Middle East

Died: Kenneth Bailey, the Scholar Who Made Jesus Middle Eastern Again

The late scholar helped Western Christians see the Bible through a cultural lens.
Died: Kenneth Bailey, the Scholar Who Made Jesus Middle Eastern Again
Image: Courtesy of the Presbytery of Shenango

Kenneth E. Bailey, the scholar who introduced evangelicals to Middle Eastern culture and history, died Monday at age 85.

Bailey gave Western readers “the eyes to see” the deeper significance of Jesus’ life and stories by placing them in the cultural context of the Middle East, publishing books like Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes and Paul Through Mediterranean Eyes, a 2012 CT Book Awards winner.

Bailey was the “premier cultural interpreter of the life of Jesus,” according to Wheaton College New Testament professor Gary Burge. Bailey’s insights stemmed from his own childhood in Egypt and a 40-year career studying and teaching in Egypt, Cyprus, Israel, and Lebanon.

“He told the parables of Jesus to peasants from Morocco to Pakistan, and their insight helped him (and so us) gain new understanding that would be available no other way,” wrote Andy Le Peau, his editor at InterVarsity Press. “Being fluent in many ancient languages also gave ...

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