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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some of the "Perspectives" are Weak / Unbalanced, October 10, 2012
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This review is from: Perspectives on the Ending of Mark: Four Views (Paperback)
Individually, I would rate the essays as follows. My overall ranking is based on an average of these:
Wallace: Five stars (*****)
Robinson: Three stars (***)
Elliott: Three stars (***)
Black: One star (*)

Wallace made the best case for his position, by far. He is strong not only in his handling of the evidence, but also in his carful identification of the presuppositions inherent in the debate. He raised several important points I had not previously considered and also introduced pieces of evidence that the other contributors seemed unaware of.

Robinson makes a few good points. He draws a number of interesting literary parallels, but most of the ones I actually checked by looking them up in my Bible seem much less convincing than he makes them out to be. The essay is marred heavily by the fact that all the subject headings are taken from Marianne Moore's poem, "Poetry," producing an essay that appears to be organized in an entirely nonsensical manner. His use of this poem as an analogy for different versions of Mark is especially unconvincing.

Elliott makes some interesting points about internal evidence as well, and in some ways he is almost a foil to Robinson's essay. However, he is far too dismissive of external testimony. He also proposes a theory that Mark is "damaged at both ends" which I find to be implausible in light of the dearth of textual evidence for this position. The essay's main redeeming quality is the discussion of canonicity at the end of it.

Black's essay is easily the worst. I have enjoyed reading some of Black's material in the past, and I was hoping to read some actual evidence for 16:9-20 as a Markan addition. However, what I got instead was an extremely speculative and unhelpful "solution" to the Synoptic problem. He proposes that Mark was actually a collection of sermons preached by Peter in Rome, largely dependent on Matthew and Luke, but excluding a resurrection sermon (which Mark adds later). Black presents almost no evidence for this theory. His argument is essentially, "this is how it could have happened," instead of "this is the most likely scenario based on the evidence."

Bock concludes the book by addressing several points from the essays and asserting his support for Wallace's view. In my judgment, this makes the book somewhat unbalanced. I would have appreciated seeing the contributors actually respond to each other's essays, or at the very least seeing a different person write the final response essay who would make a stronger case for one of the other perspectives instead of giving Wallace's view a second go-around. (In the interests of full disclosure, I actually agree with Wallace, although somewhat cautiously).

I would recommend this book to someone looking to survey the issues surrounding Mark's ending, but with the caveats listed above. This book does not answer all of the pertinent questions, regardless of what view you take.
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Initial post: Aug 19, 2013 8:27:51 AM PDT
Your review pretty much matches my thoughts after reading the book. (Disclosure: This is the first full book I've read on the topic, so I'm no expert.) Black's essay was interesting--his hypothesis is appealing and, if read in isolation from the other essays, would be plausible. But very little real evidence is provided to support his view. I almost feel sorry for him, since he's the editor of this book, was not planning to include his own essay until nudged to do so by the head of his school, and admits that he is not an expert in the field. Bock's final reflections are helpful, but not as much as I had hoped. I wish he had weighed the evidence in the various essays more thoroughly.

Anyway, take this comment as another reader affirming your sense of the book. Glad I read it.
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