Review of @Baylor_Press “Handbook on the Greek New Testament: Mark”

5621Decker, Rodney J.

Mark 1–8; 9–16

Waco: Baylor University Press, 2014.




Since its inception in 2003, the Baylor Handbook on the Greek New Testament continues to be the best resource there is on syntax of the Greek New Testament. For those not familiar with this series, the BHGNT provides a convenient reference tool that explains the syntax of the biblical text, offers guidance for deciding between competing semantic analyses, deals with text-critical questions that have a significant bearing on how the text is understood, and addresses questions relating to the Greek text that are frequently overlooked or ignored by standard commentaries, all in a succinct and accessible manner.

As with each volume in the series, the BHGNT begins with an Series Introduction as well as the author’s Introduction. The series introduction contains a useful section on how to use the BHGNT as well as a brief discussion on deponency. If this is your first exposure to this series I would recommend taking the time to read what is there. As for the author’s introduction, Decker is concise and to the point. Because this is not a normal commentary you will not find extensive discussion on author, setting, or any other topic you would typically find in a more traditional commentary. Rather, Decker focuses on matters that are relevant to the study of the Greek text. One such topic is Verbal Aspect. Having written a monograph on verbal aspect—Temporal Deixis of the Greek Verb in the Gospel of Mark with Reference to Verbal Aspect—Decker section is very useful for understanding how verbs in Mark’s Gospel function aspectually. Also very helpful is the discussion on the use of καί and δέ. There are also section on Voice, Periphrastics, Prepositions with Verbs of Movement, and the Imperfect Tense. The introduction is an informative guide as one works their way through the handbook.

The handbook is organized in small sections of the Greek text of Mark. Each section begins with the an English translation supplied by Decker. Following the translation is the Greek text in bold, laid out one verse at a time. The verse is then sectioned off according to the word or words that the author is commenting on. The layout of the handbook is easy to follow and a perfect fit for a handbook like this. When commenting on the text, Decker provides useful information from primary and secondary sources. One of the things that I find most useful with this series is the minimal use of sources. This is helpful for not only the reader to be able to follow the argument but I would assume this is also helpful in keeping the author from chasing rabbits down very deep holes and getting lost along the way.

In my opinion, Decker’s handbook on Mark is the best volume in the the series so far. It is linguistically strong and up to date with the relevant discussions ongoing in field of New Testament Greek. When I was first introduced to this series during my undergraduate studies in Greek I remember thinking “Finally, a commentary that actually comments on syntax!” This is a series that you will want to be sure that you have every volume published as they appear, starting with Rod Decker’s.

Guest Review: Neues Testament und christliche Existenz

downloadBultmann, Rudolf
Neues Testament und christliche Existenz
Mohr Siebeck, 2002. Pp. 340. Paperback
ISBN: 9783825223168

Reviewed by: Drew Davis, Münster


Neues Testament und christliche Existenz was graciously made available to me by UTB and Mohr Siebeck in Germany.  The 2002 book gathers 18 important essays from Bultmann in one easily accessible and handy volume. For the American audience the book is still not so easily accessible at around 30 dollars on Amazon, but it is astonishingly well-priced at 7 euros through the German media.

Though the volume is primarily concerned with exemplifying Bultmann’s theological approach (the book is found in the systematic theology section of the library at my German university), it does not lack substance of interest to the New Testament exegete. It contains essays on the Christology of the NT, the concept of the word of God in the NT, and the famous, “Ist voraussetzungslose Exegese möglich?”

For those interested more in systematic theological matters, the volume begins with the article “Welchen Sinn hat es, von Gott zu Reden?” (where Bultmann famously writes, “…will man von Gott reden, so muß man offenbar von sich selbst reden.”) and ends with a previously difficult-to-find article, “Die protestantische Theologie und der Atheismus”.  This short article outlines conscious atheism and unconscious atheism (the latter having to do with life in a secularized world) and argues that the word of God of Christian faith meets the existential questions of the modern man.  Interestingly Bultmann here picks up, in part favorably and in part critically, on Paul Tillich’s concept of the ultimate concern (Ger.: “das, was uns unbedingt angeht”).

But why is this German volume recommendable to the American audience? First, the book really does gather a representative sample of Bultmann’s work. It contains articles for the exegete, the Biblical theologian (see the articles on demytholigization), the systematic theologian, and historical theologian (see the fascinating articles on the theological task).  This offers the benefit of having some of Bultmann’s most important articles in accessible form in the original language without having to wade through his longer works like his NT theology or his John commentary.

Second, it offers an excellent opportunity to exercise one’s German. Many of the articles are quite short, 10 pages or less. These are often some of the easier articles to read, particularly if one is already familiar with the discussion (for example those on demythologization and presupposition-less exegesis).  Plus, several of the articles were not written for academics and the introduction to the book also includes helpful summaries of each essay in light of their historical context.

All in all, reading Bultmann in the original German forces one to get past the years of praise and criticism and to read with fresh eyes and new insights or questions. Moreover, with the variety of articles, one can explore the various sides of Bultmann’s thought, which touches far more than just NT studies.


  1. Welchen Sinn hat es, von Gott zu Reden?
  2. Das Problem einer theologischen Exegese des Neuen Testaments
  3. Die Bedeutung der “dialektischen Theologie” für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft
  4. Die Geschichtlichkeit des Daseins und der Glaube
  5. Zur Frage des Wunders
  6. Die Christologie des Neuen Testaments
  7. Der Begriff des Wortes Gottes im Neuen Testament
  8. Die Bedeutung des Alten Testaments für den christlichen Glauben
  9. Die Aufgabe der Theologie in der gegenwärtigen Situation
  10. Die Frage der natürlichen Offenbarung
  11. Anknüpfung und Widerspruch
  12. Das Problem der Hermeneutik
  13. Die christliche Hoffnung und das Problem der Entmythologisierung
  14. Ist voraussetzungslose Exegese möglich?
  15. Gedanken über die gegenwärtige theologische Situation
  16. Der Gedanke der Freiheit nach antikem und christlichem Verständnis
  17. Zum Problem der Entmythologisierung
  18. Die protestantische Theologie und der Atheismus

In the Mail: The @Fortresspress Edition

9781451472950bThe awesome folks at Fortress Press sent along a review copy of Shepherds of the Empire: Germany’s Conservative Protestant Leadership 1888-1919. This looks to be a fantastic book! Review will come shortly.

In the Mail: Wiley-Blackwell and Brill

I have received some fine books in the mail recently for review. The first two are from Wiley-Blackwell: The Blackwell Companion to Jesus and The Blackwell Companion to Paul. The third is from the Linguistic Biblical Studies series, The Greek Article: A Functional Grammar of ὁ-items in the Greek New Testament with Special Emphasis on the Greek Article. Thanks to both publishers for this opportunity.

In the Mail: @Eerdmansbooks Edition

It is always a nice surprise to get a package, especially when that package has Eerdmans on it. Yesterday I received Jesus Research New Methodologies and Perceptions: The Second Princeton-Prague Symposium on Jesus Research, and boy what a book this is! Clocking in at over 1,000 pages, this work is a who’s who of Jesus scholars. I look forward to digging in to this masterful book.

Well-known scholars discuss the current state of Jesus studies

This volume explores nearly every facet of contemporary Jesus research — from eyewitness criteria to the reliability of memory, from archaeology to psychobiography, from oral traditions to literary sources.

With contributions from forty internationally respected Jewish and Christian scholars, this distinguished collection of articles comes from the second (2007) Princeton-Prague Symposium on Jesus Research. It summarizes the significant advances in understanding Jesus that scholars have made in recent years through the development of diverse methodologies.

Readers already knowledgeable in the field will discover unique angles from well-known scholars, and all will be amply informed on the current state of Jesus studies.


Dale C. Allison Jr. Mordechai Aviam Richard Bauckham
Darrell L. Bock Donald Capps James H. Charlesworth
Bruce Chilton Michael Allen Daise Arye Edrei
Kathy Ehrensperger Casey D. Elledge Craig A. Evans
Peter W. Flint Seán Freyne David Hendin
Tom Holmén Richard A. Horsley Jeremy M. Hutton
Craig Keener Werner H. Kelber Ulrich Luz
Gabriel Mazor Lee Martin McDonald Doron Mendels
Daniel F. Moore Suleiman A. Mourad Étienne Nodet
Lidija Novakovic Gerbern S. Oegema George L. Parsenios
Pheme Perkins Petr Pokorný Stanley E. Porter
Brian Rhea Jan Roskovec D. Moody Smith
Gerd Theissen Geza Vermes Walter P. Weaver
Robert L. Webb