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The Good Shepherd: A Thousand-Year Journey…
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The Good Shepherd: A Thousand-Year Journey from Psalm 23 to the New… (edition 2015)

by Kenneth E. Bailey (Author)

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Member:tim.dieppe
Title:The Good Shepherd: A Thousand-Year Journey from Psalm 23 to the New Testament
Authors:Kenneth E. Bailey (Author)
Info:SPCK Publishing (2015), 288 pages
Collections:Your library
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Tags:Psalms

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The Good Shepherd: A Thousand-Year Journey from Psalm 23 to the New Testament by Kenneth E. Bailey

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Summary: A study of the theme of the good shepherd beginning with Psalm 23 and considering consecutively eight other passages in which this theme is found.

We lost a giant of biblical scholarship this spring (2016) with the passing of Kenneth E. Bailey. Raised in the Middle East, he taught New Testament in Egypt, Lebanon, Jerusalem, and Cyprus. He brought to his scholarship an intimate knowledge of Middle Eastern culture, Arabic works, and the scriptures that shed fresh light on everything from the Nativity to the dearly loved Psalm that many of us memorized as children and have clung to in our darkest hours, Psalm 23.

Beginning with Psalm 23, Bailey considers eight other passages in the Old and New Testaments in which the theme is f0und of the shepherd and the sheep. These include Jeremiah 23:1-8, Ezekiel 34, Zechariah 10:2-12, Luke 15:1-10, Mark 6:7-52 (the feeding of the 5,000), Matthew 18:10-14, John 10:1-18, and 1 Peter 5:1-4. Bailey contends that in these ten dramatic elements recur in most of these passages:

1. The good shepherd.
2. The lost sheep (or lost flock)
3. The opponents of the shepherd
4. The good host(ess?)
5. The incarnation (promised or realized)
6. The high cost the shepherd sustains to find and restore the lost
7. The theme of repentance/return
8. Bad sheep
9. A celebration
10. The end of the story (in a house, in the land, or with God)

Bailey then exegetes each passage. Over and over he finds a “ring” or chiasmus structure in these passages and draws out the meaning of the passage cameo by cameo. Along the way, his background knowledge of the Middle Eastern setting of these passages comes in as he describes the skittishness of sheep, who will only drink at still pools of water, the mace-like rod of the shepherd with which he fights off wolves and other predators, repentance as a willingness to be found, and the supreme risk of the shepherd in John 10, who of his own volition lays down his life for his sheep. I loved this description of the good shepherd:

“The good shepherd ‘leads me’; he does not ‘drive me.’ There is a marked difference. In Egypt where this is no open pasture land I have often seen shepherds driving sheep from behind with sticks. But in the open wilderness of the Holy Land the shepherd walks slowly ahead of his sheep and either plays his own ten-second tune on a pipe or (more often) sings his own unique ‘call.’ The sheep appear to be attracted primarily by the voice of the shepherd, which they know and are eager to follow” (p. 41).

One often doesn’t think of the shepherd theme in the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000. Bailey draws out both the contrast with the evil banquet of Herod at which John the Baptist was beheaded, which precedes this miracle, and the counter-cultural statement of the feeding of the 5,000, in the green grass, by the Sea of Galilee, where the people eat their fill and are led in paths of righteousness. In contrast to decadent Herod, Jesus reveals himself as the Good Shepherd of Israel.

Likewise, I and many others have puzzled over the shepherd leaving the ninety-nine for the one lost sheep. Yes, sheep are valuable. Yet so are the ninety-nine. But what would it mean to the ninety-nine, Bailey asks, that the shepherd went after the lost one? It meant that should they get lost, the shepherd would search for them as well. Every sheep mattered.

This is both good scholarship and good devotional reading that leads one to praise the Great Shepherd and to aspire to be a good shepherd to the extent that God gives that opportunity. I do not know if there are further works of Bailey’s that will be published posthumously. But in this final major publication Bailey sums up a life of devotion and fine scholarship in a book that is a gift to the church and her shepherds. ( )
  BobonBooks | Oct 3, 2016 |
The Good Shepherd tradition is among the best known and best loved, even in a Biblically illiterate world. Book traces the tradition in 9 texts over 1000 years but moves quickly with a lot of great insight. This is one of the top books I've read this year. ( )
  Luke_Brown | Sep 10, 2016 |
Bailey is a careful researcher whose passion and experience shines through. He spent 40 years living and teaching New Testament in Egypt, Lebanon, Jerusalem and Cyprus. I have another of his books on my shelf, Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes, that I’ve skimmed and am dying to find time to read. So, given that the Good Shepherd is a topic of great interest to me, this book was a gold mine. I wish had been able to read this book before writing my own about the Gospel of John, since the Good Shepherd (as well as the bad shepherd) is an integral part of John’s theology.

Bailey starts his analysis back in the 23rd Psalm. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. This Psalm sets the theme for later Old Testament writers, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Zechariah, who expound on the shepherd tradition in different ways. I’ll run a comparison of these Old Testament variants on the 23rd Psalm in a later post. The tone is then set for Jesus’s arrival, and all four Gospel writers embrace the image of a shepherd to describe Jesus, particularly in matters of salvation.

One of the most interesting parts of the book was Bailey’s own experience, and the experience of those he met, in tending sheep. How confidence is gained in the sheep, how they must be cared for, how they learn the voice of the shepherd, and more.

This is not light reading–it’s one of those books that you actually have to study to get the full benefit–but I highly recommend making the effort.

InterVarsity Press, © 2014, 288 pages

ISBN: 978-0-8308-4063-2 ( )
  DubiousDisciple | Jan 30, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 083084063X, Paperback)

"The Lord is my shepherd." Thus begins the most beloved of all Psalms—and thus begins a thousand-year journey through the Bible. Prophets, apostles and Jesus himself took up this image from David, reshaping it, developing it and applying it to their own situations and needs. Kenneth Bailey uses his celebrated insights into Middle Eastern culture and especially his familiarity with Middle Eastern shepherding customs to bring new light and life to our understanding of this central image of the Christian faith. With each of nine major Old and New Testament passages, Bailey reveals the literary artistry of the Biblical writers and summarizes their key theological features. His work is also enriched by his unique access to very early Middle Eastern commentaries on these passages, bringing fresh understanding from within the mindset of these ancient worlds. The Good Shepherd invites us to experience a rich, biblical feast of ethical, theological and artistic delights.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:58 -0400)

"The Lord is my shepherd." Thus begins the most beloved of all Psalms-and thus begins a thousand-year journey through the Bible. Prophets, apostles, and Jesus himself took up this image from David, reshaping it, developing it, and applying it to their own situations and needs. Kenneth Bailey uses his celebrated insights into Middle Eastern culture, especially his familiarity with Middle Eastern shepherding customs, to bring new light and life to our understanding of this central image of the Christian faith. With each of nine major Old and New Testament passages, Bailey reveals the literary artistry of the biblical writers and summarizes their key theological features. His work is also enriched by his unique access to very early Middle Eastern commentaries on these passages, bringing fresh understanding from within the mind-set of these ancient worlds. The Good Shepherd invites us to experience a rich, biblical feast of ethical, theological, and artistic delights.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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