Friday, November 26, 2010

A New Book on the Gospel of Mark

Fortress Press publishes the Texts @ Contexts series, the goal of which is to bring voices outside of the North American and Western European contexts more fully into conversation with biblical scholarship. The volume on Mark has come out recently, edited by Nicole Wilkinson Duran, Teresa Okure, and Daniel M. Patte. I'm not going to review the book here. I'll just offer a few thoughts and questions that I had after reading it.

One aspect that I found interesting was the book's treatment of healing and exorcism. There are three essays on these topics. People who live in non-Western contexts often understand healing and exorcism quite differently than we who live in North America and Western Europe. I found this the most interesting part of the book. I only wish there had been more on this issue and that the essays had pushed a bit harder on these points.

There's quite a bit of post-colonial scholarship in the book. This is an important part of engagement with the two-thirds world. Yet I wonder if the degree to which the concerns of post-colonial criticism are represented in this book is proportionately represented in the religious lives and experiences of Christians in these contexts. I don't know the answer... just wondering.

Christianity is spreading rapidly through the global south, a fact which represents an evangelistic, proselytizing concern on the part of these Christians. I didn't see that perspective represented in the book, though, despite the fact that there is ample material in Mark that could lead one to reflect on issues related to evangelism.

All in all, despite the fact that I have some concerns, this is a helpful read. If you want think through the ways in which our cultural contexts shape our readings of the biblical texts, this book will prove a helpful resource.

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