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A Preface to Mark: Notes on the Gospel in Its Literary and Cultural Settings [Paperback]

By Christopher Bryan (Author)
Our Price $ 48.00  
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Item Number 160250  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   232
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.2" Width: 5.44" Height: 0.68"
Weight:   0.72 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Feb 27, 1997
Publisher   Oxford University Press
ISBN  0195115678  
EAN  9780195115673  

Availability  110 units.
Availability accurate as of Oct 20, 2016 08:44.
Usually ships within one to two business days from La Vergne, TN.
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Item Description...
A Preface to Mark is a literary study which, from the standpoint of the newer critical methodologies, explores two questions. First, Bryan attempts to determine what kind of text Mark would have been seen to be, both by its author and by others who encountered it near the time of its writing. He examines whether Mark should be seen as an example of any particular literary type, and if so which. He concludes that a comparison of Mark with other texts of the period leads inevitably to the conclusion that Mark's contemporaries would broadly have characterized his work as a "life." Second, Bryan looks at the evidence that exists to indicate whether Mark, like so much else of its period, was written to be read aloud. He points out ways in which Mark's narrative would have worked particularly well as rhetoric. The first examination of Mark as a whole in the light of contemporary studies of orality and oral transmission, A Preface to Mark not only shows us Mark in its original setting, but also suggests ways in which our own encounter with Marks text may be significantly enriched. Its accessible style will serve as a good introduction to the Gospel for students as well as the general reader.

"A good introduction to Mark for both students and general readers....As interesting as it is informative." -- Choice

"The book is informative and refreshing due to its interaction with a variety of Graeco-Roman sources." -- Journal for the Study of the New Testament

..".a readable, well-argued discussion....Byran has written a useful book hat should be given due consideration." -- Biblical Studies

"A well-reasoned discussion..." -- Church Times

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More About Christopher Bryan

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Christopher Bryan was ordained deacon in Southwark Cathedral on Trinity Sunday 1960, and priest in 1961. He taught New Testament at the University of the South until his semi-retirement in 2008. He continues to write, teach, and serve local parishes as a priest. He is presently editor of the Sewanee Theological Review. In 2012 The University of the South awarded him the degree of Doctor of Divinity honoris causa.
David Landon is Professor of Theatre Arts at The University of the South and a member of the actors' unions.

Christopher Bryan was born in 1935 and has an academic affiliation as follows - University of the South, and Anglican Priest University of the South U.

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Product Categories
1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Bible & Other Sacred Texts > Bible > New Testament   [2808  similar products]
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4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > General   [10297  similar products]

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Excellent on Genre, Good on Orality  Jun 9, 2007
A while ago, Richard Burridge wrote one of the most influential books in recent New Testament studies: What Are the Gospels? A Comparison with Greco-Roman Biography. At the time Burridge began his study, the prevailing view of the genre of the Gospels was that they were their own unique genre as pioneered by Mark. As Burridge began his inquiry, he expected to refute the notion that the Gospels were akin to ancient biographies, but ended up confirming the then dissenting view. So influential was his argument that the majority opinion has shifted and the view that the Gospels were written according to the genre of ancient, Greco-Roman biography is ascendant.

Burridge's work, however, is not easy reading. If someone is looking for the case for -- and significance of -- identifying the Gospels as ancient Greco-Roman biographies that is an easier read, I recommend Christopher Bryan's A Preface to Mark. Weighing in at 183 pages, the first half of the book discusses Mark's genre and the second focuses on its orality -- that it was meant to be read out loud in public performances. Bryan is openly indebted to Burridge, but condenses the argument and adds his own stamp on it. His knowledge of ancient literature is obvious and well used in support of his argument that Mark is a clear member of the genre of Greco-Roman biography.

One of my favorite parts of A Preface to Mark is the author's argument that genre identification works by detecting characteristics common to the genre, but also those that may depart from the genre and why. It is not a simple matter of math, adding up all the elements and identifying the genre. This makes genre detection more art than science, though not unduly subjective. Bryan uses the example of High Noon, one of the classic Westerns, to good effect as an example of how genre detection may work. High Noon has obvious elements of a Western (geographic and temporal setting, outnumbered good guy versus bad guys), but is lacking others (such as a sidekick, bad or flawed character made good, or a noble saloon girl). It also has important elements of a Romance film, with an old flame competing for the affections of the sheriff with a new wife. Despite the missing elements and elements of other genres, there is no doubt that High Noon is a Western. It is not a Romance despite having clear elements typical of that Genre. Such an approach to the issue of genre, with a clearly anachronistic but helpful explanation, is most welcome. Indeed, I have many books and articles on genre, and Bryan's is one of the most helpful on how it genre identification should work.

I also benefited from the second part of the book, which explores characteristics of Mark that indicate it was meant to be read orally. I was not as convinced as with the first part on genre, though as a short commentary on Mark the blow-by-blow discussion of parts of Mark is well worth it. Unfortunately, Bryan seems to rely on more recent examples, such as Beowulf and old English tales, to make points about composition of written works intended for oral consumption; not just by the author reading out loud to himself or small groups, but to entire churches and large groups. Still, if one takes the case as made, Bryan's discussion is almost riveting as points as he explains how the oral performance of Mark would have involved the audience.

A very good book on two distinct topics.

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