Why Didn’t Paul Use Parables?

As much as I have sought to meditate on the words of Jesus and the apostle Paul, one significant thought had never occurred to me:

“Interestingly, Jesus’s mode of parabolic discourse was generally not emulated in the early Christian tradition.”

That’s from Richard Hays, George Washington Ivey Professor Emeritus of New Testament at Duke Divinity School. It comes from an essay in his remarkable book Reading with the Grain of Scripture.

In other words, why didn’t Paul and James and Peter and John and Jude and Priscilla/Barnabas/Luke/Clement use parables?

Intent as they all were on imitating Jesus and carrying on his teaching, why did they not also imitate Jesus by carrying on his teaching method of using parables?

(As I’ve begun to reflect on this, I think James may come the closest to using parable-like discourse.)

As best as I can tell, it might just come down to this: the rest of the New Testament writers seemed to understand their calling and giftedness as teachers/writers differently.

Still, even if they’re not going to use parables themselves, why don’t Paul and the others at least reflect more on the parables of Jesus?

What do you think?

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