This volume is a combined edition of Poet and Peasant and Through Peasant Eyes, Kenneth Bailey’s intensive studies of the parables in the gospel of Luke.
Bailey begins by surveying the development of allegorical, historical-eschatological, aesthetic, and existential methods of interpretation. Though figures like Jülicher, Jeremias, Dodd, Jones, and Via have made important advances, Bailey sees the need to go beyond them by combining an examination of the poetic structures of the parables with a better understanding of the Oriental culture that informs the text.
Bailey’s work within Middle Eastern peasant culture over the last twenty years has helped him in his attempt to determine the cultural assumptions that the teller of the parables must have made about his audience. The same values which underlay the impact of the parables in Christ’s time, Bailey suggests, can be discovered today in isolated peasant communities in Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq. Because time has made almost no impact in these cultural pockets, it is possible to discern, for example, what it meant 2,000 years ago for a friend to come calling at midnight, or for a son to ask for his inheritance prior to his father’s death.
In addition to illuminating the cultural framework of the parables, Bailey offers an analysis of their literary structure, treating the parabolic section as a whole as well as its individual components. Through its combination of literary and cultural analyses, Bailey’s study makes a number of profound advances in parabolic interpretation.
Kenneth Bailey is the Chairman of the Biblical Department of the Near Eastern School of Theology in Beirut, Lebanon.
"The studies in these books are a literary-cultural approach to the parables which provide some wonderful insights and nuances that are easily overlooked by Westerners, yet have significant importance in understanding exactly what Jesus is saying in his use of parables. The author devotes 49 pages to a discussion of the Prodigal Son alone! Well worth the time and effort to purchase and study. I can't recommend it highly enough. Professor Bailey's studies on all of the parables contain deep Christian exegesis and theology." (Submitted by Eric Muehleisen. Comments and questions can be directed to him at firstname.lastname@example.org)
"The author spent 20 years as a Peace Corps worker in the Middle East and almost as many teaching in Beirut. He interprets the gospel material sociologically drawing on
present-day Middle East customs for clues. A broad range of folks--liberal to conservative in biblical interpretation--have found his work a solid middle ground on which to meet." (Submitted by Wayne Schwab. Comments or questions to him at