"Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him." A father runs to welcome his prodigal son with open arms. What are the similarities between these two stories? Noting that Israel takes its name from Jacob, Bailey unpacks parallels freighted with theological significance, offering a fresh take on Jesus' view of Israel's destiny.
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 this work, 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 here a fresh view of how Jesus interpreted Israel's past, his present and their future.
Kenneth E. Bailey (ThD, Concordia Theological Seminary) 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. The author of more than 150 articles in English and in Arabic, his writings include and Bailey spent forty years living and teaching in seminaries and institutes in Egypt, Lebanon, Jerusalem and Cyprus. For twenty of those years he was Professor of New Testament and Head of the Biblical Department of the Near East School of Theology in Beirut where he also founded and directed the Institute for Middle Eastern New Testament Studies. Bailey was also on the faculty of The Ecumenical Institute for Theological Research in Jerusalem. Traveling around the globe to lecture and teach, Bailey has spoken in theological colleges and seminaries in England (Oxford, Cambridge, Bristol) Ireland, Canada, Egypt, Finland, Latvia, Denmark, New Zealand, Australia and Jerusalem. He is active as a Bible teacher for conferences and continuing education events in the Middle East, Europe and North America, and has taught at Columbia, Princeton and Fuller Seminary. Bailey and his wife Ethel now reside in New Wilmington, Pennsylvania, where he continues to write and lecture on the New Testament. He spent forty 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. Bailey has written many books in English and in Arabic, including and He has also published many articles in and .
"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."
"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."
" '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."
"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."
"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."
"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."
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