Call for Papers

Call for Papers

The call for papers ended 1 September. We received plenty of exciting proposals!

The different perspectives and opinions fostered lively and productive discussions. Now, after the conference, our goal is to publish an international conference volume based on the papers presented and papers that will be invited that fit the conference’s topics..

Parables as Persuasive Narratives

Conference in Joensuu, Finland

March 22 – 24, 2023

This conference focused on the synoptic parables in their literary narrative context. We were interested in the way the parables are supposed to persuade their recipients as described or implied in the text.

Our keynote speakers included some of today’s most innovative parable scholars:

  • Prof. Ruben Zimmermann, University of Mainz
  • Prof. Ernst van Eck, University of Pretoria
  • Associate Professor Eric Ottenheijm, Utrecht University
  • Prof. Lauri Thurén, University of Eastern Finland

We invited proposals that engaged with some of these interrelated questions:

* How are the synoptic parables designed to function in their literary context?

* What is their role in the argumentation structure? Can one parable have several functions or goals in its context?

* How much external data, especially historical information, not provided by the author, is needed so that the recipient is likely to be affected by a certain parable?

* To what degree is allegory needed? Do the parables yield any new religious information? If so, to what degree does their power depend on the authority of the speaker?

* Or are the parables primarily non-religious narratives appealing to the audience’s reason and emotions? If so, why did Jesus use such indirect argumentation instead of direct reasoning?

* Are the synoptic parables similar to other early Jewish parables and fables? Can these too be understood as non-allegorical pieces of persuasion?


Studying the synoptic parables in their literary context by no means diminishes the value of other perspectives on them, such as the interest in the parables’ original historical versions and thereby the historical Jesus, the parables’ wide potential for later theological interpretations, and so on. However, the empirical audiences of the parables should not be overlooked either. These include, for example, Jesus’s explicit hearers (such as the Pharisees or the disciples), the audiences implied in texts, or even the first historical readers of the documents, and parables’ ideal audiences, viz. any readers studying the gospel texts in the way designed by the authors.