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Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes - Cultural Studies in the Gospels Paperback – 21 Mar 2008

4.8 out of 5 stars 67 customer reviews

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Frequently Bought Together

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  • Paul Through Mediterranean Eyes - Cultural Studies in 1 Corinthians
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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: SPCK Publishing (21 Mar. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0281059756
  • ISBN-13: 978-0281059751
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.6 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 19,910 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Kenneth E. Bailey is an author and lecturer in Middle Eastern New Testament studies. An ordained Presbyterian minister, he also serves as Canon Theologian of the Diocese of Pittsburgh of the Episcopal Church, USA. He holds graduate degrees in Arabic language and literature, and in systematic theology; his ThD is in New Testament. His many books, in Arabic and English, include Paul Through Mediterranean Eyes (SPCK, 2011).


Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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I was introduced to Kenneth Bailey's work during my first Theology degree. Colin Chapman showed us his ground-breaking reinterpretations of the birth of Jesus in Luke 2:1-7 (Jesus wasn't born in an inn, the Greek doesn't say that, and it doesn't fit with the Middle Eastern culture of hospitality) and the Parable of the Friend at Midnight in Luke 11 (it isn't about the persistence of the one knocking but about the desire to avoid shame on the part of the one woken up). Not long afterwards, I bought Bailey's Poet And Peasant/Through Peasant Eyes, which expound the Lucan parables, and it is my first point of reference for those passages.

Now, it is a privilege to have this tome. It gathers together his exposition of a number of texts and themes, all illuminated by the knowledge of the Middle East gained from decades living and practising scholarship there. You will find the 'no room at the inn' question treated thoroughly here. You will learn so much more too, all written in a way that feeds both mind and spirit.

My enthusiastic use of this in a Bible Study I lead as a minister has led to members of my congregation treating themselves to copies of it. Bailey writes sufficiently lucidly in this work for it to be appreciated by intelligent non-specialists.

Occasionally he slips from his high standards. The odd Beatitude doesn't get the in depth treatment I'd love to see ('Blessèd are the peacemakers', for example). But overall this is a rich and satisfying gourmet meal that would be a bargain at three times the price.
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I'll admit it. I'm a bit of Bailey devotee. I thoroughly benefitted from 'Poet & Peasant' and also 'Through Peasant Eyes'. I've eagerly been waiting for this latest volume for around six months, and I have to say that it was definitely worth the wait.
Anyone who wants to understand Jesus from the context of the Gospel narratives will enjoy this one. It is accessible (I would say) to most readers. Bailey uses plain english, and manages to avoid too much technical jargon. His chapters follow a logical structure, and always include a summary of key points at the end. The book is well-written, and a challenge to one's preconceptions - as you read it, he manages to achieve the remarkable: the Gospel narratives re-emerge, fresh and alive in their original context. Far from the biblical accounts of Christ's life and ministry being late concoctions (a la Hitchens), what is swiftly evident is how much they depend upon the immediate cultural context. Anyone studying the New Testament should buy this one. Heck - buy two and give one as a present!
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Bailey, having lived and worked in the Middle East for the last 40 years, as well as being able to read and translate Arab Christian texts and commentaries, offers a rich treasure for those looking to understand the cultural background to Jesus' parables and life.

I have found it useful for reading and preaching, as Bailey gives fresh insight as to what the listeners of the Jesus' parables would hear and understand.

Great chapters on Jesus' birth, women, parables, and more. Excellent!
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It can be asserted that the "Jewishness" of Jesus has oft been neglected, in this excellent, well put together book Bailey takes us into the real world of the Gospel's, he shows us how much we really owe to the Jewish people and how profoundly our Lord and his Apostles were products of a hebraic thought not greek! Excellent.
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I bought this book three or four years ago, and continue to refer to it. The book's strength is that it, as its title says, looks at Jesus through the eyes of the culture in which he is likely to have lived. For people such as me, brought up in Western culture, this is no less than a revelation, and in some ways a liberation too. Bailey's analysis questions our popular, Western understanding of many of the seminal stories and parables in the Gospels.

For instance, Bailey's analysis of the Christmas story shows that our interpretation of it in Nativity plays says more about our culture and owes little to what is likely to have happened. There was no inn, and therefore no innkeeper, and far from being turned away, it is likely Joseph and Mary would have been made welcome, as they would have had relatives living in Bethlehem. In addition, his analysis of the parables is a real joy to those of us looking for something fresh from them. I particularly like his insights on the Prodigal Son - the real hero is the father who shames himself twice due to the actions of both sons, the Shrewd Servant, and the Unforgiving Master.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough for those who are interested in in its subject. It is one of the few books I recommend or buy for others.
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An amazing book, although it is quite long and academic it is a very easy book to read. Bailey's knowledge of the region comes through clearly and the new angle he takes on the very traditional interpretations of the Western Churches really makes you think more deeply about passages you thought you knew well. I am not an academic theologian at all but I feel this book has extended my horizons and enriched my studies. Excellent for those wanting to study in greater depth than many of the popular theological books.
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