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The African Memory of Mark: Reassessing Early Church Tradition Paperback – July 11, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 279 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Academic (July 11, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 083083933X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830839339
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #110,689 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"The African Memory of Mark honors the way the Coptic Church has been the faithful, preeminent carrier of the Markan tradition in the church, and does that by weaving the different genres of sources into a narrative whole. Oden is not unaware of standard depictions of Mark and the Gospel that bears his name in which the African note is rather marginal—where it is acknowledged at all—but he challenges established scholarship by marshaling the evidence and refocusing it on the continuity of the Coptic memory of Mark. Whether or not the reader agrees with the argument of the book, Oden has raised the bar of scrutiny and challenged many of the unstated assumptions of conventional scholarship. From critic and fan alike, Oden deserves credit." (Lamin Sanneh, D. Willis James Professor of Missions & World Christianity, Yale University)

"The African Memory of Mark is a timely reassessment of Mark, Gospel writer and propagator of the message of Christ to Africa. It rehabilitates a neglected tradition and deserves serious consideration by everyone who has been influenced by the historicist understanding of Mark's life and work." (Tite Tiénou, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School)

About the Author

Thomas C. Oden (PhD, Yale University), is the general editor of the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture and the Ancient Christian Doctrine series as well as the author of

, a revision of his three-volume systematic theology. He is the director of the Center for Early African Christianity at Eastern University in Pennsylvania and he formerly served as the Henry Anson Buttz Professor of Theology at The Theological School of Drew University in Madison, New Jersey. Oden is active in the Confessing Movement in America, particularly within the United Methodist Church and serves on the board of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. He suggests that Christians need to rely upon the wisdom of the historical Church, particularly the early Church, rather than on modern scholarship and theology and says his mission is "to begin to prepare the postmodern Christian community for its third millennium by returning again to the careful study and respectful following of the central tradition of classical Christianity."

More About the Author

Thomas C. Oden (Ph.D., Yale University) recently retired as Henry Anson Buttz Professor of Theology at The Theological School of Drew University in Madison, New Jersey. He is general editor of the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture and author of numerous theological works, including a three-volume systematic theology.

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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Jeremy Bouma on September 16, 2011
Format: Paperback
The African Memory of Mark: Reassessing Early Church Tradition by Thomas Oden is an epic tale that challenges the Western understanding of one of the most important figures in the Church: the writer of the Gospel of Mark and founder of African Christianity, John Mark. For 2,000 years, Christian memory and scholarship and exegesis from the Nile Valley, Libya, Ethiopia and the Maghreb have remembered Mark as the apostle who was born in and later returned to Africa, bearing the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ.They have remembered Mark as "the son of Libya, the first Christian martyr in Africa, and as the apostolic father of every believing Christian in Africa, then and now." (232)

Western tradition, however, holds the African memory of Mark as a mere legend (233), as unreliable hagiographical oral tradition "received with a yawn" (222). As the Western tradition holds, which is what I was taught in my NT2 Gospels class, Mark was Palestinian in origin--born, raised, lived, and died. The African memory is very different, however, and this book sets out to "de-mythologize" the Western myth construct.

This memory contends a boy was born to a Jewish family--that was part of the diaspora living there since fleeing their harsh lives during the time of the Maccabees--living in Cyrene, Libya. They were of the tribe of Levi and that boy was John Mark, the later gospel writer. This memory contends this boy and his family were forced to move from Africa to Palestine, where young man Mark and his mother joined the followers of Jesus. And this memory contends this boy who grew up in Africa was the first one to take the gospel of Jesus back to Africa.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Da Panda on September 4, 2011
Format: Paperback
In a time of rapid globalization, scholars are quickly needing to push aside ethnocentric views of both history and theology and reinspect old prejudices in light of new findings. Thomas C. Oden, author of The African Memory of Mark, seeks to do just that in this new release from IVP Academic.

Oden sets out to construct a biography of John Mark using African sources from the early church as his guide. In this way, he hopes to advance both church history and biblical studies. The results are refreshing and courageous. Oden proposes some fairly radical things. He argues that John Mark and Peter may have been distantly related. Likewise, he proposes that the upper room where the disciples had their last feast was owned by John Mark's parents. Similarly, he proposes a radical re-reading of traditional history in regards to John Mark's own location during the events of Acts. Rather than seeing Mark as a somewhat quiet figure in the Bible, Oden suggests that Mark was active and courageous in his proclamation of the Gospel.

The reader will be struck by these radical readings of the history of Mark. The question is, are they persuasive? This question is much more difficult to answer because they lie, says Oden, in how one views the original sources. Oden argues against Bauer and attempts to reinstate trust in the original sources--primarily the African sources. Often we, in our modern "enlightened" mindset, think we can reconstruct history better than the early church fathers themselves. Oden, as one might guess, opts for an honest reading of the fathers--one that takes them both truthfully and seriously. He allows for the possibility that the "legends" behind some of Mark's miracles (such as the conversion of his father) was not in fact legend but truth.
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Format: Paperback
Who was Mark -- the man who purportedly wrote the gospel that bears his name? This is the question that Thomas Oden, the general editor of the remarkable 26-volume Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture series and the 5-volume Ancient Christian Doctrine series (both published by InterVarsity Press), seeks to answer, at least in part, in this fascinating book that reads, to a significant degree, like an Agatha Christie mystery or a well-written "Cold Case" television episode. As a result of his work on the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, and, as he writes, standing in awe "in the basin of the dusty baptistery of the ancient church of St. Augustine of Hippo," Oden says that "The privilege of examining, pondering and writing on the African memory of Mark has been the vocational exercise I have most valued in these years of my life since completing the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture." (p. 234)

Oden's basic argument is that John Mark is, in all likelihood, a far more significant -- even central -- character in the story of the early years of the Christian church than is generally acknowledged, particularly in the West. He supports his thesis with three basic "pools" of evidence: the New Testament itself, other documents from that period, and, most interestingly perhaps, what he calls "the African memory of Mark". He argues that in the West, historians have generally taken the position that writing reliable history requires written sources from the time period (letters, journals, etc.
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