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Reading Mark in Context: Jesus and Second Temple Judaism

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For several decades, the Jewishness of Jesus has been at the forefront of scholarship. Students of the New Testament are more than ever aware of the importance of understanding Jesus and the Gospels in their Jewish context. In Reading Mark in Context, a team of Gospel scholars explore the Gospel of Mark in light of Second Temple Jewish literature.

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 helps students see the contour and texture of Jesus’ engagement with his Jewish environment. It brings together a series of accessible essays that compare and contrast viewpoints, theologies, and hermeneutical practices of Mark and his various Jewish contemporaries.

Going beyond an introduction that merely surveys historical events and theological themes, this textbook examines individual passages in Second Temple Jewish literature in order to illuminate the context of Mark’s theology and the nuances of his thinking. Following the narrative progression of Mark’s Gospel, each chapter in this textbook (1) pairs a major unit of the Gospel with one or more sections of a thematically-related Jewish text, (2) introduces and explores the historical and theological nuances of the comparative text, and (3) shows how the ideas in the comparative text illuminate those expressed in Mark.

Resource Experts
  • Introduces the most important Jewish texts of the period
  • Pairs a major unit of the Gospel with one or more sections of a thematically related Jewish text
  • Surveys the events of the Second Temple Period and the literature that it produced
  • Rule of the Community and Mark 1:1-13: Preparing the Way in the Wilderness
  • The Parables of Enoch and Mark 1:14-2:12: The Authoritative Son of Man
  • Josephus and Mark 2:13-3:6: Controversies with the Scribes and Pharisees
  • The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs and Mark 3:7-35: Apocalyptic and the Kingdom
  • 4 Ezra and Mark 4:1-34
  • Parables on Seeds, Sowing, and Fruit
  • The Testament of Solomon and Mark 5:1-20: Exorcism and Power over Evil Spirits
  • Mishnah Zabim and Mark 5:21-6:6a: The Rules on Purity
  • Josephus and Mark 6:6b-29: Herod Antipas’s Execution of John the Baptist
  • 4QConsolations and Mark 6:30-56: Images of a New Exodus
  • The Letter of Aristeas and Mark 7:1-23: Developing Ideas of Defilement
  • Jubilees and Mark 7:24-37: Crossing Ethnic Boundaries
  • The Damascus Document and Mark 8:1-26: Blindness and Sight on "the Way"
  • Sirach and Mark 8:27-9:13: Elijah and the Eschaton
  • Tobit and Mark 9:14-29: Imperfect Faith
  • Rule of the Community and Mark 9:30-50: Discipleship Reordered
  • Mishnah Gi!tin and Mark 10:1-12: Marriage and Divorce
  • Eschatological Admonition and Mark 10:13-31: Riches, Poverty, and the Faithful
  • Rule of the Congregation and Mark 10:32-52: Glory and Greatness in Eschatological Israel
  • Maccabees and Mark 11:1-11: A Subversive Entry into Jerusalem
  • Psalms of Solomon and Mark 11:12-25: The Great Priestly Showdown at the Temple
  • The Animal Apocalypse and Mark 11:27-12:12: The Rejection of the Prophets and the Destruction of the Temple
  • Josephus and Mark 12:13-27: The Sadducees, Resurrection, and the Law
  • Psalms of Solomon and Mark 12:28-44: The Messiah’s Surprising Identity and Role
  • The Parables of Enoch and Mark 13:1-37: Apocalyptic Eschatology and the Coming Son of Man
  • Mishnah Pesal)im and Mark 14:1-25: The Passover Tradition
  • The Babylonian Talmud and Mark 14:26-52: Abba, Father!
  • The Parables of Enoch and Mark 14:53-73: Blasphemy and Exaltation
  • Philo of Alexandria and Mark 15:1-15a: Pontius Pilate, a Spineless Governor?
  • 11QTemple' and Mark 15:15b-47: Burying the Crucified
  • 2 Maccabees and Mark 16:1-8: Resurrection as Hope for the Present

Top Highlights

“More significantly, whereas both the LXX and 1QS saw Torah as the cornerstone of Israel’s faithfulness to Yahweh, Mark breathtakingly gives that place to Jesus.” (Page 46)

“Book (1 Enoch 72–82); the Book of Dreams (1 Enoch 83–90); and the Apocalypse of Weeks (1 Enoch 91:11–17; 93:1–10).” (Page 38)

“this figure in Mark has arrived in the present to offer an earthly pardon.” (Page 53)

“his message about the kingdom displaces the centrality of the law” (Page 75)

“Jesus’s defense of his disciples’ actions is grounded entirely in the fact of his own presence; the disciples cannot fast because Jesus, the bridegroom, is with them (2:19). As in the grainfield, the presence of Jesus has special significance for those with him. Jesus looks forward to a time when the bridegroom will be absent (perhaps Mark’s deliberate reference to the crucifixion or to a contemporary Christian experience) and then they will fast (2:20). What the disciples do is therefore dictated neither by the Pharisees nor by the disciples of John the Baptist, but is wholly determined by the presence of Jesus.” (Page 60)

  • Jeffrey W. Aernie
  • Holly Beers
  • Kristian A. Bendoraitis
  • Michael F. Bird
  • Ben C. Blackwell
  • Darrell L. Bock
  • Helen K. Bond
  • Craig A. Evans
  • David E. Garland
  • Timothy Gombis
  • John K. Goodrich
  • Sigurd Grindheim
  • Nijay K. Gupta
  • Jeanette Hagen Pifer
  • Suzanne Watts Henderson
  • David Instone-Brewer
  • Kelly R. Iverson
  • Morten Hørning Jensen
  • Mary Marshall
  • Jason Maston
  • Mark D. Mathews
  • Amy Peeler
  • Jonathan T. Pennington
  • Nicholas Perrin
  • Elizabeth E. Shively
  • Klyne Snodgrass
  • Mark L. Strauss
  • David L. Turner
  • Rikk Watts
  • Sarah Whittle
  • N. T. Wright
How does one best learn relevant historical background material to the Gospels? Traditionally, one reads a brief introduction to overall trends and then looks for where they might illuminate individual passages. More interesting, if done well, is to begin with the biblical text and then read portions of the Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha, Dead Sea Scrolls, Josephus, or even the oldest of the rabbinic literature that allows close comparisons and contrasts with the biblical subject matter. This anthology takes the latter approach, makes excellent and relevant selections from the non-canonical material, and uses a broad range of good scholars who briefly make the relevant comparisons with selections from most all the major passages in the Gospel of Mark. The task is done well so that this volume has excellent textbook potential as well as satisfying the curiosity of many other readers.

—Craig L. Blomberg, Distinguished Professor of New Testament, Denver Seminary

This work is brilliantly designed to provide a maximum benefit in a relatively concise space, with contributors highlighting various sample passages relevant to Mark’s Gospel. Readers familiar with the New Testament are far more likely to remember elements of the New Testament’s ancient milieu when they are pegged to New Testament material. This offers a brilliant introduction of the relevance of early Jewish context for readers of the New Testament, as well as windows into Mark.

—Craig S. Keener, F. M. and Ada Thompson Professor of Biblical Studies, Asbury Theological Seminary

Reading Mark in Context is consistently informative, respectful towards the primary texts, and eminently readable, written by scholars who have published on the Gospel of Mark, and thus a helpful guide for students and pastors who seek a better understanding of the most concise of the canonical Gospels

—Eckhard J. Schnabel, Mary F. Rockefeller Distinguished Professor of New Testament, Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary

  • Title: Reading Mark in Context: Jesus and Second Temple Judaism
  • Editor: Ben C. Blackwell, John K. Goodrich and Jason Maston
  • Publisher: Zondervan
  • Publication Date: 2019
  • Pages: 288
  • Resource Type: Collected Essays
  • Topic: Mark

In the Logos edition, this volume is enhanced by amazing functionality. Important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. Perform powerful searches to find exactly what you’re looking for. Take the discussion with you using tablet and mobile apps. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive research tools are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.

Ben C. Blackwell (PhD, University of Durham) is associate professor of early Christianity at Houston Baptist University. He has authored a number of essays and articles related to Historical Theology and the New Testament, including Christosis: Engaging Pauline Soteriology with His Patristic Interpreters. He is currently working on new monograph: Participating in the Righteousness of God: Justification in Pauline Theology. He also served as a co-editor for several volumes: Paul and the Apocalyptic Imagination; Reading Romans in Context: Paul and Second Temple Judaism; and Reading Mark in Context: Jesus and Second Temple Judaism.

John K. Goodrich is assistant professor of Bible at Moody Bible Institute and the author of Paul as an Administrator of God in 1 Corinthians (2012).

Jason Maston (PhD, University of Durham) is Lecturer in New Testament at Highland Theological College UHI (UK). He is the author of Divine and Human Agency in Second Temple Judaism and Paul: A Comparative Approach and contributor to and co-editor (with Michael F. Bird) of Earliest Christian History: History, Literature and Theology. Essays from the Tyndale Fellowship in Honor of Martin Hengel.


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Regular price: $24.99
Save $5.00 (20%)