Through Old Testament Eyes is a new kind of commentary series that opens the New Testament writings in greater depth to anyone committed to understanding or teaching Scripture. In this inaugural volume, the richness of Old Testament allusions and background in Mark clarifies puzzling passages and explains others in fresh ways.
The exodus motif structures Mark. Mark also presents Jesus as the true temple of God in contrast to the existing temple, which has been corrupted. These important themes are hidden to modern eyes without the insight of an Old Testament perspective, and this commentary builds on that insight to emphasize how the gospel applies to the daily lives of Christians today.
Kregel was kind enough to send a review copy. I’ve always loved the ‘Old Testament in the New Testament’ aspect of biblical studies and indeed, my ThM thesis was on the use of Isaiah in the Gospel of John. So this is, as they say, right up my alley.
The bulk of the volume is made up of verse by verse commentary on the Gospel of Mark but it also includes an Introduction and a list of abbreviations and a select bibliography, end notes, and Scripture index.
The introduction covers some unusual topics (for a commentary) such as a few paragraphs explaining the New Testament writers’ familiarity with the Old Testament, the treatment of obscure references, and then the more normal topic of the structure of Mark, who Mark was, and his use of the Old Testament. It’s a quite helpful guide to what the author is aiming to achieve here.
The Commentary proper is then immediately turned to. Phrase by phrase and sometimes word by word, Le Peau guides readers not only through the Marcan text but through the Old Testament subtext. For instance, of 1:4, he writes
In the wilderness. Allusions to the exodus of Israel in the wilderness that began in 1:2-3 continue here.
And then of course he goes into further detail for another full page on this verse alone.
One of the things readers can expect to find fairly regularly is the phrase ‘See comment at ______________’ (where the blank indicates the passage location where the issue is previously discussed). Cf, for instance, at Mark 3:1.
Throughout the volume there are ‘blocks’ of material that in other volumes would be excurses or extensive footnotes. These are set off from the body of the text by use of greyed boxes. They range in length from fairly short to very long, depending on our author’s perception that a particular issue needs more or less extensive discussion.
The author does not include the long ending of Mark in his exegesis and instead relegates it (rightly, since it is not authentic) to one of his many greyed-box excurses.
Overall, then, this volume does the job it was intended to do. It explains the text of the Gospel of Mark by paying particular attention to the points of contact Mark contains in connection to the Old Testament. It is simple and at places simplistic, utilizing fairly standard tropes like ‘the number seven is the number of perfection’ and that sort of thing as well as taking the reconstructed history of Israel based on a simple straightforward reading of the Old Testament as a given. Readers will enjoy it so long as they don’t expect too much of it. It doesn’t address textual or historical issues (relating to the Gospel itself) and there are not what one might consider a lot of endnotes (just about 6 pages for 310 page book).
It is not an academic volume, and does not wish to be. What it wishes to be is a study guide for small groups or churches and in that respect, with that aim in mind, it achieves its goal magnificently.