Parables appear to be simple stories, simple enough to be the subject of children's church and Bible school lessons, but there are always new insights gained by understanding more about the cultural background and context. And deeper understanding is what I want as a grown-up student. MacArthur has a reputation for excellent Biblical commentary so I jumped at the opportunity to review his new book.
MacArthur begins with a lengthy introduction that skewers the study of parables as mere stories--open to individual interpretation. He argues, convincingly, that there is an intended truth in each parable and we're wise to reach for it.
Each chapter examines a different parable such as the sower and the seed, the treasure in the field, the Good Samaritan, the landowner paying his hired laborers, and so on. MacArthur teaches the parable in context so that readers can grasp the purpose and principles taught. He digs into rabbinical sources, Hebrew words, and Greek text. Combine this with MacArthur's years of experience with Biblical study and the result is a book that informs as well as inspires.
I'm intrigued by MacArthur's thesis that Jesus began teaching in parables in order to bring plain truth to those who were open to hearing the Gospel, while concealing the underlying meaning from those who rejected the truth. Jesus use of parables increased after certain Pharisees began to plot against him. If this is so, then Christians should take care to examine Jesus parables more carefully and not just think of them as simply stories.
This is definitely one of those books that bears rereading with pen and highlighter in hand. Highly recommended for anyone who is interested in a deeper understanding of the New Testament.
Parables: The Mysteries of God's Kingdom Revealed Through the Stories Jesus Told
Nelson Books, 2015
I received a free copy of this book from Booklook Bloggers in return for an honest review.