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The Word in Women's Worlds
Four Parables

The Word in Women's Worlds
Four Parables

by Susan Marie Praeder
Published in 1988 by Michael Glazier, Inc. Wilmington, Delaware.
Published on our website with the necessary permission

About the Author

Susan Marie Praeder is a translator and writer who lives and works in Munich. She holds degrees in the fields of Biblical Study Classics and history, and formerly taught New Testament at Boston College. Her other works include Miracle Stones in Christian Antiquity and articles on New Testament themes.


Editor's Note 7
Preface 9
1. The Parable of the Leaven 11
2. The Parable of the Lost Coin 36
3. The Parable of the Judge and the Widow 51
4. The Parable of the Ten Maidens 72
5. Parable Characters, Representations of God and People, and Problems of Interpretation 99

Editor's Note

Zacchaeus Studies provide concise, readable and relatively inexpensive scholarly studies on particular aspects of scripture and theology. The New Testament section of the series presents studies dealing with focal or debated questions; and the volumes focus on specific texts of particular themes of current interest in biblical interpretation. Specialists have their professional journals and other forums where they discuss matters of mutual concern, exchange ideas and further contemporary trends of research; and some of their work on contemporary biblical research is now made accessible for students and others in Zacchaeus Studies.

The authors in this series share their own scholarship in non-technical language, in the areas of their expertise and interest. These writers stand with the best in current biblical scholarship in the English-speaking world. Since most of them are teachers, they are accustomed to presenting difficult material in comprehensible form without compromising a high level of critical judgment and analysis.

The works of this series are ecumenical in content and purpose and cross credal boundaries. They are designed to augment formal and informal biblical study and discussion. Hopefully they will also serve as texts to enhance and supplement seminary, university and college classes. The series will also aid Bible study groups, adult education and parish religious education classes to develop intelligent, versatile and challenging programs for those they serve.

Name removed by request

New Testament Editor.


Four parables in the NT portray women: the parable of the leaven (Mt 13:33/Lk 13:20-21), the parable of the lost coin (Lk 15:8-10), the parable of the judge and the widow (Lk 18:1-8), and the parable of the ten maidens (Mt 25:1-13). In the first part of chaps. 1-4, I describe the areas of women's experience represented in the four parables, the "women's worlds" of bread production, domestic searching, systems of justice and injustice, and wedding processions. In the second part of these chapters I analyze and interpret "the word," discussing issues and problems in literary and theological study of the four parables. The discussions in chaps. 1 and 4 also report on modern parables scholarship. Chap. 5 includes considerations of ancient and modern interpretation of the four parables and of the representations of men, women, God, and the people of God in these and other parables.

The historical, literary, and theological studies in this book are set in a hermeneutical framework structured by our ancient sources, the four parables, and my literary and theological approaches and interests. Since our ancient sources are limited in number, perspective, and scope, we cannot reconstruct complete pictures of the women's worlds in the four parables. The history of interpretation shows that the four parables invite various interpretations, depending on the method, period, situation, and personal style of the interpreters. One of my literary tasks is to identify the textual sources of interpretative decisions, preferences, questions, and no-decisions. In chaps. 1 and 4 my outlines include demonstrations of "parabolic interpretation." an alternative and self-critical style of interpretative reading. I discuss the theological significance of the four parables in terms of "the relationship of God and the people of God," their teachings about God, humanity, and the God-humanity relationship.

The translations of the four parables and Greek and Latin texts are my own. Unless otherwise indicated, biblical passages outside the four parables follow the Revised Standard Version. Citations from the Mishnah are from H. Danby, trans., The Mishnah (London: Oxford University Press, 1954). My abbreviations follow the guidelines in the Catholic Biblical Quarterly 46 (1984), A Greek-English Lexicon (LSJ), Oxford Latin Dictionary, and (for biblical books) the RSV.

I thank Mary Ann Getty for suggesting this topic to me, Frank Matera for sending the TDNT references, and James Michael Weiss for seeing that the articles by N. Slee ("Parables and Women's Experience," Modern Churchman 26 [1984] 20-31) and E. Waller (see chap. 1 n. 36) were sent. This book was researched and written in a summer made especially memorable by the Integrierte Gemeinde of Munich, Munich American Peace Committee, and Marktgemeinde Sankt Margarethen im Burgenland. I owe a special word of thanks to Monika and Richard Merkel for my many hours in Moosach, am Klavier.


Munich, October, 1986

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