Author: Roland BOER, Research Professor, University of Newcastle, Australia
A careful reading of Lenin’s texts reveals a clear preference for the sayings and parables that we find in the mouth of Jesus in the Gospels. This article begins with a study of the famous What Is To Be Done? (1902), in which the key organizing parable deployed by Lenin is the wheat and tares (or weeds) from Matthew 13. He draws upon this parable in order to rethink the organization of the communist party (or Russian Social-Democratic Labor Party, as it was then known), specifically in terms of the need for discernment, vigorous and open argument, and the dialectic of illegal and legal organization. Yet this exploration is only the first step of my argument, for Lenin’s engagement with the parable of the tares and the wheat is not an isolated occurrence. He draws upon other biblical parables, especially those of an agricultural nature with a focus on seeds, growing and harvesting. Further, Lenin goes on to create a large number of his own parables, at times drawn from Russian folklore and literature, at times developed from an opponent’s writing, but mostly of his own creation. Not only does Lenin turn out to be a creative and innovative exegete (and ‘translator’), appropriating, redirecting and providing new angles on the biblical texts, but he also deploys the genre of parables throughout his writings. The article closes by asking why he does so.
Lenin; Gospels; parables; Jesus
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