Book Reviews Mark

Book Review: Mark (CBC), Turner & Bock

Mark [CBC]

The Cornerstone Biblical Commentary is based on the second edition of the New Living Translation (NLT). Many of the contributors to the translation of the NLT have also contributed to this commentary series. The Bible is God’s word and is for all people, not only the scholar and academic, to understand and live according to.

The NLT is a lucid English translation, and with each passage the reader is given the NLT printed in full. Notes provides more technical information, such as a Hebrew/Greek understanding of words, cross-references, textual and contextual matters, and interaction with other scholars. Commentary gives the reader a coherent interpretation of the passage, how it fits the previous and proceeding sections, and attention to context and theological themes.

I have to say it’s interesting to review a commentary based on 30% of the book. Each CBC volume includes a commentary on two biblical books, with this volume looking at Matthew and Mark. Technically I only needed the Mark portion because I was co-teaching his Gospel this last semester. So if 70% of the book is Matthew, what do I do with it all?

I read it!

At the beginning of each section (pericope) the reader is given the title of the whole section, and then that of the pericope under investigation. And along with this we are given cross references usually to Matthew and Luke. For example:

B. Controversy Leading to Rejection (2:1-3:12)
+++++++1. The first controversy: Jesus as Son of Man heals a paralytic and forgives sin
(2:1-12; cf. Matt 9:1-8; Luke 5:17-26)

So after reading Bock’s section on Mark, one can page over to Turner’s section in Matthew and read what he has to say. Of course, one must not forget context, but often times much of the meaning can be translated over to either book. There is surely something to gain by having Scripture interpret Scripture, and comparing commentator to commentator.

The Chocolate Milk

Though I requested this book for Mark, I’m not content to only review Bock’s ‘Mark’, but also Turner’s ‘Matthew.’ Both were good commentaries in their own respects, and both have written commentaries for the Baker Exegetical Series (Turner: Matthew; Bock: Luke). It’s unfortunate that Bock wasn’t given more space for often times I preferred reading what Turner had to say simply because there was more information to read. Yet the information there wasn’t good simply because it was more, but because it was informative. Simply put, it was good because it was good!

The benefit of this commentary is that, not only does it cover two Gospels, but the interpretation is as clear as the translation. Each commentator has a knack for intelligible writing. You know what they’re saying. There is surprisingly little Greek in any of the sections making this easy reading for the masses. Both Turner and Bock quickly get to the point and answer the question we all have, “What does this Gospel mean?” 

The Spoiled Milk

At times in ‘Mark’, the Notes gave information for information’s sake than for the reader’s sake. For example, dealing with the Parable of the Lamp (4:21-25), Bock writes 4:21 basket. This was probably a two-gallon measure (Hooker 1991:131)” [pg. 437]. While I appreciated the Notes section, sometimes, like in this example, it provided only information that had no bearing under Commentary. Did it help me understand the parable? No. Is it useful for future reference? Maybe, but I don’t know how. This is in no way a deal-breaker, just a head-scratcher.

Adding on to that, sometimes it would have been more beneficial to have more information under the Commentary section instead of Notes. Being written to “teachers, pastors, students, and lay people” [Preface] we and those we teach would prefer to know the theological message of Mark more than the bare facts.


While I don’t understand why the Mark commentary was so short (no reason was given), I would suspect it’s because much of what is in Mark is found in Matthew, and while Mark is 16 chapters, Matthew is 28. But, don’t let this dissuade you from this commentary. Both Turner and Bock are established scholars with plenty of works leaving a trail behind them.

I will say I was a bit disappointed with Bock’s section on Mark, but it’s not because he is lacking. It’s just that the Mark section is 30% of the whole book. Fortunately, Turner’s other 70% is fantastic. Regardless of which Gospel you are studying, both Turner and Bock are capable of helping you to prepare whatever message you need to get across.


+++++Series: Cornerstone Biblical Commentary (Book 11)
+++++Hardcover: 576 pages
+++++Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (May 1, 2006)

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[Special thanks to Tyndale House Publishers for sending me this book for review! I was not obligated to provide a positive review in exchange for this book.]

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