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Paul through Mediterranean Eyes: Cultural Studies in 1 Corinthians

ISBN: 9780830869329


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Paul was a Hebrew of the Hebrews, steeped in the learning of his people. But he was also a Roman citizen who widely traveled the Mediterranean basin, and was very knowledgeable of the dominant Greek and Roman culture of his day. These two mighty rivers of influence converge in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians.

With razor-sharp attention to the text, Kenneth Bailey examines the cultural milieu and rhetorical strategies that shaped this pivotal epistle. He discovers the deep layers of the Hebraic prophetic tradition informing Paul’s writing, linking the Apostle with the great prophets of the Old Testament.

Throughout, Bailey employs his expert knowledge of Near Eastern and Mediterranean culture to deliver to readers a new understanding of Paul and his world. Familiar passages take on a new hue as they are stripped of standard Western interpretations and rendered back into their ancient setting.

Logos Bible Software dramatically improves the value of Paul through Mediterranean Eyes: Cultural Studies in 1 Corinthians by enabling you to find what you’re looking for with unparalleled speed and precision. The Logos edition is fully searchable and easily accessible. Scripture passages link directly to your preferred English translation and to the original language texts, and important theological concepts link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of resources in your digital library.
Resource Experts
  • Examines 1 Corinthians within its social, cultural and rhetorical construction
  • Proposes a new conception of the structure and nature of Paul’s argument
  • Draws on 22 ancient translations of 1 Corinthians into Arabic, Syriac and Hebrew

Top Highlights

“Biblical ‘ring composition’ usually places the climax in the center, not at the end.” (Page 51)

“Paul addressed 1 Corinthians to the Corinthian Christians ‘together with all those in every place on whom is called the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours’ (1:2, my translation). Paul states openly and boldly that this letter is addressed to the entire church. Is he serious?” (Page 23)

“The point is that the confirming/sustaining/strengthening that has already taken place in the present will continue until the Day of Judgment. Regardless of all the ethical and theological failings that Paul found in the church in Corinth, he was confident that the Corinthians would stand ‘guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ O that the antagonists in church fights in every age might maintain this amazing confidence.” (Page 62)

“About the other things I will give directions when I come.’ This important aside makes it clear that there are problems in Corinth relating only to the Corinthians. Ergo, the rest of the book relates to the Corinthians and to others. This in turn leads us to conclude that Paul is deadly serious when he affirms that his intended readers are the Corinthians and all Christians everywhere.” (Page 26)

“Paul is not providing an excuse for sloppy preaching; rather he is affirming that the preacher does not create the meaning in his/her mind, but reports God’s acts in history, and the report of those acts should be well composed.” (Page 77)

Bailey has done an important service in identifying these structures and the way in which they can help us understand in a deeper way Paul’s intent in the letter. The book should be a rich resource for interpreters, and especially those who desire to see the rich theology underlying Paul’s practical concerns.

Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society

Kenneth Bailey’s new volume, Paul through Mediterranean Eyes, is a refreshing reminder that for those willing to mine more deeply into the biblical text, precious gems can really be found. Bailey offers an impressive, and genuinely original, contribution to the study of 1 Corinthians that both New Testament scholars and pastors will appreciate. . . . [he] has produced a tremendous piece of scholarship that is intriguing, illuminating, and distinctive.

Southeastern Theological Review

Bailey’s warm pastoral style, up-to-date scholarship and attention to theology make for an excellent exposition of Paul’s argument in 1 Corinthians. His unparalleled knowledge of the New Testament in Arabic translation, coupled with his lifetime of experience in the Middle East, gives Bailey a unique perspective on the biblical text. Highlighting Paul’s rhetorical argument and extensive use of Jewish Scriptures, Bailey’s work is a rare commentary that serves both pastor and layperson. This book sets a high standard for clarity and practical wisdom in the field of biblical exposition.

Lynn H. Cohick, professor of New Testament, Wheaton College

This scholarly yet accessible study is a helpful addition to any bookshelf—even those crowded with commentaries on First Corinthians.

Bible Study Magazine

Paul through Mediterranean Eyes is a necessary addition to the libraries of all scholars and pastors working in or preaching from 1 Corinthians. Bailey’s writing is easy to follow, warm, and lucid. Though making some complex arguments and performing some deep analysis, the author never loses sight of the reader or of his goal to make Paul more accessible rather than less. This book is highly recommended for any serious reader of 1 Corinthians.

Criswell Theological Review

Bailey adds significantly to our understanding of Paul’s style. Scholars are challenged to add a solid research footing to take up Bailey’s interpretations in their own work. Pastors and teachers will find this an excellent supplement to be used next to several other good commentaries. It will enhance not only their exegesis but also their sermons as they learn both from Paul’s theology and his rhetorical skill.

Review of Biblical Literature

  • Title: Paul through Mediterranean Eyes: Cultural Studies in 1 Corinthians
  • Author: Kenneth E. Bailey
  • Publisher: IVP Press
  • Publication Date: 2011
  • Pages: 560

Kenneth E. Bailey is a Presbyterian author and lecturer in Middle Eastern New Testament Studies. He is also a canon theologian of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh and an emeritus research professor of New Testament at the Ecumenical Institute in Jerusalem. Bailey has degrees in Arabic Language and Literature, Systematic Theology, and New Testament. From 1955 to 1995 he taught in several seminaries and institutes in Jerusalem, Lebanon, Egypt, and Cyprus. He has authored several books, including Paul through Mediterranean Eyes, The Cross and the Prodigal, Jacob and the Prodigal, and Jesus through Middle Eastern Eyes.


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Digital list price: $39.99
Save $22.00 (55%)