Archive for November, 2009
If you are interested in further resources from Jerram, you can purchase these books at our Resource Center or online by clicking on the following links:
- Learning Evangelism From Jesus
- The Heart of Evangelism
- The Heart of Prayer
- Through His Eyes: God’s Perspective on Women in the Bible
We just put up a new book recommendation page on the website. This page includes an extensive list of what we consider to be the best books available in such categories as:
- Biblical Interpretation
- New and Old Testament
- Christian Life and Growth
- Spiritual Disciplines
- Church History,
- Men’s Issues
- Women’s Issues
- Bibles and Books for Kids
- And many more
Some of the categories are marked with an asterisk, which means that those lists have been categorized beginning with more accessible and popular-level books and working down to more academic and technical books.
If you click on a link through our book recommendation page and purchase that book, DSC will get a percentage of the sale. If you want a book that is not listed on our page, you can search for it by using the search box at the top of the book recommendation page and DSC will also get credit for purchases made this way.
Here is an instructive definition of what a parable is, from Snodgrass’ Stories with Intent, the same book mentioned in the last post.
The immediate aim of a parable is to be compellingly interesting, and in being interesting it diverts attention and disarms. A parable’s ultimate aim is to awaken insight, stimulate the conscience, and move to action. The primary reason Jesus’ parables are stories with intent is, as we will see, that they are prophetic instruments, the tool especially of those who have a message from God. They do not occur in sections of the Bible focused on Torah or history or in the writings of the early church. They are used by those who are trying to get God’s people to stop, reconsider their ways, and change their behavior. Biblical parables reveal the kind of God that God is and how God acts, and they show what humanity is and what humanity should and may become. Parables are not merely informative. Like prophets before him, Jesus told parables to prompt thinking and stimulate response in relation to God. Parables usually engage listeners, create reflection, and promote action. They are pointed and clinching arguments for a too often slow-minded or recalcitrant audience. They seek to goad people into the action the gospel deserves and the kingdom demands. One of the major problems of Christian churches, of Western Christianity in particular, is our stultifying passivity. The parables compel us – for Christ’s sake literally – to do something! Parables do not seek the “mild morality” about which Kierkegaard lamented but radical cross-bearing, God-imitating response worthy of the name “conversion.”
In most cases then a parable is an expanded analogy used to convince and persuade. As we will see, this is the way ancient Greeks also used the term, and it is sufficiently broad to cover the majority of the ways the Evangelists use the word. The logic of Jesus’ parables is proportional analogy. Corresponding to the German terms Sache and Bild, the English terms tenor and vehicle are used to explain how analogy functions. Tenor refers to the theme being compared, the item for which insight is sought, and vehicle refers to the pictorial image, the parable, the instrument by which insight is conveyed. An analogy explicitly or implicitly draws one or more points of resemblance. For example, a disciple is to God (tenor) as a slave is to a master (vehicle) with respect to unsurpassable obligation (point of resemblance). According to John Sider every parable labeled as a parable in the Gospels involves more than one point of resemblance – the exact opposite of Jülicher. Analogy by its very nature can easily become “allegorical.” (emphasis original, pp. 8-9)
Since Ryan has been preaching through some parables recently, here are two lists that offer helpful guidelines for understanding Jesus’ parables. Both of these lists are from Klyne Snodgrass’ Stories with Intent: A Comprehensive Guide to the Parables of Jesus. These are just the headlines of each point, so if you want to read more you can either purchase the book or read some of it online here.
Characteristics of Jesus’ Parables (pp. 17-21)
- Jesus’ parables are first of all brief, even terse.
- Parables are marked by simplicity and symmetry.
- Jesus’ parables focus mostly on humans.
- The parables are fictional descriptions taken from everyday life, but they do not necessarily portray everyday events.
- Parables are engaging; they were told to create interest…
- Since they frequently seek to reorient thought and behavior, in keeping with Jesus’ teaching elsewhere parables often contain elements of reversal.
- With their intent to bring about response and elements like reversal, the crucial matter of parables is usually at the end, which functions something like the punch line of a joke.
- Parables are told into a context.
- Jesus’ parables are theocentric.
- Parables frequently allude to OT texts.
- Most parables appear in larger collections of parables.
How Should Parables Be Interpreted? (pp. 24-30)
- Analyze each parable thoroughly.
- Listen to the parable without presupposition as to its form or meaning.
- Remember that Jesus’ parables were oral instruments in a largely oral culture.
- If we are after the intent of Jesus, we must seek to hear a parable as Jesus’ Palestinian hearers would have heard it.
- Note how each parable and its redactional shaping fit with the purpose and plan of each Evangelist.
- Determine specifically the function of the story in the teaching of Jesus.
- Interpret what is given, not what is omitted. Any attempt to interpret a parable based on what is not there is almost certainly wrong.
- Do not impose real time on parable time. The narrative time of parables is not real time chronology… [For example,] Luke 14:15-24… has a truncated chronology that assumes that the servant has gone out, done as instructed, and returned.
- Pay particular attention to the rule of end stress. …what comes at the end is the clinching indicator of intent.
- Note where the teaching of the parables intersects with the teaching of Jesus elsewhere. …it will help prevent errors in interpretation.
- Determine the theological intent and significance of the parable.
“Years ago, I was in England at a large Christian conference. During one seminar, we were led in corporate worship by a guitarist whom I thought was average in every respect. As he finished what I would describe as a sorry time of worship in song, the elderly gentleman to my side turned my way. With a glowing smile, he asked, “That was simply lovely, wasn’t it?” I wanted to say no, but the Holy Spirit caught my tongue before the answer slipped out. What I realized was that only one of us had been worshipping God during that time. And it wasn’t me. I was busy worshipping myself, exulting in my knowledge of worship, my experiences, my training, my background. Needless to say, God wasn’t impressed. ‘But this is the one to whom I will look: he
who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word’ (Isa 66:2b ESV). May God grant us grace to truly seek His reputation above our own each time we meet to worship Him.”
– Bob Kauflin, Worship Matters
The Adoption Ministry has created a new page on DSC’s website to provide information about adoption and how to get involved with the Adoption Ministry at DSC. This includes:
- Upcoming events and news
- The mission of the ministry
- An explanation of our church’s interest in adoption
- Information about other families who are involved in the ministry
- An invitation to the bimonthly Adoption Ministry fellowship
- Videos relating to adoption
- Information about financial help available for adopting families
- Frequently asked questions about adoption
- Links to adoption agencies and other necessary services
- Contact information to learn more about adoption
Also, make sure to listen to Zach Nielsen’s sermon from Adoption Sunday on Our Adoption in Christ.