Saturday, December 2, 2017

Book Review: Mark Through Old Testament Eyes By Andrew T. Le Peau

Mark Through Old Testament Eyes
By Andrew T. Le Peau

            The Series title is “A Background and Application Commentary;” it is, of course, based on the fact that the New Testament writers were immersed in the world of the Hebrew Bible (our Old Testament). They did not come up with “Christianity” whole cloth. In fact, they did not think what they were teaching was “a new religion.” They were Jews practicing Judaism, and the term “Christianity” was years in the future. The distinction between Judaism and Christianity as different religions would have made no sense to the writers of the New Testament. How does this affect our understanding of the Scriptures? For instance, Protestants (like Martin Luther) have read the New Testament in light of Roman Catholicism, and come up with theological positions that have no relationship to the first century. Luther read Paul as if the latter had been trying to correct Roman Catholic doctrines; his grace versus works theology opposed things like the sacraments and indulgences, which were never in the mind of Paul; they simply had not been invented yet. Paul wrote Romans to correct misunderstandings of the grace of God through the Gospel and its relationship to the works of the Law of Moses.
            Well, this series seeks to correct some of those foundational interpretive misunderstandings, and its first century focus is a welcome corrective to bad hermeneutics. I think this volume succeeds to a great measure, and it will be useful to pastors and preachers. For academic use, you may need something more substantial, and based on the Greek text. And, of course, there should be no endnotes, but rather, footnotes. We need that information at hand, not to search for at the end of the book.
            One of the things I did not like was the fact the commentary ends at Mark 16:8, since many scholars do not accept the long ending of Mark as authentic. The author gives a summary of the arguments against the inclusion of the long ending; however, the author himself says on page 301, “Ultimately it is impossible to come to a firm conclusion either way. We must be at peace in our uncertainty.” Well, if it is “impossible” to achieve certainty, shouldn’t a commentary on the book deal with the text that “possibly” is a part of Mark’s Gospel? This seemed to me similar to a construction crew saying, “It is impossible to know whether the building is completely empty of people,” and then blowing it anyway. They should err on the side of caution. IF the long ending is authentic, and you don’t comment on it, then, you haven’t done your job appropriately, and in fact, you’ve been irresponsible. These are eternal matters and we should err on the side of caution, every time.

2/5 Stars

Disclaimer: The book was received for free from Kregel Ministry books in exchange for an unbiased opinion.