Mark and Empire: Feminist Reflections, by Laurel K. Cobb. Laurel Cobb interprets the Gospel of Mark from the perspective of three decades of work in international public health and social welfare programs. Weaving themes of poverty, health, and justice work through recent scholarship on Mark and empire, she offers a moving and challenging practical theology of discipleship.
Shusaku Endo’s novel recounts the spiritual descent of an earnest Portuguese priest and his small, beleaguered flock of believers in 17th-century Japan. Ever since I discovered it in 1979 thanks to a review by Douglas John Hall, it has remained among my top three candidates for items I would want to have with me if I were stranded on a desert island.
Here comes that man again, running up to Jesus with a question about eternal life. We can hear those dreaded words on Jesus’ lips even before the man approaches: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” Even before Mark tells us so, we know that the rich young man will turn away grieving, for he has many possessions.
Whenever a new Bible translation comes out, questions arise about
changes to familiar passages. I was pleased to see the CEB use the word
"disciple" to refer to the mysterious young man who appears in Mark 14:51-52,
after the 12 disciples desert Jesus and run away.
If your commentary budget has not yet run dry, check out
William Placher's new book on the Gospel of Mark, the first in a new series of
theological commentaries from Westminster John Knox. Placher, who died in 2008,
was to be the co-editor of this series with Amy Plantinga Pauw. This volume,
the last thing he wrote, is a fitting legacy.
Most New Testament scholars say that the Gospel of Mark originally ended with the story of the women who go to the cemetery, only to encounter a mysterious young man pointing to Jesus’ empty tomb and announcing the resurrection. One of the challenges of this view is that if Mark truly ended his narrative here, he seems to have concluded by deliberately not concluding, by dangling something incomplete and unsatisfying before the reader in the final verse.
“The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” Like a starter’s pistol, this brief first verse rings out and Mark’s narrative is off and running. We may take the chain of phrases in this verbless sentence simply as a title, the announcement of what follows—the title and then immediately the headlong story.
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