I just finished the book, The Prodigal God, by Timothy Keller (author of The Reason for God and Pastor of Redeemer Church in Manhattan). This was a very good read, one that I will place on high recommendation for others to read. The primary text for this book is the Parable of the Lost Sons from the Gospel of Luke (chapter fifteen). Keller provides wonderful insight to this parable of Jesus that is often missed with a first reading. With a little effort, homework, and hermeneutical digging…a studious reader can uncover and discover a similar line of thinking that Keller exposits in this volume.
I was excited, encouraged, and affirmed while I was reading The Prodigal God. A little over a year ago I shared teaching in a series at my church titled, LOST. One of my assignments was the Parable of the Lost Sons. I was amazed while reading this book by Tim Keller how much my sermon agreed with his explanation of the parable. Truthfully, I was so amazed that I began to doubt my own resources and wondered about my influence. I went back to my notes and compared the date of my studies with the release of Keller’s Prodigal God. I found the release date of his book was a couple of months after my sermon was recorded. My next step was to compare my study resources with his book citations and notes. I found several similar resources and began to feel much better about the eerie similarities between my sermon and his book. I’m not sure which commentaries Keller refers to as he does not list them, but he makes mention of special thanks to Kenneth Bailey. The works of Bailey were instrumental in my own studies. In addition to Kenneth Bailey, I too consulted many commentaries along with quite a few cultural resources and studies directed specifically to the parables of Jesus. Some of the more influential works from my library include the following: Jesus through Middle Eastern Eyes by Kenneth Bailey, The Parables by Brad Young, and Klyne R. Snodgrass’ fantastic work, Stories with Intent: A Comprehensive Guide to the Parables of Jesus.
I thoroughly enjoyed “filling in the blanks” of my own interpretation with the insight from Dr. Keller and think there is much to glean from this particular parable. I am including a link to the audio of my own analysis from the teaching I shared back in August of 2008.