O'Malley, William: On Your Mark: Reading Scripture Without a Teacher
Literalism shackles the liberating message of Jesus.
If my eyes make me sin, must I tear them out (Mark 9:47)? Can anyone human be "perfect" (Matt 5:48)? Is self-esteem a sin (Luke 1:51)? Sadly, some good Christians feel those statements must be true.
Expecting any literate person can pick up the gospels and read them as they were intended is foolhardy. The profound effect of the culture the gospel writers lived and wrote in, their use of references unfamiliar to us today, and the personal understanding of the audience they had in mind versus today's impersonal scientific method are real barriers to understanding the message as the authors intended.
Most Bible commentaries are geared to professionals, too meticulously detailed to engage even the best-intentioned reader. This book first addresses the differences in approaching what still is an ancient text, how the gospel Jesus preached became the written gospels, and how the writer Mark's attitudes and interests agree and differ with his fellow evangelists. Then it opens up all of Mark, step by step.
On Your Mark is for those who want to "get set" before they "go"-those who want to learn to walk confidently before they try to run.