Ken Bailey: An Appreciation

Dr. Kenneth E. Bailey, renowned scholar, theologian, and author, died May 23, 2016 at age 85.

Drawing on his extensive knowledge of Middle Eastern culture, Dr. Bailey had a gift for bringing the scriptures to life as a speaker and writer. We were honored to host Dr. Bailey as a guest preacher and teacher twice at Shepherd of the Valley in 2005 and 2013. His works have been used many times by SOTV pastors and study leaders – in Crossways, and most recently in last year’s Corinthians study. We grieve the loss of our beloved teacher and give thanks to God for the knowledge and faith he shared with us.

The following is an article from the Summer 2013 News for the Flock by Paul and Kris Moyer.

When Dr. Kenneth Bailey preached in March at worship, one child in attendance was asked by his parents what he thought. The youth responded, “He’s the Einstein of the Bible!”

This sentiment seems to sum up what many people were feeling after hearing Dr. Bailey on the weekend of March 9 & 10 at Shepherd of the Valley. This was an event made possible by the work of SOTV’s Immersed in the Word Team, a group designed to create experiences that dive deep into scripture, often through visual arts, music, performance, and talks by renowned Biblical scholars like Dr. Bailey.

During the weekend, Dr. Bailey shared his 50-plus years of experience of living in Middle Eastern countries such as Lebanon and Israel where he pursued biblical scholarship. His teachings related how images used in the Old Testament, such as in the 23rd Psalm, are used as the basis for Jesus’ parables of the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin, and Two Lost Sons (aka The Prodigal Son).

Dr. Bailey’s expertise is incorporating Middle Eastern culture to help people better understand the biblical text. Just as Albert Einstein devised his theory of relativity from the works of others before him, such as Sir Isaac Newton, Dr. Bailey humbly admits to building on centuries of scholars that have preceded him in making his noteworthy connections between the Old and New Testaments.

In addition to teaching three sessions, Dr. Bailey also preached on the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus. Again, Dr. Bailey provided many contextual observations based on his knowledge and experience with Middle Eastern culture to enrich our understanding of what can be a difficult topic of affluence and the poor.

Dr. Bailey’s teaching affirmed that, as each of us is lost like the sheep, God will search for us and rejoice as He returns us to His flock. We also are like the lost coin in that our own value to God and to one another is not diminished – even while we are lost.

Those attending Dr. Bailey’s lectures and sermons are grateful to have had this opportunity to hear the teaching of a revered scholar who has regularly taught at prestigious institutions like Oxford and Cambridge, provided Bible study to the collective Archbishops of the Anglican Church, and equally felt at home at Shepherd of the Valley.

Leave a Reply