A parable preview

Here’s a little preview of my interview with Amy-Jill Levine about her new book Short Stories by Jesus. I gave the Boston Globe Ideas editors three of her quick takes on how we should read the parables. This one didn’t make it.

Q. You suggest a much different spin on the story of the Prodigal Son.

Levine. Luke chapter 15 gives us three connected parables. The first is the parable of the lost sheep, where the sheep owner realized he’s down one sheep out of 100. To know that, you have to count, and when he counts he goes all out to find this sheep and then celebrates. There’s a woman who loses one coin out of 10. The only way to know is you have to count, you can’t eyeball whether it’s eight coins, or 10. And when she counts she goes all out to find it, and then she has a celebration. Then there’s a man who had two sons, and we get so focused on the parable that we forget about the second son. Nobody went out to get the second son for the celebration, because the father didn’t count. The fact is, they may both be lost. So the parable should have something to do with us, about how we count. Have we ignored the ones who are behaving? Have we not counted the ones who do everything right?

We can find one out of 100, one out of 10, why is it that we can’t find one out of two?  I think it’s brilliant. Jesus is so damn smart!

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