The Widening Circle: Honour, Shame, and Collectivism in the Parable of the Prodigal Son

Bibliographic Information: 

Daniel Eng, "The Widening Circle: Honour, Shame, and Collectivism in the Parable of the Prodigal Son" Expository Times 130.5 (February 2019): 193-201.

Description

This study presents a reading of Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son through the context of collectivism. After a brief survey of how honour and shame function in a collectivistic society, the essay examines the parable using Luke’s expressed occasion of the story as a starting point. The three characters are examined, as each display behaviour that is outside the accepted norms of Jewish and Greco-Roman society. The study reveals that a major element of the message of Jesus lies in the re-definition of boundaries. The Lukan Jesus remarkably does not abolish the community-first value of the Pharisees and scribes, but upholds the priority of the collective through expanding the boundaries of those who are honoured. The parable is then situated into the grand Lukan narrative, showing how the Jesus movement as described in Luke-Acts widens the circle of the collective.

Publisher: 
Expository Times