The African Memory of Mark: Reassessing Early Church Tradition
Stock No: WW839339
The African Memory of Mark: Reassessing Early Church Tradition  -     By: Thomas C. Oden

The African Memory of Mark: Reassessing Early Church Tradition

IVP Academic / 2011 / Paperback

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Stock No: WW839339

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Product Description

* An illuminating portrait of John Mark, Gospel author, Paul's companion, and founder of the Alexandrian church. Calling for a radical reassessement of early church history, Oden draws on archaeological evidence, as well as African synaxaries and other little known sources, to reveal how the African understanding of Mark's life correlates with established biblical tradition. 240 pages, softcover from InterVarsity.

Product Information

Title: The African Memory of Mark: Reassessing Early Church Tradition
By: Thomas C. Oden
Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 240
Vendor: IVP Academic
Publication Date: 2011
Dimensions: 9.00 X 6.00 (inches)
Weight: 14 ounces
ISBN: 083083933X
ISBN-13: 9780830839339
Stock No: WW839339

Publisher's Description

We often regard the author of the Gospel of Mark as an obscure figure about whom we know little. Many would be surprised to learn how much fuller a picture of Mark exists within widespread African tradition, tradition that holds that Mark himself was from North Africa, that he founded the church in Alexandria, that he was an eyewitness to the Last Supper and Pentecost, that he was related not only to Barnabas but to Peter as well and accompanied him on many of his travels. In this provocative reassessment of early church tradition, Thomas C. Oden begins with the palette of New Testament evidence and adds to it the range of colors from traditional African sources, including synaxaries (compilations of short biographies of saints to be read on feast days), archaeological sites, non-Western historical documents and ancient churches. The result is a fresh and illuminating portrait of Mark, one that is deeply rooted in African memory and seldom viewed appreciatively in the West.

Author Bio

Thomas C. Oden (Ph.D., Yale University), formerly Henry Anson Buttz Professor of Theology at The Theological School of Drew University in Madison, New Jersey, is now director of the Center for Early African Christianity at Eastern University, St. Davids, Pennsylvania. He is the general editor of the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, Ancient Christian Texts and the Ancient Christian Doctrine series as well as the author of Classic Christianity, a revision of his three-volume systematic theology.


The African Memory of Mark is a timely reassessment of Mark, Gospel writer and propagator of the message of Christ to Africa. It rehabilitates a neglected tradition and deserves serious consideration by everyone who has been influenced by the historicist understanding of Mark's life and work.
-Tite TiƩnou,
Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

The African Memory of Mark honors the way the Coptic Church has been the faithful, preeminent carrier of the Markan tradition in the church, and does that by weaving the different genres of sources into a narrative whole. Oden is not unaware of standard depictions of Mark and the Gospel that bears his name in which the African note is rather marginal--where it is acknowledged at all--but he challenges established scholarship by marshaling the evidence and refocusing it on the continuity of the Coptic memory of Mark. Whether or not the reader agrees with the argument of the book, Oden has raised the bar of scrutiny and challenged many of the unstated assumptions of conventional scholarship. From critic and fan alike, Oden deserves credit.
-Lamin Sanneh,
D. Willis James Professor of Missions & World Christianity, Yale University

A fresh and unusual perspective on early Church history, this text will surely interest both believers and church historians alike.
-Publishers Weekly,
July 11, 2011

Publisher's Weekly

The history and legacy of Mark is revisited in African tradition and contested in Western historiography in this thorough account of the saint's life and influence. Largely regarded as a shadow figure in biblical texts, the author of the gospel has a rich and varied story in "African memory." Pulling from Latin, Arabic, and both ancient and modern Coptic sources, Oden challenges the Western notion that Paul was the only father of modern Christianity and posits that Mark's influence in African Christianity has been largely ignored by the Western canon at the expense of the whole Christian church. Oden (After Modernity... What?) writes a well-crafted, convincing analysis of Mark's life, work, and contribution. While the tone of this book may be more oriented toward clergy and lay people than scholars, his project to recover Mark's prominence for Western believers is fascinating. A fresh and unusual perspective on early Church history, this text will surely interest both believers and church historians alike. (Aug.) Copyright 2011 Reed Business Information.

Editorial Reviews

"I trust that this book by Thomas Oden will remind believers that their African spiritual ancestors include Abraham, Jesus, Mark, and thousands of others. Rejoice, believers from the continent of Africa, that you have a spiritual history that dates back to creation. I trust this book will stimulate African scholars to continue research into the African memory of Mark."

-- James Plueddemann, Trinity Journal, Spring 2014

"[T]his reader is grateful to Oden for retelling the theologically profound African story of Mark and opening scholars to a neglected aspect of the reception history of the Gospel of Mark."

-- Michael Kok, Relegere, Vol. 2, No. 1 (2012)

"Oden has stumbled upon a fascinating African church tradition and has presented it in an accessible way. . . . It desires to stir a passion within the reader to expore African Christianity more and to read further."

-- Christopher A. Beetham, Themelios 37.1

"Anyone who enjoys learning about narratives of redemptive history across the globe will benefit from it."

-- Matthew M. Whitehead, Bible Study Magazine, September October 2011

"A fresh and unusual perspective on early Church history, this text will surely interest both believers and church historians alike."

-- Publishers Weekly, July 11, 2011

"Oden has organized a fascinating collection of traditions on Mark. For any reader interested in the history of the evangelization of Africa or the life of Mark the Evangelist, this book would be a valuable resource. Oden has made a good case for the African memory of Mark and helped a new generation of Christian ministers and scholars in the Global South to find their place in early Christianity."

-- Stephen O. Presley, Southwestern Journal of Theology, Fall 2014

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