But one thing does seem to be self-evident. It had to have been a Westerner who came up with that title. No one conversant with first-century Middle Eastern village culture would ever have characterized this parable in that way. This story is about a father and two sons; and as it contextually unfolds, we begin to see that the narrative is really a story about the father’s heart towards his two lost sons. Hence the more expansive title of this deeper digging into Jesus’ parable.
Depending on your Bible translation, the story Jesus unfolds in Luke 15:11-32 is only about 500 words long. It can be read in a matter of minutes, yet pondered for a lifetime. It tells a remarkable story that has made a lasting impression on our language. When someone comments that a person is “the family prodigal,” they are most likely drawing upon this story as the basis for their use of that word. Another cultural idiom “hidden” in this story but readily recognized by a Middle Easterner could be coined the “elder-brother syndrome.” But that gets ahead of our story.
Look inside: Chapter 5 – The Pursuit of Pleasure
You are invited to revisit the greatest short story ever told as it is put back into its original context. May you be touched in transforming ways as you rediscover how much there is still to absorb from this “familiar” story.