Tales Of The Unexpected: The Subversive Stories Of Jesus

Written by Melvin Tinker with Nathan Buttery Reviewed By Graham Beynon

This book is a series of expositions of thirteen of Jesus’ parables. They began life as sermons in a local church setting. The sermonic style means they are easy to read, with plenty of illustrations along the way. A variety of applications to Christian and non-Christian are also made, as would be expected, in a homiletic style. It should be clear then, this not a book on the genre of parables or how they are to be interpreted—rather this is simply a series of worked examples.

The strength of the book is in its straightforward methodology of opening up parables with respect with respect to their literary and historical context and allowing them to speak for themselves. The texts are well handled, the teaching points are drawn clearly and application is made with insight and sensitivity.

The weaknesses of the book are: firstly that as it covers a variety of very different parables there is no consistent topic or argument being developed; secondly even though the title suggests that Jesus’ stories are unexpected and subversive there was sometimes a rather predictable feel to the trajectory of exposition. To my mind at least, this led, on occasion, to reading too much into a parable so as to cover all the bases of a doctrine. However, for anyone who wants a solid example of how to teach the parables well this is a great place to start.

Graham Beynon

Graham Beynon is pastor of Grace Church in Cambridge, UK and director of independent ministry training at Oak Hill Theological College in London.