Item description for The Gospel According to Mark (Pillar New Testament Commentary) by James R. Edwards...
Overview This new Pillar volume offers exceptional commentary on Mark that clearly shows the second Gospel, though it was a product of the earliest Christian community, to be both relevant and sorely needed in today's church. Written by a biblical scholar who has devoted thirty years to the study of the second Gospel, this commentary aims primarily to interpret the Gosepl of Mark according to its theological intentions and purposes, especially as they relate to the life and ministry of Jesus and the call to faith and discipleship. Unique features of James Edwards's approach include clear descriptions of key terms used by Mark and revealing discussion of the Gospel's literary features, including Mark's use of the "sandwich" technique and of imagistic motifs and irony. Edwards also proposes a new paradigm for interpreting the difficult "Little Apocalypse" of chapter 13, and he argues for a new understanding of Mark's controversial ending.
Publishers Description This new Pillar volume offers exceptional commentary on Mark that clearly shows the second Gospel though it was a product of the earliest Christian community to be both relevant and sorely needed in today's church. Written by a biblical scholar who has devoted thirty years to the study of the second Gospel, this commentary aims primarily to interpret the Gosepl of Mark according to its theological intentions and purposes, especially as they relate to the life and ministry of Jesus and the call to faith and discipleship. Unique features of James Edwards's approach include clear descriptions of key terms used by Mark and revealing discussion of the Gospel's literary features, including Mark's use of the "sandwich" technique and of imagistic motifs and irony. Edwards also proposes a new paradigm for interpreting the difficult "Little Apocalypse" of chapter 13, and he argues for a new understanding of Mark's controversial ending."
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Studio: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9.1" Width: 6.3" Height: 1.5" Weight: 2.15 lbs.
Release Date Nov 8, 2001
Publisher Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
Series Pillar New Testament Commentary
ISBN 0802837344 ISBN13 9780802837349
Availability 0 units.
More About James R. Edwards
James R. Edwards is the Bruner-Welch Endowed Professor of Theology at Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington. His other books include Is Jesus the Only Savior? the 2006 Christianity Today Book of the Year in Apologetics.
James R. Edwards has published or released items in the following series...
Reviews - What do customers think about The Gospel According to Mark (Pillar New Testament Commentary)?
Wonderfully Well-Rounded May 8, 2008
I have used this text as one of my sources for scholarly and pastoral insight into the Gospel of Mark, and I must say that is fulfills both roles with surprising abundance. Though it does not have a translation of Mark's text itself in the book, that is a minor drawback. The passage by passage and concept by concept scholarship is up to date, well cited, and often exciting.
As a pastor, I have especially benefited from the conceptual work in this commentary. It is not uncommon for verse by verse works to get lost in the weeds (pastorally speaking), or segmented from itself as it pours over words, their origins, and their possible interpretations. Edwards, however, is consistent in keeping his eyes on the sweeping themes of Mark, especially discipleship. Not only is there rich commentary in the introductory paragraphs of each section, but within the verse by verse work as well.
I highly recommend this book as a well-grounded, evangelical commentary that does a phenomenal job of providing conceptual and pastoral insight along the way. It has been a joy to use.
Good Introductory Commentary Apr 3, 2008
Edwards has provided a pretty good commentary on Mark that gives those interested in Markan studies a decent baseline for further research and comprehension. This work could have been better, but for what it does, it does it well.
While Edwards does not ignore the source critical debates that dominated Markan scholarship for most of the 20th century, he thankfully is not obsessed with this issue. He seems to prefer the more current intepretational approach of taking the writing in its final form and attempting to understand the message in its completed form. Such an orientation is a helpful one in terms of flushing out why the Gospel of Mark is organized the way it is, and what kind of message the author was trying to communicate.
Edwards is a mostly reliable guide through Mark. He helps the reader understand varying points of view on various passages and themes of Mark, though one wishes his treatment of the difficult Mark 7 was more comprehensive (the same could be said of his treatment of Mark 13). When reading Mark, one gets the sense that the author is on a blistering pace through at least Mark 7 and even through Mark 10, while slowing down considerably in his account of Passion Week. Edwards does a good job in getting us to slow down enough to not miss what the author is telling us in the earlier chapters, and why.
I'm giving the book 4 stars mainly because it is not as complete as it could have been, even for a more introductory commentary. In particular, Edwards is unsatisfactory in his treatment of the secrecy motif in Mark. Even the casual reader of Mark notices what seems to be a strong emphasis on secrecy, particularly in the first half of the Gospel. Wrede's theory of why this motif is in Mark dominated a century of Markan scholarship, and no good commentary on Mark can avoid interacting with Wrede and the secrecy motif more broadly. Edwards does engage the topic, but far from exhautively. Even if someone is completely unfamiliar with Wrede's theory and the scholarly obsession with the secrecy motif in Mark, there is little doubt that this motif can be a point of confusion and misunderstanding to the average reader of this Gospel. This is one of those times when a heavily academic debate transcends academic circles and filters down into the larger Christian populace. Edwards needed to do a much better job in systematically tackling the issue and proposing a responsible grid through which to understand the Markan data.
But overall, this commentary is largely helpful and does a predominately good job of exposing the unique emphases that Mark brings to the Canon. Recommended.
Very Readable, if just a tad speculative. No Translation Mar 25, 2007
I find it truly amazing that there is still so much lively discussion about a Gospel of the New Testament which has been a cornerstone of Christian faith for almost 2000 years; however, the more I study New Testament exegesis, the less I'm surprised. The thing that makes the dialogue over The Gospel of Mark special is not Romans' deep theological arguments. Martin Luther, for example, in his 55 volumes of works translated into English barely mentions the Gospel, while doing an entire commentary on the Gospel of John.
The primary interest lies in the fact that less than 200 years ago, the basic opinions on dating Mark changed from its being considered a copy of Matthew to being an earlier source of both Matthew and Luke. This lively discussion was enriched even further by exegesis in the last 50 years, with the founding of `redactive' analysis by Marxson in Germany.
I've surveyed five different exegeses of Mark and have found much common ground, but also many differences, lying primarily in the translations and in the extent to which they address the history of commentary on Mark. Even though some of the volumes deal much more deeply with previous scholarship than others, all limit themselves to work done in the 20th century, and even to work done in the last 50 years. One thing I must say that although there are important differences, all of these volumes represent sound work at the deepest levels of scholarship. Some are more suitable for pastoral use than others, but none are `lightweights'.
The six volumes I surveyed follow:
`The Gospel According to Mark', William L. Lane, 1974, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., `The New International Commentary on the New Testament' Series.
`Mark 1-8:26', Robert A. Guelich, 1989, Nelson Reference & Electronic, `Word Bible Commentary' Series based on the author's own translation.
`Mark 8:27-16:20', Craig A. Evans, 2001, Nelson Reference & Electronic, `Word Bible Commentary' Series based on the author's own translation.
`The Gospel of Mark', Pheme Perkins, 1995, in Volume VIII of The New Interpreter's Bible with side by side NIV and NSRV translations.
`The Gospel of Mark', R. T. France, 2002, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., The New International Greek Testament Commentary Series.
`The Gospel According to Mark', James R. Edwards, 2002, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., `The Pillar New Testament Commentary Series'.
After having read commentary volumes from most of these series on both The Epistle to the Romans and The Epistle of James, I find a lot of consistency across volumes in the same series, so if you become comfortable with the way that `The New Interpreter's Bible ` approaches things, then you are probably on solid ground if you continue with that source, especially if you invested some big bucks in the complete 12 volume set (or there is a set available in your library's reference section, as it has appeared in every library I have visited).
`The New International Commentary on the New Testament' may be the weakest of the five series, as all it's volumes use the `American Standard Version' translation of 1901, considered to be a very literal rendering of the Greek text. While I like this over the NRSV's `politically correct' translations here and there, I suspect the newer NIV may be more up to date on the latest scholarship, especially, as I said, there has been so much done over the last 50 years. William Lane's volume in particular is nicely done, especially since it relegates a lot of the details to footnotes, so you can skip a lot of the lexical stuff.
The two volumes from the `Word Bible Commentary' series by Guelich and Evans should be your first choice if you are especially interested in the literature from the last 50 years, as their bibliographies are superb. While they are also quite deep, they nicely separate the material one wants for pastoral work from the linguistic analyses. It also represents by far the largest and most detailed work of the five. Professor Evans took over work on the second volume after Professor Guelich's death, and much of the material is based on notes from Guelich. I also like these authors' outline, as it simply deals with all the individual pericopes, and does not incorporate any speculative hypotheses about what author John Mark had in mind as he wrote.
`The Gospel of Mark' by Pheme Perkins in Volume VIII of The New Interpreter's Bible may be my least favorite; however, it may be the best option for pastoral users. It raises the fewest questions and presents two of the very best modern translations (NIV and NSRV) side by side. It also offers excellent reflections on the theological use of the paragraphs.
`The Gospel of Mark', R. T. France in `The New International Greek Testament Commentary Series' is also near the bottom of my list, as the volume offers no translation of the text on which it is commenting. While this is actually a plus for many readers, it also makes a point of not offering a lot of commentary on other interpreters' writings, even though it does have a lot to say on other writers' opinions on the structure of `Mark'.
`The Gospel According to Mark' by James R. Edwards in `The Pillar New Testament Commentary Series' is a step down from the quality of Douglas Moo's commentary on James in the same series. And, unlike Moo, Edwards offers no translation. He also seems to have the most speculations about the intentions of author Mark in pointing out irony and structural details. Edwards and France may be the two most enjoyable to read; however I suggest you buffer your reading of these authors with copies of Guelich and Evans at your elbow.
Guelich and Evans together is my favorite for serious study. France and Edwards may be the best modern introductions, if you don't mind having a copy of the Gospel open to follow their commentary.
Excellent Commentary but What Happened to Inerrancy? Jan 29, 2007
It may be hard to find a better commentary on Mark. The writer is extremely well-informed and he shares his learning without wasting words. Edwards obviously loves Mark's gospel, taking on all detractors and defending Mark's historicity. In fact he is so zealous about Mark's reliability he seems to show little hesitation about making the other gospels look inferior in comparison.
Some of this one-sided comparison is ok. Many of today's scholars believe Mark is the earliest gospel and the other Synoptic gospels are partially dependent on it for source material. That's alright. But if you read this commentary carefully, soon it might dawn on you that the writer sees the other gospels in a way conservative evangelicals should not.
The problem reaches a climax in Mark 14, the episode of Jesus' arrest where the ear of the high priest's servant was severed. John 18:10 names the attacker as Peter but Edwards considers this to be nothing more than unreliable "later tradition". Let me quote from the commentary (pp 438-439):
"Later tradition identified Peter as the sword-wielding assailant, but this is not as certain as is often assumed, for Mark attributes the deed not to a disciple but "to one of those standing near". This same phrase will appear in vv 69-70, where it obviously does not refer to disciples. It is far more likely that the arrest squad, and not the disciples, were armed with swords. Indeed, if the assailant were a disciple we should expect an arrest to follow. But no arrest follows, which at least suggests that the severed ear fell from the misguided valor of a henchman rather than of a disciple or Peter. Peter, of course, figures prominently in the events of chap. 14 and is likely Mark's source of much of it. If Peter were the assailant, it would be surprising for him to conceal his name here and include it in the much more discriminating denial scene."
With this, not only does the writer make John's account unhistorical but Luke is affected as well. By saying that "It is far more likely that the arrest squad, and not the disciples, were armed with swords", Luke 22:38's account of the disciples being armed with two swords before Gethsemane becomes a "far less likely" record.
Further, in a footnote on pg 438, Edwards writes:
"A comparison of the account of the arrest in the Gospels shows how some details were heightened in the retelling. Mark, the earliest evangelist, says simply that "one of those standing near" drew his sword and cut off the ear of the high priest's servant. Somewhat later Matt 26:51 sharpens the designation to "one of Jesus' companions". Later still, Luke 22:50 identifies the servant's wound as "the right ear"; and near the close of the first century John 18:10 identifies the swordsman as Peter and gives the servant's name as Malchus!"
In Edwards' mind, as time passes the writing of the gospel becomes less historically accurate as human embellishments are woven in.
If you are an evangelical whose faith in the inspiration and infallibilty of Scripture is strong, this book will do you good. Edwards loves and honours our Lord and it's infectious. But if you are currently engaged in a war against doubts about the reliabilty of the Bible, this book can careen you off the precipe.
A Good Addition for Your Library Apr 21, 2006
Edwards' commentary of Mark clearly comes from an evangelical perspective, though he fully interacts with more liberal views of the first gospel. His archaeological references are very helpful, especially in considering the geography of Mark's gospel. In addition, this commentary will be a great help to pastor/teachers, in that he has some very good homiletical applications and some great one-liners that would be helpful in your sermons. I highly recommend it.