Mark: Guide To Commentaries

Classics of the Christian Tradition Online

20th Century Commentaries Online

There are a large number of online commentaries and other resources on Mark's Gospel available here (these are mostly by preachers and popular treatments rather than academic) and also links to various whole Bible and other commentaries at StudyLight here

Which modern commentaries are best?

Biblical Studies Bulletin

In BSB 37, in September 2005, John Proctor updated an earlier survey (BSB 9, Sept 1998) by Rick Beaton:

If you have Greek in your arsenal, blow the dust off a copy of H B Swete (1909; Kregel reprint, 1978) and discover a rewarding commentary on the Greek text. Although C E B Cranfield (CUP, 1959) also demands a thorough knowledge of Greek and is in some respects dated, it is a model of brevity and remains useful. R A Guelich produced a moderately conservative, technical commentary on 1.1-8.26 (Word Biblical Commentary, 1989). The dense style makes it slow going, but for those who need detail, it is one of the best out. Sadly, he died before completing the project; the second volume was written by C A Evans (2001). As well as completing the commentary through to 16.20, Evans has added a lengthy introduction of his own, in which he argues that Mark's portrayal of Jesus deliberately subverts Roman imperial ideology. The voluminous edition by R H Gundry (Eerdmans, 1992) which runs to an astounding 1069 pages, is crammed with detail. Although awkward at points, Gundry is a safe bet for an exhaustive, middle of the road reference commentary. R T France's New International Greek Testament Commentary (Paternoster, 2002) is lucid, informed and detailed. The focus is primarily historical and theological, rather than expository and applied, although there are some hints of how the author might develop his themes in the pulpit.

For those without Greek, the commentary by M D Hooker (Black's NT Commentary, A & C Black, 1991) is clear and concise, and her common-sense exegesis helpful. Hooker has the knack of presenting the fruits of great learning accessibly. B Witherington's Mark (Eerdmans, 2001) takes a rhetorical approach, looking at how Mark shaped his message, and how his first hearers would have received and responded to it. J R Edwards' Pillar NT Commentary (Eerdmans in USA, IVP in UK, 2002) is full of careful, clear exegesis from a scholarly evangelical. There are two recent commentaries by major Roman Catholic scholars. J R Donahue and D J Harrington write in the Sacra Pagina series (Liturgical Press, 2002), which aims to be both academically responsible and useful to preachers. And F J Moloney's The Gospel of Mark (Hendrickson, 2002) takes up a narrative approach to show how Mark can address pastoral situations of failure and suffering.

Shorter commentaries can often offer an engaging read while retaining something of a critical edge. L Hurtado (New International Biblical Commentary, 1989) blends sound exegesis and a winning style. J Brooks' thin volume (New American Commentary, 1991), one of the more conservative on this list, is even-handed in his exegesis and discussion. B van Iersel's Reading Mark (T&T Clark/Liturgical, 1989), as its title suggests, is an early, good example of the literary approach. C S Rodd (Epworth Preacher's Comm, 2005) writes primarily (although by no means exclusively) to help Methodist lay preachers. And, most readable of all, N T Wright's Mark for Everyone (SPCK, 2001) picks out the main issues in each passage and relates them to life and faith today.

Finally C Myers' medium-sized commentary, Binding the Strong Man (Orbis, 1988) is in a class of its own. It is a lively and thought-provoking work, exploring fully the potential of this gospel as a text of social and economic liberation.

William W. Klein, Craig L. Blomberg and David Mathewson of the New Testament Department of Denver Seminary, January 2014 bibliography

The lists of top commentaries for each N.T. book are divided into three sections: the first contains those we consider the best detailed, critical commentaries using the Greek text; the second lists more mid-level works using the English text (some with references to the Greek in footnotes); and the third consists of commentaries that are briefer and/or have a special focus on application. At least one priority title is asterisked for each level.


Collins, Adela Y. Mark (Hermeneia). Minneapolis: Fortress, 2007.

France, R. T. The Gospel of Mark (NIGTC). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002.

Guelich, Robert A. Mark 1-8:26 (WBC). Dallas: Word, 1989; and Evans, Craig A. Mark 8:27-16:20 (WBC). Nashville: Nelson, 2001.

Marcus, Joel. Mark, 2 vols. (AB, rev.). New York: Doubleday, 2000; New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009.

*Stein, Robert H. Mark (BECNT).  Grand Rapids: Baker, 2008.

*Strauss, Mark L. Mark (ZECNT).  Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2014.


Beavis, Mary Ann.  Mark (Paideia).  Grand Rapids: Baker, 2011.

*Edwards, James R. The Gospel according to Mark (PNTC). Grand Rapids Eerdmans, 2002.

Lane, William L. The Gospel according to Mark (NICNT). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974.

Witherington, Ben, III. The Gospel of Mark: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2001.


Culpepper, R. Alan. Mark (SHBC) Macon: Smyth & Helwys, 2007.

*Garland, David E. Mark (NIVAC). Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996.

Kernaghan, Ronald J. Mark (IVPNTC). Downers Grove: IVP, 2007.


The Gospel Coalition

In June 2008, Keith Mathison's article recommended

  • R.C. Sproul, He Taught Them As One Who Had Authority
  • R.T. FranceThe Gospel of Mark (The New International Greek Testament Commentary, 2002).
  • William L. LaneThe Gospel According to Mark (The New International Commentary on the New Testament, 1974).
  • James R. EdwardsThe Gospel According to Mark (The Pillar New Testament Commentary, 2002).
  • Ben Witherington IIIThe Gospel of Mark: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary (2001).
  • R. Alan ColeMark (The Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, 1989).

Best Commentaries Website

The page on Mark's gospel has a long list and can be searched by various criteria.  Its top 3 are Lane (1974), France (2002) and Edwards (2001).

Other recommendations

Michael Bird (April 2013) lists some of the best from his large collection but highlights a lesser known one - Herman C. Waetjen‘s A Reordering of Power a Socio-Political Reading of Mark’s Gospel (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1989). He concludes "If I had to be stranded on a desert island with an NA28 and a few commentaries on Mark, I’d want: Waetjen, Gundry, and Collins or Boring".

Tim Challies (Feb 2013) lists his top 5 commentaries - France, Lane, Edwards and Cole (listed above by TGC) and Cranfield - and mentions a few others.

Phillip J. Long at Reading Acts (May 2012) also has France and Edwards but adds Gundry, Evans on the last half of the gospel, and Taylor.

Christview Ministries offers helpful categorisation and comments on many commentaries.

Michael Kok (April 2011) surveys English commentaries on Mark on his blog dedicated to academic study of the gospel.  He writes, "In my view, the best recent commentaries are Adela Collins Hermeneia commentary and Joel Marcus for Anchor Bible, for the in-depth knowledge of Greco-Roman and Jewish backgrounds respectively and their in-depth treatments"

Joel Green at Catalyst (November 2012) offers the following assessment:

Recent years have seen the production of a virtual cornucopia of monographs and special studies on the Gospel of Mark, and these are now joined by a steady stream of commentaries on the Second Gospel. Working with the Greek text is R.T. France’s work in the NIGTC (2002) — a reliable, verse-by-verse commentary on this “biography,” which France unpacks as a “drama in three acts.” In the Sacra Pagina series, J.R. Donahue and D.J. Harrington focus on intratextual (reading Mark as Mark, rather than with reference to its prehistory) and intertextual (how the text of Mark draws on other texts, especially the OT, to interpret the person and mission of Jesus) forms of analysis (SP; Liturgical, 2002). Finally, J. Marcus has completed the second of his two-volume contribution to the Anchor Bible (AB; Doubleday, 2000, 2009); Marcus situates the Gospel against the apocalyptic backdrop of the Jewish War. The ACC on Mark, by T.C. Oden and C.A. Hall, provides a registry of insights from the early church (1998).


Fulcrum Articles on Mark


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