We are immersed in words and in the process they have become cheap. Rarely are words heard as pearls, carefully selected and artistically strung on a golden thread called a sentence. Jesus invites the reader to step into a world where words are few and powerful. In such a world each word must be examined with the care it deserves.
This book, by Kenneth E. Bailey (InterVarsity Press, 2008), is hard to put down. Bailey relates the cultural background of the Middle East, Palestine, and Judaism and what it means to understanding the Gospels. There is much about the culture of those times that is presupposed by the Gospel writers, but lost to us. Bailey seeks to fill us in.
I am understanding the Christmas account, the Beatitudes, and now the Lord's Prayer in new ways after reading the first seven chapters. I still look forward to reading his chapters on the parables and "dramatic actions of Jesus."