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Preaching Mark.

Preaching Mark. By Bonnie Bowman Thurston. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2002. xii and 218 pages. Paper. $18.00.

This is a commentary for preachers whose focus is homiletical. Correctly asserting both that "questions that concern academic students of Mark's Gospel ... do not often loom large for those of us charged to preach and teach Mark" and that "some knowledge of the theories about the evangelist and the Gospel's origin is essential" to preach and teach Mark as effectively as possible (p. 1), Thurston provides preachers with information that will help them appropriately interpret and proclaim Mark's Gospel, and she does so in a very readable fashion.

This commentary is unique in several ways. It treats Mark's Gospel as we hear it in worship, in modern English translation. It is less concerned with sources and textual matters and very concerned with how Mark's intent in preserving a story for his community both directs and limits contemporary preaching. Thurston understands Mark's Gospel as "a brief popular writing in the common language that was used as 'propaganda' for the early Christian mission" (p. 6). Its purpose is to speak to the religious concerns of its recipients, whether evangelistic or didactic, in ways that evoke and strengthen faith in Jesus of Nazareth.

After briefly reviewing the background to Mark's Gospel--priority, sources, author, date, location, genre, and theology--Thurston provides concise commentary on pericopes rather than verses. The suggestions for further reading, which follow each section, are not the most avant-garde but are what is most useful to preachers. The book is organized in six chapters that deal with the prologue and features of Mark's Gospel, opposition in Galilee, parables, miracles, ministry around Capernaum, journey to Jerusalem, ministry around Jerusalem, and passion and resurrection. An appendix provides an index to the lectionaries. As Thurston herself asserts, this is not the book for those looking for new theories about the origins of Mark's Gospel or a new reading of it. It is a very helpful resource for those called to preach.

Craig A. Satterlee

Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago
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Author:Satterlee, Craig A.
Publication:Currents in Theology and Mission
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Oct 1, 2004
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