Monday, June 9, 2014

What is a Parable?

Common Parables

A parable is a story that illustrates a principle, such as hard work or honesty. It is usually used to make otherwise complex concepts easy to understand. Typically, a parable utilizes themes or symbols already familiar to the community.  In some cases a parable introduces ideas (societal values) that may be difficult at first to grasp. This is often the case when it comes to spiritual lessons and stories meant to inspire others. Here are a few examples:

The Good Samaritan
In the New Testament of the Christian Bible, Jesus tells a story about a man who has been badly hurt. Two people walk by without offering assistance. One person (who would have been shunned) stops to help the man in need. The lesson is that people should take time to help others in need.

The Obstacle In Our Path
In this inspirational parable, a king places a rock in the middle of the road. Wealthy people see the rock in the road and turn around. A peasant sees the rock, puts down his load and moves the rock. After the peasant picks up what he had been carrying, he notices a purse filled with gold coins and a note from the king saying that the coins were for whomever moved the rock. The lesson is that rewards come from a willingness to do the work.

The Salesman
This parable provides guidance. A young salesman was disappointed because he lost an important sale. While discussing the lost sale with his sales manager, he said, "I guess you can bring a horse to water, but you can't make it drink." The sales manager said, "It's not your job to make him drink. It's your job to make him thirsty." The lesson is to know what the point of your efforts is.

Folklore motifs about how one should or should not behave can also be found in legends and fables. However, unlike these, parables are about people and the choices they make.

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