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Mark for the rest of us




Mark (Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament) Vol. 2 by Mark L. Strauss

This newer commentary set put out by Zondervan is an excellent series, and this volume on Mark by Mark L. Strauss is no different.  Many of you will no doubt recognize Strauss, as he has labored in the field of NT studies for many years, producing substantial works on the gospels, choosing a translation of the bible, and his newest work is on paradoxes in the Bible.  This work, coming in at the hefty weight of 784 pages, leaves no stone unturned as Strauss covers introductory matters, textual issues, commentary, and theology.  The helpful layout of the book made for easy reading in that you could looking at the Scripture and Mark’s commentary alongside each other, comparing notes and engaging the original text in an accessible manner. 

What I particularly enjoyed about this commentary was its judicious balance of weighing the importance of Mark’s narrative alongside cultural and grammatical insights.  While Strauss bears witness to the importance of the term “gospel” for a Greco-Roman audience (enthronement of a king or emperor’s birthday), he helpfully points us to the OT usage where Isaiah envisions a time where the sovereign reign of God over the cosmos would endure and this would be predicated by peace (60).  Strauss goes onto to connect this theme with Jesus’ preaching on the kingdom of God.  While it is important to stress the Greco-Roman usage of gospel, Strauss helpfully steer us toward the ensuing narrative where John Mark talks about preparing for the messenger who will prepare the way for Jesus.  This overarching narrative of God’s act of bringing his kingdom with a King is part and parcel of what it means that salvation is near. 

In terms of the more disputed matters, Strauss take Markan priority, he sees Mark 16.9-20 as not part of the original text, and he focuses in on discipleship and Christology as providing the main lens in which to view Mark.  His scholarship is impeccable, wide-ranging and fair to opposing sources.  He references the Qumran scrolls, looks at cultural elements from Homer to rabbinic interpretations and carefully engages the latest NT scholarship. 


I hope you will enjoy this volume and be encouraged by its words.

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