Religious Parable of "The Three Rings" by Gotthold Lessing | Free Essay Example

Religious Parable of “The Three Rings” by Gotthold Lessing

Words: 1799
Topic: Religion

G.E. Lessing created a powerful poem that talks about a father’s love for his sons. The father’s love for his three sons was illustrated through the importance of the ring of power. He will bequeath the ring to his favorite child (Lessing 1).

However, he realized that he equally loved his three sons, prompting him to promise the ring to all three men. It is impossible to give the same object to three different people.

The poem is like a description of how God in heaven wanted to give all his children the same blessing. However, it is impossible to give the same level of gift to all his children. It is possible that God created a solution by establishing three different religions. At first glance, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam look the same.

Thus, the followers of these three religions made the same claim. These claims created conflict and have produced a great deal of sorrow in the world. In order to resolve this problem, it is important realize that just like the Father in the story, God loves all his children.


A powerful leader, and a man of great stature was the owner of a priceless ring. The one who wears the rings is beloved by God and man (Newman 130) The powerful leader gave the ring to his favorite son. He gave the son the instruction that he should give the ring to his favorite son, without consideration of the child’s rank or status. The ring was handed down from generation to the next. However, on one particular generation, a father had three sons and he loved all three.

The father was in a dilemma. He did not desire to favor one child and ignore the others. His solution to the problem was engaging the assistance of an expert jeweler in order to create replicas. He spent a great deal of money to create two replicas. He gave one son a copy of the ring. He gave another son a second copy of the ring. After the death of the powerful leader, his three sons argued among themselves. However, they were unable to identify the true ring.

The ring has the power to create favor for the one wearing it. Thus, the ring was bequeathed to the most beloved son. The child’s rank has no bearing with regards to the ring’s ownership. The father has the right to give the ring to the most beloved son. He does not have to be the eldest in order to get the ring. The youngest son has the right to receive the ring as much as the eldest son.

Religious Importance

The Three Rings is an appropriate parable to describe the ongoing conflict between three of the world’s most dominant religions. An honest assessment of the religions of the world will lead to the conclusion that there is only one God, and if he ever did create a religion as a means for people to know him, then, there are only three religions in the world that can make that claim. Only Judaism, Christianity, and Islam can make the claim that they worship the one true God.

For the sake of argument, Buddhism and Hinduism are also dominant forces when it comes to membership numbers. However, Buddhism and Hinduism do not make the same claim as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Buddhism does not claim a direct link to the one true God.

Gautama Buddha founded Buddhism. He did not claim to be God. Buddha created a system so that human beings are able to deal with the problems relating to sin. However, there was no claim about exclusive connection to the one true God. Buddhism does not even point to the one true God.

Hinduism is a confusing web of religious beliefs. There is no central theme in Hinduism. A Hindu is allowed to worship one or one thousand gods. It offers a million pathways towards God. Thus, it is easy to make the conclusion that it is not as important as the three major religions that was identified earlier.

Judaism has the right to claim ownership of the true ring. It can be argued that Islam is superior to Judaism because Prophet Mohammed was the last prophet. However, Judaism has the right to claim ownership of the powerful ring. Judaism’s history is enough proof why it is one of the most influential religions in human history.

In great contrast to Hinduism and Buddhism, Judaism was established through a series of events. A major part of its history is the claim that God made himself known to man. God was revealed through his prophets. The first major prophet was Abraham. God developed a close relationship with Abraham. As a result, Abraham was able to understand the heart and mind of God.

One of the interesting proofs that Abraham had a direct connection to the one true God is made clear through his claim about monotheism. This is an amazing claim considering the fact that he lived in a world that cannot accept the idea that there is only one God.

Before Judaism came into existence, the whole world believed that it is practical to worship several gods. A simple review of Greek and Roman mythology will reveal this truth. In Greek and Roman thought, it is important to have a god for the sea, a god for the mountain, a god for the skies and a god for the underworld.

During ancient times it seems practical to have several gods. It seems foolish to rely only on one God considering the ignorance regarding the things of the world. During that time period the world was ignorant about outer space. During that time period human beings were ignorant regarding geology or the earth’s atmosphere.

During that time there were so many unknown information. Therefore, it was practical to have gods assigned to different areas of life. Abraham was therefore courageous to develop something that was different from the belief system shared by the whole world. It is hard to believe that an ordinary human being like Abraham had the courage to try something different. It was not practical for him to develop a religion that is full of risks. It is better to create a safety net by calling the names of different gods.

If it is not practical for Abraham to go against conventional thinking, then, there is only one logical explanation. Abraham had an encounter with the one true God. His encounter gave him the courage to speak the truth.

Christianity is included in the discussion of the Three Rings, because its claim is connected to the Abraham’s confession of faith. In other words, Christianity claims that they also serve the God of Abraham. Christianity was established during a time when worshipping different kinds of God was the normal thing to do.

Followers of Islam follow the same path with regards to the worship of the one true God. Islam is founded on the works of Abraham. Judaism’s claim is through the Isaac, and he is one of Abraham’s sons. However, Abraham has another son, and his name is Ishmael. The followers of Islam are connected to Abraham through Ishmael. It can be argued that Islam is superior to the other religions because Mohammed was the last messenger.

3 Religions and 3 Rings

It is interesting to note that just like the parable, it is difficult to distinguish the three religions, and separate one from the other. There are major areas of agreement.

First, all three religions have similar claims when it comes to the one true God. If Hinduism believes in worshipping multiple gods, the same is not true for Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. It is a major aspect of these three religions to worship only one God. In addition, these three religions believe in an all-powerful God. It is different from Hinduism that allows the worship of cows and cockroaches.

Abraham is the common denominator when it comes to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. More importantly, these three religions teach the importance of loving other people. These three religions teach the importance of providing assistance to those in need. These three religions teach the importance of love, peace, and righteousness. Thus, the sincere practice of these three religions will lead to the creation of communities that promote peace and excellent living.

Just like the judge who was supposed to make the correct judgment regarding the rings, it is difficult to determine, which one is the true faith. According to commentaries made regarding the parable, “ for us the true faith is now beyond discovery” (Newman 131).

In order to resolve the conflict that arises because of the discussion regarding the search for the true religion, it is important to point out “the unity of the three, their common dependence on history and tradition” (Leventhal 124). It is best to follow the advice of great men, “Nevertheless, by love and brotherly conduct each should try to show that his own ring possessed the power of the ancient ring” (Newman 131). It is also important to follow the main message of the parable.

The burden to prove the authenticity of the ring is no longer dependent on the beauty and design of the ring. The burden to prove ownership of the true ring is now in the hands of the children. They need to prove that they were worthy to receive the true ring. In the same manner, the followers of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam must prove they have the true faith.

They cannot prove it using history and tradition, because they are similar when it comes to history and tradition. It is therefore pointless to continue arguing. It is therefore pointless to continue speaking hurtful words. The best course of action is to prove the claim by observing the laws and the wisdom that comes from these three religions.


The parable of the Three Rings is a good way to illustrate the continuing conflict between three of the world’s most dominant religions. Since ancient times, the conflict between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam has resulted in tremendous suffering in different parts of the world.

Believers from each religion make their claim that they belong to the true faith. Just like the sons in the parable who were desperate to prove that they have possession of the powerful ring, the followers of these three religions wanted to have the absolute claim of the true faith.

The best way to prove possession of true faith is by practical demonstration of love towards others. It is good to know that these three religions are similar. There are different areas of agreement. It is best to focus on common areas. It is best to prove possession of true faith through godly actions.

Works Cited

Lessing, Gotthold. The Parable of the Three Rings. 1999.

Leventhal, Robert. The Disciplines of Interpretation. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter & Co., 1994. Print.

Newman, Jay. Competition in Religious Life. Canada: Corporation for Studies in Religion, 1989. Print.