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Monday, 24 November 2014

Get ready for the Year of Mark with Rowan Williams new book

Rowan Williams, Meeting God in Mark. SPCK 2014. ISBN 978-0-07250-7. £8.99
Next Sunday, Advent Sunday, begins a new year in the liturgical cycle. The Sunday Gospels from Advent 2014 to Christ the King 2015 (year B) will feature mainly from St Mark's Gospel. Priests, deacons and licensed lay ministers who preach regularly know this, of course. I can think of no better way for preachers and the faithful in general to get ready for "the year of Mark" than to read the former Archbishop of Canterbury's little book, Meeting God in Mark. 

The second Gospel is often overlooked by Christians who might prefer the clear exposition of Christ as teacher in Matthew, or the moving concern of Christ for the poor and outcast in Luke, or the mystical theology of John. But Williams gets to the heart of Mark's unique style and purpose in his Gospel in showing how, in Christ, God's new reign becomes manifest in a totally alarming, if often misunderstood, way.

In this concise volume (86 pages) Williams opens up the deep meaning of what Mark means by "good news", and "Son of Man". He also explains why Jesus appears to make ambiguous, even disparaging, comments about his miracles he performs or the parables he tells. There is a tantalising suggestion that the Passion account in Mark may stem from "the experience of early Christians walking reflectively in the footsteps of Jesus in his own city". Rowan also finds the tradition intriguing that much of Mark may come from the reminiscence of St Peter.

This book clearly comes from years of scholarly study and meditative reflection on the second Gospel. Williams' book is essential reading for anyone interested in the utterly radical revolution in the understanding of God, his Kingdom, and his love, which St Mark presents.

Questions for group discussion as well as a suggested Lenten reading guide are included.  

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