In the field of parable research the parables of the Shepherd of Hermas have not received much scholarly attention in the past, since they have often been denounced as ‘visions’ (cf. Blomberg 1990, 48) or ‘not real parables’ (cf. Barton 1909, 308). However, as I will show in my paper the fifth parable of the early christian text Shepherd of Hermas (‘Parable of the fasting’, chapter 55) offers us a unique insight in the development of the parable-genre and the relation between redactional frameworks and the parable as a literary unit, since Hermas offers three different and competing levels of interpretation of the parable, a phenomenon that is called ‘allegorical polysemy’ by Philippe Henne (1992, 181). In my paper I situate the ‘Parable of the Fasting’ in the context of early Christian and early Rabbinic parable telling and discuss its ancient social-historical background. After analyzing its different interpretation layers, I argue that the christological interpretation of the parable is a later development, while its plot and characters are firmly rooted in early christian and early rabbinic imagery.
2 Aug 2018
The 2018 International Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature and the European Association of Biblical Studies