Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Happy Blog Birthday and a Blast from the Past

At St. David, Arizona
Photo by Rick Gowler

It was exactly two years ago that I started this blog about the reception history of the parables book. I will repost that entry just below these opening comments. The above photo was taken about the time I was starting the research for the book.

The very first post already recognized the primary difficulty of writing a book on the reception history of the parables. It was not the fact that I would need to research 50+ people/topics/works that ranged from the second century BCE to the twenty-first CE--that was exceedingly interesting and fun, to tell you the truth. Instead, it was and still is the need to distill those discussions to a total of approximately 100,000 words. As I write this blog post, however, I have--with the help of my editor, Bryan Dyer--almost reached that milestone. The last round of painful cuts is almost finished.

This blog post is the 246th of the blog, which means that I have posted an entry about (a little less than) every three days, assuming my math is correct. It still has not become tedious or burdensome. Even though I finished the research for the book over four months ago, I still have plenty of materials that I have encountered over the past two years to share. And the blog continued to remind me that not only did I need to distill the words down to a manageable level for the book; I also needed to make some very complex discussions understandable for a student (and lay) audience. I hope I have accomplished that goal. 

Here it is. The very first blog post on December 9, 2013:

I just signed a contract (November 2013) with Baker Academic (Baker Publishing Group) to write a textbook on the reception history of the parables. I have been working with James Ernest of Baker, and the topic is an exciting but daunting one: examining how the parables in the NT Gospels have been interpreted over the centuries.

This blog will document the process of writing that book, and it will include works that I find and insights I have gained through my research for the book.

The most difficult part of the book, as I have already discovered, is the 100,000-word limit. There are so many interpreters and so much material that should be included in such a book that it will be difficult to choose which ones should be included. Part of the reason for the creation of this blog, then, is to include interpretations that I cannot include in the book itself, simply because of space. I of course also will include in the blog insights about the interpreters that I do include in the book.

The blog, like the book, will cover not only written interpretations but visual and other interpretations. I intend not only to focus on theological or academic responses (the book will not concentrate on academic debates in modern scholarship that are adequately covered elsewhere, such as in my What Are They Saying About the Parables? with Paulist Press) but also on other types of responses including literature, the visual arts, music, social and political elements, and so forth. 

My goal is to include a number of diverse responses to the parables, to allow a wide variety of responses to be heard while attempting to balance depth and breadth, and to focus on important voices while being as comprehensive as possible. 

The manuscript is due by December 1, 2015, and I hope to update this blog regularly during the writing of the book and maybe beyond. 

The image below is a photo I took at the Rembrandt House Museum in Amsterdam on October 20, 2013. It is a close up of the father and son in his Return of the Prodigal etching. More on that print later.


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