Review: Mark Through Old Testament Eyes

9780825444111Mark Through Old Testament Eyes: A Background and Application Commentary by Andrew T. Le Peau is an ambitious new commentary on the Gospel of Mark that seeks to illuminate the text by uncovering the biblical backdrop of the New Testament writers—cognizant awareness of the Old Testament narrative. As Le Peau observes, “the New Testament writers were Old Testament people” (p. 9). Mark Through Old Testament Eyes opens Old Testament context to the readers in a fresh and allusive way that makes understanding of Mark and offers insight into the perplexing concepts that saturate its narrative.

Mark Through Old Testament Eyes opens with a concise introduction (12 pages) that generally seeks the orient the readers towards the Old Testament lenses of the Second Gospel. Le Peau also comments on authorship, structure, and Mark’s use of the Old Testament, but those seeking for introductory depth will need to look elsewhere. The commentary proper is where Le Peau is able to bring value to the volume. Mark Through Old Testament Eyes approaches the Gospel of Mark in a verse-by-verse format, drawing upon the Old Testament background and other key information to provide readers an understanding of the text holistically and to answer questions that arise naturally (p. 10). Mark Through Old Testament Eyes also provides a number of helpful sidebars of various flavor, including summaries of the bigger picture of how the Old Testament is being used by the New Testament, literary structure and intentionality, and practical matters of application. These sidebars compliment the overall engagement within commentary proper and provide readers the proper connections unable to be made in a verse-by-verse format.

Mark Through Old Testament Eyes is an excellent commentary for pastors, students, and laity looking to engage the Old Testament background of Mark’s gospel. Le Peau has transliterated the original languages, textual critical matters are rarely discussed, and endnotes are used in lieu of footnotes. The commentary is helpfully illuminating concerning the Gospel of Mark, but it is not without shortcomings. Four are worth mention here. First, as noted above, the introduction is lackluster. Second, there could have been engagement with the Second Temple background to help further illuminate the lenses of Mark’s understanding of the Old Testament that eventually makes its way into the Gospel. Third, the choice to use of endnotes (11 pages) creates an undue amount of work and hinders the serious reader seeking to substantiate Le Peau’s research. Lastly, Le Peau concludes the commentary with Mark 16:8, and thus, offers no real attempt to provide commentary on the long ending of the Gospel, though there is remark around its omission.

Mark Through Old Testament Eyes: A Background and Application Commentary by Andrew T. Le Peau is a fascinating commentary that accomplishes what it was created to achieve. Le Peau has provided an informative and illuminating commentary that gives pastors and students a clear and persuasive portrait of the Second Gospel in light of the Old Testament. Despite it a few shortcomings, I’m confident that it’s a commentary that can be recommended alongside others.

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