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Mark and Its Jewish Context

November 24, 2018

A recent multi-author book offers illustrations of examining the Gospel of Mark in light of second-temple Jewish texts and traditions:  Reading Mark in Context:  Jesus and Second Temple Judaism, ed. Ben C. Blackwell, John K Goodrich, and Jason Maston (Grand Rapids:  Zondervan, 2018).  The publisher’s information here.

Each of the contributors tackles a passage in Mark and draws upon this or that ancient Jewish text to make a comparison or contrast.  In most cases, the Jewish texts are cited as “context” or background, in the light of which the Markan passage is read.  In at least one case, however, Michael Bird on Mark 5:1-20 read alongside the Testament of Solomon, the comparison text is posited as influenced by Mark.

The discussions are all concise and basic, and the book is intended clearly to show students and “general readers” how the Jewish context can relate to and illuminate features of the Markan text.  Each contribution has a bibliography guiding readers to the Jewish texts dealt with and giving some key scholarly publications.  There is also a glossary of scholarly terms, and there are indexes of primary texts cited and subjects addressed.

Some scholars may well note that there is scant attention to the wider historical context, which involved non-Jewish material and texts.  But the book doesn’t claim comprehensiveness.

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