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Mark Through Old Testament Eyes

mark through ot eyesMark Through Old Testament Eyes by Andrew T. Le Peau is the inaugural volume of the new “Through Old Testament Eyes” New Testament commentary series. While grounded in solid scholarship, this series is not written for the academic; rather, it aims to help serious lay readers as well as teachers and preachers experience fuller and richer dimensions of books of the NT by illuminating the OT backgrounds. Although it seems that the average person in the pew has always struggled to understand and appreciate the OT, Andy Stanley‘s recent statement about how Christians need to “unhitch” the OT from their faith makes it all the more urgent for us to help Christians understand and cherish the OT, and to see it as relevant for their lives and ministries. One way to accomplish this is to open up OT backgrounds to NT passages, which is what this commentary series does. However, I appreciate that Le Peau (who is also the series editor) notes that “the Old Testament is not merely a tool for understanding the New. The Old Testament is important and valuable in its own right. It was the Bible of Jesus and the first Christians. They guided their lives by it. The Old Testament needs to be and deserves to be understood on its own terms, apart from the lens it provides for seeing the New Testament clearly” (11). The hope is that these commentaries, in providing a window to the OT through the NT, will motivate readers to look more deeply into the OT itself.

The commentaries in this series will all have four repeating features. The main element is a running commentary which provides OT background and other key information. Second, “Through Old Testament Eyes” sections give a big picture of how OT themes and motifs influence large sections of the NT text. For example, “Mark 11-16 Through Old Testament Eyes: Jesus the New Temple” (pp 301-303) summarizes key dimensions of the temple motif in Mark 11-16 and concludes that in Mark, Jesus is the new temple not made with human hands (Mark 14:57-59), which the OT had anticipated when speaking of a time when there would be no need for a temple because God’s presence would dwell with his people (e.g. Isa 40:5; Jer 3:16-17; Hab 3:14; Zec 1:16-2:13). Third, “What the Structure Means” keeps track of the overall flow of the NT book, explaining how the author gets his point across using structural techniques (e.g. repetition, sandwiches, etc.). Structurally, Le Peau sees three major sections in Mark, divided in accordance with the New Exodus Motif (p. 18): 1) the liberator arrives (Mark 1:1-8:27); 2) the way to Jerusalem (Mark 8:22-10:52); and 3) conquest in Jerusalem (Mark 11:1-16:8). This parallels the Exodus in the OT as follows: 1) Moses arrives to liberate Israel (Exodus 1-15); 2) The journey to the Promised Land (Exodus 16-40, Numbers, Deuteronomy); and 3) the conquest of Canaan (Joshua). Le Peau traces the New Exodus motif throughout his commentary. Finally, “Going Deeper” addresses practical implications of the NT texts. The Gospel of Mark was written not only to convey information, but also to teach the early church how they were to live out the kingdom that Jesus preached in their contexts.

No existing NT commentary series that I’m aware of focuses exclusively on how the NT books were influenced by the OT (the Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament does something similar in one volume, although it’s a bit more academic). I think this book will accomplish what the publisher hoped for the series – the reader’s understanding of Mark will be enriched by the illumination of OT echoes and allusions, and the reader will be motivated to dig deeper into the OT for itself. Mark Through Old Testament Eyes is a must-read for any serious student of the Bible wanting to study the Gospel of Mark, as well as for those preaching and teaching on this book in ecclesial settings.

Thanks to Kregel Academic for the review copy!

Purchase: Amazon

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1 Comment

  1. I enjoyed this work immensely!

    Liked by 1 person


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