On the Parables of Jesus

 I’ve mentioned this great book on the parables awhile back: Klyne Snodgrass’ Stories with Intent.  I was recently studying the parable of the rich fool in Luke 12.13-21.  I used Snodgrass as one of my main resources, and I was once again impressed by this book.  The format is outstanding.  Each parable is discussed in the following way: the main issues that require attention, primary and secondary parallel sources (OT/NT, Jewish, Greco-Roman, Early Christian, and later Jewish sources), textual features, cultural info, interpretive matters, and application.  This is exactly the help and info I need in studying the parables!  Here are a few blurbs from pages 389-401, which is a commentary on the aforementioned verses in Luke’s Gospel.

“The parable presupposes some context like that of 12:13-15, and I find the connection between the parable and at least v. 15 likely.  Both provide a warning against finding life in possessions, and the parable is a demonstration of v. 15b. …The parable…functions as a commentary on the second half of [Jesus’ statement in] 12:15.”

“The parable points to the uncertainty and fragility of life, but it is concerned most with God’s verdict on those who trust in wealth.”

“The parable has no direct implication about almsgiving, but any Jew, and certainly Jesus, would know being rich toward God included the obligation to use material resources to assist those in need.”

“It is worth making explicit that parables like this are not merely for the wealthy.  A person does not have to be wealthy to be like the rich fool.  It may be easier for the wealthy to ‘treasure up for themselves,’ but those without resources can be just as driven by greed and just as wrongly focused on things instead of God.”

I haven’t read Snodgrass’ comments on every parable (since the book is 800+ pages), but the ones I have read so far were very helpful.  Snodgrass’ commentary and discussions have been level-headed and I very much appreciate the cross references he has provided – in the OT/NT as well as extra-biblical sources.  If you’re going to teach or preach the parables, or if you’re a well-read student of the Bible who simply wants to study the parables of Jesus, I highly recommend this resource.  I honestly cannot imagine a more helpful single book on the parables – and it’s under $30!

shane lems