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Stories with Intent: A Comprehensive Guide to the Parables of Jesus Hardcover – January 11, 2008
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"This book will become an academic standard for the study of parables and Jesus. Essential. (Four Stars)."
— University of Cambridge
"This book is a simply stunning achievement. Klyne Snodgrass discusses Jesus' parables with theological sensitivity, with careful attention to comparable Jewish and Greco-Roman traditions, and in dialogue with the mountain of secondary literature. Scholar and student alike will appreciate its admirable clarity and its numerous fresh suggestions. This wide-ranging book has no rival: it will bethe book on the parables for the next decade and beyond."
Arland J. Hultgren
— Luther Seminary
"Convinced that the parables are the most certain avenue for access to Jesus' teaching, Klyne Snodgrass analyzes all of them with skill, care, and imagination. As a seasoned teacher and scholar, he outlines steps for the interpreter to follow, provides historical and cultural background materials, and engages the parables theologically. No one has located the parables as clearly and forcefully within the prophetic tradition of Israel, thereby providing a new approach to their vitality."
— Dallas Theological Seminary
"Bravo! Stories with Intent is the culmination of Klyne Snodgrass's lifetime of reflection on the parables. It shows a wealth of discernment in the clarity of its presentation, the soundness of its reasoning, the choice of citation and parallels, and the care of its argument. No study of the parables is as crisply structured as it answers the questions readers often raise about these stories. Here is a book with intent, and it succeeds exceptionally well in opening up a key dimension of Jesus' ministry and teaching."
Charles H. Talbert
— Baylor University
"I have been looking for a book like this on the parables all my career. I celebrate its appearance."
William H. Willimon
— Bishop, North Alabama Conference, United Methodist Church
"Here in one volume is the latest and best interpretation of the parables of Jesus. This book is sure to be received as a fine resource for engaging proclamation of the parables."
— St. Mark's School of Theology, Charles Sturt University
"In Stories with Intent Klyne Snodgrass has fulfilled his promise of a comprehensive guide to the parables of Jesus. . . Whatever angle the reader brings to the study of the parables, this book brings rich resources to illuminate that study. It is necessary reading for anyone interested in the parables and teaching of Jesus."
— University of Tübingen
"Stories with Intent is a very helpful and inspiring book, written for pastors and scholars, for students of the Bible, and for laypeople interested in the teaching of Jesus. It contains an abundance of well-arranged valuable information about the history of research and the Old Testament, Jewish, Greco-Roman, and social backgrounds of the parables, at the same time leading readers to the center of Jesus' teaching. A wonderful book."
“Snodgrass has written a major study of the parables which focuses on their form, purpose, interpretation and theology. . . . This is an insightful and comprehensive treatment which is certain to become a landmark study in parable research.”
“Stories with Intent is Snodgrass’s magnum opus, the product of 35 years of NT research and teaching. It is, as its subtitle claims, comprehensive.”
Religious Studies Review
“A notable achievement and [it] deserves a place on the shelf of every serious interpreter of the parables.”
“This fresh look at Jesus’ parables is timely. Snodgrass has written a special book — it is at once comprehensive, accessible, reliable, engaging and very useful. . . . A rich resource indeed.”
“It is impossible to read Stories with Intent without learning new details about the ancient world, without being guided into more nuanced understandings of Jesus’ message, and without being challenged to engage the church and the world today with Jesus’ message of God’s kingdom which became a reality with Jesus’ life and message.”
Journal for the Study of the New Testament
“There is little doubt that Stories with Intent is sure to become a valuable resource for all who study the parables of Jesus.”
Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
“An impressive and commendable piece of work that will hopefully encourage pastors, teachers, and students to engage the parables in the context of Jesus and further to apply them responsibly to their own contemporary contexts”
“Klyne Snodgrass is on to a winner. And let it be said without more ado, this book is a fine achievement, careful about detail, and comprehensive (one might almost say encyclopaedic) in its coverage of everything that everybody who is anybody in the study of the Gospels has written.”
Currents in Theology & Mission
“This is a rich resource for preaching and adult education. One will not exhaust its resources in a lifetime of parable study.”
Journal of Theological Studies
“Probably few books that claim the description ‘comprehensive’ live up to the accolade. Professor Snodgrass’s magnum opus on Jesus’ parables, however, is surely as close to an authoritative reference work on the parables as we shall see for years to come.”
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Top Customer Reviews
Yes, this book is huge -- more than 800 pages -- but the first 60 pages are dedicated to setting the stage for the material and how the parables are evaluated, and the final 260 pages are appendices, reference notes and a lengthy bibliography and index. Pretty exhaustive!
Each parable is given an in-depth analysis, starting with a review of the issues that need to be addressed within each (such as cultural, theological and moral considerations); background material, such as related source material from the OT, NT, Jewish writings and Christian writings; and then a thorough look at the parable itself. Klyne Snodgrass does an awesome job of balancing his study with textual insights based on the Greek language (such as comparing word usage in other Gospel accounts), cultural considerations (what the parable would have meant to the Jews who heard it during Jesus' time), rhetorical comparisons (taking into account devices such as inclusio and chiastic structures) and more. He also shares contrasting interpretations for the parables before sharing his interpretation, which always let the original audience and setting be a compass for where his interpretation will lead the reader. Lastly, the writing style is very friendly, offering insights such as this one from the parable of the treasure in Matthew Chapter 13: "No one goes and sells all for something that does not cause the adrenaline to flow."
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in learning more about the parables. It's wonderful to pick up and read for reference on any parable, but I also have found it to be a great form of study -- using my Bible to look up comparative verses, conducting word studies and more.
This is the book almost every seminary graduate will wish he or she had had when studying the parables. I do, and I wish I had had it the past 40 years. There are classics on the Parables, to be sure, such as the one by Jeremias The Parables of Jesus 3rd revised edition (simplified in his Rediscovering the Parables), but none were as comprehensive as this one.
Two features make Stories with Intent remarkably easy to read. First, all the chapters on the parables themselves follow the same basic outline, but it is the vertical white space that makes the outline stand out and the discussion particularly easy to follow. Secondly, all the advanced discussion is in the end notes, so that the reader who needs to follow up can and the reader who prefers not to can just keep reading.
In addition, the chapters on the parables themselves end with a section called "Adapting the Parable" (just before "For Further Reading)." The former describes the significance of the parable for today, in somewhat wider ways than mere "application," though that it included, too. Often Snodgrass makes a pithy remark--almost a wisdom saying in its own right--to end that section. For example, "Once again, the note of joy, as an essential feature of the kingdom, cannot be neglected. Where joy is absent, the kingdom is absent" (concluding "The Lost Coin").
One of the most unusual features of the book is that, for each parable discussed, it sets Jesus' parables in the context of the ancient world by prominently citing or paraphrasing parables or similar sayings from the Old Testament, Graeco-Roman authors, early and later Jewish/Rabbinic sources, and early Christian writers. For example, introducing the background of The Lost Coin, he cites Dio Chrysostom complaining that people who pay no attention to time and money still become distressed at losing 1 drachma [1 day's wage for a male laborer, 2 days' wage for a woman, he tells us later].
I recommend that you read the first two chapters first before dipping into the chapters on individual parables, so that you will understand his approach and some technical terms that keep coming up in the later chapters, for example, "nimshal" (Hebrew or Aramaic for "explanatory interpretation"), defined early in the book and used fairly often later on (but with no subject index, ... well, hard to find its meaning presented).
One interpretive principle he stated resonated with me: "... the realization that introductions such as 'The kingdom is like a man' (or a woman or seed, etc.) do not compare the kingdom to the characters or objects but to the whole process of the narration. ... We will see over and over that the whole narrated process in in view, not just the first item mentioned" (p. 29).
If you are looking for the best book available on the Parables of Jesus and you have the skill to use it, this is it. You don't need a seminary degree to understand it, but there are times when it would make it easier for you. For most readers, it is like a gold mine, but they will have to dig a little to use it. Finally, you will want your Bible at hand and open to follow up on the passages he cites and, for sure, to read the parables under discussion.