The following is copied from my review posted on Goodreads.
Paul Through Mediterranean Eyes: Cultural Studies in 1 Corinthians by Kenneth E. Bailey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
There are plenty of other reviews that go in-depth, so I will limit my comments to a brief summary of my reaction and recommendation.
Dr. Bailey provides a perspective into interpreting 1 Corinthians that is different from most other commentaries. The rhetorical approach that sees the Hebrew rhetorical structure is valuable in uncovering meanings that may be missed or undeveloped in the typical linear reading of the epistle.
As some reviewers have noted, this book is much closer to a traditional commentary than some of his other works that focus far more on cultural background. At the same time Bailey provides cultural insights that are vital to interpretation that are often not found in other commentaries.
Bailey departs from the conservative, evangelical interpretations of several key topics in Christian doctrine. These include the role of women in the church, the theory/model of Christ's atonement, and the nature of the human soul/spirit. I believe Bailey presents his case expertly, using history, cultural studies, literature, and rhetoric to build his case for each. Will it convince everyone? Probably not. Yet the weight he lends is considerable simply by the weight of his background, expertise, and experience.
I emphatically recommend this commentary. It isn't something fro which one can directly create sermons, but used alongside more traditional commentaries and resources, it provides insight and understanding that cannot be found elsewhere. It fills in gaps that one encounters from more traditional studies. It helps the student see the epistle from a new perspective.
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