The Gospel Of Jesus Christ: Whosoever Will Come After Me…: A Study In Mark, by Russell M. Stendal
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Aneko Press. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
One of the perks of being sent just about every book published by Aneko Press–except the Jubilee Bible, so far at least–is being able to read so many books by Russell Stendal, who I greatly enjoy as a writer . This book, despite its unwieldy title, claims to be a study in Mark, and that is exactly what this book reads like. It reads like a series of Bible studies on the book of Mark, a midrash on the book by a preacher who seeks to make the material come alive to his audience, which from the looks of it is mainly believers in Colombia. This is not a book for the faint of heart, as the author can be particularly fierce when he considers our age to be Laodicean, a fairly common judgment in certain circles I am familiar with, and when he absolutely savages the spiritual and intellectual credentials of the man behind the popular Strong’s Concordance . But if you are not offended by this book, there is a great deal to be found that is worthwhile, not least because the author uses his Jubilee Bible as the textual basis and shows some familiarity with Spanish and Hebrew sources that are not usually discussed in English-language Protestant commentaries of books of the Bible.
In terms of its organization, this book reads like each chapter, more or less, would be a fairly lengthy Bible Study that mostly covered but but occasionally more than one chapter within the Book of Mark. The author goes through each chapter and each verse of the book of Mark and makes frequent comments about the definitions of words as well as with the cross references Mark makes with other passages, all of which are quoted in full using the Jubilee Bible. The author shows a high degree of sensitivity to biblical history as well as contemporary culture in the Spanish speaking world. It should be noted that some of his scholarship is immensely impressive, to give just one example, when discussing the passage about how hard it is for the rich man to enter into the kingdom of God, he makes use of a Hebrew idiom that passed into Spanish before the expulsion of the Jews that makes the passage more powerful and makes the reaction of the disciples to Jesus’ statement easier to understand. The book of Mark is probably the Gospel I look at the least myself, but this commentary has definitely earned a place in my library.
Readers who are fond of the hard-hitting and yet culturally sensitive writings of Russell Stendal will likely find much to appreciate here. The author takes no prisoners and has given a thoughtful and learned and passionate commentary here. The approach of the author is consistent and his interest in reading the New Testament through the context of the Old Testament pays off here, especially given his pro-Sabbath discussions of Jesus Christ’s famous claim to be the Lord of the Sabbath, and in the way that the author correctly understands the importance of the fall harvest with regards to Bible prophecy. Readers with an interest in Spanish-language biblical studies or who have interests in Latin America or other Spanish-speaking countries would find this book of particular value in giving a commentary of Mark that takes advantage of the author’s rare insights into the Mediterranean world and into the often forgotten meaning of certain biblical expressions. Even so, though, readers who want a tough-minded commentary on Mark would do well to check this book out, regardless of whether they have any knowledge or interest in the Spanish language or not.
 See, for example:
 Here is what the author has to say about Strong in one of his fiercest footnotes:
“Of the modern intellectual “Sadducees,” Dr. James Strong (1822-1894) has had quite an influence on evangelical theology. His popular concordance containing a humanly brilliant numbering system to identify each Hebrew or Greek words defines angels such as cheribim as “imaginary figures” (Strong’s #3742), and he doesn’t appear to believe in a literal devil or a literal hell. Almost a third of his definitions of proper names in Scripture lead the reader around in circles, are 180 degrees reversed from their true meaning (which is easy to do in Hebrew, especially with names that are used only once or twice), or do not agree with Dr. Young’s concordance or Webster’s dictionary, to cite just two other well-known sources that don’t make wild guesses and pass them off as scholarship. Dr. Strong is also one of a great number of modern theologians who tend to define the Greek terminology of the New Testament in light of pagan Greek roots, rather than tracing key words through the Hebrew of the Old Testament and letting them be defined by the way they are introduced and used by God throughout Scripture. As this type of “modern” intellectual thinking permeates Bible schools and theological seminaries, it has a penchant for removing the fear of the Lord from among Christian leaders in this Laodicean hour. Left unchecked, this type of human thinking will undermine the literal truth of the Scriptures until its proponents no longer even believe in the literal existence of God (165).”