Blog reviews on my book

March 30, 2015

I plan to share the links of any bloggers who take the time to interact with my book The Gospel on the Margins: the Reception of Mark in the Second Century and hope to continue the dialogue over at my blog.  I just noticed that Neil Godfrey has offered his summary and reflections on the book in his post “Why is the Gospel of Mark in the New Testament.”  I left a comment over at his blog to clarify a few of my positions in interaction with his kind review.

  • I lean towards the majority view that Mark’s Gospel is our earliest extant Jewish biography of Jesus (ca. 65-75 CE), though I noted David Aune’s contention that there may be some parodic inversion of the values of elite Graeco-Roman biographies, and that its narrative served as the source for the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.  I covered a range of views in my genre post.
  • Against those who see Papias unfavourably contrasting Mark’s Gospel with the Gospels of Luke (Martin) or John (Hengel, Bauckham, etc), I argue that Papias compared Mark’s rhetorical or literary arrangement (taxis, order) to Matthew’s carefully arranged account with its complete narrative of the subject and five orderly discourses (cf. Eccl. Hist. 3.39.15-16).  Clement of Alexandria’s observation about Mark as rough “notes” may fit here (cf. Hist. Eccl. 2.15.2) and most Church Fathers privileged Matthew over Mark.
  • Neil summarized my case about how certain groups read Mark in a way that centrist Christian writers judged heretical, such as claiming that the divine Christ possessed the human Jesus at the baptism, that Simon of Cyrene was crucified instead of Jesus or that Jesus imparted hidden gnosis (knowledge) in the form of a “mystery” to his disciples. Irenaeus is my major source for these examples.  On the last point, I could bring in Clement’s Letter to Theodore as corroborating evidence about how Mark’s Gospel was being read by some Alexandrian Christians in the second century, but I tried to largely bracket this text to an appendix since I recognize its “authenticity” is still hotly debated in the guild and would point out that Irenaeus already told us how the Carpocratians understood the “mystery” Jesus taught in Against Heresies 1.25.5.

I also appreciate that Daniel Gullotta included my book in his interview and I second his answer about whether Mark was a “Gnostic Gospel”:  it is not a “Gnostic” text in that there is absolutely no identification of the Creator God of the Jewish Scriptures with the ignorant or fallen demiurge and Mark is adamant that Jesus came to die a vicarious death on behalf of others, but some “Gnostics” may have found an adoptionist reading of Mark’s baptism scene or the theme of secrecy (e.g., Jesus teaching a “mystery” to an inner circle of followers in private) conducive to their theological views.  My thanks to both bloggers who shared their thoughts on the book and I look forward to further blog conversations about the book.

The Authors of the New Testament Gospels

February 21, 2015

If you ever wondered why the four New Testament Gospels were ascribed to the evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, I have written a number of posts over at the blog Bible Study and the Christian Life that aims to introduce some of the scholarship on this to the layperson sitting in the church pews or to anyone else who is interested. Here is an index for the whole series and I welcome feedback or questions in the comments sections under any of the posts linked to below:

Who Wrote the Gospels?

Why are the Gospels Anonymous?

Why was Matthew Chosen as the Author of the First New Testament Gospel?

Why was Mark Chosen as the Author of the Second New Testament Gospel?

Why was Luke Chosen as the Author of the Third New Testament Gospel?

Why was John Chosen as the Author of the Fourth New Testament Gospel?

A New Article at the Bible and Interpretation Website

February 19, 2015

I have written a new article called “Why Did the Gospel of Mark Survive?” at the website The Bible and Interpretation.  It summarizes my own theory that I defend more fully in my book about why I believe the Gospel of Mark was preserved at all after most of its content was repeated in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, much less was included in the New Testament.  I hope you will enjoy it and, if you have any critical feedback or questions, will add your thoughts in the comments section below the article.

I will be speaking at Concordia University College of Alberta

February 13, 2015

I will be giving a talk at Concordia University College of Alberta for a Philosophy and Religious Studies Colloquium on Thursday, February 26 at 4 pm.  Here is the poster they have created for the event (Phi-Rel_Colloquium_Feb26_Poster_Proof).  If the topic is of interest to you, I hope to see you there. :)

Why Did Mark’s Gospel Survive?

AbstractAs any survey of the manuscripts, citations and commentaries of the New Testament Gospels will demonstrate, Mark’s Gospel was extremely neglected in the early church.  Further, over 90 percent of Mark’s content is also found in the highly esteemed Gospel of Matthew.  Why, therefore, was Mark’s Gospel preserved at all when so many other Christian writings were lost in antiquity?  I will explore the question of why Mark’s Gospel not only survived, but came to be included in the New Testament.

The lecture will be based on  my book The Gospel on the Margins: The Reception of Mark in the Second Century.

“The Gospel on the Margins” is Now Out

February 2, 2015

On Sunday, February 1, my book The Gospel on the Margins: The Reception of Mark in the Second Century became available to purchase.  It just happened to coincide with that other major event, the Super Bowl, and that amazing finish to that game (I say that as a Canadian who is generally out of the loop when it comes to the NFL)!  There is a description of the contents and endorsements of the book over at the Fortress Press site and it is also listed on,,,, and elsewhere online.  I will be more than happy to link to any critical blog reviews and look forward to the possible discussions that might happen.

A Sneak Peek of my Book on Google Preview

January 14, 2015

I am happy to announce that my book The Gospel on the Margins: The Reception of Mark in the Second Century has now been put up on Google preview.  If you are interested, you can have an advanced look at the opening chapter and see if you want to explore the topic further.

New Article on Comparisons between Paul and Mark

November 26, 2014

My new article “Does Mark Narrate the Pauline Kerygma? Challenging an Emerging Consensus on Mark as a Pauline Gospel” has been published in the Journal for the study of the New Testament 37.2 (2014): 139-160.  Here is the abstract:

An increasing number of scholars situate the Gospel of Mark within the Pauline sphere of influence. The centrality of Mark’s Passion story may lend itself to this interpretation, and Mark’s Gospel is frequently read as a narrativization of the Pauline kerygma on the vicarious death of Jesus. I intend to challenge this academic paradigm, drawing attention to the areas where the similarities have been exaggerated or the major differences overlooked in comparisons between Paul and Mark on this theme. Against the supposition that Mark’s emphasis on the soteriological significance of the crucifixion of Jesus can only be explained with reference to Paul, I will argue that the evangelist’s social location on the margins may account for the preoccupation with the redemptive value of Jesus’ suffering.


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