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Interpreting the Parables Paperback – January 24, 1990

4.2 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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John: The Gospel of Light and Life (John series) by Adam Hamilton
Adam Hamilton Explores the Major Themes of The Gospel of John
Join Adam Hamilton this Lent and Easter, as he explains the context of some of the best-known verses in the New Testament while teaching abouth the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus through the Gospel of John. Learn more | See author page

Editorial Reviews


"Interpreting the Parables will appeal to theological students as what will, I suspect, become the standard evangelical textbook on the subject . . . much superior to its rivals." (I. Howard Marshall, University of Aberdeen)

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 334 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Academic; Sixteenth Printing edition (January 24, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0830812717
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830812714
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #456,244 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Craig L. Blomberg is distinguished professor of New Testament at Denver Seminary. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. He is the author, co-author or co-editor of fifteen books and more than eighty articles in journals or multi-author works. A recurring topic of interest in his writings is the historical reliability of the Scriptures. Craig and his wife Fran have two daughters and reside in Centennial, Colorado.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is a must read if you ever want to dig deep into the parables in scripture. Although it may have been written for students in theology, I find the reading to be challenging and fruitful as I get immersed in its intensive analyses and extensive citations from other bible scholars. I consider this one of several classic references in preparation for a Sunday School lecture series on "Parables for the People". After you digest this book slowly, you will be assured that teaching and understanding the parables can be a profound experience in pleasing God.
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The title of this book would suggest that the focus was a direct study of the parables. That is true for the last 155 of 327 pages (a little less than half.) The first half of the book discusses hermeneutics.

Considering the implication of the title, I will begin with Blomberg's direct study of the parables of Christ. Dr. Blomberg discusses 40 parables directly in his discussion. Of these, he splits them into 4 categories: Simple 3-Point Parables, Complex 3-Point Parables, Two-Point Parables and One-Point Parables, with the last two being discussed together in one chapter. His view is different from most modern conservative theologians who teach the parable is a metaphorical story intended to teach one precept. He argues that even the most conservative scholars cannot avoid some amount of allegorizing of the parables, and study should include a very limited amount of allegory. His discussion of each parable is interesting, and not allegorical to the point of eisegesis. He does not adhere strictly to the rule that allegorical meaning must be implied in the text from other Scripture, but he does not go overboard in his figurative interpretations. Some of his categorical evidence for multiple-point parables is simply a restating of a previously mentioned precept. Each section describing the parable has an italicized section that summarizes his interpreted teaching points that are to be gleaned from the Scriptural passage.

Over half of the book is a discussion of hermeneutics (study of the methods of interpreting Scripture.) His method is not liberal, but is less conservative than most modern evangelicals are. He begins with a discussion over the debate between two competing ways of interpreting parables in: Parable vs. Allegory and Parable as Allegory.
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Format: Paperback
Craig Blomberg is a professor of New Testament at Denver Seminary and has authored other books on the Gospels including "The Historical Reliability of the Gospels" and "Preaching the Parables." This book, "Interpreting the Parables" is an attempt to a) first trace the history of parable interpretation through the centuries and b) then provide an analysis of several New Testament parables. The book closes with a chapter examining the theology of the parables. Like a sandwich, the meat of this book is in the middle; the best part (by far) is the parable analysis while the less appetizing parts are the interpretive history and the chapter on the parables' theology.

The first half of "Interpreting the Parables" examines how others have interpreted the parables; it examines the various competing hermeneutical approaches to these highly debated sections of Scripture. Beginning with the Church Fathers' allegorization attempts (where every little detail has some theological significance), Blomberg examines Form Criticism (which looks for oral sources behind the text as we have it), Redaction Criticism (which assumes that an editor wove together various independent works and seeks to determine how he did it), and other lesser, still-emerging hermeneutical methods. For each, Blomberg gives a brief history of the interpretive method and points out some of its strengths and weaknesses. This reader didn't find this first part of the book very helpful. While it does point out contribution each interpretive method has made to New Testament scholarship as well as fallacies associated with each method, these discussion did not increase my overall understanding of the parables.
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Format: Paperback
Blomberg saw the need for contemporary scholarship to provide tools for pastors, scholars, and students to deal with parables. Interpreting the Parables was a thesis to challenge what he saw as misguided approaches to the interpretation of parables in the twentieth century. In chapter one, Blomberg provides a good overview of what to expect in the rest of the book.

Blomberg states that the church has interpreted parables in many different ways throughout history, with the most common interpretation being allegorical - that the narrative is in the heavenly realm where the physical characteristics have spiritual meanings. Many modern scholars have rejected the allegorical approach in favor of the view that each parable only makes one point. Others do not interpret every aspect of parables as allegorical, but see allegorical elements in every parable. Yet another group uses form and reduction criticism to interpret parables, believing that the early church modified parables and that the text does not accurately record the words of Jesus.

Some scholars believe that parables revolve around one main point of comparing a story's activity to Jesus' understanding of the kingdom. In contrast, Blomberg defines an allegory as a complex story told in a parable with numerous details to be decoded. This complex approach was popular among Christian scholars in the nineteenth century. Chrysostom, Aquinas, Calvin, and others had challenged this idea earlier, but even they used some allegory in their exegesis. The scholar Adolf Julicher, at the beginning of the twentieth century, attempted to demolish the allegorical interpretation of the parables. His main argument was that words such as "like" and "as" point to a straightforward comparison in the parables.
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