The African Memory of Mark: Reassessing Early Church Tradition

InterVarsity Press
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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synaxaries (compilations of short biographies of saints to be read on feast days), archaeological sites, non-Western historical documents and ancient churches.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.
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About the author

Thomas C. Oden (PhD, Yale University), is the general editor of the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture and the Ancient Christian Doctrine series as well as the author of Classic Christianity, a revision of his three-volume systematic theology. He is the director of the Center for Early African Christianity at Eastern University in Pennsylvania and he formerly served as the Henry Anson Buttz Professor of Theology at The Theological School of Drew University in Madison, New Jersey. Oden is active in the Confessing Movement in America, particularly within the United Methodist Church and is president of The Institute for Classical Christian Studies. He suggests that Christians need to rely upon the wisdom of the historical Church, particularly the early Church, rather than on modern scholarship and theology and says his mission is "to begin to prepare the postmodern Christian community for its third millennium by returning again to the careful study and respectful following of the central tradition of classical Christianity."

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Additional Information

Publisher
InterVarsity Press
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Published on
Jul 27, 2011
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Pages
289
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ISBN
9780830868889
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Africa / General
Religion / Biblical Studies / Jesus, the Gospels & Acts
Religion / Christian Church / History
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Content Protection
This content is DRM free.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Africa has played a decisive role in the formation of Christian culture from its infancy. Some of the most decisive intellectual achievements of Christianity were explored and understood in Africa before they were in Europe. If this is so, why is Christianity so often perceived in Africa as a Western colonial import? How can Christians in Northern and sub-Saharan Africa, indeed, how can Christians throughout the world, rediscover and learn from this ancient heritage? Theologian Thomas C. Oden offers a portrait that challenges prevailing notions of the intellectual development of Christianity from its early roots to its modern expressions. The pattern, he suggests, is not from north to south from Europe to Africa, but the other way around. He then makes an impassioned plea to uncover the hard data and study in depth the vital role that early African Christians played in developing the modern university, maturing Christian exegesis of Scripture, shaping early Christian dogma, modeling conciliar patterns of ecumenical decision-making, stimulating early monasticism, developing Neoplatonism, and refining rhetorical and dialectical skills. He calls for a wide-ranging research project to fill out the picture he sketches. It will require, he says, a generation of disciplined investigation, combining intensive language study with a risk-taking commitment to uncover the truth in potentially unreceptive environments. Oden envisions a dedicated consortium of scholars linked by computer technology and a common commitment that will seek to shape not only the scholar's understanding but the ordinary African Christian's self-perception.
For the first time, Thomas Oden's Systematic Theology classic series (individually titled The Living God, The Word of Life, and Life in the Spirit) is available in one complete volume. A renowned theologian, Oden provides a consensus view of the Christian faith, delving deeply into ancient Christian tradition and bringing to the contemporary church the best wisdom from its past. In this magisterial work, Oden tackles the central questions of Christian belief and the nature of the trinity.

Written for clergy, Christian educators, religious scholars, and lay readers alike, Classic Christianity provides the best synthesis of the whole history of Christian thought. Part one explores the most intriguing questions of the study of God—Does God exist? Does Jesus reveal God? Is God personal, compassionate, free?—and presents answers that reflect the broad consensus culled from the breadth of the church's teachers. It is rooted deeply and deliberately in scripture but confronts the contemporary mind with the vitality of the Christian tradition. Part two addresses the perplexing Christological issues of whether God became flesh, whether God became Christ, and whether Christ is the source of salvation. Oden details the core beliefs concerning Jesus Christ that have been handed down for the last two hundred decades, namely, who he was, what he did, and what that means for us today. Part three examines how the work of God in creation and redemption is being brought to consummation by the Holy Spirit in persons, through communities, and in the fullness of human destiny. Oden's magisterial study not only treats the traditional elements of systematical theology but also highlights the foundational exegetes throughout history. Covering the ecumenical councils and early synods; the great teachers of the Eastern church tradition, including Athanasius and John Chrysostom; and the prominent Western figures such as Augustine, Ambrose, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, and John Calvin, this book offers the reader the fullest understanding of the Christian faith available.

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