Return to Biblical series
Begun by Rick Beaton in 1998; edited and updated by John Proctor in 2005.
If you have Greek in your arsenal, blow the dust off a copy of H B Swete (1909; Kregel reprint, 1978) and discover a rewarding commentary on the Greek text. Although C E B Cranfield (CUP, 1959) also demands a thorough knowledge of Greek and is in some respects dated, it is a model of brevity and remains useful. R A Guelich (Vol 1, 1:1-8:26, Word Biblical Commentary, 1989) produced a moderately conservative, technical commentary. The dense style makes it slow going, but for those who need detail, it is one of the best out. Sadly, he died before completing the project, and the second volume was written by C A Evans (2001). As well as completing the commentary, through to 16.20, Evans has added a lengthy introduction of his own, in which he argues that Mark’s portrayal of Jesus deliberately subverts Roman imperial ideology. The voluminous edition by R H Gundry (Eerdmans, 1992), which runs to an astounding 1069 pages, is crammed with detail. Although awkward at points, Gundry is a safe bet for an exhaustive, middle of the road reference commentary. R T France’s New International Greek Testament Comm (Paternoster, 2002) is lucid, informed and detailed. The focus is primarily historical and theological, rather than expository and applied, although there are some hints of how the author might develop his themes in the pulpit.
For those without Greek, the commentary by M D Hooker (Black's NT Comm, A & C Black, 1991) is clear and concise, and her common-sense exegesis helpful. Hooker has the knack of presenting the fruits of great learning accessibly. B Witherington’s Mark (Eerdmans, 2001) takes a rhetorical approach, looking at how Mark shaped his message, and how his first hearers would have received and responded to it. J R Edwards’ Pillar NT Commentary (Eerdmans in USA, IVP in UK, 2002) is full of careful, clear exegesis from a scholarly evangelical. There are two recent commentaries by major Roman Catholic scholars. J R Donahue and D J Harrington write in the Sacra Pagina series (Liturgical Press, 2002), which aims to be both academically responsible and useful to preachers. And F J Moloney’s The Gospel of Mark (Hendrickson, 2002) takes up a narrative approach to show how Mark can address pastoral situations of failure and suffering.
Shorter commentaries can often offer an engaging read while retaining something of a critical edge. L Hurtado (New International Biblical Comm, 1989) blends sound exegesis and a winning style. J Brooks' thin volume (New American Comm, 1991), one of the more conservative on this list, is even-handed in his exegesis and discussion. B van Iersel's Reading Mark (T&T Clark/Liturgical, 1989), as its title suggests, is an early, good example of the literary approach. C S Rodd (Epworth Preacher's Comm, 2005) writes primarily (although by no means exclusively) to help Methodist lay preachers. And, most readable of all, N T Wright’s Mark for Everyone (SPCK, 2001) picks out the main issues in each passage and relates them to life and faith today.
Finally C Myers’ medium-sized commentary, Binding the Strong Man (Orbis, 1988) is in a class of its own. It is a lively and thought-provoking work, exploring fully the potential of this gospel as a text of social and economic liberation.
Jesus says, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand’ (1.15). How does the kingdom show itself in this chapter? How do the signs of the kingdom in Jesus’ ministry compare with signs we see of God’s kingdom now?
In these chapters Jesus provokes some varied responses. People divide, for him and against him. Does this still happen? Where do you notice it? Why do you think it happens?
How does story work in the teaching of Jesus? Does story reveal God’s truth or obscure it? What should be the place of story in the teaching ministry of the church? Where have you seen story working well? What are the hazards and difficulties in using story?
What kinds of healings and wholeness does Jesus bring to people’s lives in this chapter? How does Jesus enable people to be whole today?
Where in this chapter, and where now, does the gospel message meet trouble and opposition? Why do some people oppose the Christian message?
Where in this chapter do you see Jesus crossing boundaries? What are the boundaries that limit the spread of the good news in our world, and how might they be crossed?
As soon as his followers begin to understand who he is, Jesus speaks about his crucifixion. How important is the crucifixion in understanding Jesus? How can the life and worship of the church reflect this?
The disciples run into many misunderstandings and mistakes as they try to follow Jesus. How do their failings compare with ours? Do you feel critical or sympathetic towards the disciples? What was Jesus’ attitude to them?
Many questions are put to Jesus in these chapters. Which of them do you think are reasonable, and which are simply awkward? What questions do you notice people asking about Jesus? How should Christians try to answer these?
‘Alarmed ... alert ... awake ... asleep.’ How do we feel about the future, and how should we face it? What difference does being a Christian make? Why do so many people find it difficult to believe in a future that will be very different from the present?
In this long account of Jesus’ suffering and death, which are the incidents and episodes that move you most deeply? How do we deal emotionally with the tragedy and injustice of the cross, while also being grateful and thankful to God for it?
How do you feel about the ending of Mark’s Gospel? Is it complete at 16.8, or do you sense that something is missing? Write your own ending for the gospel.
|3||John 1.6-8, 19-28||5||3.20-35|
|2||John 1.1 (or 10)-18||8||5.21-43|
|3||John 2.1-11||11||6.30-34, 53-56|
|2||1.40-45||14||John 6.35, 41-51|
|2 before Lent||John 1.1-14||16||John 6.56-69|
|1 before Lent||9.2-9||17||7.1-8, 14-15, 21-23|
|6||14.1-15.47, or 15.1-39 (or 47)||23||10.17-31|
|Easter Sunday||16.1-8, or Jn 20.1-18||24||10.35-45|
|3||Luke 24.36b-48||Bible Sunday||John 5.36b-47|
|4||John 10.11-18||All Saints||John 11.32-44|
|5||John 15.1-8||4 Before Advent||12.28-34|
|6||John 15.9-17||3 Before Advent||1.14-20|
|7||John 17.6-19||2 Before Advent||13.1-8|
|Pentecost||John 15.26f; 16.4b-15||1 Before Advent||John 18.33-37|
Return to Biblical series
Return to top