The Cross and the Prodigal: A Commentary and Play on the Parable of the Prodigal Son

Kenneth Bailey


During his many years in the Middle East, Kenneth Bailey often lived in villages, thus experiencing peasant life first hand. In getting to know the local people, his understanding of the original meaning of the parables of Christ was greatly enriched. In The Cross and the Prodigal, Kenneth Bailey draws on these insights to bring out not only the literary meaning of the Parable of the Prodigal Son, but also its emotional impact on the original hearers.

In the one-act play, ‘Two Sons Have I Not’, contained in the second part of the book, the author brings into the open the parable’s underlying conflicts: Law versus love, servanthood versus sonship, preservation of family honour versus restoration of family fellowship. These conflicts are brought to a climax in the banquet scene that ends the parable.

With this reprint, the author’s insights into the Parable of the Prodigal Son are made available to a new generation. Kenneth Bailey’s writings on the parables of Jesus continue to be brilliantly illuminating.

Kenneth Bailey, spent 40 years (1955-1995) living and teaching in Egypt, Lebanon, Jerusalem and Cyprus. For 20 of those years he was Professor of New Testament at the Near East School of Theology in Beirut. Now officially retired, he continues his ministry of lecturing, writing, video and audio recording in the field of New Testament.

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