Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Friday, November 25, 2005

The Enigma of the Parable of the Prodigal Son (continued)

God shows no partiality. The Parable of the Prodigal Son does not support the notion that the younger son represents the Gentiles. The Parable is not only early but also an authentic Jesus saying. It rejects the favored younger son theme. This is consistent with the teachings of John the Baptist as reported by Luke that the sons of Abraham are not automatically granted salvation based on the merits of their ancestors.[i] This teaching is so contrary to what the Jewish people expected to hear that it must be authentic.

God has favored younger sons since Abel. He has blessed the younger sons of Israel since the inception of the covenant: Isaac, Jacob, Judah, Joseph, Perez, Ephraim and Moses.
However the Rabbi do not conclude that this fact statement is a rule of succession but rather a statement that the elder son is not automatically qualified to succeed the father. The Lucan Jesus demonstrates that the so-called favorite younger prodigal son is not more qualified and in fact, the father confirms that the first-born son will still receive the double portion for his inheritance.

If anything, the verses in Roman 9:7, 12 and Galatians 4:21-31, cited in support of the existence of a favorite younger son theme in the NT, are not only a reaction of Paul to his perceptions that the Jews had rejected Jesus but also a subtle criticism of the Lucan Jesus and his treatment of both sons as equal and entitled to the father’s love son and patience notwithstanding their alienation by sin from the Father. The message of Luke is that the universal kingdom is open to all.

Copyrighted 2005

[i] Luke 3:8.


Blogger Loren Rosson III said...

Hi Richard,

Have you read Richard Rohrbaugh's essay on this parable, "A Dysfunctional Family and its Neighbors"? In my view, it's the best interpretation of what the parable could have meant from the lips of Jesus. I hope to blog about this sometime next week.

7:50 AM


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