15 April 2012

Review: Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes: Cultural Studies in the Gospels - Kenneth E. Bailey

Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes: Cultural Studies in the Gospels
Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes: Cultural Studies in the Gospels by Kenneth E. Bailey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A very well written book that delves into the cultural surroundings and understandings of things during Jesus' days. It provides many great insights and adds such depth to many scriptures and stories that we "Greek minded" readers would gloss right over. Not for the light reader, as it is small print,many pages, and lots of information. The student of theology and cultural history will find it a gem most likely.

While it is rather interesting to note the writing style and way that stories were written in a specific pattern, it got pointed out so often that it became a bit tedious; but still interesting just how predominant it is in their style of writing.

The first part of the book started with a real attention grabber, revealing based on cultural understandings, that the birth of Jesus was not in a barn as we always picture it. I knew from that point that this book would offer much more depth to the biblical stories, and it sure did.

Section two is on the Beatitudes, section three on the Lord's prayer, section four deals with the dramatic actions of Jesus, and were all very interesting and insightful, but it got even more interesting in section five, dealing with Jesus and Women. I admit that he said some thing in this section about women that make me wonder how he would put what Jesus said up against what Paul later said. Of course I own Bailey's follow up book, entitled Paul Through Mediterranean Eyes: Cultural Studies in 1 Corinthians, which will reveal the answer (I assume) - once I get around to getting in to it.

It was the final section, six, on the parables that I was most captivated. The insight behind how those hearing the stories would have understood them, often shed new light and understanding on them which was intriguing.

Though I admit, at times, he tends to try to pull too much out of thing, but it is not so much that it got too annoying. Assuming things from silence could have been left out and the work would not have lost anything; but again, it wasn't so much that it was distracting - just noticeable.

Overall a good study and recommended for people who want a little more than a surface level Westerner view of things.

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