Sunday, September 18, 2016

Simple Book Review: Sting in the Tail (The Parables as Oriental Stories)

Sting in the Tail: The Parables as Oriental Stories (1998) by Dr. Kim Tan

The Gospel stories are eternal and Jesus’ parables are timeless, speaking to all people in all ages and cultures. But one thing is important, very important to understand that: Jesus was Jewish, born in the land of Israel, and bound to Middle Eastern cultures. What Dr Kim writes here is a superb introduction to the parables of Jesus which can be greatly understood (or make much sense) when we read it in their oriental setting.

Because most of my personal reading on commentaries on the Bible are mainly written by Western scholars and theologians, I noticed sometime that the examples and the way the parables were interpreted are a bit off from the oriental background. I’m an Iban and Dr. Kim is Chinese, so the background was somewhat quite familiar to us Asians. This book “is an oriental interpretation with many fresh insights into the social background against which they were originally told,” writes David Pawson. “Kim Tan has succeeded in sharpening the point of these stories with a sting in the tale, making them real and relevant to East and West today.” I agree! I gained new insights especially on Luke 11 and Luke 16.


1. The Two Debtors (Luke 7)
2. The Good Samaritan (Luke 10)
3. The Friend at Midnight (Luke 11)
4. The Banquet (Luke 14)
5. The Lost Sheep and the Lost Coin (Luke 15)
6. The Lost Sons (Luke 15)
7. The Prudent Steward (Luke 16)
8. The Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16)
9. The Judge and the Widow (Luke 18)
10. The Talents (Luke 19)
11. Zacchaeus (Luke 19)

Dr Kim Tan grew up in Malaysia but lives in the UK. He is a biochemist, writer and Bible teacher [I met him once at SIB KL during his preaching as guest speaker]. I also like his interview in a book by John Ng and Alvin Foo’s Heart to Heart with Asian Leaders (2016) entitled The Failed Again Leader (page 130). He is a humble man. I recommend this book.

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