At the heart of his doctrine of reconciliation, Karl Barth offers a unique but underexamined christological interpretation of the parable of the prodigal son. Displaying both respect for and resistance to the interpretative paradigm for Jesus’s parables established by Adolf Jülicher, Barth’s interpretation rejects allegorical interpretation and appeals to the narrative’s literary characteristics, but it hermeneutically privileges Barth’s perception of the overall theological import of the canonical Christian Scriptures over the parable’s immediate literary context. Barth’s approach may be fruitfully set in conversation with more recent developments in parable research, including redaction-criticism and the understanding of parables as metaphorical texts, yielding a revised polyvalent theological interpretation, which brings together soteriological and christological themes.

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