Discovering the Gospel of Mark

For the last ten years I have lived with the Gospel of Mark–poring over its text, tracing down every Old Testament allusion, reading books, commentaries and journal articles, teaching the book in week-long intensive courses, letting its currents roll over me. All this is no accident, because I am the inheritor of a tradition.

Mark is not my personal obsession. It has been handed down to me from a succession of mentors in InterVarsity Christian Fellowship who have taught this Gospel to college students over the decades. Not only have they learned a book of the Bible, they have learned about Jesus, about his care for the whole person, about his authority in their lives, about the cost of discipleship, about the importance of hearing and asking questions and letting the text read us.

The tradition can be traced back to Paul Byer, who worked for InterVarsity in the 1950s. Mark became his book. He then used Mark to guide students into the life of Jesus. Paul’s work is legendary. And as a result, thousands of students and staff have been taught from this Gospel for five decades. I was one.

But Paul Byer had a mentor too. In the 1940s, he sat under the teaching of Jane Hollingsworth, who taught him the principles of inductive Bible study. Jane was one of the first U.S. campus staff for InterVarsity, working in the Northwest. As Linda Doll and I have told the tale, she had traveled extensively, visiting students on many campuses, and reported to her boss (Stacey Woods, the national leader of InterVarsity), “The students want to study the Bible, Stacey, but they don’t know how. They need some materials.”

“Well, Jane, write some!” he replied with his usual bluntness. And she did. The result was IVP’s first publication. And of course it was *Discovering the Gospel of Mark*, published in 1943.

Since then IVP has, by my count, published nine other volumes on the Gospel of Mark:

– [*Mark* ](, James Hoover (1985, 1999)
– [*Mark*]( (TNTC), R. Alan Cole (1989)
– [*Redating Matthew, Mark and Luke*](, John Wenham (1992)
– [*The Message of Mark*]( (BST), Donald English (1992)
– [*Mark*]( (ACCS), edited by Thomas C. Oden and Christopher A. Hall (1998)
– [*The Cross from a Distance*](, Peter G. Bolt (2004)
– [*Mark*]( (IVPNTC), Ronald J. Kernaghan (2007)
– [*Mark*]( (NTWE), N. T. Wright (2009)
– [*The African Memory of Mark*](, Thomas Oden (2011)

Two of the authors of these books (Hoover and Kerhaghan) were themselves mentored by Byer in Mark. And then there is a tenth book due next year:

– *Mark: The Gospel of Passion*, Michael Card (2012)

We are, you see, inheritors of a tradition.

Author: Andy Le Peau

I've been an editor and writer for over forty years. I am passionate about ideas and how we can express them clearly, beautifully, and persuasively. I love reading good books, talking about them, and recommending them. I thoroughly enjoy my family who help me continue on the path of a lifelong learner.

5 thoughts on “Discovering the Gospel of Mark”

  1. It surely would be worthwhile, it seems, to hear you teach the Gospel of Mark. Close and astute study of any part of the word of God always yields great benefits and blessings to the student and teacher. Think of Luther and his study of Romans and what that meant to Western Civilization. One thing that struck me as a result of having taught Hebrews in seminary extension was the thought of what it really means to attend Church. Go back in memory to the first century, imagine yourself as living in Bethany and as attending the temple to hear Jesus the Messiah preach and teach. Now fast forward to your attending church on a Sunday. Think of how the author of Hebrews says, “But you are come Mount Zion, and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assempbly and church of the first born,…, and to God…, amd to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant….” Erasmus, I understand said the Greek New Testament would present Jesus before a person more real than if stood before one in the flesh. Surely, there is a reality to church worship services and to the presentation of what the word has to say that escapes most people who attend.

  2. I couldn’t agree more with your comments about church. It is in community that the truth and reality of the gospel are made plain. I wonder if it is too much to say we couldn’t believe if it weren’t for the community. While the Spirit is of course needed as well, you are right that in community we see the gospel before our eyes.

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