Bailey's approach continues to be based on his knowledge of ancient and modern Middle-Eastern languages and his experience of life in Middle-Eastern villages, which have changed little since the time of Christ.In "Paul through Mediterranean Eyes," he turns from the Gospels and the parables of Jesus to Paul's first letter to the Corinthians.He is able to provide several insights concerning Paul's Jewish heritage and the lives of his converts in Corinth.
Two things remove this book from the four star ranking I've previously given some of Bailey's work.First, there is a sense that in dealing with the Corinthian milieu Bailey is slightly out of his element.He is, after all, an expert in the area of the agrarian Levant rather than the urban centers of Rome.Secondly, much of his approach in this book is built off of a thorough knowledge of Hebrew and Greek rhetoric.Form criticism is, in general, of interest only to the specialist.It doesn't preach well.
Still, this book is well worth reading and I recommend it with the reservation that it will not be as immediately applicable for the working preacher in search of insights for his or her congregation.I would rank it with most commentaries on I Corinthians rather than as the kind of breakthrough in Biblical cultural studies represented by "Jesus through Middle-Eastern Eyes."
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