An in-depth exploration of one famous passage.
Though most Christians have a passing familiarity with Matthew 13:45-46, regarding a pearl of great price or great value (translations vary), few have considered these two verses with as much depth and curiosity as have Russell. In this book, Russell explores the passage from every possible angle and includes varying evangelical interpretations. Structured with short chapters, “Key Concept” summaries and questions for discussion, Russell’s book can easily serve as a source for personal or group study. He begins by discussing the passage in its immediate context, as one of seven parables in the 13th chapter of Matthew. Russell then goes on to describe three differing interpretations of the parable that have been raised by past theologians. In his view, the pearl represents either the kingdom of heaven or the church, and in both cases most lessons from the parable apply equally. The merchant in the parable most likely represents Jesus Christ, “the Son of Man, Israel’s Kinsman-Redeemer.” Moving forward, Russell lists seven ways in which a pearl is a unique gem, all of which make it analogous to the church or the kingdom of God. For instance, it is formed in suffering, its spherical shape represents unity and it is the one gem that is most valuable if humans have not interfered with its shape or condition. Not stopping there, Russell also provides eight significant aspects of the pearl. These include its cost, symbolism, growth, history, appearance and hidden nature. A problem brought up in the text that is never fully resolved is the fact that pearls were not especially valued by Jews, and in fact came from a treif source, oysters. This presents a striking paradox coming from a Jewish source. Russell has structured a meaningful study for the layperson and a useful go-to resource for preachers. Without delving into an extensive exploration of the original Greek, Russell makes about as thorough a study of the passage as one could expect.
Worthwhile resource on the pearl of great price.