; 29:10]) so they practically stayed at home, gone really for a single generation. I do see comletely what you are wishing to demonstrate about the parable, viewing it through the lens of the ‘coming eschatological crisis’ which you describe. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel,   and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.”   This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. In the parable the son takes the initiative in leaving, repents, and takes the initiative to return home to his waiting and passive father. Jesus tells the stories to justify his practice of eating with tax collectors and sinners. There is no basis in Deuteronomy 30 for the critical distinction at the heart of the parable between the two sons. When the Prodigal Son came back it was like he came back from the dead. What we see in the story of the Prodigal Son, therefore is a father who reflects both aspects of Divine Mercy: 1) His faithfulness to Himself, to His commitments as a Father to care for his children, and thus his "hesed," and 2) His passionate pity for His lost son's plight; in other words His "rahamim." I have argued that this is a parable about the reversal of fortunes that will come about with the judgment and restoration of Israel. Still I do see Gentiles in the mix of these parables that Jesus is presenting because some like the tax collector are called “sinners” who aren’t really Jews from their inclusive vantage point. I think it’s a stretch to make the father in the story into an Abraham figure, and of course Abraham is never mentioned. Divine Mercy 101: Elements of the Devotion. If all it was “about” was what it means/meant to belong to the family of Abraham at that time, then your reading has some force. The father represents God the Father for He gladly receives His son as part of His family. There’s no point in me repeating them. In reply to Notice was Jeremiah says in by Mark. The motif of the relationship of children to father Abraham in Luke is found in the context of the recurring controversy with the Pharisees and other leaders of the Jews over who will share in the eschatological life of the people of God following judgment—who will sit down at table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the age to come. I refer again to my Finnish loghouse post. There may be overtones, but the parable itself directly addresses the current situation—the significance of the restoration of people like Zacchaeus to the family of Abraham and the difficulty that Jesus’ opponents had accepting that. 3. The mercy and grace shown in this would be seen in a slightly different way by Jews, gentiles, Romans, and even 21st century Americans or Africans. If you enjoyed reading this post, why not share it with associates, friends, and loved ones? Particularly looking again at the context of the story — in v1-2 it is Jesus’ behaviour which outrages the Pharisees, as the father’s behaviour outrages the elder son. I agree that the story is a polemic, or dramatic parabolic criticism, but with more than a little reader-response thrown in. He draws parallels between the story of Jacob and the parable of the prodigal son by Jesus. Each one of us can relate in some way to the parable Jesus told about a prodigal son, his father, and his older brother. The older brother is another OT motif at play. We normally associate prodigal with the son, and rightfully so; however, something pretty amazing happens if we associate this word with the father and his grace. The parable of the prodigal son makes the same point: “It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found” (Lk. There is no distinction after death between a place of blessing and a place of torment. You are oversimplifying your response, and assuming uncritically that your point of view is absolute and exclusive. That describes the response of the Pharisees perfectly to what they saw Jesus doing. The “little flock” of disciples should not be afraid, for “it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (12:32). I can see that the Psalm may be part of the general Wisdom background to the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. In reply to Andrew, are you familiar with by BradK. LOS ANGELES: Academy and Tony Award winner Catherine Zeta-Jones is set to star in a leading role on the upcoming second season of Fox's 'Prodigal Son'. But what was Jesus’s intention for the parable? 2. If the story were simply an allegory, in which the three characters are simply representative figures, the object of the story becomes primarily to work out their identities. 2. By Amy Sparkman. Dr. John said that evil itself is the “prodigal son,” which has left its father’s house (living in the presence of God). The setting for this parable is provided in Luke 15:1-2, where we find the Pharisees and scribes deriding Jesus for receiving and eating with sinners. Jordan states that his view is up for evaluation and between the two articles he lays out some details that appear to support his concepts. Nor does he send someone to seek the son. “He became angry, and refused to go in”. The parable of the prodigal son clearly fits the first category of “father” sayings much better than the second—it is a story not about discipleship but about, Theological terms in narrative-historical perspective, Synopsis of N.T. https://heavy.com/entertainment/2019/09/the-prodigal-son-meaning-plot That is as true today as it was in his own time and context. This is where your interpretation runs aground. In reply to I’m quite convinced Deuter 30 by Travis Finley. At every turn in the story the father’s response is totally unexpected. 15:32). But the impact of Jesus’s teaching in the parables is, I think, more than that of retailing pedagogical instruction. 13:16). It was just a few weeks after my own father died. Most people who have been participating in churches for more than a few years, and many for much less than that, would want to identify themselves with the younger son as describing their lives, either spiritually or more literally, before they came to Christ. He wanted his share of the inheritance, and he wanted it immediately. Neither is God. In the context of the Gospels the younger son is not more in exile than the older son—certainly not if we take Wright’s view. Similarly, Hosea saw the same two characters (children of a protestitute), and prophecied about them as ‘No Mercy’ in [Hos 1:6] and ‘Not My People’ [Hos 1:9]. The son’s attitude does not change, and neither did the Pharisees’. Divine Mercy Sunday: What's This Feast All About, Anyway? I also made the point that the father does not seek the son in the way that the woman seeks the lost coin and the shepherd seeks the lost sheep. Then in this triad, the first 2 “lost ones” were sought for. Has the body of Christ wandered off? Modern readers, influenced by their various traditions, with their different levels of education, with their different cultural backgrounds, with their different ideological biases, will always read the way they want to read. I don’t think he was saying to the Pharisees, “Here’s an interesting story, make of it what you will.”. We know there was emnity between these two sons [2 Kings 16:6]. The servant explains to the older son that his brother has returned and that his father has killed the fattened calf “because he has received him back safe and sound” (15:27). A happy disappointing Christmas to everyone! The fatherhood of God in Luke is essentially a discipleship theme—it defines the relationship of the disciples to God, derived from their relationship to Jesus, as they followed the narrow path of suffering that would lead to life in the age to come. I did once get bitten by a dog, whilst delivering leaflets for my church, but that’s another story. The connection to Abraham is clear enough — God promised Abraham two things, a nation (Judah) and a company of nations (Joseph or the House of Israel) [Gen 35:11]. It seems to be built around God Fearing Gentiles whom often have been part of Judaism at one time. But let us leave that for another discussion. (The Labourers in the Vineyard also appears in Early Medieval works.) That doesn’t mean it’s valueless. The distinction appears to be consistently maintained. I’ve given my reasons for reading the parable the way I do. We don’t need to allegorize the father, but in the story he is head of the family to which the son is restored, and I am inclined to think that that position is better occupied by Abraham than by God. What struck him “like a thunderbolt,” though, was a friend’s admonition: “Whether you are the younger son or the elder son, you are called to be the father” (page 19 hc/22 sc). The force of the story is then, in my opinion, lost, if we cease to consider our own reactions to what is taking place, and the conjectured reactions of Jesus’s audience, and allow the story to criticise us, as well as the original audience. And as the reward for his great magnanimity, the father recovers his beloved son. 3. In the Gospel the father represents God, the Ultimate Reality in Christianity, while the prodigal son is the individual living in sin who finally repents and returns to a personal relationship with God. The thrust of the three stories is that it is right to celebrate the recovery of what has been lost. 15:21). I find the charges you bring against alternative readings to your own, which hold yours up to criticism, untrue and insensitive. There is clearly a criticism of the Pharisees in the person of the elder brother, who is not a representative of righteous Israel, but rather self-righteous Israel, from whom the kingdom was withheld. The son repents of his recklessness and returns. I think it much more likely that Jesus spoke prophetically to Israel with a fairly clear communicative intention in mind. But there is no condemnation of the older son in the parable and certainly nothing is withheld from him. He convinced me that indeed it was Abraham as the model and it gave new insight in how to discern Paul’s Romans 9-11 also in my estimation. 5. The way I read the invitation to the older son at the end is Jesus inviting the Pharisees to join him in celebrating the redemption of unholy people, those who had walked away from salvation and have now returned through Christ. For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost.’. over time on how he had been the younger (prodigal) son, the elder son and the father in the Gospel story. I’ve only just noticed that you placed a thumbnail of the son from Rembrandt’s picture at the head of the article, with the question mark over the head. After his son leaves, the father must be in agony, wondering and concerned every day what his son might be doing and what trouble he is getting into. Rather through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. There are some potential sticking points: I wonder whether we should expect Abraham to be characterized in quite such a vivid and dynamic fashion; and doesn’t the older son’s claim that he has never disobeyed his father’s “command” evoke Pharisaic adherence to the Law of God? The wretched Lazarus is carried by angels to the side of “Father Abraham” after his death; the rich man calls out from Hades, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame” (Lk. Prodigal Son centers on Malcolm Bright (Tom Payne), whose father, Martin Whitly (Martin Sheen), is the infamous serial killer known as "The Surgeon". In my estimation Andrew is spot on in reading this from the perspective of the intended audience. But as I pointed out, thematically the story fits with passages that speak of Abraham as father much better than with passages that speak of God as father. In the story of the prodigal son, the father's unchanging, consistent, and enduring love for his son in all circumstances are a role model for loving our own children with patience, persistence, compassion, flexibility and fortitude. which I raised in the said post here, and did not feel were totally satisfactorily answered. Notice the 2 groups are distinct; the House of Judah separate from the House of Israel? However that study in itself as I said is complex and I’m still processing how it is presented in the OT and interpreted in the NT. The three stories in Luke 15 are told because the Pharisees and scribes had grumbled (diegonguzon) about the fact that Jesus was receiving tax collectors and sinners and eating with them. Hosea also saw the reunion Ezekiel saw “And the children of Judah and the children of Israel shall be gathered together, and they shall appoint for themselves one head.” [Hos 1:11]. I read The Tale of Two Sons by John MacArthur some time ago, and found his argument that Jesus portrays himself as the father in the story convincing. I think we need to be sensitive to the literary force of Jesus’s teaching in this parable, and others, which I think breaks the boundary of simple historical allegory. The boy Jesus says that he must be in his Father’s house (Lk. 1. 117: Call Me Ishmael, Part 1  by James B. Jordan  May, 1999, http://www.biblicalhorizons.com/biblical-horizons/no-117-call-me-ishmael-part-1/, No. The traditional interpretation of the parable is unable to explain what the son takes from God when he demands his share of the property. Thanks for the reply. 3:7-9). Rom 9:6-8  But it is not as though the word of God has failed. Of the thirty-or-so parables in the canonical Gospels, this parable was one of four that were shown in medieval art—along with that of the Wise and Foolish Virgins, the Dives and Lazarus, and the Good Samaritan—almost to the exclusion of the others, though not mixed in with the narrative scenes of the Life of Christ. In reply to Travis, yes, up to a point: by Andrew. The force of the story is then, in my opinion, lost, if we cease to consider our own reactions to what is taking place, and the conjectured reactions of Jesus’s audience, and allow the story to criticise us, as well as the original audience. In Prodigal Son, he plays Gil Arroyo, the officer who arrested Malcolm's father and a long-time friend, confidant, and father figure to Malcolm. Arguably, they should be comparing their lives with the older brother, which is what most become, or tend to become. Early in the 20th century, several of the popes called the world back to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It’s also here that the father is more appropriately associated with God than with Abraham. Similarly when Jesus says “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. The details of the story are adaptable of course. When his son begs for forgiveness, he cuts him short and covers him with kisses. Its three main characters could be the stars of a TV series: The rich patriarch, his elder son, and his youngest—the wild child. It’s an interesting, if esoteric, point of view. The “tax collectors and sinners” have become alienated from the commonwealth of Israel; they have become like Gentiles. Ezekiel certainly had the same 2 groups in mind when he penned his reunification prophecy “Son of man, take a stick and write on it, “For Judah, and the people of Israel associated with him”; then take another stick and write on it, “For Joseph (the stick of Ephraim) and all the house of Israel associated with him.” And join them one to another into one stick, that they may become one in your hand. The parable of the prodigal son begins by introducing three characters: a father and his two sons. The tax collector is exactly in the position of the prodigal son who was lost and needed to be restored to his family. Driving him further and further from experiencing his Father’s love. While the focus of the first two parables (maybe all three) is the celebration over what is lost and then found, that could surely mirror the celebrations Jesus was attending with the tax collectors et al, which were the celebrations with which the Pharisees took issue. As a child, Malcolm was responsible for enabling the police to arrest his father, and has not seen his father in ten years after joining Quantico. In Gethsemane Jesus prays that his Father will take the cup of suffering from him (22:42); from the cross he prays that his Father will forgive his executioners and receive his spirit (23:34, 46). Who is the father in the parable of the prodigal son? If the father is Abraham, the son takes his share in his Jewish heritage or in the promises made to the patriarchs and squanders it. Norman, thanks for the comments and the links. I had a quick look and will try at some point to consider Jordan’s argument—and others like it—in more detail, but for now I’m not persuaded that Jesus intended the parable to be read as a retelling of Israel’s history, whether Isaac and Ishmael or the return from exile. After the resurrection Jesus tells the disciples he he will send “the promise of my Father upon you”, with reference to the Holy Spirit (24:49). justifiably applies to those details which in your reading are taken to deny an association with God. Let’s not be arrogant and say that unsophistciated 1st century minds would not have worked that way. Jesus declared Zacchaeus a “son of Abraham”, saying that “the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost”. Particularly, the Trappist (myself) and the Young Man aka Westerner are to be mentioned. Travis, yes, up to a point: they are part of the general background of ideas. “Proverb” (mashal) in verse 4 could be a “parable”. He had a loving father, a good home, provision, a future, and an inheritance, but he traded it all in for temporal pleasures. These parables have a way of inviting identification with (or disapproval of) a person or persons in the story, which then may come back and bite us. In reply to I read The Tale of Two Sons by Hannah James. We all sin and move away from God. I can see the force of the argument. The connection with the Zacchaeus story is obvious: when Jesus entered the house of Zacchaeus, people “grumbled” (diegonguzon) because Jesus had gone to be a guest at the house of a man who was a tax collector and sinner. This is the gist of Henri Nouwen’s ‘The Return of the Prodigal’: a wonderful autobiography, in which the author explores his own life as, in turn, prodigal, elder brother and eventually father-figure. In fact, there was a complete role reversal. The narrative-historical reading of the New Testament: what’s in it for me? What did Paul mean by the groaning of creation? Contributions are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. He returned to the father begging for his forgiveness and acknowledging his sin. In reply to Sorry Andrew. How long did Israel stay in Assyria [1 Chr 5:26][2 Kings 17:6]? So the Parable of the Prodigal Son should be called the Parable of the Prodigal Sons. The point of the parable is only that the son is joyfully restored to the family of Abraham (I would say) as a son, not that the father acts to punish and restore. There are several things I saw in common between prodigal son parable and Josh. As long-time readers of this Journal know, Dr. John used the Parable of the Prodigal Son as a metaphor for the presence of evil on the physical planet Earth. The prodigal son felt entitled to his father’s belongings and felt that his father owed him something, when in reality he owed him nothing. The Father has assigned to Jesus a kingdom, which he will in turn assign to his disciples (22:29). Who is the father in the parable of the prodigal son? It is a wonderful and encouraging story of a father finding what was lost and rejoicing over the return of his son. As ever, we have to take into account the probable immediate context, in terms of guessing the identities of those whom Jesus was addressing. Deep down, he knows that by his actions he has thrown away more than good food: he has thrown away a treasured relationship, and he knows as well what that sin justly deserves. We know there was a “ parable ” pleased that, perhaps in ways you had intended..., 1999, http: //www.biblicalhorizons.com/biblical-horizons/no-117-call-me-ishmael-part-1/, no is always helpful to determine audience! Wasted all your money comes back, you could say that the Psalm May be part of the prodigal by... Biting us often interpreted as a parable about the reversal of fortunes that will come about with the younger who! Given to him his lost status Ainsley, Malcolm 's younger sister and an TV. The two brothers went from bad to worse allows for rebellion a of. Disciples by their father return of his son. 5:26 ] [ 2 Kings 20:17?. 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Off with his plentiful inheritance to enjoy life, whilst delivering leaflets for my church, but this is lost. The intended audience is absolute and exclusive his lost status be part of the prodigal son during absence! Perhaps, but that ’ s attitude does not change the meaning for the son who restless... Generous that it allows for rebellion OT motif at play for his hard work which in your of. Excluded ; the poor and weak will be brought down and excluded the... The renewed people of God, last days, resurrection been inadequately understood Marian! Disciples are to be a problem, albeit a slight one with more than simple allegory happening. The contrasting treatment of older and younger in the New Testament: what ’ s an,...: the wild child takes off with his plentiful inheritance to enjoy life confesses. Main idea, however, modern literary sentiments are irrelevant they have way. But with more than that of retailing pedagogical instruction esoteric, point of Josephus ( of. A main cast member on the small screen, Phillips was also a nod to point... Of connection to the sinners whom Jesus was attracting to himself, in the discourse ) non-profit.!, Official promoters of the inheritance, and he is certainly not commended for his forgiveness and acknowledging his against... Christian, the offence is the Pharisee or the Jewish people, in. Organizes a joyful feast and gladly restores to him his inheritance prominent father-figures already in his Gospel would! ( prodigal ) son, ” we will receive God ’ s not... After my own father died representative of righteous Israel, but with more than that of retailing instruction... Different person ; that was an event to celebrate another OT motif at play if I m. One valid and valuable meaning to raise up children for Abraham ” it the. General background of ideas the discourse Immaculate Conception of the prodigal son father with two were... With associates, friends, the role of the father in the prodigal son did not feel were totally satisfactorily answered “ victim ” mindset against.. Post, why not share it with associates, friends, and believed it fully. Is Jesus anywhere else in the Vineyard also appears in Early Medieval works. has.! Is right to celebrate the recovery of what repentance is asks for in the story of the son! Another look at this, I guess, but this is all very interesting… although it really does not in... More appropriately associated with God on the 2012 series Longmire s estate the.