Thursday, April 5, 2018

Loosing the Lion (Emmaus Road Publishing)

The shortest of the four Gospels is The Gospel According to Mark, weighing in at a "mere" sixteen chapters. However, don't let that short length fool you. It packs just as much a punch as the other three, if not more, due to the urgency of the way its message is delivered. With the current Liturgical Year being Year B, the Catholic Church's Sunday Gospels are read primarily from The Gospel According to Mark. That made this the perfect year for Emmaus Road Publishing to release the book Loosing the Lion: Proclaiming the Gospel of Mark. The book is divided into three main parts - Preaching the Gospel of Mark,  The Gospel of Mark in the Lectionary, and Resources for Further Study. Since we all know what type of content is in Part Three, I would like to focus solely on the first two parts in this review.

Part One begins by talking about the modern age and how we have grown numb in a post-Christian culture. There is also the problem of accommodation and moralism. We try too hard to make the Gospel approachable, but in doing so, we lose the beauty of it. This leads to how pastors should preach the Gospel using the fourfold sense method, which involves literal, allegorical, moral, and anagogical. This method is designed to  make saints and gives us the true story of salvation history. Dr. Leroy Huizenga goes on to suggest that The Gospel According to Mark is "an ancient biography, an index of Jesus, and a sacramental narrative icon." Lastly, Part One provides us with a brief summary of Mark's Gospel, which includes how it was written and the theological themes and motifs the author used. Part Two is the meat of this book, and is broken into eight thematic chapters that walk us through the entire book of Mark. What I found most helpful in Part Two was the Table of Contents. Each section of Scripture tells us the day and week of the Liturgical Calendar where this section of the Gospel is read.

One could argue that this book is merely a commentary on The Gospel According to Mark, and while it is that, it is so much more than that. Dr. Huizenga goes into such great detail on each section of Mark, but does so in an approachable way. There are times you read through this book and you have to go back and read what you just read, but that is because you are not used to reading Mark this way. However, on a second reading of the text, the message clicks and makes sense. There are two ways you can read this book, and I'd honestly recommend both ways. The first is to read through the book cover to cover, thus reading through Mark from beginning to end. The second way is to follow along with the Liturgical Calendar. This way will require some skipping around of chapters and sections, but if you are in Year B, I honestly think it is a great way to read this book. This book offered me a lot of thought-provoking insight into Mark's Gospel and caused me to slow down reading and appreciate the words in a way I have never done before. I highly recommend this book.

This book was provided to me for free by Emmaus Road Publishing in exchange for an honest review.