Author(s): Kenneth E Bailey
Honored in 2006 as a "Year's Best Book for Preachers" by Preaching magazine. Where is the cross in the parable of the prodigal son? For centuries, Muslims have called attention to the father's forgiveness in this parable in order to question the need for a Mediator between humanity and God. In The Cross the Prodigal, Kenneth E. Bailey--New Testament scholar and long-time missionary to the Middle East--undertakes to answer this question. Drawing on his extensive knowledge of both the New Testament and Middle Eastern culture, Bailey presents an interpretation of this parable from a Middle Eastern perspective and, in doing so, powerfully demonstrates its essentially Christian message. Here Bailey highlights the underlying tensions between law and love, servanthood and sonship, honor and forgiveness that grant this story such timeless spiritual and theological power.
"The Cross the Prodigal is a little book that changed the minds of Gospel scholars throughout the world. In its original edition (1973) Bailey not only established himself as a leading New Testament interpreter, but he launched an approach to the Gospels that was utterly unique. Over sixty years of life in the Middle East (from Egypt to Iraq) bequeathed to him a discerning knowledge of peasant life; fluency in Arabic; the ability to work in Syriac, Coptic and Aramaic; and an intimate acquaintance with Rabbinic literature. These skills he now applies to the three parables of Luke 15 in order to unlock cultural insights that have eluded scholars for centuries. This approach deserves a name--Middle Eastern New Testament Studies--and today Bailey's legacy belongs with scholars such as Joachim Jeremias: leading parable interpreters whose work has been a watershed for the rest of us."--Gary M. Burge, Ph.D., Professor of New Testament, Wheaton College Graduate School