Myth in parable form: does it make a difference? The story of the architect

Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk (lezing op uitnodiging)


In Genesis Rabbah, as well as in Philo and several church fathers, one encounters an account of the creation of the world featuring a craftsman or architect with his plans. This myth goes back to Plato’s Timaeus. It sometimes takes the form of a parable and is combined with an exegesis of Gen 1 and Prov 8:22-31. My contribution to the study of these topics is a meticulous attention to the formal aspects of the versions of this story that are presented as parables—or not. By close-reading the parable in Gen. Rab. 1:1, in its midrashic context, as well as the similar stories in other Jewish and Christian contexts, I investigate if and how the message has changed when the account takes the literary form of a parable. I will argue that the choice for the parable form, as well as subtle differences in its form and content—its actors, the relation between parable and application etc.—served as a vehicle of theological messages in early Jewish and early Christian literature.
Period7 Jun 2024
Event titleForm, Function, and Fables:
: Genre in Early Christian, Jewish, and Graeco-Roman Traditions
Event typeConference
LocationMainz, GermanyShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • genre
  • parables
  • Rabbinic literature
  • Patristic Studies
  • Bible
  • Plato