When I became interested in understanding Jesus in his first century context several years ago, one of the names that appeared in several contexts was Kenneth Bailey. Bailey is a New Testament scholar who specializes in understanding Middle Eastern cultures and their relationship to the New Testament writings. He has spent forty years living and teaching New Testament in Egypt, Lebanon, Jerusalem and Cyprus, so I think he knows a little bit about it.
His most recent book is Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes, which offers a broad stroke of the Gospel writings about Jesus. The book is broken into six sections:
- The Birth of Jesus
- The Beatitudes
- The Lord’s Prayer
- Dramatic Actions of Jesus
- Jesus and Women
- Parables of Jesus
Many writers who write about Jesus as a historical figure almost make him harder to relate to. They focus on so many layers of interpretation that Jesus as a human who walked the earth becomes harder to engage with. Bailey focuses more on the context of Jesus’ teaching and actions, helping bring to life how Jesus was seen and received.
This book was published on IVP’s Academic label, but the text is accessible to most readers. And I know it’s kind of a broken record to hear me say that this is a book that would helpful for most in church leadership to read, but that’s exactly the case.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”