Commentary: Mark, Genesis


Among the introductory studies to this gospel, serious students should look at R. P. Martin’s Mark—Evangelist and Theologian (Paternoster, 1972). This raises all the background matters and interesting questions currently in debate and refers to relevant articles and books on various topics and themes.

The best overall commentary is that by W. L. Lane (Marshall, Morgan and Scott—Eerdmans, 1974). This is a model commentary on the gospel. It gives historical background, detailed exegetical comments and a theological analysis of key issues, particularly seeking to relate Mark to Old Testament background. It also provides material and guidelines for exposition and is very much a preacher’s commentary. Interpretation is based on the Greek text even though comments on the Greek appear only in the footnotes.

St Mark (Cambridge, 1963) by C. E. B. Cranfield is also excellent but is less usable by the general reader because it is based more explicitly on exposition of the Greek text and is not set out in a very readable format. Nevertheless, it has superb sections in which exegesis and theology come together. This is not so much a preacher’s commentary as Lanes work.

Alan Cole’s Mark (IVP/Eerdmans, 1961) in the Tyndale series is an updated and expanded version of his original work. It certainly provides a helpful introduction for basic Bible study of this gospel.

Genesis (ii)

Let me start this second part of Genesis comments with the briefest commentary in this review. Derek Kidner’s Genesis: An Introduction and Commentary [Tyndale OT Commentary (Tyndale, 1967)] should not be overlooked. It is surprising how much sound and insightful comment can be packed into 224 small pages. One important value of Kidner’s work is that he addresses with good sense many of the questions that bother the evangelical Christian about Genesis, but are glossed over in the books mentioned so far. He does not get bogged down with the daysnof creation, or the long life spans in Genesis, but he does have some sensible things to say.

N. M. Sarna’s Understanding Genesis (Schocken Books, 1970) is another relatively small book packed with useful information. Sarna’s distinctive contribution is that he manages to summarise clearly and relevantly the archaeological discoveries of recent times which illuminate the world of the book of Genesis.

It is good to be able to conclude this review with a clear recommendation. A very fine commentary has recently appeared from Gordon Wenham [Genesis 1-15, Word Biblical Commentary 1 (Word Books, 1987)]. It combines detailed comment on the text (even parsing difficult Hebrew forms), careful exegesis, sober theological reflection, and a Christian perspective. If I had to choose one commentary as an aid to teaching/preaching the book of Genesis, this would be it. I only hope the second volume appears before we all get to the end of chapter 15!

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