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School of Theology and Christian Ministries: Parables

Books about Jesus' Parables

To find books and eBooks, search the library catalog ( for “su:Jesus Christ Parables”

(Subject headings are the specific terms that librarians add to the library catalog.  U.S. Librarians, through the Library of Congress, select a single synonym to represent a topic.  The add efficiency to  searching for books and articles. 
My favorite example is books about church fights, Christian disputes, conflict in congregations, brawls between pastor and people. (of course your church as never had a conflict).  The synonyms that the Library of Congress chose was “Church controversies.”
So If you search on any of those other synonyms , you’ll retrieve a few articles or books; but if you search the subject heading “Church controversies” you will retrieve hundreds. 
Subject headings are one of the differences between library catalogs and Google.)


BT 375 - If you are in a library building, you can find many books about the parables of Jesus beginning at the call number BT 375. 

(I encourage you to share books with other students.  Quite a few BT375 books have already been checked out.  A way to share, if you’re only working on one parable, is to copy or scan the pages about your parable, and return the book for other students to use.  With library eBooks, you’ll want to read a chapter at a time, then close your browser so that other students can use the same eBook.)

Three examples of books found at BT 375

Jeremias, Joachim. The Parables of Jesus. 2nd revised ed. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1972. BT375.2 .J413 1972  and eBook:

Considered by many the best Historical-Critical commentary on Jesus' parables.  Modern biblical criticism attempts to find the meaning that the 1st century author wanted the 1st century reader to hear.

Scott, Bernard Brandon. Hear Then the Parable : A Commentary on the Parables of Jesus. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1989. BT375.2 .S348 1989

Scott builds on two centuries of German scholarship,  (including Joachim Jeremias) and attempts to “reconstruct the original structure of each parable,” “examine how the story and the kingdom interact to produce ‘the parabolic effect,’” and groups parables “based on the social dynamics of first-century peasant culture.”

Nabhan, Gary Paul. Jesus for Farmers and Fishers : Justice for All Those Marginalized by Our Food System.  Minneapolis : Broadleaf Books, 2021.  BT375.3 .N33 2021 eBook:

Nabhan applies the parables to a specific contemporary setting, an Arab American Catholic Social perspective.  This is an example of a book moving away from modern criticism to postmodern criticism, where the situation-in-life of the contemporary reader guides the interpretation.


Reid, Barbara E. Parables for Preachers. Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, 1999-2001, Year A =Matthew, Year B=Mark, Year C=Luke. BT375.2 .R45 YEAR B 1999  or eBook

Reid considers, in general, how to communicate the message of Jesus' parables to contemporary Christians.  The she offers interpretive insights and preaching strategies for most parables in Matthew, Mark and Luke.


Also commentaries on the gospels are important resources for interpreting Jesus’ parables.

The library reference area offers scholarly commentary sets.  There another LibGuide page specifically about print and eBook commentary sets. Commentary set can be found at the call number REF  BS 491...

The goal of “modern” exegesis is/was to study what the original author (Jesus, Matthew, Mark, Luke) was trying to communicate to the original audience (first century people including scribes and pharisees, disciples, Christians, churches, etc.)

Often recommended by exegesis professors, here are three series in reference from a modern-enlightenment-scholarly perspective:  Word, Anchor, and Hermeneia. 

The Word Biblical Commentary series discusses the exegesis of a variety of modern academic scholars, and usually ends up with a traditional conclusion.  In the application sections, the authors of Word express some of their personal faith. 

Anchor and Hermeneia express an individual scholar’s detailed exegesis for an academic audience,

The library stacks area offers other scholarly commentaries, and many commentaries written for preachers and lay teachers.  Commentaries on the Gospels may be found under stacks call numbers BS2575 through BS2595


Bible Dictionaries and 1 Volume Commentaries

Bible dictionaries help with the historical / cultural context of Jesus' parables

For example, look for articles about "Samaritans" or "Farming" or "Inheritance" (Prodigal Son) or "Pharasees" "Teachers of the Law" or  "Dining customs".

Bible dictionaries often have concise overviews of books of the Bible.

Bible dictionaries may have articles about individual parables.

One Volume commentaries give concise information about books of the Bible.

For example, you may find

  • discussion of the author and reader, date of the writing of Matthew, Mark, and Luke.
  • an outline of the entire book,
  • an outline of the section or the book that your parable falls into,
  • historical / cultural information,
  • a brief, few page exegesis of your parable.

Some one-volume commentaries have a specific perspective, such as Wesleyan, Feminist, Asian, African, Postcolonial, etc.  They can add different points-of-view to your study of longer commentaries.