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Review of Biblical Literature Blog

Mark: Shaping the Life and Legacy of Jesus
Smith, Abraham

Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix, 2015 pp. xiii + 101. €14.95

Series Information
Phoenix Guides to the New Testament, 2


Description: This Guide reads the Gospel of Mark as a first-century CE story about Jesus, for his followers, and against tyranny or the abusive use of power. First, the book examines how the Gospel uses the form of a traditional laudatory biography (a ‘Life’) to reshape the memory of the shame-ridden trials and suffering of Jesus. Such a biography portrayed Jesus’ descent (as a son of God), his deeds, and his heroic death, dispelling any notion that the teacher Jesus was a charlatan or huckster. Second, by examining how the Gospel devotes so much space to Jesus’ training of his disciples—as he calls, commissions, and corrects them in preparation for the difficult moments of their journey—, this Guide also presents Mark’s biography as an inspirational story for disciples. Such learners would be eager to profit from the mistakes that the Markan disciples made in their journey. Third, by highlighting the Gospel’s special characterizations of Jesus—as a prophetic envoy, a man of authority, and a philosophical hero—this Guide contrasts Jesus’ use of power (authorized, liberating, lasting, and others-directed) with the abusive use of power by Rome’s representatives (Herod Antipas and Pilate). The Gospel of Mark sets itself against any type of tyranny: the tyranny associated with bad courts and the tyranny associated with bad choices. So if readers of Mark display the values of Jesus, they will be able to stand as valiantly as he did when they face their own sufferings (as in Mark 13.9-13) at the hands of established authorities.

Subjects: Bible, New Testament, Synoptic Gospels, Mark, Literature, Methods, Historical Approaches, Theological Approaches

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Review by Abson Joseph
Published 10/4/2018
Citation: Abson Joseph, review of Abraham Smith, Mark: Shaping the Life and Legacy of Jesus, Review of Biblical Literature [http://www.bookreviews.org] (2018).


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