Thursday, August 28, 2008

The beauty and brilliance of Bailey

While preparing for Sunday's teaching on Luke, I have been reminded just what a wonderful scholar Ken Bailey is.

We're looking at the story of Zacchaeus and Bailey begins his reading with the simple observation that both this story and the one before it (the healing of the blind man) take place in Jericho (a fact obscured by our chapter divisions!).

So what we have is a single story in two acts of how Jesus offers the same unconditional love to both oppressed and oppressor alike. From this flows the fact that the crowd is a key character in both stories with their affections swaying one way, then the other as the narrative unfolds - and of course, it's the crowd in which we are located.

Bailey also shows how his understanding of repentance as 'the acceptance of being found' works itself out in both halves of the story. It's great stuff. And it's beautifully written as well - unusual in New testament scholarship.

You really ought to own (as well as consult regularly) Kenneth E Bailey Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes: Cultural Studies in the Gospels (IVP 2008). Alongside this Jacob & the Prodigal: How Jesus retold Israel's Story (BRF 2003) and the combined volume Poet & Peasant and Through Peasant Eyes: A literary-cultural approach to the parables in Luke (Eerdmans 1983) are also essential reading.

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