Some of Jesus’s parables are so historically remote from us that we don’t naturally feel the emotions and tension that the stories stirred up for the original hearers. These six 15-to-20-minute “Modern Parables” creatively translate the main point of one of Jesus’s parables into our context.
5. The Sower
Here is an abridged version of my thoughts on these parable-films after I watched them in September 2008.
- Thought-provoking. They encourage a consuming preoccupation with God’s word (i.e., meditation).
- Parallel. They are based on common, everyday situations (i.e., typical people and events), which parallels Jesus’ parables.
- Quality. They are professionally done. They are simple and executed well.
- Variety. They are shot in different genres.
- Endorsed by scholars. For example, Craig Blomberg, a parable-scholar, highly recommends them.
- Unclear. Most of the application videos are surprisingly weak and unclear. Not recommended. (They don’t appear to be available for free online.)
- Limitations. Turning parable-texts into these parable-films has some limitations and potential pitfalls. (1) It changes the genre in a way that does not adequately capture the text’s context. For example, not one of the parable-films adequately captures the immediate context of the parable, let alone the broader context of the section and book in which it occurs. (2) It could be abused as a crutch for exegesis and exposition or as something that is more exciting than the God-breathed text.
- Missing the gospel. This is definitely not a stand-alone means of evangelism because the gospel is virtually absent in the films. Those who are biblically illiterate could radically misinterpret the films and completely miss the gospel. The videos are only supplementary illustrations to the text. (But they could be extraordinarily useful when used in the right context.)
2. Specific Comments on Each Parable
- Hidden Treasure. Substituting oil for hidden treasure communicates more clearly in our culture. The acting is slapstick.
- Samaritan. Sobering and convicting. It leaves some gaps in parallels with the biblical parable.
- The Shrewd Manager. The biblical parable probably does not connect well with most people in our culture, but this video does.
- The Widow and Judge. Slower pace and more artistic license than the previous ones.
- The Sower. This isn’t exactly a story. This film is nowhere near as engaging as the others. Probably the least effective.
- Prodigal Sons. By far the best film. Moving.