Saturday, January 20, 2018

When grace is realized



Grace comes with a realization that nothing is mine and that I am nothing. Each day is not mine; the sun is not mine; breathing is not mine. My heart is not mine; my legs are not mine. I walked on trails with tons of gratitude I cannot fathom its breadth or depth. What I am and all I can be is not solely by me. I can only live my best with precious gifts of life. As life is lived once, all I see and feel is a thing of grace. What is not a grace?

Based on the above idea of grace, I wrote book A Transformative Reading of the Bible. In this book, I developed three modes/moments of life that contribute to holistic human transformation: "I am no-one; I am some-one; I am one for others."



Monday, January 15, 2018

[영어신간]예수의 비유 다시 읽기



예수의 비유는 반전통적 관점에서 읽을 필요가 있다. 그의 비유는 유대 전통이나 기존 제도를 유지발전시키고자 함이 아니라 오히려 그것을 타파하고 당시 사회를 도전하는 이야기들로 가득 차있다.  다양한 개인의 삶과 사회상을 풍자하며 대안적인 길이 무엇인지 질문한다. 

그러므로 비유는 일면 예수의 이야기이며 그것은 삶에 대한 이야기이기도 하다. 그가 무엇을 말하고자 하고 어떤 삶을 꿈꾸는가? 비유가 풍자적인 이야기라면 그의 청중은 이것을 어떻게 듣고 반응하겠는가? 그리고 오늘 우리는 어떻게 읽을 것인가?  1세기 환경에서 들려진 예수의 비유가 어떤 의미에서 오늘날 우리에게 다가오는가? 나는 이런 관점에서 예수의 비유를 재구성하고 해석하려 하였다. 위의 책에서 23개의 비유가 나온다. 이는 예수의 비유 대부분을 다루는 것으로 비유에 대한 전체적 맥을 짚기에 좋을 것이다.

이 책은 비유에 대한 새로운 해석을 연다거나 새로운 논점을 개발하여 주장하려 하는 것에 목적을 두지 않고 --비록 그런 부분이 있긴 하지만-- 기존의 날카로운 비평적인 해석과 본인의 독창적인 관점을 살려 최대한 쉽게 대중에게 전달코자 하고 그들에게 새로운 생각거리를 제공코자 함이 주된 목적이다. 다시 말하면, 신약 기초 과목의 도입교재 혹은 고급 성서공부의 교재로 교회에서 활용할 수도 있을 것이다. 다만, 이것은 영어로 된 책이라 한국교회에서 활용하기란 난망하겠다. 그러나, 불가능도 아니리라 생각하면서. --김영석
저자 https://drkimys.blogspot.com 

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Officially available for order: JESUS'S TRUTH, LIFE IN PARABLES


Jesus’s Truth is officially ACTIVE and it will be available for order
Book Details:
Resource Publications
ISBN 13: 978-1-5326-4397-2
Retail: $17.00
Pub. Date: 1/10/2018

Are you looking for a short yet in-depth book that covers most parables of Jesus with keen insights and that gives you a wide spectrum of his thought of and passion for God's reign in the world?  Then, this is it.

This book was designed not so much to present new arguments but to provide critical insights into our life through critical study. But there are also my own perspectives that bring forth different interpretation altogether. At the end of each parable discussion, there are questions for reflection/discussion. 

This book will be helpful to advanced Bible study classes as well as to a graduate seminar on Jesus's teaching or to introductory courses on the New Testament.


Wednesday, January 10, 2018

WHAT HAS FAITH TO DO WITH US? (sermon)

WHAT HAS FAITH TO DO WITH US?

Yung Suk Kim
Associate Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity
Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology
Virginia Union University

TOTAL COMMUNITY FORMATION
9/14/2013



I welcome all of you in the house to a new season of studying and growing, studying and praying, and studying and working. We do lots of things here at STVU. But if you pray all the time without studying, this may not be the best place for you.  
We are here to study and pray; we are here to sing and praise; we are here to study and pray; we are here to think critically and live faithfully.
When I was given the theme of faith and finances for this community formation, it was not easy for me to start with, because from the outset it seemed so unfamiliar a topic to me.
But later on, I was reminded of a famous quote by Tertullian, one of the great church fathers in the late second and third century CE:

He says, WHAT HAS ATHENS TO DO WITH JERUSALEM?
This is metonymy or allegory. Athens represents secular, and Jerusalem, faith.
Why did he say this?
Because in his time heresy was a great concern and he guards Christians against the attack of the heretics by saying that faith does not have to do with secular.
So he says secular philosophy (Athens) does not have to do with matters of faith (Jerusalem).
He even says faith does not have to do with the Academy because lots of heretics come from there. I think it may be true. But certainly, not this school.
Tertullian is right in the sense that faith cannot be replaced or relegated by philosophy.
But he is not right in the sense that faith also seeks understanding, which is told by St. Anselm of Canterbury, another great theologian in the 11th century.

Well, while the relationship between faith and philosophy or between faith and knowledge is one thing, I got hints of my starting point for my homily from the structure of his sentence: What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?
Now I use the structure of his sentence and change it a little bit.
Now I say: What has faith to do with us?
This title sounds unfamiliar or strange to you because we are used to saying what do you have to with faith? You are the subject; you possess faith or act upon it. It seems that you are the owner of faith; you are the actor of faith; you are sure that you have faith.
But what if your faith is not well informed by the scriptures or the Spirit!
So I lift up faith first and say: what has faith to do with us?
The idea here is that when true faith comes to us, we are enlivened by it.
Faith has power; faith engages us; faith invites us to think critically and faithfully.
Faith affects us; faith changes us. Faith transforms us, spiritually, intellectually, and every possible way, including finances.
Faith affects us spiritually, intellectually, and financially.
Therefore, when we truly understand what faith means or what it takes in our lives, finances follow faith. There will be no separation between them.
In my presentation today I will mainly talk about faith and its implications about finances.

Matt 6:25-34
25 ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life (narration: by the way we worry about our life everyday), what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? 28And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, 29yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. 30But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31Therefore do not worry, saying, “What will we eat?” or “What will we drink?” or “What will we wear?” 32For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33But strive first for the kingdom of God (God’s rule) and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 ‘So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

DO YOU HAVE FAITH?

WHAT IS IT?

ARE YOU FAITHFUL?

ARE YOU FAITHFUL TO WHAT OR WHOM?

THESE ARE SOME OF THE IMPORTANT QUESTIONS WHEN WE TALK ABOUT FAITH.

Because I am a NT scholar, I would like to look to and look at NT to see what faith means.

From the outset, I have to tell you that there are at least four kinds of faith in the NT.

1) Faith that Jesus talks about in the four canonical Gospels
2) Faith that Paul talks about in his 7 epistles
3) Faith understood in the Book of Hebrews
4) Faith understood in later Pauline epistles

Well, I don’t have time to talk about all of these in detail. Take my NT class in the spring.
However, I will focus on the first two; that is, we want to know what Jesus and Paul say about faith. Otherwise, I will briefly mention about numbers 3 and 4.  

3) Faith as Knowledge or Teaching in Deutero-Pauline letters
Faith means a set of teaching;
So what you have to believe or what you have to hear is important: right teachings, catechisms, and so forth.

This definition is certainly important when false teachers teach wrong things about God or the Christ, or the church.

But this aspect of faith is not all about the faith.
4) Faith as conviction in the book of Hebrews
Another aspect of faith is “assurance or conviction” as we read in Heb. 11:1-3

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval. By faith, we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible.”

Again, this aspect of faith is not all about the faith.

We have to examine two important places in the NT: Paul’s early letters and Gospels.

1) Faith in the Gospels

In the Gospels, Jesus primarily talks about faith in God.
Here faith means a loyalty to, a commitment, and a whole trust in God. Because God is the creator, sustainer, and redeemer of his creation, and because God is the source of good news, Jesus asks us to put our trust back into God. Let’s hear what Jesus says in Mark 1:14-15:

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.’ (Mark 1:14-15)

Notice here what he preaches: it is the good news of God!
And he asks, “Believe in the good news”

The good news of God is God’s good news that God is the king and ruler.
God reigns! Not human powers, imperial or capitalism.

The good news of God demands that all are fed; all are to live good lives; all are to be taken care of; all are equal; all men and women are equal.

All beings and things have to abide by the principle of his creation, a principle of justice, mercy, peace, and love.

But unfortunately, all beings and things in his creation HAVE NOT LIVED up to his creation standard.

That is where Jesus enters and preaches the good news of God’s rule.

He says,

The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.

The time is fulfilled; the time here means God’s critical time here and now (“time” here is kairos in Greek). It is God’s time that RADICALLY BREAKS INTO OUR TIME AND WORLD.
  
Now is God’s time that has been fulfilled;

The primary message of Jesus is not merely about tomorrow or future that you have to prepare for. Rather, God’s time has reached now its dramatic turn in making real changes in the world.

God’s radical grace and love is experienced, WHERE? here and now.
God’s future is already, WHERE? here and now.
God’s rule is established, WHERE, here and now.
In God’s time, there is no marker or separation between the present and the future.

Present holds future, and vice versa.
There are no two separate times of the present and the future; but there must be only God’s time that people have to respond right now, here and now.

God’s time of here and now cannot be calculated based on your time or the Western cultural standard that everything is digitized and that you can always tell or predict the times according to your experience or learning.
God’s time is not our time but we can only participate in it by living up to God’s time.

HOW?

That is what Jesus asks for:

Repent and believe in God’s good news.

Here “repent” in Greek is metanoeo; a change of heart!

It is more than confessions of sins in the sense of penitential confessions.

Change your heart!
In the Hebrew Bible, the right word for repent is shub.
It means simply “turn to God” AWAY FROM EVIL. -Away from your desire-seeking, self-seeking life and seek God’s will.

It is not enough that you just verbally confess your sins; I have done wrong.
YOUR CONFESSIONS SHOULD BE FOLLOWED BY THE REAL CHANGE OF MIND AND HEART.

In sum, in the Gospels faith means your holistic trust in and commitment to the good news of God’s rule.

Jesus challenges people to return to God and to live according to God’s rule.

In the Gospels, Jesus shows his trust in God and proclaims the good news of God here and now.
He didn’t simply say I am the God or believe in me.

Even in John’s Gospel, Jesus is the Son of God who embodies the truth of God and testifies to it, risking his life until dying on a cross.
He is bold and straight when he stands before Pilate. He says "I came to testify to the truth of God." He came to the world, why? To testify to the truth of God.

He always says I am doing the work of God. He did God’s work, not his own. He says, if I am doing my own work, you don’t have to believe in me; but if I am doing the work of God, believe in God believe in me.
You know what?
If I point my fingers at the moon, what you have to see is the moon, not my fingers. But some people are even worshiping my fingers.
If Jesus points his fingers at God, we have to hear what he points to. He tells us who God is, what he wants, why he is concerned with us.
We have to hear Jesus’ message about God, God’s rule, God’s good news that all are protected from evil.

NOW LET US LOOK AT PAUL’S 7 LETTERS.

2) Faith in Paul’s letters

Paul highlights Jesus Christ’s faith through which God’s rule or God’s righteousness has been manifested in the world.

What matters is not really your faith in Jesus but Jesus’ faith in your life.

Gal 2:20 shows clearly the importance of Jesus’ faith and believer’s participation in his faith.

“And it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me”

Paul says now he lives in the faith of Jesus because of Christ’s love and faith.
Paul says more than his conviction that Jesus is the savior;
What he emphasizes is Jesus’ love and faith that are part of his life.

Therefore, the NRSV translation of Gal 2:20, where it reads: “I live by faith in the Son of God” is not good; actually, the Greek preposition and genitive phrase involved here better inform us that what is emphasized by Paul is he lives in Jesus’ faith. Your translation of “live by the faith in Jesus” does not seem to convey what Paul says. In your translation, the faith is yours.

Like you say, I live by the faith in Jesus.
But what Paul says is, I live in Jesus’ faith.
Does this difference make a big difference?
Yes.

Because in his letters, Paul is impressed and immersed with Christ’s faithfulness through which God’s love, God’s righteousness, and God’s rule have been manifested in the world (Rom 1:17, 3:21-26, Gal 2:16).

Now because of Jesus’ faith shown in the world, all his followers are exhorted to imitate him (1 Cor 4:16; 11:1).

That is where Paul states in Galatians 2:
I have been crucified with Christ.
“and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live in the faith of the Son of God, which means “I live now in his faith, who loved me and gave himself for me”

In sum, in Paul’s letters, faith means two things:
1) Jesus’ faith
2) Believers’ faith that is understood as their participation in Jesus’ death or his faith

It is more than a belief in Jesus’ death but a burial into his death.
Jesus died for all; so we also died.

If you say Jesus died so we don’t die, that is not Paul’s preaching.

Rather, he says: Jesus died so we all died.
Put to death the deeds of the body (Rom 8: 12-13).
You become a new being in Christ (2 Cor 5:17).
However, this new being is not made once and for all.
But it is an ongoing process of sanctification. Continue to die with him.
Paul says I am dying on a cross every day (1 Cor 15:31).

ALL IN ALL, in Paul’s letters,
The purpose of Jesus’ faith and believers’ participation is for the good news of God, which is consistent with the Gospels’ understanding of Jesus’ mission and his faith.

In Rom 1:1, Paul says, “I, a slave of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for, WHAT? the good news of God”
[which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures, the good news concerning his Son] (v. 2-3).

What do we have to do with faith in the NT?
Or WHAT HAS FAITH TO DO WITH US?

The answer is a total transformation and commitment BECAUSE OF God’s good news. For this purpose, all resources and finances have to be allocated. All people of God are responsible for supporting this mission.

NOW LET us go through two texts and find further implications about faith and our relationship to it. One text we already read in the beginning, which is Matt. 6:25-34.

Matt 6:25-34
25 ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? 28And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, 29yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. 30But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31Therefore do not worry, saying, “What will we eat?” or “What will we drink?” or “What will we wear?” 32For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
34 ‘So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

The text says: Don’t worry about your life or don’t worry about tomorrow.
Why?
The correct answer would be BECAUSE GOD will PROVIDE you.
That is right!

BUT there is a condition for you to receive such blessings of God’s provision in your life.  

The condition is not so much about your pietistic, individualistic faith as about your striving for God’s rule and his righteousness.

Then all things will be worked out.

Striving for God’s rule means your commitment to God’s work, surrendering to God’s will, opening your mind and heart to the Spirit, and sharing what you have with others.

Then, there will be God’s rule established with enough resources and finances available for God’s good news.

The other text we briefly consider for our purpose is 2 Cor 8:14-15

This text is at Paul’s request for support for the poor in Jerusalem.
He asks the Gentile churches to save their resources and support the poor in other places.

“your present abundance and their need, so that their abundance may be for your need, in order that there may be a fair balance. As it is written,
‘The one who had much did not have too much,
   and the one who had little did not have too little.’

Faith here involves mutual care and sharing within Christian communities and beyond.

CONCLUSION
Faith is more than a knowledge or conviction, or about us or the church.

It calls for a new heart, a newly awakened mind, and a new determination at each time.

THAT IS WHY at STVU we adopted the language of critical yet faithful faith statement in our vision. That is, our curriculum emphasizes “awakened consciousness” in the first year, “critical consciousness” in the second year, and “integrating consciousness” in the third year.

Our faith journey together requires us to invest fully in the school of God’s good news, which is Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology.

Faith needs everything of us: mind, heart, and finances.

Faith also calls for a total surrender to God and the need of others because God’s good news must spread to the poor and the blind, all in need.

Above all, faith is an ongoing total commitment to God’s good news that God is the source of good news and our life, AND that God’s rule must be effective to all.

To this job, you are called. Continue to strive for God’s rule and his righteousness. Then all things will work out.

That is the promise that we have to uphold because God will provide us with necessary blessings. God has provided, is providing, and will be doing so.

DO YOU BELIEVE THIS promise and good news?

All GOD’S PEOPLE SAY AMEN.


-----------
A written response to the sermon:
Dr. Kim began his message with an awesome introduction which spoke to the new as well as the returning students. He shared with us the importance of "studying and praying," studying and singing" and "studying and praising," while letting us know that we can't expect to do well by praying alone.  We MUST study!
     Dr. Kim approached his message with a quote from Tertullian, "What Has Athens To Do with Jerusalem?" Then he rephrased it by saying, "What Has Faith To Do With Us?"  He stated that we are controlling everything in the name of faith.  He said, "Faith engages, changes and transforms us spiritually, intellectually and financially."
     His text came from Matthew 6:25-34.  This scripture reminds us that we need not worry about what we eat, drink, or wear, because our Father in Heaven knows what we need, and He will provide for us.
     I am going to share some of the aspects of faith from Dr. Kim's message.  First, faith is knowledge and learning.  We need to see faith as assurance and conviction through the eyes of God.  God is a good God, who brings good news to the poor.
     In Mark 1:14-15, He asked, "What do we believe?  He answered by saying, "We should believe in the good news of God...He is the source of good news."  Dr. Kim shared that it is God's time that has been fulfilled.  His rule and future for our lives have been established here and now.  He told us that God's time is not our time, but we are to respond to God's time and His rule by repenting and believing in the good news.  Dr. Kim wants us to know that true repentance is more than a verbal confession...It should be followed by a real change.  He shared that according to John's gospel, Jesus says, "I came to testify the word of God."  As he began to close his message, he stirred us as he shared with us that Jesus' faith is what really matters. He said we should strive for God's rule and His righteous as we surrender to God's will.  Lastly, he told us that faith calls for a new awakening...God has and will provide!
     In closing, I just want to say that I was overjoyed by what I heard at Community Formation.  Dr. Bledsoe and Dr. Kim brought forth a mighty word from the Lord concerning Faith and Finances.  It is a great thing to have faith, but in the midst of being a faith-based community, each of us knows that it takes finances along with faith in order to make it in this world. As we continue to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, all other things will be added unto us...This includes financial security.








Sunday, January 7, 2018

WHY I WROTE THIS BOOK, JESUS'S TRUTH: LIFE IN PARABLES


WHY I WROTE THIS BOOK
I wrote this book because I love Jesus's storytelling technique and his vision for a change in the world. All his stories are made up but reflect everyday life, ranging from personal work ethic to social justice. There are no topics left out in this regard. Jesus's parables, which are full of ironies and subversive truths, challenge his audience to radically adopt an alternative way of life and seek a society that must be mercy-driven, justice-ensured, and peace-nurtured.

Understandably, the most important theme of his parables is the reign of God--not understood as otherworldly salvation or future-oriented apocalyptic reality, but perceived as God's righteous reign or realm in the here and now. His fundamental belief/conviction is that people must embrace God's mercy, love, and justice. His stories are certainly world-shattering and world-reforming.

Surprisingly, two thousand years later, we still find Jesus's stories helpful and vivid as if they came from our day. That is, since the first century CE, our basic human issues have not changed much. We still struggle in many spheres of our life. I hope this book will give an opportunity to modern readers to re-engage Jesus's various life-giving stories.

This book was designed not so much to present new arguments but to provide critical insights into our life through critical study. But there are also my own perspectives that bring forth different interpretation altogether. At the end of each parable discussion, there are questions for reflection/discussion.

This book will be helpful to advanced Bible study classes as well as to a graduate seminar on Jesus's teaching or to introductory courses on the New Testament.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Jesus's Truth: Life in Parables

(Eugene, OR: Resource Publications, 2018)
Yung Suk Kim

Resource Publications
An Imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers
199 W. 8th Ave., Suite 3
Eugene, OR 97401
www.wipfandstock.com
paperback ISBN: 978-1-5326-4397-2
hardcover ISBN: 978-1-5326-4398-9
ebook ISBN: 978-1-5326-4399-6




Are you looking for a short yet in-depth book that covers most parables of Jesus with keen insights and that gives you a wide spectrum of his thought of and passion for God's reign in the world?  

Parables of Jesus are stories about everyday life, ranging from a person’s worldview to economic justice in society. This book examines most parables of Jesus from a critical literary perspective. Twenty-three narrative parables in the Synoptic Gospels are rearranged by their source: Markan parables; Q parables; Matthean unique parables; Lukan unique parables. Each parable invites readers to re-engage Jesus’s stories in the contemporary world.  

Yung Suk Kim is Associate Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology, Virginia Union University. Kim is the author of eight books, including Christ’s Body in Corinth (2008), Biblical Interpretation (Pickwick, 2013); Resurrecting Jesus (Cascade, 2015); Messiah in Weakness (Cascade, 2016). He edited two volumes: 1-2 Corinthians (2013); Reading Minjung Theology in the Twenty-First Century (Pickwick, 2013). Kim is editor of Journal of Race, Ethnicity, and Religion and Journal of Bible and Human Transformation. His website: https://drkimys.blogspot.com/ 



WHY I WROTE THIS BOOK
I wrote this book because I love Jesus's storytelling technique and his vision for a change in the world. All his stories are made up but reflect everyday life, ranging from personal work ethic to social justice. There are no topics left out in this regard. Jesus's parables, which are full of ironies and subversive truths, challenge his audience to radically adopt an alternative way of life and seek a society that must be mercy-driven, justice-ensured, and peace-nurtured.

Understandably, the most important theme of his parables is the reign of God--not understood as otherworldly salvation or future-oriented apocalyptic reality, but perceived as God's righteous reign or realm in the here and now. His fundamental belief/conviction is that people must embrace God's mercy, love, and justice. His stories are certainly world-shattering and world-reforming.

Surprisingly, two thousand years later, we still find Jesus's stories helpful and vivid as if they came from our day. That is, since the first century CE, our basic human issues have not changed much. We still struggle in many spheres of our life. I hope this book will give an opportunity to modern readers to re-engage Jesus's various life-giving stories.


This book was designed not so much to present new arguments but to provide critical insights into our life through critical study. But there are also my own perspectives that bring forth different interpretation altogether. At the end of each parable discussion, there are questions for reflection/discussion.

This book will be helpful to advanced Bible study classes as well as to a graduate seminar on Jesus's teaching or to introductory courses on the New Testament.


ENDORSEMENTS
Yung Suk Kim mediates a life-giving encounter with the truth claim of Jesus's parables. In lucid summaries informed by critical scholarship, Kim calls readers alongside the mystery of God's kingdom, so that they may feel the presence of the divine in our world, and choose to go with God's great venture. 
--Laurence L. Welborn, Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity, Fordham University

Sifting through layers of allegorical interpretation, theology, and redaction, Kim reveals the simplicity yet profound nature of the parables of Jesus that shatters and reconstructs our worldview afresh. Based on ordinary life in agrarian context, Kim exposes the truth of Jesus’ teachings about the reign of God in the world. Through the mundane issues invoked in parabolic stories, Kim invites modern readers to reevaluate their worldview and human interactions consonant with God’s rule on earth.
--Robert Wafawanaka, associate professor of Biblical Studies and Old Testament/Hebrew Bible at Virginia Union University


Table of Contents

Chapter 1
Introduction
Establishing the Original Parables of Jesus

Chapter 2
Markan Parables
Sower
Seed Growing Secretly
Mustard Seed
Tenants
Budding Fig Tree

Chapter 3
Q Parables in Matthew and Luke
Leaven
Lost Sheep
Entrusted Money (Talents)

Chapter 4
Matthean Unique Parables
Wheat and Weed
Treasure
Pearl
Vineyard Workers
Unmerciful Servant
Two Sons
Great Banquet
Ten Virgins

Chapter 5
Lukan Unique Parables (I)
Good Samaritan
Rich Farmer
Father and Two Sons

Chapter 6
Lukan Unique Parables (II)
Unjust Steward
Rich Man and Lazarus
Unjust Judge and Widow
Pharisee and Tax Collector

Excerpts 
Allegorical interpretation deprives us of the true meaning of a parable by spiritualizing it. Allegory, derived from allegorein (meaning “to speak differently”), is a way of reading the text by focusing not on the internal story but the hidden spiritual meaning. In doing so, what readers do typically is to make a one-to-one correspondence between story and particular outside the story. This allegorical interpretation has been popular with the Alexandrian School (Clement, Origen, and Augustine). In the parable of Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), the allegorical matchings go like this: Jerusalem as Paradise; Jericho as world; a robbed person as Adam; robbers as evil; priest as the law; Levite as prophets; the good Samaritan as Jesus; injury as disobedience; donkey as Jesus’s body; inn as church; the innkeeper as bishop of the church; and the promise of return as the second coming of Jesus. We can hardly think that Jesus applied himself to a Samaritan as in allegorical interpretation. Rather, we can read this parable as a story and wonder why first two religious leaders pass by without helping the needy person. They also have to think about the third person, who is not an ordinary Jewish person but a despised foreigner who need not respond to the needy person from the perspective of Jews. He could pass by without looking at this man robbed, but he stopped by and did everything he could to help him. Hearers must grapple to understand the act of this man from Samaria, a district of contempt by Jews. Who is this guy? He was not considered a neighbor by Jews. But he became a neighbor to them. This mysterious act and presence of the Samaritan raise a metaphorical imagination to hearers. How can a Samaritan become a neighbor? From a traditional perspective of Jews, the neighbor is found among themselves. But the Samaritan became a neighbor to a person in need.

Another famous parable of Jesus, “the father and two sons” (Luke 15:11-34), also has been read allegorically. Namely, the older son/brother represents Jews, the younger son/brother represents newly converted Gentile sinners, and the father represents the compassionate God. So much so, the older brother/son is blamed for his narrow mindset, and his father welcomes the younger brother/son because of his repentance. But inside the parable, there is no such clue that this story is understood with such “representative” interpretation. Rather, this story is taken from everyday life where Jesus emphasizes the importance of mercy and forgiveness in God’s rule. Hearers must wonder about the status of a dysfunctional family and the ideal role of each member in eventual reconciliation. Here the metaphorical link is found between God’s rule and home. In what way can home be restored to that rule of God so all members are reconciled with each other? What does each person in the family must do toward that goal of peace and reconciliation? This small dysfunctional family is like a broken rule of God in the world.


Saturday, December 30, 2017

Learning from golf (lesson 2): knowledge works for me when I am weak




I LOVE GOLF BECAUSE IT IS MENTAL AND PHYSICAL EXERCISE FOR ME.


When I was in my thirties, I had good knowledge and tips about golf, but they did not apply to me because I was too ambitious with power. Now in my fifties, I feel that knowledge works for me because I am weak. The paradox is when I am weak, I am not stiff-headed or hard-muscled with my playing. Lesson 2: Knowledge works for me when I am weak. But the irony of life is your physical power is dwindling as time goes by. Today, in Atlanta, GA, I enjoyed practicing in driving range and got confidence that I could still play a golf. I now have more precision than before, even though I may not have the same stamina as before.