I have been attempting to trace the origin of using ‘prodigal son’ in reference to Luke 15:11. The word ‘prodigal’ has been in use since 1456 (according to the OED), but I can’t seem to find out when the term began to be used in reference to the parable. There’s a rapid shift in the early 1500s between the word’s general rarity to its sudden popularity in reference to the parable. It seems most likely some popular text used the term and that’s what caused this shift. I read that the first instance of the term (as ‘filius prodigus’) is a marginal note in a copy of the Vulgate, but unfortunately this was not cited, and I can’t find a source for it.
If anybody might know how and when ‘prodigal son’ was popularised I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you.