The Gospel of Mark is significant in many ways. Not only was it the first Gospel to be written and an important literary source for Matthew and Luke, but it is also best characterized as a witness document, a proclamation of salvation through Jesus Christ, which received its creative impulse from the early apostolic preaching. Mark bears witness to the word of revelation that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God.
In this widely praised commentary by William L. Lane, Mark is revealed as a theologian whose primary intention was the strengthening of the people of God in a time of fiery persecution by Nero. Using redaction criticism as a hermeneutical approach for understanding the text and the intention of the evangelist, Lane considers the Gospel of Mark as a total literary work and describes Mark’s creative role in shaping the Gospel tradition and in exercising a conscious theological purpose. By taking care to indicate how the text was heard by Mark’s contemporaries while also placing the study of Mark within the frame of reference offered by modern Gospel research, Lane has constructed a thorough going work that is at once useful to scholars and highly intelligible to nonspecialists.
“The summons to be fishers of men is a call to the eschatological task of gathering men in view of the forthcoming judgment of God.” (Page 68)
“Jesus stipulated that those who wish to follow him must be prepared to shift the center of gravity in their lives from a concern for self to reckless abandon to the will of God. The central thought in self-denial is a disowning of any claim that may be urged by the self, a sustained willingness to say ‘No’ to oneself in order to be able to say ‘Yes’ to God. This involves a radical denunciation of all self-idolatry and of every attempt to establish one’s own life in accordance with the dictates of the self.” (Page 307)
“What must be seen above all else is that the fate of the swine demonstrates the ultimate intention of the demons with respect to the man they had possessed. It is their purpose to destroy the creation of God, and halted in their destruction of a man, they fulfilled their purpose with the swine.” (Page 186)
“The fact that God does not condemn David for his action indicates that the narrowness with which the scribes interpreted the Law was not in accordance with the tenor of Scripture. Jesus argues that the tradition of the Pharisees is unduly stringent and exceeds the intention of the Law.” (Page 117)
“This account, more graphically than any other in the Gospels, indicates that the function of demonic possession is to distort and destroy the image of God in man.” (Page 180)
Lane is to be commended for his splendid work. It is the best English commentary on Mark . . . a standard
The exposition is full and perceptive, and never loses sight of the objective of bringing the whole thrust of Mark’s Gospel to the attention of the reader.
—Reformed Theological Review
From the opening sentence this commentary is clear, creative, well written, and extremely well informed. All in all, a great commentary.
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