I am reposting this 2014 review because the Kindle Edition is on sale for $2.99.
Over the past couple of months the small group that I participate in has been using Mark: The Gospel of Passion for our small group discussion. I suggested the book and thankfully it has gone over fairly well.
Michael Card is fairly well known as a musician but he is also has a good background in academic study of scripture. Card is writing commentaries on the Gospels (and releasing an album of music to go along with each book).
I read Card’s earlier commentary on Luke and this feels a bit different. My memory of Card’s book on Luke was that Card very intentionally tried to bring out an artist’s perspective on the gospel. Mark does not seem to have quite the same feel. The commentary, while still good and useful and more devotional in feel than a standard commentary seems more straight forward and less imaginative than my memory of the Luke commentary.
As a small group discussion starter it worked surprisingly well. We originally started with the intention of reading through in 4 or maybe 5 weeks. But there was just too much that the group wanted to talk about and so the reading extended to seven weeks. There are not any discussion questions, but that did not seem to be a problem. Each chapter of the book is based on a chapter from the Gospel. Each chapter is divided into thematic sections with a section of scripture followed by commentary from Card.
The emphasis on Card’s commentary was Jesus’ emotional life and the way Mark tends to focus on Jesus as a human with real emotions and actions and less on Jesus as teacher. (Mark often talks about Jesus preaching without giving any reference to the content.)
Card is writing to a lay audience. He does not assume the reader has a lot of background information on either Mark or biblical studies. Although there were several places I wish he had given more background.
One quibble was how he handled the alternate ending of Mark. He put the discussion about the alternate ending in an appendix (which seems appropriate) but then focused on why there was an alternate ending, but not really the content of the alternate ending.
Overall, this is a good commentary, written for a lay audience. It works well for devotional reading, which is how I tend to use it, and Card’s passion for scripture and personal writing style really work well with the format.
I also have a copy of his recently published Matthew commentary which I plan to read in a couple months. And the John commentary will be published this fall.