Q: St. John Chrysostom, what is a parable?
A: A parable is a saying, an example, a reproach, as when [the psalmist] says, "You have made us a parable among the nations, a shaking of the head among the peoples" (Ps 44:14). A parable is also a riddle, which many call a question, suggesting something not immediately clear from the words but containing a meaning hidden within, like that spoken by Samson, "From the eater came forth food, and from the strong something sweet" (Judg 14:14), and Solomon, "You will understand both a parable and an obscure saying" (Prov 1:6). A parable also means a comparison: "He proposed another parable to them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like a man sowing good seed" (Mat 13:24). A parable also means a figure of speech: "Son of man, tell them this proverb: The great eagle, the one with big wings" (Ezek 17:1-3), meaning by eagle the king. A parable also means a type, or likeness, as Paul also shows in the words, "By faith he sacrificed Isaac when put to the test, the one in receipt of the promises offered up his only-begotten; whence also in figure he received him back" (Heb 11:17,19)- that is, in type and in likeness.