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Stories with Intent: A Comprehensive Guide to the Parables of Jesus

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Stories with Intent offers pastors and students an accessible and comprehensive guide to Jesus' parables. Klyne Snodgrass explores in vivid detail the context in which these stories were told, the purpose they had in Jesus' message, and the ways they have been interpreted by the church and modern scholarship. While holding a consciously evangelical approach, Snodgrass deal Stories with Intent offers pastors and students an accessible and comprehensive guide to Jesus' parables. Klyne Snodgrass explores in vivid detail the context in which these stories were told, the purpose they had in Jesus' message, and the ways they have been interpreted by the church and modern scholarship. While holding a consciously evangelical approach, Snodgrass deals throughout with a broad spectrum of opinions and interpretations. He begins by surveying the primary issues in parables interpretation. Offering both a new, more functional classification system for Jesus' parables and guidelines for interpreting them, he provides an overview of other parables -- often neglected in the discussion -- from the Old Testament, Jewish writings, and the Greco-Roman world. The remaining chapters group the longer and more important parables of Jesus thematically and give a comprehensive treatment of each, including background and significance for today.  


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Stories with Intent offers pastors and students an accessible and comprehensive guide to Jesus' parables. Klyne Snodgrass explores in vivid detail the context in which these stories were told, the purpose they had in Jesus' message, and the ways they have been interpreted by the church and modern scholarship. While holding a consciously evangelical approach, Snodgrass deal Stories with Intent offers pastors and students an accessible and comprehensive guide to Jesus' parables. Klyne Snodgrass explores in vivid detail the context in which these stories were told, the purpose they had in Jesus' message, and the ways they have been interpreted by the church and modern scholarship. While holding a consciously evangelical approach, Snodgrass deals throughout with a broad spectrum of opinions and interpretations. He begins by surveying the primary issues in parables interpretation. Offering both a new, more functional classification system for Jesus' parables and guidelines for interpreting them, he provides an overview of other parables -- often neglected in the discussion -- from the Old Testament, Jewish writings, and the Greco-Roman world. The remaining chapters group the longer and more important parables of Jesus thematically and give a comprehensive treatment of each, including background and significance for today.  

30 review for Stories with Intent: A Comprehensive Guide to the Parables of Jesus

  1. 4 out of 5

    Eric Black

    Definitely thorough. An academic treatment of Jesus' parables that will likely overwhelm non-seminary types but that provides a great deal of information not available in other resources. Each parable discussion is divided into the following sections: • parable type • a list of issues requiring attention • helpful primary source material • comparison of accounts (if they appear in more than one source) • textual features worth noting • cultural information (very helpful) • explanation of the parable (wh Definitely thorough. An academic treatment of Jesus' parables that will likely overwhelm non-seminary types but that provides a great deal of information not available in other resources. Each parable discussion is divided into the following sections: • parable type • a list of issues requiring attention • helpful primary source material • comparison of accounts (if they appear in more than one source) • textual features worth noting • cultural information (very helpful) • explanation of the parable (where most readers will want to go first) • decisions on the issues (from the above list) • adapting the parable • further reading

  2. 4 out of 5

    Brian LePort

    Did a review for Review & Expositor: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/... Did a review for Review & Expositor: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/...

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jefferson Vann

    Jefferson Vann reviews a guide to the interpretation of parables, and is impressed with the book’s explanation of The Rich Man & Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31). When Stephen Wright reviewed Klyne R. Snodgrass’ Stories with Intent: A Comprehensive Guide to the Parables of Jesus in 2009, he said the book was “as close to an authoritative reference work on the parables as we shall see for years to come.”1 It has been ten years since it was initially published, and a new second edition2 has just now been pl Jefferson Vann reviews a guide to the interpretation of parables, and is impressed with the book’s explanation of The Rich Man & Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31). When Stephen Wright reviewed Klyne R. Snodgrass’ Stories with Intent: A Comprehensive Guide to the Parables of Jesus in 2009, he said the book was “as close to an authoritative reference work on the parables as we shall see for years to come.”1 It has been ten years since it was initially published, and a new second edition2 has just now been placed on the JETS “books received” list. It contains a new chapter which addresses recent scholarship. The book as a whole is a healthy treatment of parables in general. Particular intent Snodgrass views the parables of Jesus as stories that he told with a particular intent, hence, the title. He laments that people “have commandeered the parables to express whatever agenda (they) have.”3 They have manipulated the stories “for all kinds of theological, political and social purposes.”4 When we look at parables, we need to keep in mind why Jesus told them, the audience he was speaking to, and his reason for teaching that particular audience via parables. Anything else we teach using parables that does not correspond to his communicative intent is a “rewriting of the parables.”5 Imaginary world To understand parables, one has to realise that they do not depict reality as it is. They project stories from “an imaginary world that reflects reality.”6 While “a few may draw on historical events, … they do not depict true stories.”7 They “often contain hyperbole, and tend to be pseudo-realistic.”8 Due to this disconnection, Snodgrass warns that “if you cannot validate the teaching you think is in the parable from nonparabolic material elsewhere in the Gospels, you are almost certainly wrong.”9 Nimshal Many of the parables – both biblical and extra-biblical – contain what is technically termed a nimshal, “an explanation that hammers home the intent.”10 When this explanation is included by the Gospel writer, it helps readers understand Jesus’ primary intent in giving the parable. On The Rich Man & Lazarus Snodgrass’ treatment of the Rich Man & Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31) is worth reading. He categorises the parable as “a single indirect two-stage narrative parable that serves as a warning.”11 It is a single narrative that is told in two stages. The first is the two characters before death; the second after death. The warning is against the rich who fail to use their wealth to help the poor and needy. In this parable, a reversal has occurred. The rich man, who perhaps thought himself blessed by God discovers that he is in torment after death. Poor Lazarus has been exalted to Abraham’s side instead. The nimshal, however, is Luke 16:31. “But he told him, ‘If they don’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be persuaded if someone rises from the dead.'”(CSB). Snodgrass concludes that the warning implicit in the parable is twofold. It warns of judgment for the use of wealth and the sufficiency of scriptures. The rich are warned that they are responsible for the poor. They are their brother’s keeper, even when that brother is begging at their door. They are also warned that there is no excuse for neglecting the poor, since the whole of the scriptures teach that those who are blessed should be generous toward those who have need. Eschatology? I was particularly interested in how Snodgrass would view the apparent eschatological factors of the parable. He argues against the notion that it was a historical account by showing that Luke certainly depicted it as a parable.12 He argued against associating the parable with the events depicted in John 11. And he said that “the nature of the story does not allow it to be taken as an actual description of the future life.”13 But he stopped short of saying that the parable had no eschatological significance. I agree. The imaginary world that the parable shows us depicts an intermediate state where people are conscious of punishment. When Jesus gave nonparabolic instruction to his disciples about the intermediate state, he taught that those in that state are “sleeping” indicating lack of consciousness.14 He is not contradicting that teaching with this parable. Instead, he uses this parable to teach us all that there will be a judgment day, and those who are financially blessed in this life will be condemned if they never use those blessings to bless others. The Rich Man & Lazarus is consistently used as a proof-text for the theological doctrines of innate immortality and a conscious intermediate state. It is often used to refute the conditionalist doctrines of the exclusive immortality of God, conditional immortality and the unconscious intermediate state. It is comforting that this current, comprehensive scholarly treatment of the parables refuses to join that bandwagon. 1Wright, Stephen I. “Book Review: Stories with Intent: A Comprehensive Guide to the Parables of Jesus”. The Journal of Theological Studies. 60, no. 1: 243-245. (2009). 2Snodgrass, Klyne. Stories with Intent: A Comprehensive Guide to the Parables of Jesus. 2018. Kindle edition. 3Snodgrass, location 106. 4Snodgrass, location 451. 5Snodgrass, location 354. 6Snodgrass, location 476. 7Snodgrass, location 725. 8Snodgrass, location 1798. 9Snodgrass, location 999. 10Snodgrass, location 816. 11Snodgrass, location 9524. 12Snodgrass, location 9669. 13Snodgrass, location 9822. 14Luke 8:52.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

    This book is simply incredible. For those interested in a very detailed study of Jesus' parables, this is the book. The author lists interpretations from ancient, medieval, and modern writers, and then gives his own conclusions. The book is thick (probably 800+ pages), and--if anything else-- is a wonderful reference book to be sure. This book is simply incredible. For those interested in a very detailed study of Jesus' parables, this is the book. The author lists interpretations from ancient, medieval, and modern writers, and then gives his own conclusions. The book is thick (probably 800+ pages), and--if anything else-- is a wonderful reference book to be sure.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Julia Walker

    If you are interested in solid academic research about the Parables this is absolutely the book. Snodgrass does the work for you and presents various groupings of interpretations on each parable. Well written, easy to follow, seriously well researched, and appropriately documented - as fas as I am concerned best book on the Parables on the market.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Meagan

    Such a definitive work on the parables from a gracious, godly scholar!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Angela Buckley

    This book is worthy of reading and rereading. I seldom reread a book, but the lessons herein can be learned, expanded upon, and developed with each new reading. Follow through from the perspective of history, religious philosophy, and leadership lessons. My frequent traveling lifestyle has led me to reduce physical copies of books, but I will keep this one and reread it every few years.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Robert Tessmer

    This book contained much more information than I personally needed. It was incredibly researched and the author is about as thorough as can be. Having said that, the book was very helpful and the summaries and applications for each parable were GREAT!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    If you’re looking to do some in depth study of the parables of Jesus, look no further than this book. Simply outstanding.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Marcás

    This is a marvellous resource! I wanted to get it because I've been teaching The Parables in some of my religion classes. And I'm thrilled to have discovered it. This is a marvellous resource! I wanted to get it because I've been teaching The Parables in some of my religion classes. And I'm thrilled to have discovered it.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Mandimby Ranaivoarisoa

    The most comprehensive treatment of the Parables to date (with the 2nd edition that came out).

  12. 5 out of 5

    Becky

    Far too scholarly for me! I tried, really hard. Excellent for someone who wants to dig really deep, with excessive verbosity ;)

  13. 5 out of 5

    Bobby

    Amazing work on the Parables!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    While preaching a short series on The Parables of Jesus, I purchased and started reading Klyne Snodgrass's Stories with Intent: A Comprehensive Guide to the Parables of Jesus. Comprehensive it is. This book is 846 pages long (though over 300 pages of this are bibliography and notes)! But though it is comprehensive, it is written with preachers in mind. As Snodgrass admits in his preface, "This is unapologetically and quite consciously a selfishly motivated book. This is what I want when preparin While preaching a short series on The Parables of Jesus, I purchased and started reading Klyne Snodgrass's Stories with Intent: A Comprehensive Guide to the Parables of Jesus. Comprehensive it is. This book is 846 pages long (though over 300 pages of this are bibliography and notes)! But though it is comprehensive, it is written with preachers in mind. As Snodgrass admits in his preface, "This is unapologetically and quite consciously a selfishly motivated book. This is what I want when preparing to teach or preach on the parables" (p. xi). It's what I want, too, and I'm glad Snodgrass gave in to his selfish ambition! Snodgrass begins, of course, with an "Introduction to the Parables of Jesus," in which he covers (these are the subheadings): Necessary History; What is a Parable?; How Should Parables Be Classified?; What about Allegory?; Characteristics of Jesus' Parables; Distribution of the Parables; How Should Parables Be Interpreted?; and NT Criticism - Assumptions and Hesitations, Method and Procedure. He lists eleven characteristics of Jesus' parables: 1. Jesus' parables are first of all brief, even terse. 2. Parables are marked by simplicity and symmetry. 3. Jesus' parables focus mostly on humans. 4. The parables are fictional descriptions taken from everyday life. 5. Parables are engaging. 6. Since they frequently seek to reorient thought and behavior . . . parables often contain elements of reversal. 7. 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. 8. Parables are told into a context. This distinguishes the parables from Aesop's fables, which are stand alone morality tales. Jesus' parables, in contrast, are "not general storeis with universal truths" but "are addressed to quite specific contexts in the ministry of Jesus." 9. Jesus' parables are theocentric. 10. Parables frequently allude to OT texts. 11. Most parables appear in larger collections of parables. And, in discussing how to interpret the parables, Snodgrass offers the following principles: 1. Analyze each parable thoroughly. 2. Listen to the parable without presupposition as to its form or meaning. 3. Remember that Jesus' parables were oral instruments in a largely oral culture. 4. If we are after the intent of Jesus, we must seek to hear a parable as Jesus' Palestinian hearers would have heard it. 5. Note how each parable and its redactional shaping fit with the purpose and plan of each Evangelist. 6. Determine specifically the function of the story in the teaching of Jesus. 7. Interpret what is given, not what is omitted. Any attempt to interpret a parable based on what is not there is almost certainly wrong. 8. Do not impose real time on parable time. 9. Pay particular attention to the rule of end stress. 10. Note where the teaching of the parables intersects with the teaching of Jesus elsewhere. 11. Determine the theological intent and significance of each parable. Some of these principles, admittedly, need a bit more explanation and fleshing out than I am choosing to do in this review, but many of the principles are self-evident. This list at least gives you an idea of how Snodgrass approaches the task of interpretation. The next section covers Parables in the Ancient World, looking specifically at parables in the Old Testament, Early Jewish Writings, Greco-Roman Writings, The Early Church, and Later Jewish Writings. After that, Snodgrass jumps in to the actual parables themselves, dividing thirty-two parables into nine sections. These sections are entitled: * Grace and Responsibility * Parables of Lostness * The Parable of the Sower and the Purpose of Parables * Parables of the Present Kingdom in Matthew 13, Mark 4, and Luke 13 * Parables Specifically about Israel * Parables about Discipleship * Parables about Money * Parables concerning God and Prayer, and * Parables of Future Eschatology As Snodgrass takes up each parable, he discusses the parable type, raises issues requiring attention, looks at helpful primary source material, does a comparison of the different accounts of the parable in the gospels, discusses textual issues worth noting, highlights helpful cultural information, then gives an explanation of the parable, talks about adapting the parable for our own context, and suggests further reading (as if he were not comprehensive enough for most people!). This really is a well organized book, designed to function more like a manual for ongoing reference, than to read straight through (which I'm not doing). Finally, the book ends with an epilogue, six appendices, over one hundred pages of notes and almost fifty pages of bibliography, and then two indices. I expect to use this book not only in my current sermon series, but for many years to come and heartily recommend it to others.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Debbie

    This book will probably most appeal to pastors or academics as it goes into more detail the most people will be interested in. He doesn't look at every single parable, but looks at different categories of parables and explores the main ones. For each parable, he looked into the main ways that people have interpreted the parable throughout history. He also looked at cultural background information, including quoting sources from around that time period that relate to the topic (like references to This book will probably most appeal to pastors or academics as it goes into more detail the most people will be interested in. He doesn't look at every single parable, but looks at different categories of parables and explores the main ones. For each parable, he looked into the main ways that people have interpreted the parable throughout history. He also looked at cultural background information, including quoting sources from around that time period that relate to the topic (like references to procedures for inheritance if the father has not yet died, when studying the Prodigal Son parable). He gets into Greek words and tenses and how this may change how a sentence is interpreted. He talked about if the parable is the same as a similar one in another gospel or if it is not. He favored the more obvious interpretations and the assumption that the parables were really spoken by Jesus. I read the entire thing and, overall, I agreed with his analysis and his reasoning. I'd recommend this book to those who want extensive study on parables or simply want this as a reference book.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sonny

    Stories with Intent can best be classified as a resource manual, comprehensive guide, or handbook on the parables of Jesus. Klyne Snodgrass explores the context in which these stories were told, their purpose, and the ways they have been interpreted by the church and modern scholarship. Snodgrass begins with an introduction to the parables that includes a history of parables, a definition of a parable, the classification of parables, allegorization, characteristics of Jesus’ parables, and the in Stories with Intent can best be classified as a resource manual, comprehensive guide, or handbook on the parables of Jesus. Klyne Snodgrass explores the context in which these stories were told, their purpose, and the ways they have been interpreted by the church and modern scholarship. Snodgrass begins with an introduction to the parables that includes a history of parables, a definition of a parable, the classification of parables, allegorization, characteristics of Jesus’ parables, and the interpretation of parables. He also provides an overview of other parables from the Old Testament, Jewish writings, and the Greco-Roman world. As Snodgrass takes up each parable (categorized thematically), he provides an introduction, discusses the parable type, lists issues requiring attention, looks at helpful source material, offers a comparison of the various accounts of the parable, discusses textual features worthy of attention, highlights relevant cultural information, and offers an explanation of the parable. Finally, he includes a section on adapting the parable for today. He deals throughout with a wide spectrum of opinions and interpretations, readily admitting when the answers to questions are open to interpretation. He thoughtfully deals with the question of historical reconstructions of the life of Jesus. He wisely questions a number of dubious assumptions behind much previous work on the parables. This is a well-organized, incredibly well-researched book written that shows immersion in a vast variety of sources. Snodgrass is usually clear, but the discussion at times bogs down in discussions that are ponderous. A frequent complaint is the use of endnotes instead of footnotes. In many ways, Snodgrass represents evangelical scholarship at its best: mature, thoughtful, and balanced. His book, Stories with Intent, ranks with prominent evangelical works by such authors such as Arland J. Hultgren. In terms of its research, it has no rivals. Stories with Intent is a tremendous resource for pastors, scholars, and students.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Wing

    This is an exhaustive and exhausting tome. Textual, contextual, philological and historical backgrounds are all thoroughly discussed. Redactional analyses are explored. The emphasis is on how not to read too much into the parables and know where to stop. The author makes it clear that the parables are relevant and living lessons on the Kingdom, God and Discipleship. They are not general social commentaries or philosophical musings. The book is very academic and not an easy read, but certainly ve This is an exhaustive and exhausting tome. Textual, contextual, philological and historical backgrounds are all thoroughly discussed. Redactional analyses are explored. The emphasis is on how not to read too much into the parables and know where to stop. The author makes it clear that the parables are relevant and living lessons on the Kingdom, God and Discipleship. They are not general social commentaries or philosophical musings. The book is very academic and not an easy read, but certainly very rewarding.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Dustin Bagby

    The most thorough study of the parables I've ever seen or read. This is a fantastic volume and indispensable if you are studying or preaching the parables. The background work that Snodgrass puts into this is incredible. His interpretations are well founded on solid scholarship and very insightful for pastors trying to preach well the stories of Jesus. If I were only going to buy one book on the parables, this would be it! The most thorough study of the parables I've ever seen or read. This is a fantastic volume and indispensable if you are studying or preaching the parables. The background work that Snodgrass puts into this is incredible. His interpretations are well founded on solid scholarship and very insightful for pastors trying to preach well the stories of Jesus. If I were only going to buy one book on the parables, this would be it!

  19. 5 out of 5

    David

    This is a sensational resource for preaching the parables. Snodgrass has a thorough familiarity with the vast wealth of literature on the parables. I particularly appreciated the organization of each chapter/section. Made it very easy to skip parts you weren't all that interested in at the moment and find help with specific issues you were focusing on. This is a sensational resource for preaching the parables. Snodgrass has a thorough familiarity with the vast wealth of literature on the parables. I particularly appreciated the organization of each chapter/section. Made it very easy to skip parts you weren't all that interested in at the moment and find help with specific issues you were focusing on.

  20. 5 out of 5

    jon

    Stories with Intent by Klyne Snodgrass is the best book on the parables of Jesus on the market. You will not find a more thorough and erudite treatment of the subject as manageable and serviceable practical to a spectrum of readers. Scholars and serious students and pastors should find Stories of Intent a treasure trove and essential resource.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

    Certainly not the only book out there on parables, but one of the most comprehensive and important. If you work with the parables, you can't ignore Snodgrass. This book is a wonderful reference work on the parabolic material. Certainly not the only book out there on parables, but one of the most comprehensive and important. If you work with the parables, you can't ignore Snodgrass. This book is a wonderful reference work on the parabolic material.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ingar Hauge

    The most extensive exegetical book concerning the parables of Jesus. Written in an understandable way, this book is truly a resource for theologians and those who wish to study the parables on a deeper level.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Olga

    As the title of the book implies, Snodgrass takes a very in-depth look at the parables. I appreciate his take on many of the parables and find his sections on interpretation and adaptation to be quite a helpful starting point.

  24. 5 out of 5

    David Goetz

    Remarkably good. Snodgrass interprets the parables with restraint, sensitivity to contexts of all kinds, and an eye to how they speak to the Church today. No better book on the parables exists.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    This is a primary reference as a pastor preaching through the parables of Jesus. Very textual and stimulating.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    Very comprehensive study of the parables, and very clear in his presentation of the issues involved with each story. Will be my go-to resource for research in the future.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Tim

    Comprehensive guide to the parables - this is must have reference material.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Bart

  29. 5 out of 5

    George Marshall

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kari

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