The other week, I reported on some recent book purchases. One was Klyne Snodgrass‘ book Stories With Intent, about the parables of Jesus. This week I am using it for the first time in sermon preparation, since Sunday’s Lectionary Gospel is the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-30.
My first impression of the book is that it is ‘everything you wanted to know about the parables but were afraid to ask’ – and more. In an eight hundred page book (no, I don’t plan reading it cover to cover), twenty four are devoted to this parable. Admittedly it is one of the parables that appears in more than one Gospel – in Luke it is the Parable of the Minas – and that creates certain problems. However, in terms of direct exposition on Matthew’s version, there are barely two pages of those twenty-four. It is fascinating detail, and if you want to go into scholarly questions of exegesis, hermeneutics and history, then you are going to love this book. However, it is no short cut for sermon preparation!
If I wanted quick sermon prep, I would revert to my previous favourite, Interpreting The Parables by Craig Blomberg. He has three or four pages on each parable, and you can soon find the part of the exposition where he sets out the main point or points of a story. Having said that, Blomberg spends less time distinguishing between the varying ways in which the different Evangelists present a parable. Snodgrass, in all his mammoth detail, gives incredible detail on how the Lukan version reflects recent history with Archelaus. If I were preaching on Luke, he would have a lot for me!
So that is just an initial reflection. I’m sure when you see sermons on this blog based on the parables, you will often find that Snodgrass is behind my exegesis. However, when I am in a hurry, it might well be Blomberg again! It’s rather like having the detailed commentary and the brief popular paperback. Not that I wish to demean Blomberg’s considerable scholarship by making that comparison, but if you were to be thinking about buying a book on the parables, you might want to take considerations like these into account.
In the meantime, we’ll see what shape things take for Sunday. As usual, the sermon should be posted here on Saturday night.