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Bible Studies on Mark Paperback – June 16, 2016
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New Mark Bible Study Guide! Read and study about the person and work of Jesus Christ, who is the Gospel incarnate. You will grow in your knowledge, love, and desire to serve Jesus through these pages. "The Gospel of Mark is all about that—the Gospel. In this short guide through this shortest of Gospels, Bill Boekestein opens up for us the person and work of Jesus Christ, who is the Gospel incarnate. You will grow in your knowledge, love, and desire to serve Jesus through these pages." —Rev. Daniel R. Hyde
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Top Customer Reviews
First, the commentary is very readable. The reader can see from the end notes for each chapter that much research and reading has gone into this work, but Boekestein keeps the language and structure highly readable. This commentary reads much like a book and its size certainly wont be too daunting for the average reader. This makes it a wonderful resource for leaders to give out or recommend to Christians that they know want to dig deeper into their Bible study and could use a good resource. This also makes it a good tool for family devotions, one on one teaching, or small group studies. Bible Studies in Mark is highly profitable as well. Boekestein provides rich notes on the text, helpful application, and engaging questions at the end of each section. In the introduction Boekestein list a few prominent themes that he focuses the reader's attention on as he begins his commentary.
The themes are as follows:
First, Mark focuses more on the works than the words of Christ (in comparison with the other Gospels). Understanding this is helpful in two ways. First, it teaches us that we are to be not only talkers but also doers. The Gospel of Mark has a grand illustration of James's point that faith is made perfect by works (James 2:22). Second, it reminds us that Christ was a doer. We are not saved because Christ talked about the kingdom of God (as important as this is) but because He ushered in the kingdom of God by His deeds....It is true that in His doing he set a pattern for us, but He also comforts us with the promise that it is done. Christ is the ultimate doer. He labored for us so that we could rest in Him....
Second, Mark emphasizes Christ's passion. Mark devotes a greater proportion of his gospel to the events surrounding Christ's death than Mathew, Luke, or John...This duel emphasis is a beautiful picture of our redemption which is accomplished by both the active and passive obedience of Christ....
Third, Mark stresses the suffering nature of discipleship. Throughout the Gospel, Mark makes it clear that to follow Jesus necessarily means to tread the path He trod. Mark's Gospel stresses that suffering always precedes glory; it did for Christ and it will for the Christian.. Fourth, Mark prioritizes Jesus' teaching of the kingdom; he uses the word kingdom at least twenty-one times.
I was greatly encourage while reading through this commentary. It provided great insight into the Gospel of Mark. It is definitely a devotional commentary that I will recommend to others who desire to "dig in" to Mark's Gospel and need a faithful guide.
I received a copy of this book from Reformed Fellowship Inc. via Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for an honest review.
Here are some thoughts:
A. Boekestein says that he will focus primarily on the Gospel of Mark, rather than what other Gospels present. Occasionally, he does quote other Gospels, and he seems to have a rather harmonizing approach to the text, treating all of the Gospels as consistent and as containing the same Christian message. Boekestein interprets the Gospel of Mark in reference to his larger Christian theology, which includes seeing the Kingdom of God as a spiritual kingdom and Jesus being God incarnate. There are biblical scholars who argue that such themes are foreign to the Gospel of Mark. Boekestein does not usually highlight what is distinct to the Gospel of Mark itself, as the stories that he discusses are found in the other Gospels, as well. Overall, though, Boekestein comments on the stories and sayings of Jesus as they appear in the Gospel of Mark.
B. The book was a thoughtful and an engaging read. I agree with Jason Van Vliet’s statement on the back cover of the book that “Boekestein dishes up a delicious and nutritious spiritual meal.” A recurring point that I appreciated was that we should not idolize people’s approval.
C. There were parts of the book that made me wince. On pages 74-75, Boekestein states: “When churches really begin to imitate the apostles, they find themselves dealing with the occult, with drug addicts, pedophiles, homosexual offenders, pornographers, and the like (cf. 1 Cor. 6:9-11).” Boekestein was saying this in the context of discussing the church’s war against spiritual darkness. Perhaps he could have made this point without demonizing homosexuals, many of whom are good people coping with a sexual orientation that they did not ask for. Moreover, in my opinion, Boekestein also should have highlighted sins that left-wingers condemn, such as greed, exploitation, and oppression.
The book also displays a Christian anti-Judaism stance (which is critical of the Jewish religion, not the Jewish people). That made me wince, since there were Pharisees, such as Hillel, who said beautiful and spiritual things, and rabbinic literature has its share of edifying insights. Perhaps Boekestein felt that he was being faithful to the ideology of the Gospel of Mark, and that could be, though there are interpreters who highlight the continuity between Jesus and Judaism in the Gospel of Mark. The book would have been better had Boekestein acknowledged that Judaism taught good things while saying that there was corruption within its midst, as occurs in many religions.
On page 128, Boekestein states that “Thoughtful reflection on hell should rattle a believer out of sinful self-absorption.” There was some fire-and-brimstone in this book, and I do not fault Boekestein for that, since there is fire-and-brimstone in the Gospel of Mark. Boekestein’s focus in the book was not on fire-and-brimstone. Still, I question whether thinking about hell is a psychologically healthy way to become less self-absorbed. I can somewhat understand Boekestein’s point: that thinking about hell can get our minds off ourselves and our own glory and shake us out of self-absorption, but it can also lead to a lot of fear. Plus, why do believers have to worry about hell, when Jesus has saved them? Boekestein says that thinking about hell can encourage believers to witness to others, but he also seems to imply that believers, on some level, should have some fear of hell.
On page 135, Boekestein states: “Sadly, those who with an unbelieving heart do such ‘big-ticket’ activities as worshiping, tithing, witnessing or volunteering will still hear Christ say those dreadful words: ‘I never knew you’ (Matt. 7:23).” Wouldn’t that lead to people second-guessing themselves when they try to do the right thing? Is that really necessary?
D. Boekestein writes from a Reformed perspective, which holds that God must spiritually resurrect people from spiritual death for them to believe. At times, this allows Boekestein to take parts of the text seriously, such as Jesus’ statement in Mark 4:11-12 that he is telling parables to confuse unbelievers. Boekestein explained that passage well.
E. There were occasions when this book taught me something, in terms of information. This was particularly the case on page 160. On that page, Boekestein addresses the question of whether Jews were allowed to execute people in first century Palestine. He says that they could and cites a secondary source. Although there are scholars who assert the contrary, perhaps there were different rules at different times. In any case, Boekestein provides a piece of the puzzle. Also on page 160 is a quotation of Augustine, who says that Christians submitted to the pagan emperor Julian out of obedience to God.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through Cross Focused Reviews. My review is honest!