Theism was the breath of its nostrils; and where for a moment it indulges a turn for ancient folklore (as in Isaiah ) it is far removed from the wild Pantheon of Greek nature worship.In the parables we never come across enchanted stones or talking beasts or trees with magical virtues ; the world which they describe is the world of every day; not even miracles break in upon its established order.When we consider what Oriental fancy has made of the universe, and how it is depicted in cosmogonies like that of Hesiod, the contrast becomes indescribably great.It is in the world which all men know that Christ finds exemplified the laws of human ethics, and the correspondences on which His kingdom shall be carried to its Divine consummation.
Bacon has said excellently well, "parables are serviceable as a mask and veil, and also for elucidation and illustration" (De sap. Of Scripture parables we conclude that they illustrate and edify by revealing some Divine principle, with immediate reference to the hearers addressed, but with more remote and recondite applications in the whole Christian economy to which they belong.
They overlook the profoundly supernatural and prophetic idea on which all Scripture moves as its vital form--an idea certified to us by the usage of our Lord when quoting the Old Testament, and admitted equally by the Evangelists and St. That they run counter to Catholic tradition is manifest.
Moreover parables thus detached from a Christological significance would hang in the air and could claim no place in the teaching of the Son of God. Of the proverb not an ill definition might be that it is a closed or contracted parable: and of the parable, that it is an expanded proverb.
Its Greek designation (from paraballein to throw beside or against) indicates a deliberate "making up" of a story in which some lesson is at once given and concealed.
As taking simple or common objects to cast light on ethics and religion, it has been well said of the parable that "truth embodied in a tale shall enter in at lowly doors." It abounds in lively speaking figures, and stands midway between the literalism of mere prose and the abstractions of philosophy. If connected with Assyrian mashalu , Arabic matala , etc., the root meaning is "likeness".
Seen with purged eyes nature is already the kingdom of God.