How to Read the Gospel of Mark in the Context of Second Temple Judaism
The Gospel of Mark is widely considered the earliest and most influential narrative of the ministry and passion of Jesus Christ. Although undervalued for centuries, Mark’s Gospel is now celebrated as a cleverly crafted ancient biography, emphasizing action, irony, and intrigue over more direct and discursive modes of theologizing.
Yet not all readings of Mark are equally illuminating or transformative.
Over the last several decades, the Jewishness of Jesus has been at the forefront of scholarship and students of the New Testament are more than ever aware of the importance of understanding Jesus and the Gospels in their Jewish context. Reading Mark in Context (edited by Ben Blackwell, John Goodrich,…
Who Wrote the Gospels, and How Do We Know for Sure?
The Bible gives us four accounts of Christ’s life. Each records a unique perspective of the most significant event in history—the crucifixion and resurrection. All four gospels are named after men who lived during or shortly after Christ’s early ministry. Tradition considers these men the authors, but there’s one problem: not one of these books names its author.
The gospels are anonymous—so how do we know who wrote them?
None of the gospels came with an “about the author” section. The closest we get to a claim of authorship is at the very end of the Book of John, where the author implies that the book was written by “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 21:24 NIV).
Are there other context clues we can use to determine the authors? Can we trust tradition’s assumptions about who wrote the gospels? Did…
Calling a Tax Collector and Eating with Sinners – An Excerpt from A Theology of Mark’s Gospel
A Theology of Mark’s Gospel is the fourth volume in the BTNT series. This landmark textbook, written by leading New Testament scholar David E. Garland, both covers major Markan themes and also provides readers with an in-depth and holistic grasp of Markan theology in the larger context of the Bible.
James reminds us to “keep oneself unstained from the world”; yet God placed us in the world on mission to the people around us. In an age where the Church is trying to walk the line between condoning sin around us and appearing judgmental of others, we must be reminded of Christ’s example from this text, and who he spent time with.
126.96.36.199.2 Calling a Tax Collector and Eating with Sinners (Read more
Extracurricular Activities 1.31.15 — Mark Mummy Redux, Post-Seculars, and Missions Trips
R. C. Sproul, who drafted the original Chicago Statement of Biblical Inerrancy, once said, “When people ask me how old the earth is, I tell them I don’t know—because I don’t.”
Contrary to what is often implied or claimed by young-earth creationists, the Bible nowhere directly teaches the age of the earth.
In the last week or so I’ve had a number of inquiries about news stories of the discovery of a fragment of the Gospel of Mark dating to the first century AD. Actually, this isn’t a new claim, but instead a rehashing (or belated notice) of a story that initially appeared back in early 2012. But, thanks to an article more recently in “Live Science” (
Extracurricular Activities 1.24.15 —The Afterlife, the Mark Mummy Mask, What Would Kuyper Do?
Alex Malarkey, who co-authored The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven, publicly confessed his story is malarkey. He and his mother had been saying so for some time, but few noticed until last week.
His admission left me wondering why heavenly tourism gets so much attention. Christians might be less obsessed with heaven if we better grasped four things
Here is a collection of Jewish texts from the 2d Temple period that show that Judaism knew a spectrum: from an annihilationism to eternal conscious punishment. Into this kind of diversity Jesus and the apostles stepped and spoke of judgment. There is support here for both sides of this debate.
Strauss Believes Mark’s Structure Isn’t What You Think it Is
(Can’t see the video? Watch it here)
Mark Strauss, author of a new Mark commentary (ZECNT) believes Mark’s gospel is a powerful one, not only theologically but literarily.
“Mark isn’t just a collection of sayings and events of Jesus’ life—kind of patched together.” Instead, “from beginning to end it draws the reader in, creates a mystery picture of who Jesus is, and the drives home key answers along the way.”
Mark’s gospel is so compelling because of its structure. Yet Strauss explains the thematic structure many of us have come to know—where Mark 8 is a turning point in Jesus’ journey—isn’t what we think it is.
He insists “we need to think of Mark’s gospel as structured theologically, rather than geographically.” This is one of Strauss’s unique contributions to Markan studies.
Mark’s Gospel is Jesus’s Story on Steroids! — An Excerpt from Mark Strauss’s “Mark (ZECNT)” Commentary
In recent decades there has been a number of new approaches to the gospel, one of which is so-called narrative criticism. Considering how story-driven we are as a culture—and as people—this seems to be a good development within gospel studies and exegesis.
On Tuesday we explored how Mark Strauss engages the Gospel of Mark using this approach in his new Mark (ZECNT) commentary. Today we extend that exploration with an excerpt giving more insight into Mark’s story of Jesus.
Like any narrative, Mark’s also balances a number of literary devices, complete with point of view, narrators, plot points, characters, climax, setting, denouement, and everything else that makes a story sparkle.
Read Strauss’s thoughts on Mark’s story of Jesus, and why he calls it “a gospel narrative on steroids!”…
Narrative Criticism and Mark: Approaching the Gospel as Story
I am a novelist as well as a theologian. (In fact, after writing this I’m off to fulfill today’s word count goal for NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month). And as a former pastor I grew accustomed to preaching the text, particularly the Gospels, in a way that blended these two loves: reading, interpreting, and then preaching the Story of God as just that, story.
So it was with great interest that I came to Mark Strauss’s new Mark commentary (ZECNT). While he approaches Mark’s retelling of the Jesus Story through an eclectic mix of methodologies, drawing from historical-critical and social-scientific approaches, he does so in large measure from narrative critical grounds. It seems to me Strauss assumes what C.S. Lewis himself observed: “the story of Christ is simply a true myth…”
Like any story, this Gospel–the entirety…