The Most Valuable Markan Resources: Studies in Mark, Pt. 79

As we all know, when it comes to Mark's Gospel, scores of great resources exist. Indeed, even I have enough books and journal articles on Mk. to fill numerous bookshelves. I have vocalized my opinion more than once on Pisteuomen regarding these resources. I have said, for example, that finding a commentary on Mk. that makes new contributions to the field and offers fresh insights, etc. is tough. Having read nearly every major English commentary on Mk., I can honestly say that for the most part, it is all regurgitated information--every commentary sounds pretty much the same. Not only is this problematic in the way of commentaries but when one consults homiletical texts concerning Mk., they find the same things (e.g. the authors of the homiletics books were, of course, drawing knowledge from the commentaries). It is more than clear to me that if you want to find anything new in Markan studies, journal articles (and occasionally monographs) are the way to go. Having said that, I want to offer here what I percieve to be the most helpful texts at the forefront of their genres when it comes to Markan studies. This was difficult to boil down and I could list many more but in my view, these are the best places to start! In fact, these are the resources I find myself returning to (in their respective genres) more than most others.

* Commentary: Ched Myers, Binding the Strong Man: A Political Reading of Mark's Story of Jesus *Note: I must qualify my ranking here by saying that I think Myers often goes too far with his political readings and that he even has the identity of "the strong man" wrong. However, when it comes to commentaries, this one is different than all of the rest and as such, yields the greatest amount of unique insights and fresh contributions to the genre of Markan commentaries!

* Homiletical Resource: Richard Swanson, Provoking the Gospel of Mark: A Storyteller's Commentary (Year B)

* Monograph: David A. Fiensy, Jesus the Galilean: Soundings in a First Century Life

* Book: Whitney Shiner, Proclaiming the Gospel: First-Century Performance of Mark

* Layperson's Guide: N.T. Wright, Mark For Everyone

* Historiography: Sean P. Kealy, Mark's Gospel: A History of its Interpretation

* Collected Essays: Janice Capel Anderson, Stephen D. Moore, Mark & Method: New Approaches in Biblical Studies

* Journal Article: Pieter J. Botha, The Historical Setting of Mark's Gospel: Problems and Possibilities

* Textual Resource: Robert A. Guelich / Craig A. Evans, "Mark" Word Biblical Commentary (A & B)

* Video: Max McLean, Mark's Gospel: Told By Max McLean

* Devotional: David L. Miller, Friendship With Jesus: A Way to Pray the Gospel of Mark


  1. Michael, I would add in the commentary genre the little known gem by Herman C. Waetjen called "A Reordering of Power" which is one of my best picks for Mark commentaries. Also, I think Bob Gundry's commentary trumps alot of stuff and he rightly captures the notion of Mark's Gospel as an apology for the cross! As a Mark-man, I'd say Gundry is my favourite!

  2. Michael,
    I will most definitely check out the Waetjen work. Of course, I am familiar with Gundry's text too. He does offer a number of novel insights that other scholars do not and he's certainly very adept in all-things-Markan. Even though I disagree with a lot of Myers's work, I placed him at the top of the list because of his creativity, uniqueness and attempt at a socio-cultural-political-rhetorical hermeneutic.

    Thanks for the lead on a new work (new to me) and your comments! And by the way, since you're a "Mark-man" are you looking for any "Mark-students" to do some PhD work with? :)

  3. Not only have you left out what is still the best critical commentary on Mark to date by Vincent Taylor "The Gospel According to St. Mark" but you have also left out "Aramaic Sources of Mark's Gospel" by Maurice Casey, not to mention James Crossley's book "The Date of Mark". I'm disappointed!

  4. Steph,
    You're certainly right that those are all good books. I do take issue that Taylor's commentary is "the" best however. As for the Casey and Crossley books, the former which I own and both of which I have read, they are certainly valuabe sources but not the #1 in their genre. If you compare Casey's work, for instance with the WBC text I listed in text-critical, there is not even a comparison to be made really! The WBC text is 2 volumens and has tons of text-crit info. The Casey book is not very big and while it has a lot to offer, is only selective. The WBC set goes through the entire text of Mk. line by line. Crossley's text, which I find quite compelling is also good. I still don't know if I agree with it, however. Dating Mk. that early (in the 30's) is highly debatable. I think Kloppenborg makes good arguments against it in his article as do many others in their works.

    The point of the post was not to list a bibliography but to list what I found to be the most valuable Markan text in its respective genre. That's not to say the others aren't valuable, it's just to say, here's where one should start and here are texts you can return to again and again to draw info from.

    Had I been doing a select bibliography even, I certainly would have included the works you mentioned.

    As for the Taylor work, while it is heavy on form critical stuff, it is worthwhile. Still, I'd cast my vote elsewhere (as I have).

    I appreciate your thoughts. No reason to be disappointed. Certainly, all of the sources I've listed are good ones and are worthy of praise.

  5. but it lacks text critical work on Aramaic sources which your entire list ignores!

    Established beaurocratised scholarship is frightened by James' work because it upsets the boat. It is, fortunately for the future of scholarship, a sound thesis and will be taken more seriously when scholars become properly educated in Aramaic and Judaism.

  6. BTW you are consistently mistyping "valuable"! :-)

  7. steph,
    again, i'm not saying i didn't take his work seriously. i read the book and took a lot from it.

    as for "valaube" that's hilarious. even the title is wrong! ha. I did spell it right twice in my previous comment to you and once wrong. i'm laughing at myself now. hilarious.