Monday, April 16, 2012

Reviewing "The Gospel of Mark: Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture" by Mary Healy

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a really great commentary. Healy combines a lot of the information that I have in a variety of other commentaries (both Catholic and Protestant), but then pulls it all together with additional observations that make it very accessible while still being scholarly. She follows up many sections with items for reflection. Her style is very easy to read and you never feel as if she's talking over your head.

The structure is such that you are generally covering just a little scripture at a time. Each reading is followed with cross references to the Old Testament, New Testament, Catechism, and Liturgy. These are followed by the commentary, in which words from the scripture reading are bold whenever they are used. Although I saw some people complaining about that practice, I found it useful. Sometimes a bold word would make me suddenly pay attention and go back to the scripture, thinking, "Did it really say that? Why haven't I ever noticed before?"

There are also a few maps, occasional photos when they'd be helpful, and sidebar boxes with Biblical background and living tradition (Catechism, Fathers of the Church, saints) information that enriches understanding. The boxes can be difficult to read because they are a medium gray text on a light gray box which doesn't provide much contrast. (Later editions seem to have fixed this problem as 1 Corinthians has a much darker text in the boxes.)

Healy is excellent at putting the scripture in context, whether in reference to the context of people of the time, to other scripture, or for our own lives. Sometimes I was enlightened by the factual information which gives me new insights into the text. Sometimes it is from the material for reflection. However, it is a rare day that I failed coming away with an insight that I pondered the rest of the day. In fact, it set me thinking so much that I revived my Mark Bible study for this blog so that I could share some of these insights with others. It is in the early parts of Mark at this point, but check that out for a few short excerpts that you can use to see why you should read the entire book.

Highest recommendation.

You can see more about the series at their website and ... I bought this with my own money and will be buying more. Yes, that's how much I liked this book.

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