The Narcissistic Reader and the Parable of the Good Samaritan
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The parable of the Good Samaritan is one of the most well known stories in the New Testament. The traditional interpretation of this passage found only in Luke (10:25-37), insists that it is an example story that encourages its readers to practice altruism and selfless service on behalf of others. This understanding of the passage prevails despite logical inconsistencies. While some commentators have suggested that the text is better understood as a metaphorical illustration of the Christian understanding of the human situation, their interpretive attempts have made few converts. A literary reading of the passage, focusing on the reader’s reception of the text and invoking Kohut’s self psychology, explains why the usual interpretation prevails. Kohut’s theories concerning narcissism and selfobject needs show that the predominant interpretation of the parable as an example story constitutes a healthy resistance to anxiety about the threat of fragmentation that the metaphorical understanding of the text provokes.