MarkWritten by Paul J. Achtermeier Reviewed By David Wenham
This is not a commentary in the traditional sense, but a series of studies on Mark, including discussion of Mark’s intention, literary method, structure, Christology, teaching about the disciples and the parousia. The author accepts wholeheartedly the view that Mark is a theological reworking of received traditions rather than in any significant sense a history of Jesus, and he works accordingly with form, redaction, and literary critical approaches. He discusses most of the important features of Mark, and interacts usefully with other modern scholarly discussion. His own opinions are sometimes illuminating, as for example in his emphasis on the importance of Jesus’ powerful teaching and his recognition of the significance of the passion in Mark, but sometimes unpersuasive, as for example in his view that the Markan Jesus rejects the designation ‘son of David’ and in his denial that 8:27–30 is a turning point in Mark’s gospel. Whether because of his failure to reckon with Mark as history or for some other reason, Achtermeier’s book felt to this reviewer more like the reflection of a scholar feeling his way forward than an analysis that really captures and makes available to us the essence of Mark. The book has some similarities to E. Best’s Mark as Story (T. & T. Clark, 1986): neither book is exciting interpretation of Mark, but Best has a lot of useful and sensible discussion and is probably the better guide to Mark and to scholarly study of the gospel.