The Interpretation of Mark

Article excerpt

The Interpretation of Mark. Edited by William R. Telford. 2d ed. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1995, xiv + 342 pp., $25.95 paper.

This book is the most comprehensive and up-to-date introduction available today to the study of Mar]Vs gospel. Telford begins the book with an essay in which he surveys important developments and issues in the interpretation of Mark, highlighting the scholarship of the last half of the 20th century. Both the introductory chapter and the extensive bibliography at the end have been updated since the first edition of this work in 1985. In the initial chapter, Telford examines the history of interpretation of Mark's gospel, the major issues that remain unresolved in the scholarly debate, and the significant themes emphasized by Mark in his gospel. On the whole, Telford keeps his evaluation of different scholarly positions to a minimum, but he does show that the trend in scholarship is away from the older view that Mark's gospel is a simple, unsophisticated and untheological report on the life of Jesus.

Next in the book comes a series of previously published articles, which serve as examples of recent scholarship on the gospel of Mark. Telford selected these essays, including several that are new to the second edition, for a number of reasons. Some are written by pillars of recent research on Mark, such as Eduard Schweizer, Norman Perrin and Ernest Best; some illustrate newer methodologies, such as structuralism, narrative criticism and reader-response criticism; and some have proven to be seminal works that continue to influence the discussion of significant issues in the interpretation of Mark.

Two of the more influential articles in this collection both touch on Mark's unusually harsh presentation of the disciples. …