These would be my reservations: 1. But then your comment: doesn’t the older son’s claim that he has never disobeyed his father’s “command” evoke Pharisaic adherence to the Law of God? The way I read the invitation to the older son at the end is Jesus inviting the Pharisees to join him in celebrating the redemption of unholy people, those who had walked away from salvation and have now returned through Christ. So I would suggest that the parable of the prodigal son is essentially of the same type as the parable of the rich man and Lazarus: it is a story about what it means to belong to the family of Abraham at a time of eschatological crisis. 2:49). Notice the 2 groups are distinct; the House of Judah separate from the House of Israel? The servant explains to the older son that his brother has returned and that his father has killed the fattened calf “because he has received him back safe and sound” (15:27). In reply to Norman, thanks for the by Andrew. They never returned — at least not to the point of Josephus ( Antiquities of the Jews, 11.5.2 ). Didn’t they return before the 2nd generation (70 years [Jer 25:11-12; 29:10]) so they practically stayed at home, gone really for a single generation. There is a strong element of self-seeking calculation-what Catholicism has traditionally called "imperfect contrition"-in his words, "treat me as one of your hired servants," a speech obviously designed just to get him a few decent meals! In the Sutra the father is Buddha (or more specifically, the Buddha nature - Dharmakaya), while the son is the individual struggling to become an enlightened bodhisattva being. Hosea also saw the reunion Ezekiel saw “And the children of Judah and the children of Israel shall be gathered together, and they shall appoint for themselves one head.” [Hos 1:11]. He, and his attitude, are as important as the younger brother. We know there was emnity between these two sons [2 Kings 16:6]. The son’s attitude does not change, and neither did the Pharisees’. The motif of the relationship of children to father Abraham in Luke is found in the context of the recurring controversy with the Pharisees and other leaders of the Jews over who will share in the eschatological life of the people of God following judgment—who will sit down at table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the age to come. The father does nothing to bring the son home—other than to run out to welcome him. I hope that won’t happen to you Andrew, or me, or any of the contributors to this site. That might be true if you’re not a first century Jew or if you lack any sense of connection to the historical conditions under which the Christian movement was formed. That assumption is particularly unsound in your reading of this parable. Driving him further and further from experiencing his Father’s love. The parable of the prodigal son clearly fits the first category of “father” sayings much better than the second—it is a story not about discipleship but about membership. In reply to I’m quite convinced Deuter 30 by Travis Finley. God is like the Father … In the story of the rich man and Lazarus, Abraham is presumably in heaven in some sense. The force of the story is then, in my opinion, lost, if we cease to consider our own reactions to what is taking place, and the conjectured reactions of Jesus’s audience, and allow the story to criticise us, as well as the original audience. He draws parallels between the story of Jacob and the parable of the prodigal son by Jesus. 19:8-10). By the way, Nouwen’s reading falls well within the bounds of the exegetically permissible, if reader-response is taken to be the way the parable works — through identification/disapproval. Rather through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. I’m sorry I’m not contributing to the promotion of the viewpoint. The story of the regathering of the Jews and Paul’s exploration of it is a complex theme from the OT to be sure. But on a bumpy flight down to the south of France a couple of days ago I began to think there may also be grounds for questioning the traditional attribution of paternity. But what was Jesus’s intention for the parable? The defeat of Satan has been revealed first to Jesus and then to the disciples by their Father (10:21-22). I can’t check the details of the argument at the moment, but I will sketch here my reasons for suspecting that the father is not God but Abraham. It is a wonderful and encouraging story of a father finding what was lost and rejoicing over the return of his son. It’s an interesting, if esoteric, point of view. It seems to me unlikely that with two prominent father-figures already in his Gospel Luke would cast Jesus as a father in the story. Considering the background of a biblical passage often helps us to better understand its meaning, and this is indeed the case with this parable of the prodigal son. The emphasis is entirely on the fact that the son has been restored to the family. Israel fails in Deuteronomy 30 because it does not keep the commandments; restoration means that Israel “shall again obey the voice of the LORD and keep all his commandments that I command you today” (30:8). As ever, we have to take into account the probable immediate context, in terms of guessing the identities of those whom Jesus was addressing. Andrew, are you familiar with Kenneth Bailey’s work on Luke 15? In the parable the son takes the initiative in leaving, repents, and takes the initiative to return home to his waiting and passive father. That is as true today as it was in his own time and context. 117: Call Me Ishmael, Part 1  by James B. Jordan  May, 1999, http://www.biblicalhorizons.com/biblical-horizons/no-117-call-me-ishmael-part-1/, No. That fits wonderfully. Marian.orgTheDivineMercy.orgAllHeartsAfire.orgDivineMercyArt.orgShopMercy.orgMarianPlus.org, Send us an email1-800-462-7426FacebookTwitterInstagramYouTube, Official promoters of the authentic Divine Mercy message since 1941. The “tax collectors and sinners” have become alienated from the commonwealth of Israel; they have become like Gentiles. We are the Prodigal son. After the resurrection Jesus tells the disciples he he will send “the promise of my Father upon you”, with reference to the Holy Spirit (24:49). I’d have thought that the ‘father/son’ motif, especially in the life of Jesus, is as much, if not more, to do with divine privilege and messianic promise (from 2 Samuel 7 — v13, and Psalm 2 — v7 especially) than protection of the weak and vulnerable. 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