The ultimate book on the parables

Last Month, Scot McKnight wrote: “Every now and then . . .

… a book comes along and you make a decision about its importance. This book, you decide, ends the need for a dozen or so other books on your shelves. You go to your shelf, pick up those books, put them in your “To Sell” (or “To Give Away”) stack, and put that one book on your shelf that replace the others. Yes, I’ve got such a book for you:

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snodgrass-stories-with-intent.jpgKlyne Snodgrass, Stories With Intent: A Comprehensive Guide to the Parables of Jesus“>Stories with Intent: A Comprehensive Guide to the Parables of Jesus. If you purchase this book, you won’t need another book on parables for at least a decade. It’s available on Amazon right now for almost 40% off. Sure it’s a big book, about 800 pages, but there are 32 parables … and he’s got solid chps on interpreting parables, on parables in the ancient world, and a few charts at the back.

I know Klyne; he’s been at this book for 20 years. He wrote this book for you: for those who want to study parables. It’s not a theory, it’s a handbook. If you want to know:

The parable type
The issues for interpretation
The helpful primary source material (Bible, Jewish sources, Greco-Roman, early Christian, later Jewish — much of it cited right there)
The parallels to this parable (if in the Gospels)
Textual features worth noting
Cultural information worth knowing about
Explanation of parable with options and decisions on the issues
Adapting the parable for today

It’s all here. Helpful, concise, accessible. Did I say I like it?

Saturday, Chris Tilling posted a great review on it Stories with Intent: A Comprehensive Guide to the Parables of Jesus.

My favorite part of Tilling’s review was his complaint about endnotes. Books with endnotes instead of footnotes drive me crazy too; I hate constantly flipping back and forth. People who don’t want to read them don’t have to look down, plus they can feel better about turning a more quickly. Me, I want to be able to take at least a quick glance without having to thumb back and forth, or hold my finger in a page only to have a kid jump in my lap, making me lose my place so I have to start all over again . . .

Tilling writes:

Some books have no rivals because of the quality of their reasoning, subtleness of exegetical insight etc. Others have no rivals because they offer something no other book even attempts. One can say that Snodgrass’ Stories with Intent, also has no rivals – for a mixture of both of these reasons. At over 850 pages, Graham Stanton rightly exclaims that this book ‘will be the book on the parables for the next decade and beyond’. We have here, with Stories with Intent, a real publishing event.

Of course, such a long work, as Snodgrass explains in his preface, is not meant to be read in one go. It functions as a resource manual, as a mine of relevant information concerning all of the parables of Jesus, carefully sifted from all manner of historical sources.

. . . As he writes in the preface, the material is ‘what I want when preparing to teach or preach on the parables’ (xi). In other words, the material Snodgrass provides is of interest for all, whether scholar, student or preacher. As Martin Hengel comments in his book blurb. Stories with Intent is a book ‘written for pastors and scholars, for students of the Bible, and for laypeople interested in the teaching of Jesus’. And given the consistent divisions in the discussion concerning each parable, finding whatever information is of interest is not difficult.

Tilling’s review is worth a read, including his grumble.

 NOTE: For the purposes of full disclosure, I should probably say that I myself have not laid eyes on this book. It sounds like the kind of great resource I would love to have, but I’m not ready to pay the $10 it would take to ship it here. Next time you hear of someone flying to Nairobi with an empty suitcase, let me know ;-).

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