Teach the Text Commentary Series: Mark by Grant Osborne (Mark Strauss and John Walton, eds.)
We live in a world with countless commentaries. With so many commentaries to choose from, all presenting information in different ways, for different purposes, it is absolutely fair to ask: “Why another commentary–why another commentary series?” I’ll let the Teach the Text Commentary Series speak for itself on that matter. The series welcome states:
“The technicality of modern commentaries often overwhelms readers with details that are tangential to the main purpose of the text. Discussions of source and redaction criticism, as well as detailed surveys of secondary literature, seem far removed from preaching and teaching the Word. Rather than wade through technical discussions, pastors often turn to devotional commentaries, which may contain exegetical weaknesses, misuse the Greek and Hebrew languages, and lack hermeneutical sophistication. There is a need for a commentary that utilizes the best of biblical scholarship but also presents the material in a clear, concise, attractive, user-friendly format” (vii).
“There is a need for a commentary that utilizes the best of biblical scholarship but also presents the material in a clear, concise, attractive, user-friendly format.”
This series is a unique and valuable tool for preaching and teaching the text. Having been educated in preaching and church leadership, as well as in the midst of two master’s degrees in biblical and theological studies, I have been exposed to both devotional commentaries and technical commentaries. I chose to request this commentary for review because it caught my attention as something that had the potential to be worthwhile–and it is!
This is the most user-friendly preaching/teaching commentary I have come across. It reminds me of the Zondervan Illustrated Bible Background Commentary Series in that it is simple, concise, and has colorful illustrations. The major difference is that Zondervan’s series is geared toward informing on the biblical cultural context and backgrounds, and the Teach the Text Commentary Series is obviously geared toward teaching the text.
The Commentary is broken up into “preaching [and teaching] units,” and each unit is broken into several sections. Each unit presents a big idea and key themes. Then, it is broken down into ‘Understanding the Text,’ ‘Teaching the Text,’ and ‘Illustrating the Text.’ The ‘Understanding the Text’ section offers us contextual insights, the structure of the passage, historical/cultural insights, interpretive insights, and theological insights. The ‘Teaching the Text’ section offers guidance in, of course, teaching the text based upon the key themes that are presented at the start of the unity. Finally, the ‘Illustrating the Text’ section gives examples of illustrations from popular culture, movies, TV shows, books, Scripture, etc. Beyond all of that, each unit is intentionally kept to six pages, so that it is a consistent manageable amount of reading for those who preach and teach on a weekly basis. (Check out pages 22-27 of this PDF excerpt to take a look at the unit layout yourself!)
The major critique I have regards the length of the units. Although intentionally left to six pages for the purpose of remaining accessible and concise, there isn’t much that you can fit into six pages when so many things are being covered (e.g., contextual insights, structure, historical/cultural insights, etc.). There could have been more information and exposition, while still keeping it clear, concise, and user-friendly.
This Volume on Mark
This is the only volume within the Teach the Text Commentary Series that I have been exposed to. Specific to this volume on Mark, I found it to be well written, while staying true to the goal of the series. I actually had the opportunity to use the commentary in preparation for a sermon, and found it quite helpful.
If you’re a preacher, if you teach Sunday school regularly, or if you lead a small group , and you’re planning on working your way through the Gospel of Mark, this is a resource that should be taken into consideration. The scholar endorsements carry a lot of weight in my opinion also–Douglas Moo, Darrell Bock, Stanley Porter, Eckhard Schnabel, and Craig Evans. Based on the aims and goal of the series as a whole, I would probably recommend the other volumes as well.
When it comes down to it, the Teach the Text Commentary Series is a helpful tool for preaching and teaching, and it strengthens a weakness in the vast world of commentaries.
Take a look at the other titles in this series at Baker Books