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The Module Five writing assignment is your midterm essay. It will be graded with comments, but these comments will be for helping you progress this essay onto the final essay, which will be worth more points.  

You will revise and refine what you already have, also using the feedback from your peer. Again, your paper should include everything we have done so far. It should go as far as the Gospel of Matthew.

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Hi Zhenxuan,

I really liked your paper on Jesus as a storyteller. I think it is coming along well!

I think the title of this course does a little bit of an injustice to who Jesus is. Jesus is not some mere compelling storyteller like J.K. Rowling or your grandfather. Jesus acts more like a secret agent from a far-off country who has a specific mission in mind. Jesus doesn’t want to be stoned in Galilee so he encodes his message so that he can live to die on a cross in Jerusalem. Jesus wants to establish his church with his disciples, but he doesn’t want a mob to declare him their king in the streets, so he encodes his message for those who have “ears to hear”. He executes everything strategically and perfectly. He marches to Jerusalem, fulfills all kinds of prophecy from the Hebrew Bible lays down his life, defeats the power of humanity’s hard hearts and evil, and lays the foundation for the growth of his future chosen people.

Does the thesis concretely sum up what your colleague is arguing or asserting thus far?

Thesis: This paper aims at showing the inspiration behind the application of storytelling by Jesus, how he formulated his teachings, and how the stories helped him attract many people.

I think this sums up what you are arguing so far quite well. I might avoid using, “this paper”. I think it was mainly his miracles that attracted people.

Do you have any questions about the thesis that may help your colleague dig deeper?

Although, those who knew the Torah and had humble hearts to accept it likely meditated on his teachings and came back with something of a grasp of what is happening (those who have “ears to hear”), Jesus’s parables are often like riddles about himself and his kingdom than they are illustrations to help us better understand abstract concepts.

Check out this short 5:30 minute video about the parables if you want a little more about what I’m trying to say. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XX-aAg4_U2Q

The Bible Project (the people who made the video above) is a really great resource for visual outlines of books of the Bible, understanding Biblical genres, themes, etc.

Do the two sections in the paper thus far connect well to the thesis? How do they add insight to the thesis? Do you have any suggestions of further connections?

I see two major points that you are making, that Jesus told stories to be compelling and attract many followers, and that Jesus told stories to elude opposition and tactfully point out how the Jewish people have departed from the teachings of the Torah. I would try to choose a reason for his telling stories and defend that. It seems like your section on Mark focuses more on stories to meant to conceal the message from opposition and your section on Matthew talks more about Jesus telling stories to attract crowds. I would either choose one reason or else change your thesis to focus on how the different Gospel accounts portray Jesus’s storytelling differently (which I don’t think is fundamentally true, but there are small differences).

What one new thing have you learned by reading this writing?

I really appreciated your reference to Psalm 78. I went back and read Psalm 78 and thought it was really interesting that the section often attributed to prophecy about Jesus comes before a recounting of Jewish history up to David. It seems like the “parable” that the author of the psalm is talking about is the history of God’s chosen people. There are certain lessons that we are supposed to learn from Israel’s history. God can spread a table in the wilderness and for his rebellious people. God makes up his tent among his people and sends a redeemer (in the likeness of David) to shepherd the people with integrity of heart.

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The Art of Storytelling from Jesus

Zhenxuan Gao

Professor Matthew Whitlock

UCOR 2100 09

September 25, 2020

The art of storytelling from Jesus

Jesus is God who assumed the form of a man who came to earth to save mankind from sin. Different people have different understandings about who Jesus is. Jesus is love and that love came from God when He sent him to earth to save man. Jesus is obedient to his father as he accepted to come down and take the form of man and later die for our sins. He was humble in his relationship with fellow men. He never used his powers to take advantage of the people but instead used it to help them. In his mission, Jesus used so many ways to teach the people. He was particularly very good at storytelling. What inspired the art of storytelling in the teachings of Jesus? How did he formulate his teachings through parables and teachings so well? How did these stories help him attract thousands of people in the crowd? This paper aims at showing the inspiration behind the application of storytelling by Jesus, how he formulated his teachings, and how the stories helped him attract many people.

Section 1: The Gospel of Mark

The use of parables by Jesus in his teachings was a fulfillment of the prophecy that is mentioned in the book of Psalms. Jesus also taught in parables because of the opposition that he faced from the covenant people. At some point, the disciples of Jesus asked him why he taught them using parables and Jesus answered them, ‘the mystery of the kingdom of God has been granted to you. But to those outside, everything comes in parables (Mark 4:11).’ This means that those outside had to deduce the mystery of the kingdom of God for themselves. Jesus used parables in almost all his teachings. Some of these include the parable of the Lamp (Mark 4: 21), the parable of the sower (Mark4:3), and the parable of the mustard seed (Mark 4:30) among others. Jesus indirectly communicated the lesson that he wanted to teach the people in these parables. Whenever he noticed something among the crowd, he would tell a parable so that the people would know what lesson he was trying to give. In the parable of the sower, Jesus tells the story of a sower who went out to sow and the seeds fell in different types of soils and the results were different. Here, Jesus had noticed that among the crowd that came to him for teachings, some were serious and those who were not. The seeds represent the word of God and the different types of soils represent different types of Christians to whom the word has different impacts. This art enabled Jesus to attract many people because people love stories. Also, the people would marvel at the way Jesus knew some of these things. It was easy for Jesus to point out the evil in the crowd and the people would be surprised at his intelligence that exceeded human understanding.

Section 2: Powell on the Gospel of Mark

Powell, on the Gospel of Mark also holds the same view that the art of storytelling by Jesus helped him to attract and reach many people. People would come to listen to the teachings of Jesus just to hear his stories. The inspiration behind the art of storytelling according to Powell (1) is because Jesus was not supposed to teach people openly. It was also a way of saving time because Jesus had limited time to teach a lot of things. Jesus wanted to use live examples that people would relate with, for example, the parable of the lamp. A lamp is something that many can relate with and they knew that if it was placed under the shade, it would not give light. This, therefore, made it easier for people to understand his teachings. According to Powell (2), Jesus in the gospel of mark did not want to directly counter the evils in the society or tell people that doing this and this was doing badly. He wanted the people to find this out for themselves. He did not want to be regarded as authoritative. The art of storytelling and incorporating his teachings in the parables would therefore enable Jesus to teach while at the same time helping him to avoid troubles with the authorities.

The Gospel of Mathew

The book of Mathew also shows how Jesus used storytelling and parables in delivering a message to win more souls in the crowd. There are various parables in the gospel of Mathew, including the parable of the sower (Mathew 13:3-9), and the story is easy to understand, and apart from understanding it literally Jesus had a spiritual purpose, and the story puzzled disciples. Jesus used storytelling objectively to ensure that the crowd relates their day-to-day activities to spiritual matters and captures their attention. Jesus using parables in his teachings was to give people what they can handle because the crowd involves the believers and non-believers and the goal is to ensure everyone gets the message. The parable of the weed (Mathew 13:24-30) is the teaching where Jesus relates the kingdom of heaven and a man that sowed good seed in his field. Jesus expounds the parable further in Mathew 13:37-43 by stating that the good seeds are the disciples spread globally to serve God’s purpose in spreading the word. The weeds are evildoers and bad people that spread the news about the devil and undermine God’s authority. God’s kingdom starts as a seed and grows bigger and better, and it is known that Satan is active in the world and just like any other weed the never produce a fruit or grain.

The parable of hidden treasures (Mathew 13:44) and it illustrates the great value of God’s kingdom where Jesus relates the kingdom with a hidden treasure in the field. The parables make the teachings interesting and create the urge from the crowd to understand it better. The information in the form of parables can be retained and narrated without strain compared to direct teachings. The aspect of relating the kingdom as small and hidden shows that the chosen and dedicated few who are ready to surrender everything else and seek God would succeed.

Story telling was Jesus’s favorite technique when speaking to the crowd and communicating spiritual truth. Mathew 13:34, states that Jesus spoke all the things to the crowd in parables and could not say anything to them without using a parable. Jesus told stories to help people understand complex concepts. The stories were about people and things they could identify with such as kings, beggars and farmers. The teachings of Jesus through parables show that he was a master storyteller and teacher. Jesus emphasized that he who had ears, would hear after telling his stories to ensure that people would reflect on the message and moral lesson of each parable he told.

Why Jesus Used Parables/storytelling

Parabolic literature used in the bible especially in the book of Mark and Mathew and other books in the Old Testament is to compare the teachings and familiarize with everyday life for a deeper understanding. It is argued that it is not enough for a believer to only read scriptures but require more of meditation which is achieved through trying to understand parables that makes them more keen and interested. Jesus used parables characterized by deeply rooted stories filled with mysteries of God that give the people/crowd an opportunity to meditate and understand better and attract more believers. Jesus used the parables and storytelling as a fulfillment of the prophet’s words and the fulfilling of the mysteries from the foundation of the world, as stated in (Psalm 78:2-4). Parables is a storytelling technique used by Jesus and has remained relevant in teaching moral lessons and opens people’s hearts to discover God’s justice and mercy. Jesus used parables to ensure that the crowd learns to hear and see (Mathew 13:11-13) to understand about his kingdom and the storytelling attract many believers trying to understand more. It is believed that God challenges believers in studying his message and the use of parables in Jesus teachings was to prepare the roots and seeds for survival and fruitfulness.

Footnotes

1. Powell, Mark Allan. Fortress introduction to the Gospels

2. Allan. The Gospels.

3. Grace Communion International. Matthew 13: Parables of the Kingdom

4. Crow. Why did Jesus use parables?

Bibliography

Crow, E. (2019). Why did Jesus use parables?. Retrieved 2 October 2020, from https://journalnow.com/news/columnists/why-did-jesus-use-parables/article_ddafef17-353c-5b75-a1cc-27816ccefa38.html#:~:text=This%20point%20is%20very%20true,the%20foundation%20of%20the%20world.

Grace Communion International. (2020). Matthew 13: Parables of the Kingdom | Grace Communion International. Grace Communion International. Retrieved 2 October 2020, from https://www.gci.org/articles/matthew-13-parables-of-the-kingdom/.

OFFICIAL KING JAMES BIBLE ONLINE. (2020). Retrieved 20 September 2020, from https://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/

Powell, Mark Allan. Fortress introduction to the Gospels. Fortress Press, 2019. Retrieved from https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=7MSHDwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PR1&dq=Fortress+Introduction+to+the+Gospels&ots=nShiqWbz6u&sig=akyGHFS_oAXirX9l3en73jFQ-vw

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