Parables in the Eye of the Storm, Christ’s Response in the Face of Conflict, by Stanley A. Ellisen (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2001) 272 pp., paper $10.00
Stanley Ellisen, who was a professor of biblical literature and biblical studies at Western Baptist Seminary, writes this book to provide clarity of understanding to Jesus’ parables. Of all the hermeneutical issues facing the student of Scripture few are as thorny as unraveling the parables. As a result, many fanciful, incorrect and even detrimental interpretations of the parables have been rendered over the years. Ellisen seeks to correct these interpretations in this, the most helpful book I have ever read on Jesus’ parables.
Part One of Parables in the Eye of the Storm lays out the interpretation grid in which Ellisen believes the parables must be approached. He offers five guidelines: (p. 8)
1) discover the problem that made the parable necessary,
2) seek the central truth of the parable,
3) relate the details to the central truth,
4) clarify and authenticate the central truth, and
5) discover the intended appeal of the parable for proper application.
Ellisen frames the parables as communication from Jesus in light of the Jews’ rejection of Him and He of them (p. 35). Many of the parables outline the interim period between the Ascension and the Second Coming, essentially, the Church Age. Not all will agree with this view but it is well worth considering.
In part two Ellisen analyzes almost all of Jesus’ parables using his own guidelines. This provides a rich resource for study of the parables and where they were discussed in the book for quick retrieval later.
Professor Ellisen believes that Jesus was never boring, and so he should not be either. This is reflected in his writing, which is interesting, colorful, insightful and readable. Any lover of Scripture will benefit from this wonderful book. I recommend it highly.