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What is a Parable?

Year 8 Term 1 - How do religions use language?

Mr Carter-Stead

on 22 September 2013

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Transcript of What is a Parable?

What is a parable?
What exactly is a parable?
What are parables for?
Why did Jesus use parables to give people his message?
How do religions use parables?
Why did Jesus teach in parables?
Find examples of three parables.

Try to find examples from religions.

Examples of Parables
Parables contain realistic people and characters in real-life situations.
A parable will give us some important advice.
The story in a parable may be short, but the message from the parable is supposed to last and not be forgotten.
The story in parable contains an important message. However, this may be hidden in the story, which seems simple at first. You'll need to think about the meaning of the story and what happens in it carefully, if you want to be able to properly understand its important message!
A parable is a short story.
The Blind men and the Elephant
1. Once upon a time, there lived six blind men in a village. One day the villagers told them, "Hey, there is an elephant in the village today."
2. They had no idea what an elephant was. They decided, "Even though we would not be able to see it, let us go and feel it anyway." All of them went where the elephant was. Everyone of them touched the elephant.
3. "Hey, the elephant is a pillar of rope," said the first man who touched his leg.
4. "Oh, no! it is like a r rat," said the second man who touched the tail.
5. "Oh, no! it is like a thick branch of a tree," said the third man who touched the trunk of the elephant.
6. "It is like a big hand fan" said the fourth man who touched the ear of the elephant.
7. "It is like a huge wall," said the fifth man who touched the belly of the elephant.
8. "It is like a solid pipe," Said the sixth man who touched the tusk of the elephant.
9. They began to argue about the elephant and everyone of them insisted that he was right.

It looked like they were getting angry. A wise man was passing by and he saw this. He stopped and asked them, "What is the matter?" They said, "We cannot agree to what the elephant is like." Each one of them told what he thought the elephant was like.

The wise man calmly explained to them, "All of you are right. The reason every one of you is telling it differently because each one of you touched a different part of the elephant. So, actually the elephant has all those features that you all said."
10. "Oh!" everyone said. There was no more fighting. They felt happy that they were all right.
What do you think the message behind the parable could be?
What is the parable trying to teach us?
11. The moral of the story is that there may always be some truth to what each person says.

Sometimes we can see that truth and sometimes not, because that person may have a different perspective to our own, which we may not agree with.

So, rather than arguing like the blind men, we should say, "Maybe you have your reasons." This way we don’t get into so many arguments.
What has this got to do with religion?
This parable can be found in the religion of Hinduism, which is from India. It is explained that truth can be stated in several different ways. The religion teaches people to be tolerant towards others and their viewpoints. This allows us to live in harmony with people that think differently to ourselves.
The Love of Money Causes all Kinds of Evil
This is a modern, animated parable.
The parable shown in this video is based on a proverb.

What is the proverb?

Find out where it comes from!
Can you work out what the message behind the story is?
The Good Samaritan
Who were the Samaritans?
The parable of the Good Samaritan can only be properly understood if we know something about the people who lived during the time that Jesus did. At the time of Jesus, the Jewish people lived in a country called Palestine. This country no longer exists as it did then. The area is now a country called Israel. The Jews lived in Galilee in the north and Judea in the south.
Where does this parable come from?
But the lawyer in the parable asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbour?” In other words, he was asking “Who exactly is it that I should love?” The parable of the Good Samaritan is the answer Jesus gave to this question.

The Good Samaritan is a parable told by Jesus, and is important in the religion of Christianity.
Click on this link to read the parable as it was originally written in the Bible.
Sometimes these can be hard to understand because they were made to be relevant to people who lived over two thousand years ago in the Middle East.
Many of the teachings of Jesus were presented as parables.
Separating these two areas was Samaria—the home of the Samaritans. The Jews and the Samaritans hated each other. The Jews looked down on the Samaritans because they were part Jewish, but had mixed with other races. Many of them hated the Samaritans so much that instead of travelling through Samaria between Galilee and Judea, they would take a very long route east of the River Jordan to avoid seeing them.
What is the teaching of the parable?
In the parable a man was travelling between the cities of Jerusalem and Jericho. The two cities were about 17 miles apart. The road that connected them was steep and rocky, and full of bandits and thieves. The priest and the Levite were important men, who would have been respected by the Jewish people, but they ignored the man who needed help. The Samaritan that passed by and stopped to help. At the time Jews and Samaritans hated each other, so no one would have expected the Samaritan to stop and help.
Jesus taught that to ‘love your neighbour’ is one of the most important commandments for life.
Jesus asked the lawyer to decide for himself who the true neighbour to the attacked man was. He realised it was the Samaritan.
Click on this link to read about why Jesus taught in parables.
A parable is story that contains a teaching, or a message. This is usually a moral message, about the right kind of way to live your life.
The stories in parables are interesting and memorable, so what they are teaching is easier to remember.
The people in parables are similar to the people listening to the story, so the message is relevant and meaningful to the audience.
Religions use parables to teach important messages about their beliefs.
Why didn't Jesus just tell people his message instead of hiding it in a story?!
Religious leaders and teachers - like Jesus in the religion of Christianity - teach people about God, and about how God wants us to live, by using parables to help us learn.
Here is another example of a parable that Jesus told.
In this parable the father represents what God is like. The parable teaches us that God will always forgive us if we return to Him.
The son is a symbol of those who turn away from God and become 'lost'.
What are the teachings behind the parables?
Can you write a paragraph to compare the parables from different religions? What is the same about them and what is different?
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