Paul Through Mediterranean Eyes | Kenneth E. Bailey

After benefiting immensely from Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes, I knew I had to read Bailey’s book on 1 Corinthians. I was not disappointed. Bailey did what he does best: he uses his knowledge of Middle Eastern culture along with Coptic, Syriac and Arabic sources to inform his reading of the New Testament.

When you read 1 Corinthians, it’s easy to get the impression that Paul’s frustration with this particular congregation produced a letter that’s intensely situational, jumping from issue to issue. Structure seems to take a back seat to passion. It turns out nothing could be further from the truth.

The best part of this commentary is the way that Bailey discerned the structure of 1 Corinthians. It’s a carefully crafted five essay letter that uses Old Testament prophetic styles and templates. At the start of each section Bailey lays out the text structurally which helps the reader to see what Paul’s emphasizing.

I read through this commentary as I taught an informal Bible study at my church. It provided insight into the text along with pastoral considerations and illustrations to bring each passage alive. If you want to go further in 1 Corinthians, pick up Thiselton: either his comprehensive entry in the NIGTC series or the digest version: 1 Corinthians: A Shorter Exegetical and Pastoral Commentary.

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