In lieu of an abstract, below is the essay's first paragraph.
"The parable of the prodigal son is arguably one of the most well-known and frequently referenced parables of Jesus. Although the story is attributed to Jesus of Nazareth, it cannot be said with certainty that it did, in fact, originate with Jesus. Nevertheless, biblical scholars, theologians, clergy, and laypersons alike have deemed the text worthy of analysis and interpretation throughout the centuries. As scholar Charles W. Hedrick establishes in his work Parables as Poetic Fictions, it is imperative that the content of a parable be considered in its constitutive elements as a literary work with a plot, characters, and an interior setting. This lessens the impact of any preconceived notions or external biases that may be imposed upon the story by its auditor, and that may serve as a hindrance to its original context (cf. 3). Only when an effort is made to regard a parable in its most original form can evaluations or interpretations be put forth.
"A Critical Examination of Luke 15: 11-32,"
Verbum: Vol. 7
, Article 2.
Available at: http://fisherpub.sjfc.edu/verbum/vol7/iss1/2