Reveiw: Mark (NTL)

1246889M. Eugene Boring is I. Wylie Briscoe Professor Emeritus of New Testament at Brite Divinity School, Texas Christian University. Boring is an accomplished New Testament scholar and the author of numerous books, including, An Introduction to the New Testament: History, Literature, Theology (WJK, 2012), Revelation: A commentary for Teaching and Preaching (WJK, 2011), The People’s New Testament Commentary (with Fred B. Craddock; WJK, 2010), The Continuing Voice of Jesus: Christian Prophecy and the Gospel Tradition (WJK, 1991), as well as Mark (WJK, 2006) and I & II Thessalonians (WJK, 2015) from the highly acclaimed New Testament Library series—the former of which being the focus of the present review.

Mark: A Commentary opens with a fairly healthy bibliography and introduction to orient the reader towards the intended direction. Boring covers all the standard introductory matters the reader would expect (i.e. authorship, date, provenance, purpose, genre, text and transmission, etc.), however, most of the technical details have been delegated to the footnotes, resulting in a much briefer introduction than some would expect. The organization of the commentary will be familiar for those acquainted with the New Testament Library series. Boring includes within each section the translation and translation notes, and the commentary proper, which tends to begin with an examination of the unit before the translation and then the verse or multiple verse-units.

Boring’s approach to the Gospel of Mark as a whole is quite unique. For Boring, the Second Gospel is primarily shaped by the creative storytelling of the Evangelist rather than history. In other words, for Boring, the author of Mark is far more concerned with presenting a portrait of Jesus that will resonate with his community than recounting the life events of a historical figure. Thus, a chasm exists between the Markan and Historical Jesus. Of course, the keen reader will recognize that some level of such characterized presentation of Jesus is inevitable for the Gospel writers, indeed for any New Testament writer, but such does not necessarily require a divorce from the Jesus of history. Still, despite the reluctance that some may have to his approach, it is clear that there is much insight to be gained if sifted with the appropriate balance.

The reader will appreciate the attention to detail offered in this volume. Boring has clearly done his homework and does the reader a service by allocating much of the technical details to the bottom of the page. Indeed, Boring properly utilizes the footnotes throughout the volume, and the attentive reader will do well in mining such riches. The translation notes are also full of important information. Interestingly, however, Boring follows the reading of Codex Bezae in 1:41, explaining, “Most MSS read . . . ‘having compassion’ and the reading is followed by most English translations . . . Most commentators, however, regard . . . ‘having become angry’ as original” (p. 70). This is simply not the case, as even his preceding statement attests. The former reading is found in virtually all English translations, critical editions of the Greek New Testament, and extant manuscript support for the Second Gospel.

M. Eugene Boring is a respected New Testament scholar who has consistently provided well-researched and well-written academic work for a broad ranging audience. Mark: A Commentary is no different. Boring offers a unique approach to the conversation that is certain to complement other Mark commentaries on the market. Moreover, the translation and translation notes Boring has provided are indispensable for any serious study of the Second Gospel, and his bibliography is thorough as always. In sum, if you are looking for a commentary on the Gospel of Mark that is both readable and informative, this is a volume you will enjoy and use often. Still, as has been briefly noted above, the emphasis that is taken therein may be cause enough for some readers to reconsider.  

I received a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

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