Interpreting the Parables


In the last century, more studies of the parables were produced than for any other section of comparable length in the Bible. The problem is that most Bible readers are unlikely ever to know of most of them.

In this substantially new and expanded edition, Craig Blomberg surveys and evaluates contemporary critical approaches to the parables, challenging the prevailing consensus and making his own important new contribution to parable studies. Within proper definitions and ...

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Interpreting the Parables

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In the last century, more studies of the parables were produced than for any other section of comparable length in the Bible. The problem is that most Bible readers are unlikely ever to know of most of them.

In this substantially new and expanded edition, Craig Blomberg surveys and evaluates contemporary critical approaches to the parables, challenging the prevailing consensus and making his own important new contribution to parable studies. Within proper definitions and boundaries, the author defends a limited allegorical approach. In support of this view of parable interpretation, Blomberg not only sets forth theoretical considerations but devotes attention to all the major parables, providing brief interpretations that highlight the insights to be gained from his distinctive method.

Interpreting the Parables can be read with profit by scholars, students, pastors and educated laypeople.

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Editorial Reviews

David L. Turner
"This book is highly recommended. . . . All serious teachers and expositors of the parables should profit from this book."
David J. Graham
"This book is well written and meticulously researched, worth reading for its innumerable footnotes alone. It interacts with a wide range of literature of all shades."
David Wenham
"It is good news when a good book on an important topic gets a new lease of life. Blomberg's book is lucid, well-informed and reliable, and I warmly welcome this new updated edition."
Mary Ann Beavis
"This revised and expanded edition of Craig L. Blomberg's Interpreting the Parables is more than an accessible and reliable guide to the history of parable interpretation and the exegetical methods that have been applied to the parables in recent research. Blomberg's nuanced defense of allegory as a valid approach to parable interpretation is a worthwhile contribution to contemporary scholarship. His provocative contention that the parables of Jesus contain implicit Christological claims will be welcome to evangelical and other traditional Christian readers."
Stanley E. Porter
"Craig Blomberg continues to swim strongly against the tide with his 'minority position' in parables studies. I think he makes as good a case as possible for his position that Jesus' parables are allegories, and in the course of his exposition of the individual parables usually ensures that there are some new insights even for interpreters who disagree with him. His updated discussion of the history of parable research, and his attention to recent developments in parable theory, will be welcomed by everyone."
I. Howard Marshall
"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."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780830839674
  • Publisher: InterVarsity Press
  • Publication date: 7/16/2012
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 463
  • Sales rank: 856,825
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Craig L. Blomberg (Ph.D., Aberdeen) is Distinguished Professor of New Testament at Denver Seminary in Denver, Colorado. His books include Interpreting the Parables, Neither Poverty nor Riches, Jesus and the Gospels: An Introduction and Survey, The Historical Reliability of John's Gospel, commentaries on Matthew and 1 Corinthians, Making Sense of the New Testament: 3 Crucial Questions and Preaching the Parables.
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Table of Contents

Abbreviations of Periodicals
1. Introduction
1.1 The Previous Scholarly Consensus
1.2 The Sizable Minority Report
1.3 Newest Developments
1.4 The Scope and Outline of This BookPart One: Methods & Controversies in Interpreting the Parables
2. Parable & Allegory
2.1 The Current Debate: Two Main Approaches
2.1.1 Parable vs. Allegory
2.1.2 Parable as Allegory
2.2 Evaluating the Debate
2.2.1 Contemporary Literary Criticism
2.2.2 The Rabbinic Parables
2.3 Conclusions
3. Form Criticism & the Parables
3.1 Classical Form Criticism
3.1.1 The Method
3.1.2 Critique
3.2 Hypotheses of the "Guarded Tradition"
3.2.1 Memorizing Jesus' Teachings
3.2.2 New Insights into Oral Folklore and Social Memory
3.3 Conclusions
4. Redaction Criticism of the Parables
4.1 Positive Contributions
4.1.1 The Illustration of Distinctive Themes
4.1.2 The Significance of the Larger Contexts
4.2 Invalid Allegations
4.2.1 Misleading Parallels
4.2.2 Dictional Analysis
4.2.3 The Theology-History Dichotomy
4.2.4 Prophecy After the Event
4.2.5 Characterizing the Parables in Different Synoptic Sources
4.2.6 Mistaking Stylistic for Theological Redaction
4.2.7 Misrepresenting the Theology of an Evangelist
4.3 Conclusions
5. New Literary & Hermeneutical Methods
5.1 The New Hermeneutic
5.1.1 The New View of Metaphor
5.1.2 A Critique of the New View of Metaphor
5.2 Structuralism
5.2.1 The Ideology
5.2.2 The Method
5.2.3 Surface Structures
5.3 Poststructuralism/Postmodernism
5.3.1 Deconstruction
5.3.2 Reader-Response Criticism
5.4 Other Literary Approaches
5.5 Conclusions
Conclusions to Part OnePart Two: The Meaning & Significance of Individual Parables
6. Simple Three-Point Parables
6.1 The Prodigal Son (Lk 15:11-32)
6.2 The Lost Sheep and Lost Coin (Lk 15:4-10; cf. Mt 18:12-14)
6.3 The Two Debtors (Lk 7:41-43)
6.4 The Two Sons (Mt 21:28-32)
6.5 Faithful and Unfaithful Servants (Lk 12:42-48; Mt 24:45-51)
6.6 The Ten Virgins (Mt 25:1-13; cf. Lk 13:24-30)
6.7 The Wheat and the Tares (Mt 13:24-30, 36-43)
6.8 The Dragnet (Mt 13:47-50)
6.9 The Rich Man and Lazarus (Lk 16:19-31)
6.10 The Children in the Marketplace (Mt 11:16-19; Lk 7:31-35)
6.11 Conclusions
7. Complex Three-Point Parables
7.1 The Talents (Mt 25:14-30; cf. Lk 19:12-27)
7.2 The Laborers in the Vineyard (Mt 20:1-16)
7.3 The Sower (Mk 4:3-9, 13-20 pars.)
7.4 The Good Samaritan (Lk 10:25-37)
7.5 The Great Supper (Lk 14:15-24; cf. Mt 22:1-14)
7.6 The Unforgiving Servant (Mt 18:23-35)
7.7 The Unjust Steward (Lk 16:1-13)
7.8 The Wicked Tenants (Mk 12:1-12 pars.)
7.9 Conclusions
8. Two-Point & One-Point Parables
8.1 Two-Point Parables
8.1.1 The Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Lk 18:9-14)
8.1.2 The Two Builders (Mt 7:24-27; Lk 6:47-49)
8.1.3 The Unprofitable Servant (Lk 17:7-10)
8.1.4 The Seed Growing Secretly (Mk 4:26-29)
8.1.5 The Rich Fool (Lk 12:16-21)
8.1.6 The Barren Fig Tree (Lk 13:6-9)
8.1.7 The Unjust Judge (Lk 18:1-8)
8.1.8 The Friend at Midnight (Lk 11:5-8)
8.1.9 The Householder and the Thief (Mt 24:43-44; Lk 12:39-40)
8.2 One-Point Parables
8.2.1 The Hidden Treasure and the Pearl of Great Price (Mt 13:44-46)
8.2.2 The Tower Builder and the Warring King (Lk 14:28-33)
8.2.3 The Mustard Seed and the Leaven (Lk 13:18-21 pars.)
8.3 Other Passages
8.3.1 The Sheep and the Goats (Mt 25:31-46)
8.3.2 Shorter Metaphors
8.4 Conclusions
9. The Theology of the Parables: The Kingdom & the Christ
9.1 Classification
9.2 Kingdom Theology
9.2.1 Present vs. Future
9.2.2 Reign vs. Realm
9.2.3 Personal Transformation vs. Social Reform
9.2.4 The Kingdom and Israel
9.3 Christology
9.3.1 Explicit Christology?
9.3.2 Implicit Christology Indirectly Expressed?
9.3.3 Implicit Christology Directly Expressed
9.4 Conclusions
Conclusions to Part Two
Name Index
Scripture Index
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