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Jacob and the Prodigal: How Jesus Retold Israel’s Story

by Bailey, Kenneth E.

IVP 2003

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Overview

Israel, the community to which Jesus belonged, took its name from their patriarch Jacob. His story of exile and return was their story as well. In the well-known tale of the prodigal son, Jesus reshaped the story in his own way and for his own purposes.

In Jacob and the Prodigal, Kenneth E. Bailey compares the Old Testament saga and the New Testament parable. He unpacks similarities freighted with theological significance and differences that often reveal Jesus’ particular purposes. Drawing on a lifetime of study in both Middle Eastern culture and the Gospels, Bailey offers a fresh view of how Jesus interpreted Israel’s past, his present, and their future.

With Logos Bible Software, Jacob and the Prodigal: How Jesus Retold Israel’s Story is easily searchable. Scripture passages appear on mouse-over, and all cross-references are linked to the other resources in your digital library, making this collection more powerful and easier to access than ever before for scholarly work or personal Bible study. With the advanced search features of Logos Bible Software, you can perform powerful searches by topic or Scripture reference, such as finding every mention of ‘prodigal son” or “parable.”

Key Features

  • Examines similarities and differences between the two narratives on the prodigal son
  • Offers a view of how Jesus interpreted Israel’s past, his present, and their future
  • Summarizes Kenneth Bailey’s decades of study, teaching, and missionary work

Praise for the Print Edition

Kenneth Bailey has become the premier commentator in our generation on the cultural world behind Jesus’ parables. And of all the parables, Bailey keeps returning to the prodigal son more than any other one. Here, in one very insight-filled yet readable layperson’s book, is a more accessible form of much of his previous commentary on Luke 15, plus more—fascinating parallels with Genesis and the accounts of Jacob and Esau. Bailey is undoubtedly right that there is more of the full-orbed gospel of redemption in this parable than first meets the eye.

Craig L. Blomberg, distinguished professor of New Testament, Denver Seminary

Bailey’s knowledge of the scholarly literature is matched by his intimate understanding of ancient texts and cultures, and these together bring interpretative insights unavailable from any other writer. Here Bailey outlines how Jesus taught in his culture and day. He then focuses his energies on a brilliant and persuasive treatment of Luke 15 and shows how the ’Jacob Saga’ of Genesis informed the dramatic framework of Jesus’ most famous parable. Bailey is one of the ’great teachers’; and through this volume we can listen to the wealth of his life of research.

Gary M. Burge, professor of New Testament, Wheaton College and Graduate School

Kenneth Bailey’s Jacob and the Prodigal offers a fascinating study in biblical intertextuality that opens up new and exciting possibilities in the interpretation of one of Jesus’; best-known parables, that of the prodigal son. The importance of Bailey’s exegesis is not limited to this one parable but has significance for our understanding of the whole of Jesus’ theology.

Craig A. Evans, Payzant Professor of New Testament, Acadia Divinity College

’There cannot be anything new left to be said about the parable of the prodigal son.’ Really? Not when Kenneth Bailey sets to work with his phenomenal knowledge of Scripture and Jewish writings, the Middle-Eastern scene, and early Arabic commentators on the New Testament! The result is a highly readable, exciting, and stimulating new reading of the stories in Luke 15 in tandem with the story of Jacob. Preachers on these stories will never be able to expound them again in the way that they used to do but will find treasures new in them thanks to this insightful treatment. The gospel stands out all the more clearly as a result of Bailey’s interpretation.

I. Howard Marshall, honorary research professor of New Testament, University of Aberdeen

Jacob and the Prodigal is excellently written, very readable, filled with a spirit of reverence for the great subject it talks about and replete with the scholarly nuggets of the Near-Eastern expert that nobody else can provide at this time. The novelty of the New Testament as well as its continuity with the old covenant is wonderfully worked out while offering us a captivating reading of the Evangelium in Evangelio. A book with many refreshing discoveries.

—Ulrich W. Mauser, professor emeritus, Princeton Theological Seminary

Ken Bailey’s Jacob and the Prodigal, a monumental work, will set the stage for all subsequent New Testament scholars working on the ’so-called’ parable of the Prodigal Son.

Review of Biblical Literature

Product Details

  • Title: Jacob and the Prodigal: How Jesus Retold Israel’s Story
  • Authors: Kenneth E. Bailey
  • Publisher: IVP
  • Publication Date: 2003
  • Pages: 225

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 Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh. He holds graduate degrees in Arabic language and literature, and in systematic theology; his ThD is in New Testament. Bailey spent 40 years living and teaching New Testament in Egypt, Lebanon, Jerusalem, and Cyprus, still holding the title of research professor emeritus of Middle Eastern New Testament studies at the Ecumenical Institute (Tantur), Jerusalem.