Ellen Aasland Reinertsen
Lost in reception? Paradox and potential in text and reception of parables with intersecting female characters
Female characters in the parables have mainly been ignored, both in ancient sources and by modern scholars. They have also been overlooked as intersecting characters. In this historical-literary New Testament PhD-project, I will explore these much-neglected female parable characters. I will do so by exegete parables attributed to Jesus in the synoptic gospels, the gospel of Thomas and the Shepherd of Hermas, employing a combined methodological approach to rethink how first century audience possibly could construct meaning from the intersecting female characters. Defining parables as metaphorical narratives, I will combine insights from narrative criticism and contemporary metaphor theory. I will integrate intersectional criticism in all aspects of the analysis and be informed by findings from social – historical studies to place a first century audience in its Jewish and Graeco–Roman life worlds.
As a second part of the project, I will study how these intersecting female characters have been interpreted in the reception history. By comparative case studies I will study readings of intersecting female characters in parables in texts by early theologians/church fathers in antiquity, in Luther´s sermons and lectures and in bible commentaries from the last 50 years, including commentaries by theologians explicitly calling themselves feminists. I will ask: Are the parables with intersecting female characters missing in the reception? And when these parables are present, what happens to the female characters? Are they overlooked or ridiculed? Are the characters taken seriously as sources of theology? And if so, what kind of theology is created?