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James R. Edwards is Bruner-Welch Professor of Theology at Whitworth University. He is also the author of Is Jesus the Only Savior? -- named book of the year in apologetics by Christianity Today -- and the PNTC volume on Mark.
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My primary research interests include Biblical studies and history of the early church, with secondary interests in the Reformation and history of the twentieth-century German Church struggle. In pursuit of these I am a frequent visitor to Christian sites, libraries, and monasteries in Germany, Greece, Turkey, and Israel.
I hold academic degrees from Whitworth University (B.A.), Princeton Theological Seminary (M.Div.), and Fuller Theology Seminary (Ph.D.), and have studied further at the universities of Zuerich and Tuebingen, Tyndale House (Cambridge), and the Center of Theological Inquiry (Princeton). A DAAD grant from Germany government allowed me to investigate the disappearance and death of Professor Ernst Lohmeyer.
I am currently Bruner-Welch Professor Emeritus of Theology at Whitworth University, Spokane, Washington. Email: email@example.com
This is fine addition to the Pillar Commentary Series. I especially appreciate the introduction to the commentary. The author develops the themes that are nesessary to understand this Gospel. It is rewarding to work through the Biblical Story. Edwards is a lucid writer who communicates important Biblical cuture insights to his audience. I love to use it while preparing to teach on Mark especially to Jr. High and High school students. He helps fill the questions around the 1st centery church. I find it an important tool in Bible study.
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I was surprised to see this commentary hasn't been reviewed, since it is of such high quality. I suspect it is because Edwards, unlike Carson or Blomberg or Bock, isn't a well-known scholarly name. Nevertheless, I rate this commentary "up there" with my favorite NT commentaries: Carson on John, Fee on I Corinthians, O'Brien on Ephesians. If you read and appreciated any of those, you will not be disappointed by this commentary.
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It may be hard to find a better commentary on Mark. The writer is extremely well-informed and he shares his learning without wasting words. Edwards obviously loves Mark's gospel, taking on all detractors and defending Mark's historicity. In fact he is so zealous about Mark's reliability he seems to show little hesitation about making the other gospels look inferior in comparison.
Some of this one-sided comparison is ok. Many of today's scholars believe Mark is the earliest gospel and the other Synoptic gospels are partially dependent on it for source material. That's alright. But if you read this commentary carefully, soon it might dawn on you that the writer sees the other gospels in a way conservative evangelicals should not.
The problem reaches a climax in Mark 14, the episode of Jesus' arrest where the ear of the high priest's servant was severed. John 18:10 names the attacker as Peter but Edwards considers this to be nothing more than unreliable "later tradition". Let me quote from the commentary (pp 438-439):
"Later tradition identified Peter as the sword-wielding assailant, but this is not as certain as is often assumed, for Mark attributes the deed not to a disciple but "to one of those standing near". This same phrase will appear in vv 69-70, where it obviously does not refer to disciples. It is far more likely that the arrest squad, and not the disciples, were armed with swords. Indeed, if the assailant were a disciple we should expect an arrest to follow. But no arrest follows, which at least suggests that the severed ear fell from the misguided valor of a henchman rather than of a disciple or Peter. Peter, of course, figures prominently in the events of chap. 14 and is likely Mark's source of much of it.Read more ›
I find it truly amazing that there is still so much lively discussion about a Gospel of the New Testament which has been a cornerstone of Christian faith for almost 2000 years; however, the more I study New Testament exegesis, the less I'm surprised. The thing that makes the dialogue over The Gospel of Mark special is not Romans' deep theological arguments. Martin Luther, for example, in his 55 volumes of works translated into English barely mentions the Gospel, while doing an entire commentary on the Gospel of John.
The primary interest lies in the fact that less than 200 years ago, the basic opinions on dating Mark changed from its being considered a copy of Matthew to being an earlier source of both Matthew and Luke. This lively discussion was enriched even further by exegesis in the last 50 years, with the founding of `redactive' analysis by Marxson in Germany.
I've surveyed five different exegeses of Mark and have found much common ground, but also many differences, lying primarily in the translations and in the extent to which they address the history of commentary on Mark. Even though some of the volumes deal much more deeply with previous scholarship than others, all limit themselves to work done in the 20th century, and even to work done in the last 50 years. One thing I must say that although there are important differences, all of these volumes represent sound work at the deepest levels of scholarship. Some are more suitable for pastoral use than others, but none are `lightweights'.
The six volumes I surveyed follow:
`The Gospel According to Mark', William L. Lane, 1974, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., `The New International Commentary on the New Testament' Series.
I have used this text as one of my sources for scholarly and pastoral insight into the Gospel of Mark, and I must say that is fulfills both roles with surprising abundance. Though it does not have a translation of Mark's text itself in the book, that is a minor drawback. The passage by passage and concept by concept scholarship is up to date, well cited, and often exciting.
As a pastor, I have especially benefited from the conceptual work in this commentary. It is not uncommon for verse by verse works to get lost in the weeds (pastorally speaking), or segmented from itself as it pours over words, their origins, and their possible interpretations. Edwards, however, is consistent in keeping his eyes on the sweeping themes of Mark, especially discipleship. Not only is there rich commentary in the introductory paragraphs of each section, but within the verse by verse work as well.
I highly recommend this book as a well-grounded, evangelical commentary that does a phenomenal job of providing conceptual and pastoral insight along the way. It has been a joy to use.
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