The Gospel of Mark

John R. Donahue

The Gospel of Mark
The Gospel of Mark

Book Details

Series: Sacra Pagina
Categories: Mark
Tags: Roman CatholicTechnicalPastoral

Book Information

Pages: 496 pages
Publisher: Liturgical Press
Published: 2002
ISBN-10: 0814658040
ISBN-13: 9780814658048

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5 out of 5 based on 3 user ratings
Sacra Pagina is a series of commentaries by an international team of Catholic scholars on New Testament books and is intended for a broad audience, ranging from biblical professionals to religious educators. The purpos e of the series is to provide a critical analysis [of New Testament texts] without any loss of sensitivity to religious meaning. This volume on the Gospel of Mark, while it might have been organized in a more helpful way, is largely successful in fulfilling its purpose for its intended audience. The authors, both long-time scholars of Mark, begin by noting that their commentary will be intratextual and intertext ual. In practice, intertextua l means that the authors pay attention to the relationship between Mark and the Old Testament, noting to a lesser extent the ways early Jewish literature and archaeology impinge upon Marks text. In a mildly confusing fashion, the authors write that for them intratextual means that they want to interpret Mark as Ma rk by Mark. This appears to mean that they pay attention to the story Mark tells, as well as to particular Markan themes, according to the practice of formalist narrative criticism. While the authors create the impression that this dual commitment to intratextuality and intertextuality will result in a different sort of reading from that found in other commentaries, what readers of the book actually get is a straightforwardly historical-critical commentary on Mark by two scholars who know the scholarly literature well, love the Gospel of Mark, and are committed to the church. [Full Review]
One of several new commentaries on Mark to hit the shelves recently, this book by respected scholars Donahue and Harrington intends to highlight Marks literar y and theological traits. Ultimately, the authors produce a thoroughly informative but fairly conventional reading of Marks n arrative. Donahue and Harrington begin with a statement of their interpretive approach (more on that below), followed by a lengthy overview of methodological developments in biblical studies from the late nineteenth century to the present, with particular attention to Markan scholarship (222). Surprisingly, the authors offer little discussion of their major theoretical terms intertextuality and intratextuality, nor do they mention the usual suspects associated with theories of intertextuality (Kristeva; Barthes; Derrida). The introduction takes up familiar themes in Markan scholarshipgenre, Sitz im Leben, Christology, discipleship, and eschatologybut also discusses Ma rks use of the Old Testament and relationship to Judaism (3437) as well as noting similarities between Marks Gospel and Pauline letters (3841). In a nod to church tradition, the authors situate Marks community in Rome, while acknowledging and critiquing recent studies that locate Mark in Galilee or Syria (4146). [Full Review]
The biblical commentary, as it evolved in the twentieth century, was largely a historical-critical enterprise. The major methodological approaches employed (e.g., Religionsgeschichte, text criticism, source criticism, form criticism, redaction criticism) variously analyzed the historical influences and stages through which the text had passed to reach its final form. Increasingly detailed studies plumbed the vertical dimensions of the text. Some, such as Joseph Fitzmyers Commentary on Romans (Anchor, 1993), included the history of interpretation of selected pericopes in their purview, and increasingly social-scientific criticism was blended into the mix. Yet the concerns of the new literary criticism that began to be articulated in New Testament studies in the late 1970s, picking up increasing mass and momentum in the 1980s and 1990s, made little impact upon the genre. In commentaries on the Gospels, the narrative dimensions of the received text (e.g., its story, plot, characterization) were simply not a primary locus of interpretive interest. The appearance of Donahue and Harringtons Mark commentary in the Sacra Pagina series signals a significant change in this regard. [Full Review]

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