« PreviousContinue »
APPENDIX, CHAPTER I.
ON THE OMISSIONS IN THE LIST OR
SYLLABUS OF PARABLES.
SEE INTRODUCTION, CHAPTER I. p. 4.
THE list or syllabus of parables, which I proposed for future discussion, in the first chapter of the General Introduction, was complete as far as regarded the allegorical parables; that is, the most comprehensive division of the parables in general. But with respect to the moral; though every moral parable might be a specimen of the argument a pari, or from analogy, it would manifestly have been improper to consider every such argument which was to be found in our Saviour's discourses, recorded in the Gospels, entitled to the name of a moral parable. Instances of such arguments abound in his discourses; and a complete consideration of all the applications of this principle of reasoning, to didactic and practical purposes, wheresoever they occur in the Gospels, would be the consideration of almost every thing which our Saviour is recorded to have said, in the way of general or special instruction.
There are only two such passages, to which, under certain qualifications of its meaning, the name of moral parables, or examples, might properly have been ap
plied : Luke vii. 41-43a : and Matt. xxi. 28–32b. There is a certain degree of narrative in each of these passages; their subject-matter may very possibly be a real history; and they have a practical use and application, as appears from the inference drawn from them, at the time: and in these respects, they agree with the moral parables in general. But they are not drawn out to any length, like the proper inoral parables ; they are short, and undiversified by circumstances; and what is peculiar to then, in their use as examples or cases in point, they have a special and particular, not a general and indiscriminate, reference and application.
The word parable, is so peculiar to the Gospels, that it occurs only twice in any other part of the New Testament; and each time in the Epistle to the Hebrews. The fundamental sense of resemblance, juxta-position, comparison, is at the bottom of its use in both those instances.
In the Old Testament, parable, (napaboan,) or proverb, (napospía,) is the usual version of the Septuagint, for the Hebrew buis: the former in twentythree instances, the latter in three; the former consequently, in much the greater number of instances. The senses of the Hebrew word are many and various ; which there is no necessity for me to enumerate further than as they may serve to illustrate corresponding uses or meanings of the term parable, in the Gospels.
The sense of a simple proverb, is one of the meanings of the word in the Hebrew; and the word parable is so used by St. Luke, iv. 23d. An example, or simple illustration of one thing by a comparison with something else that resembles it, is another of its meanings; and in the same sense is the word parable used by each of the Evangelists; Matt. xxiv. 32: Mark xiii. 8: Luke xxi. 29. A moral axiom of any kind, a practical rule of life and conduct, a gnome, especially one not open to immediate comprehension, or all at once to be understood ; that is, a dark sentence ; is another of its meanings : and so is the word parable applied, Matt. xv. 15: Mark vii. 17 f. Any discourse, of a didactic or practical kind, whether more or less diversified in its particulars, may be another of its significations ; and in that sense St. Luke has applied the word parable, xiv. 78, to the discourse which our Saviour delivered in the house of the Pharisee, prescribing the rule of good manners as well as of good morals, in the choice of seats at table.
a Harmony, iii. 10.
b Ibid. iv. 67.
c Ch, ix. 9. xi. 19.
With regard to any other instances of the use of the word parable, or mapaßoan, in the Gospels ; I think I shall best illustrate it, by premising an explanation of the use and meaning of the word napaßoain, as employed by the writers on rhetoric, anciently, and especially by Aristotle—to describe a peculiar kind of reasoning. Those who have attended critically to the minutiæ of style, and peculiarities of idiom in the four Gospels—and especially in St. Luke's—must have remarked the occurrence of certain words in his use of terms, which are not to be met with in the prose Greek authors—but only in the poets; d Harm. ii. 17.
e Ibid. iv. 78.
f Ibid. iv. 1. & Ibid. iv. 39.
and from this circumstance it has been inferred, apparently not without reason, that St. Luke was probably acquainted with the classical Greek poets. The same kind of peculiarity, in his application of the word parable to a certain class and description of arguments from analogy, will authorize, I think, equally just inference that he must have known something of the technical use of terms by the Greek rhetoricians.
With reference to this technical use of the word tapaßoan, we find Quinctilian observingh : Tertium genus ex iis, quæ extrinsecus adducuntur in causam, Greci vocant παράδειγμα: quo nomine et generaliter usi sunt in omni similium appositione, et specialiter in iis, quæ rerum gestarum auctoritate nituntur. nostri fere similitudinem vocare maluerunt, quod ab illis tapaßoan dicitur; hoc alterum exemplum : quanquam et hoc simile est, et illud exemplum. By Aristotle, the parable or comparison in question, is classed with the fictitious napádecypa, or example ; that is, the nóyos, or fable i; both of which he supposes to differ from the proper example, only as a feigned or hypothetical matter of fact, differs from a real. And while both agree in being opposed in this respect to the real example, they differ from each other merely in the circumstance that the fable is always a kind of narrative, tale, or story, which requires to be told, before it can be applied; but the parable or comparison is not.
To illustrate his meaning, Aristotle refers his readers to tà Ewkpatiká; that is, to such well known instances of reasoning as the mode so often employed
h Institut. Orat. v. xi. 1.
i Rhet. ii. xx. 3.