Book Reviews

Mark

A Commentary

Adela Yarbro Collins, John J. Collins Minneapolis 2007-11-01

One of the first courses recommended for entering doctoral students in biblical studies is a seminar that surveys both literary and nonliterary sources from the Hellenistic age as an aid to New Testament interpretation. Most commentaries interact with this background material to a certain extent, but no commentary on Mark can match this one by Collins for the wide variety of ancient sources cited and discussed. Also helpful is the fact that although these citations are often given in the original language (usually Greek, but also Latin), they are followed by a translation, making the commentary useful for the general reader as well. As a resource for access to these sources this commentary is an outstanding aid.

The introduction (125 pp.) addresses the usual issues of authorship, place of writing, date, and genre. The latter topic includes discussion about Mark as biography and about the book as an “eschatological historical monograph,” narrating “a sequence of events that constitute the fulfillment of the divine plan” (p. 42). Specifically “the narrative of Mark as a whole suggests that the kingdom of God on earth is to be realized in his Son Jesus (1:11) in an anticipatory way and later in a definitive way in his role as the heavenly Son of Man (8:38; 13:24–27; 14:62)” (ibid.). The two main discourses featuring parables (chap. 4) and future events (chap. 13) fit this point of view nicely.

The introduction also includes discussion about Mark’s interpretation of Jesus (as Prophet, Messiah, and Teacher), the Synoptic problem, composition and structure, audience and purpose, the history of interpretation, and textual criticism. The chief textual debate in Mark concerns the ending(s) of the Gospel. The author makes a case for 16:8 being the original conclusion (pp. 797–801), but she also comments on the shorter (additional) and longer endings and the Freer logion (pp. 802–18).

The commentary also includes numerous excursuses on various topics such as the baptism of John, the messianic secret, the Son of Man tradition, the historicity of Judas, the secret Gospel of Mark (likely a forgery or a hoax), the passion narrative, Galilee and Jerusalem, scholarship on 14:51–52, and a discussion of resurrection in ancient cultural contexts. What is missing is a synthesis of the Gospel’s message or something resembling an overview of Mark’s theology that would enable a reader to see the various parts of the commentary in light of the Gospel as a whole. However, for readers interested in learning more about the historical and cultural context of the Book of Mark, this is an invaluable aid. 

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David K. Lowery
Dr. David Lowery retired from full-time faculty service at DTS after 42 years of faithful service in the department of New Testament Studies. He graduated with his ThM degree in 1975 and earned his PhD in 4987 from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. He did postdoctoral work at Tübingen University in Germany and at Cambridge University in the UK.Dr. Lowery contributed to the New American Standard Bible and the NET Bible. He taught in Europe, the Middle East, the Caribbean, and the South Pacific. His particular ares of focus in the NT are Matthew, Mark, and Paul's letters. In addition to his extensive academic pursuits, Dave was involved in church planting and ministry for over three decades in Vermont and Texas. Dave and his wife Deb made DTS a family affair. Their children, Daniel, John, and Mary attended DTS, where they met their spouses. All six are graduates. Dave currently serves as an elder in a church pastored by one son and in writing a commentary on Matthew with another son. Their son-in-law and daughter are on staff at a church in Tennessee. Dave and Deb have seven grandchildren.
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