The voice of Jesus in six parables and their interpreters
'Figures of speech' provide a suggestive key for approaching the question of Jesus' individual tone of voice. Apprehending a figure implies insight into an intention, and beyond intention to discern unconscious influences upon the speaker. This is the conceptual framework for a study of the 'voice of Jesus' in six parables peculiar to Luke (10:25-37; 15:11-32; 16:1-9; 16:19-31; 18:1-8; 18:9-14) and in commentaries upon them. In the premodern era commentators approached the parables with an immediacy of insight, seeking the divine intention behind the texts. Nevertheless we may hear the voice of Jesus echoing in their commentaries in morally specific tones. In the work of Jülicher 'insight', though repudiated, is still important, as he seeks the intention of Jesus through the figure of simile. Jülicher offers insight into Jesus as a passionate communicator, but goes beyond Jesus' intention in making him a propounder of generalities. More recently a concern with the intention of Jesus is replaced by a concern with how his voice was heard. The necessity of insight remains apparent in B.B. Scott's use of metaphor as an interpretative key. An impression is given of Jesus as a provocative subversive. In their context in Luke-Acts, the parables function as metonymies of the gospel, and yield an impression of the voice of Jesus as suggestively concerned with the life of this world. In the ministry of Jesus the parables function as synecdoches, offering hearers a realistic and hopeful 'part' of the world from which they must fashion a 'whole’. Against the background of Scripture the parables display a deep continuity with older forms of discourse, but also important tokens of newness. A stream of influence can be traced from the Old Testament, through Jesus and Luke, and on through their interpreters, though recently its course has been somewhat diverted.