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IVP Academic Paul Through Mediterranean Eyes: Cultural Studies in 1 Corinthians

Paul was a Hebrew of the Hebrews, steeped in the learning of his people. But he was also a Roman citizen who widely traveled the Mediterranean basin, and was very knowledgeable of the dominant Greek and Roman culture of his day. These two mighty rivers of influence converge in Paul's first letter to the Corinthians.

With razor-sharp exegetical attention to the text, Kenneth Bailey's Paul Through mediterranean Eyes examines the cultural milieu/setting and rhetorical strategies that shaped this pivotal and complex epistle. The first letter to the the Corinthians, as Bailey notes, is a corrective epistle for the Corinthian church and in so doing so argues that the epistle is deeply rooted in the Hebraic prophetic tradition and draws heavily from the Old Testament prophetic tradition. In doing so, Bailey shows just how extensively Paul linked his thinking with the great prophets of Israel's history.

Throughout, Bailey employs his expert knowledge of Near Eastern and Mediterranean culture to deliver to readers a new understanding of Paul and his world. Familiar passages take on a new hue as they are stripped of meaning established outside of historical context and rendered back into their ancient setting.

  • Examines 1 Corinthians within its social, cultural and rhetorical construction
  • Proposes a new conception of the structure and nature of Paul's argument
  • Draws on twenty-two ancient translations of 1 Corinthians into Arabic, Syriac and Hebrew
  • Draws on commentaries dating as far back as ninth-century Damascus
  • Provides an excellent resource for New Testament students and scholars interested in the Pauline corpus
  • Continues the exegetical method begun in Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes
  • Illuminates a familiar biblical text through insights from the native culture
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Customer Reviews for Paul Through Mediterranean Eyes: Cultural Studies in 1 Corinthians
Review 1 for Paul Through Mediterranean Eyes: Cultural Studies in 1 Corinthians
Overall Rating: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

This book will take you deeper into God's word!

Date:June 12, 2012
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Milton Jantzen
Location:Pismo Beach
Age:Over 65
Gender:male
Quality: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Value: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Meets Expectations: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Dr. Bailey carefully and fully presents powerful insights into Paul's writing to the Corinthians, showing that the book was intended for all followers of Jesus at all times. His understanding of the writing styles in use at that time opens up deep reservoirs of truth.
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Review 2 for Paul Through Mediterranean Eyes: Cultural Studies in 1 Corinthians
Overall Rating: 
3 out of 5
3 out of 5

Not what I was expecting

Date:January 12, 2012
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Debbie from ChristFocus
Location:Harrison, AR
Age:25-34
Gender:female
Quality: 
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
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3 out of 5
3 out of 5
Meets Expectations: 
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
"Paul Through Mediterranean Eyes" is a very thick commentary on 1 Corinthians. From the title, I expected a book focused on the cultural background of 1 Corinthians that would help us better understand Paul's points. However, the main focus was on the rhetorical style used in 1 Corinthians.
The author carefully constructed charts showing how the 1 Corinthians format matched that of the Old Testament prophets. He claimed that understanding this format would help us better understand the meaning of Paul's words. To be honest, I sometimes couldn't easily see why the sentences were arranged in that format (except that's where they should be to fit the format) and ended up feeling stupid and confused (rather than enlightened) by seeing the rhetorical format laid out. Perhaps those who already have some background in rhetorical styles in the Bible would find it more enlightening.
The author also gave a commentary on the verses. While interesting, his comments didn't stand out to me as memorable nor did I feel like I'd gained new insight into the verses. When the author did mention how Middle Easterners might have understood the verses (so as to increase our understanding), I found it interesting and thought-provoking but rarely enlightening. Also, some of the things he said might explain the verses, but I've read Bible background books that give different explanations that seem to fit the text better.
So, overall, the book contained some interesting information, but I didn't feel like reading it cleared up any potential confusions I had about 1 Corinthians. It was more than it pointed out possible nuances that I might not have otherwise noticed.
I received this book as a review copy from a publicist.
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