Matters of eschatology are arguably some of the most difficult theological issues of Scripture. How one exegetes certain passages and the manner by which the interpreter applies the purpose of the text is of great importance in determining exactly what the author is alluding to and how his statements should be understood. Of additional importance, especially in passages such as that of Mark 13, is understanding the timing of events. In his book Jesus, The Temple and the Coming Son of Man, noted New Testament professor Robert Stein takes a close look at Mark 13, providing for the reader a well thought out examination of how to understand and apply this important eschatological text.
Given the complex nature of the text in question, Stein’s book is a scholarly commentary. He notes that his approach and stated goal with this effort is to “understand what the author of Mark sought to teach his readers by the Jesus traditions that he chose to include in this chapter, his arrangement of these traditions and his editorial work in the recording of this material.” The crux of the debate regarding Mark 13 centers on the phrases “when will these things be” and “what will be the sign that all these things are about to be accomplished.” How one interprets those questions determines whether the text is thought to address events in the near future and the end of the age, whether it is addressing events solely in the near future, or whether it addresses solely end of the age events.
Stein avers there is a matter of internal context and external context that must be noted when exegeting Mark 13. The internal context concerns how those listening to the words of Jesus would have understood his statements while the external context relates to the readers of the Gospel of Mark. Of further note is the excellent manner by which Stein examines each individual element of the text, in particular the Greek words that comprise Mark 13, paying special attention to their meaning and application. Stein also interacts with important Old Testament texts that shed light on the prophetic commentary made by Jesus in Mark 13.
Those of the dispensationalist or preterist mindsets will find their positions challenged by Stein and rightly so. Full of scholarly insight and a sound theological approach, Stein’s book is one I highly recommend. He tackles a difficult subject matter and remains focused throughout on examining Mark 13 in light of other similar passages in Scripture in order to present a coherent, consistent, and cogent exegesis of Jesus’ words in this important chapter. This book will challenge the reader to think through some complex theological concepts, but Stein writes in a way that can be appreciated by those willing to take up that challenge. Given the intense focus on matters of an eschatological nature in recent years, I appreciate Stein’s approach in his book and will return to his thoughts as I continue to engage in more depth matters related to this subject matter.
By this book at Jesus, the Temple and the Coming Son of Man: A Commentary on Mark 13, or from IVP Academic by clicking here.
I received this book for free from IVP Academic for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”