Crossan explores this manner of teaching in his provocatively-titled The Power of Parable: How Fiction By Jesus Became Fiction About Jesus. To better understand Jesus’s parabolic teaching style, Crossan describes a three-fold typology of parable: “riddle parables,” like the puzzles Samson tried to use to trick his new in-laws (Judges 14), “example parables,” like the story the prophet Nathan tells to David about the rich man and poor man’s lambs (2 Sam. 12:1-4), and finally, “challenge parables,” like Jesus’s Good Samaritan story, which presented a despised person as the protagonist—a strange reversal of social expectations (Luke 10). Crossan notes that the Good Samaritan has also been interpreted as an example parable (helping people out is good), but he believes the specific inclusion of the Samaritan as the rescuer signals Jesus’s deeper intent. Down the centuries a good deal of interpretation and assumptions have encrusted over Jesus’s parables, so Crossan spends a little time exploring the cultural context in which they were orally shared. It was a context in which a listening audience would recognize Jesus’s familiar parable form, but be startled by Jesus’s actual content. Challenge parables were a “participatory pedagogy” Crossan argues (95). Audiences would be forced to grapple themselves with the message, to question, to doubt. Jesus was intent on overturning long-entrenched views without use of violence and with the participation of disciples, thus making parables the ideal medium.
From a review on ByCommonConsent.com