Review: Perspectives on the Ending of Mark

19093968Perspectives on the Ending of Mark: Four Views edited by David Alan Black is a tour de force into one of the most significant textual variants in the New Testament. Each of the chapters included in this volume originated from a conference entitled “The Last Twelve Verses of Mark: Original or Not,” held April 13-14, 2007, at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina. For those familiar with the textual issues surrounding Mark 16:9-20, the enlisted contributors (Daniel Wallace, Maurice Robinson, J. Keith Elliott, and David Alan Black) inevitably stand within two major persuasions (as the title of the conference suggests) with varying degrees of distance between them.

Maurice Robinson and David Alan Black both argue that Mark 16:9-20 is the original ending of the Second Gospel. Still, of the two contributors, it is likely that the reader will find Robinson to have provided a much more persuasive presentation than Black. Robinson provides interaction with ancient sources concerning the Long Ending (LE), analyzes the vocabulary of the LE, displays an interesting set of parallels between various sections of the Second Gospel (1:32-39; 3:14-15; 6:7-13; 7:24-8:38) and the LE, and closes with fifteen points of conclusion concerning the originality of the LE. However, in my opinion, for many readers, while they may find the chapter by Robinson helpful, they will likely remain unconvinced by the external evidence witnessed in the earliest manuscripts.

Daniel Wallace and J. Keith Elliot both argue that Mark 16:9-20 is not the original ending of the Second Gospel. Similar to that witnessed above, I believe that the reader will find Wallace to have provided a much more persuasive presentation than Elliot. I would submit that the contribution by Wallace is worth admission alone. Wallace begins by delineating the inevitable existence of presuppositions when approaching this issue and provides a personal story of how his personal presuppositions had to be challenged before he was able to best analyze the data. The chapter by Wallace is also the most helpful chapter of the book by way of explanation of the textual issue. For Wallace, both the external and internal evidence suggest that the last twelve verses of Mark are indeed not original to the Second Gospel—a conclusion that Wallace skillfully guides the reader to recognize as the most likely scenario.

Perspectives on the Ending of Mark: Four Views concludes with a helpful summary by Darrell Bock. Indeed, Bock unashamedly sides with Wallace on the matter of the ending of Mark but does an excellent job evenhandedly outlining the implications of each of the preceding chapters. It must be stated here that the chapters by Black and Elliott are certainly worth reading, but are likely to find little outside adherence. In fact, in my opinion, this volume could have been more helpful had it actually eliminated Black and Elliott altogether and provided more interaction between Robinson and Wallace. The lack of direct interaction between the positions was a major downfall in my opinion, and had it been included, in my opinion, this volume would have been much better for the end user.

The lack of interaction that many readers have come to appreciate from the Perspective series is unfortunate—especially given the nature of the discussion and the inclusion of two peripheral views that could have been easily eliminated. Still, the contribution of Maurice Robinson and Daniel Wallace are well worth the cover price of this volume. If you are interested in textual criticism and/or looking to teach or preach from the Gospel of Mark, the issues detailed in this volume will need to be addressed, and I am confident that Perspectives on the Ending of Mark: Four Views edited by David Alan Black will provide you with much food for thought. It comes highly recommended!

 

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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Review: Mark (NCCS)

27131107Kim Huat Tan is Academic Dean and Chen Su Lan Professor of New Testament at Trinity Theological College in Singapore. Tan has a Ph.D. from the University of London and is the author of The Zion Tradition and the aims of Jesus (Cambridge University Press, 2005). Most recently, Tan has contributed and excellent volume on the Second Gospel in the acclaimed New Covenant Commentary series, Mark: A New Covenant Commentary.

Mark: A New Covenant Commentary is an exegetically informed exposition that provides much to embraced. It is important to recognize that Tan is in no way looking to overturn the many valuable commentaries now available on the Gospel of Mark. In fact, he states this explicitly in the preface (p. xi). Nevertheless, Tan has delivered an exceptional and unique contribution that is sure to be enjoyed by many. First, this volume is well-informed with much of the contemporary trends within Markan scholarship. However, Tan has removed the scholarly jargon and targeted an audience that would benefit most from the summation of such material. Second, as with the previous volumes in the series, this volume looks to display the interconnectedness of the Gospel of Mark and the Hebrew Scriptures. Those familiar with the success and usefulness of the other volumes will applauded the level of detail Tan provides. Third, and possibly the most important reason for those already boasting a larger collection of commentaries on the Gospel of Mark, this volume brings with it a fresh and important set of Asian insights (p. xi).

The commentary itself is excellent and the reader is sure to utilize it often. It is well-written and appropriately oriented for the targeted audience, and Tan has certainly done the reader a service throughout. Moreover, the reader is likely to appreciate the plethora, and I mean a plethora of excursus material scattered around the commentary. Much more than the previous volumes that I have seen. These excursus sections include topics such as the famous textual variant in Mark 1:41, Mark and Josephus on John the Baptist, Mark and the hour of crucifixion, and much, much more. Also, similar to the other volumes in the series, Tan has provided a number of “Fusing the Horizons” sections on topics such as marriage, social inequality, and wealth, as well as a fascinating, and yet, practically helpful discussion on the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Lastly, the commentary concludes with a short section on the theology of the Gospel of Mark, including Markan themes of Christology, the Kingdom of God, and Discipleship.

Like previous volumes in the New Covenant Commentary series, Mark: A New Covenant Commentary by Kim Huat Tan is destined for useful acquisition into the hands of the busy pastor and student. Tan is clear and thoughtful throughout, and his familiarity with Markan scholarship, both old and new is evident. Still, even for those of us who own an overabundance of commentaries on the Second Gospel, Tan has provided a pair of fresh and unique non-western lenses that will benefit all. In short, if you are looking for a well-documented and up-to-date engagement with the Gospel of Mark, one that provides a unique perspective with clear and accessible language, this present volume is a perfect addition to your growing library. It comes highly recommended!

 

I received a review copy of these books in exchange for and 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.