A doorway to Mark : a commentary on Mark for lay people
The Problem: The area of study for this doctoral project was suggested by ministerial experience. Many lay people do very little Bible reading. This lack of biblical literacy is problematic in light of the Bible's emphasis on the power and importance of God's word. Also, for those who believe in the reformation tenet of sola scriptura, Bible reading must be an important part of Christian life.
One contributing factor to this problem is that many lay people think that there is an impenetrable cultural and historical barrier between themselves and the Bible. They feel that the Bible is about people who wore long robes, rode on donkeys, and worshipped God by burning animal sacrifices. The modern world is so different that laity feel they cannot understand the world of the Bible. Thus, they depend upon the minister or a teacher to tell them what the Bible says.
The Hypothesis: A commentary can be written for lay people which will explain the biblical context and model bringing this message into modern lives.
The Project: The goal of this project was to produce this type of commentary for the first half of the Gospel of Mark. This commentary serves to create a door in the barrier between the Bible and lay people. The project creates a door so that people can enter into the world of the Bible. The customs, social life, religious practices, and other aspects of first century Palestine are explained in relation to the various pericopes in Mark. As people understand the world in which Jesus lived, they begin to understand the spiritual truths that Jesus was communicating.
The project also creates a doorway that allows the Gospel to enter into the lives of people today. As people understand the spiritual truths of Jesus' ministry, they begin to see how these truths can enter into their own lives. Suddenly they discover that God's word is a living word.
The commentary begins by using Mark 1:1 as the framework for organizing the introductory material to the Gospel as well as delineating the theological assumptions behind the commentary. The body of the commentary consists of twenty-two sections which contain the first eight chapters of Mark. the comments on each section of the Gospel are divided into two parts. The first part deals with the historical and cultural background of the passage. This is the part that opens the door into Mark. The second part of the comments describe how the biblical truths of the passage can apply to life in the twentieth century. This part of the commentary opens the door for Mark to enter into the life of the reader.
The commentary is designed for lay people. It was created within the context of a congregational Bible study, and was tested by a panel of readers throughout the denomination. The approach of the commentary, and the language used within it, are designed for lay readership. The total comments on each section can be read in fifteen minutes or less, which fits into the maximum devotional time most people alot each day.