Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed

Friday is for Friends

Luke 15 records three parables about lostness; the second of these is about the lost coin. We are attending to Klyne Snodgrass, Stories with Intent, and his study of these parables.
The secret to parable reading is to find the point and to live it out.
Here’s the parable from Luke 15:8-10: 8 ?Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins [fn1] and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? 9 And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ?Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.? 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.?.
Jesus captures the gospel message, his vision of the kingdom, by sketching a woman searching for a lost coin.
A much later rabbinic parable speaks of a similar condition — if someone seeks for a coin, should they not expend the same or even more effort to find treasures in the Torah? (Song Rabbah 1.1.9).
As I have previously mentioned, the great value of Klyne’s book is that it doesn’t do everything for you; instead, it sketches issues and provides data and asks questions and lets the interpreter make up her or his mind. Snodgrass provides interesting stuff about houses — windows were small, dark interior common, searching for coins not unusual.
The point is clear: God seeks for sinners as this woman seeks for a lost coin. The use of a woman is not so much a symbol (God is feminine) as an analogy: God’s behavior is just like this woman’s behavior.
Here are some good points; Klyne is good at debunking nonsense that many find in parables, and the commonsense of this book is its strength: “This parable does not liken human sin to lifeless coin, nor does it carry an atonement theology, and the candle is not the divine light. Nor is the parable a burlesque with the kingdom scandalously presented as an unclean woman searching for something of little intrinsic value. The woman is not implicitly blamed that the coin is lost, and certainly the coin is not” (115). I wish more parable interpreters had this much sense.
“The woman’s searching is an analogy of God’s initiative and diligence in seeking to recover his people. The verbs of action … she seeks carefully, and her persistence…” … these are the focal points of the parable.
“The kingdom comes with limitless grace, even for those that others denigrate” (116).
“If that is the character of our God, it should be our own character as well” (116).

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Scott M

posted March 21, 2008 at 5:52 am

I also like the way I heard Tom Wright put it in a recorded sermon, technically on what we call the parable of the prodigal son, but actually touching on all of this trio of parables. The question to which Jesus was responding was essentially, “Why are you having these outrageous parties?” He was receiving and eating and drinking with sinners (those who were unclean and often not Torah observant) everywhere he went. Jesus had been doing this everywhere he went and told these parables to explain his actions.

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posted March 21, 2008 at 7:11 am

NT Wright and others see Lk 15 (or at least the parable of the lost son) as the story of Israel’s exile. But I just don’t see it. What am I missing?
It seems to me that Lk 15:1-2 set up the context fairly well – the parables are a response to the grumbling attitude of the Pharisees towards sinners and tax collectors.
What say you?

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John Frye

posted March 21, 2008 at 3:13 pm

I agree with you about the “no nonsense” approach of Klyne. I read this entire section of his book (on Luke 15). I like the way he isolates the crucial issues before each section and then proceeds to address them.

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Bob Brague

posted March 22, 2008 at 6:33 am

The older I get, the dumber I seem to get. Are these three parables really about lostness, or are they about the rejoicing when things are found? The woman searched, the shepherd searched, but the father didn’t search. The coin couldn’t find itself, the sheep couldn’t find itself, but the boy “came to himself” and set out for home all by himself. I’m struggling to see the parallels. And who was doing the seeking in the parable of the prodigal son? Help me, Scot, I’m not as clever as I used to think I was. Or are we not supposed to be finding parallels?

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Scot McKnight

posted March 22, 2008 at 6:35 am

The issue is the meaning of “about”. Do each have a theme of being “lost”? Yes. Is the central analogy about being “lost”? No. It is about being “lost and found.”

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posted March 23, 2008 at 5:16 am

Scot, reading your last comment, I thought that what you wrote could be applied, that the Bible, in a nutshell, has a theme of being “lost” but the central theme is about being ” lost and found.”
That leaves us only to the “hearing” part right? Or as Jesus might say to anyone of us, ” What part of Saved do you not understand?”
As my favorite Pastor (not that I know them all) would say. “If the work of God on the Cross and finally “death” is the criteria for our complete salvation… Then the blood shed is not enough and it’s still up to us.”
In The Spirit of our risen and present Lord Jesus Christ, on this Easter Morning, Peace in His keeping, by and in His encouraging Life.

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