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on 14 January 2012
Some books of theology manage to fit 'hermeneutics', 'exegesis', 'praxis' and 'soteriology' all into one sentence. Very impressive. Others make suitable texts for 'Children's Church'. But this is the Goldilocks of theological works, pitched at just the right level of brow for the vast majority of the reading public.

As multi-layered as an onion, Professor N T Wright`s new book on Mark draws you in at once with its matter-of-fact, chatty, deceptively simple prose. Each `chapter' covers one day between Ash Wednesday and Easter Saturday. Using the prescribed lectionary for the day, Professor Wright focuses on a few verses and offers us his translation, and his exegesis. If, like me, you prefer a more traditional version of the bible, I suggest you begin by reading the passage in that version before plunging into the Wright text. Like all the best teachers, he makes some of the expected points about each passage, so that you are to some extent lulled into thinking you are keeping up well (if not actually ahead of him), but he then slips in an explanation, a twist or a new perspective, which sends you back to the beginning of the chapter to start again. I do not mean to suggest that the text is difficult, far from it, but there is a good deal more meat on the bones that you might anticipate at first glance.

Consciously or unconsciously, Professor Wright echoes the style of Mark's gospel itself. Alec McCowan memorably did a one-man show in which he simply spoke Mark's gospel, having first learnt it by heart. Here he describes how he became gripped by the text. Although he did `not regard himself as a religious man',

"Certainly, when I was working on St Mark and performing St Mark, there were signs. On several occasions, when I least expected it and when I most needed it, there would be a sign. I became aware that the sun, the moon, or even the glow from a burning candle, assumed a new significance. Whenever I needed it, I was blessed; and blessed specifically with light and warmth".

Reading Morna Hooker's book on Mark (as our house group did for the last Year B Lent), I was thrilled to learn that some scholars think that Mark finished his gospel at 16.8, as it were mid-stream. To me, that fits beautifully with the idea that Mark was writing all the time with dramatic effect in mind. Ending by begging the question of what happens next, he leads us straight on to Acts. Now, this was probably not deliberate (and Professor Wright, though he agrees that Mark's words probably end at 16.8, does not think that this was his intended conclusion.) Nevertheless:

"It reads like a shocking new beginning - which of course is what Mark intends. The story is not over. In fact, it's just starting: the new story...the new way of living, a new way of being human, has been launched upon the world, a way that people thought impossible then and think impossible still today, but a way that has caught up millions and transformed their lives beyond recognition". (p.174)

If you are looking for a wise godfather to hold you by the hand as you find or continue your journey of transformation, I can recommend no one more sincerely than Professor N T Wright, or Tom, as he may let you call him.

Lent for Everyone: Mark: Year B by Tom Wright, published January 2012 by SPCK Publishing, 144 pages, £6.99 ISBN 9780281062225. The quotation is from Double Bill by Alec McCowan, first published by Elm Tree Books in 1980.

The Big Read, Big Bible Project, is now in its third year, having begun with Luke and then moved on to Matthew. The idea is for as many people as possible to share the same text, which they can either then meditate on alone or, preferably, discuss in an online or offline house group. Lay Anglicana will be hosting an online house group to discuss the texts in our discussion forum, beginning on Ash Wednesday. Do please join us!
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on 4 March 2012
The book contains the readings for each day of Lent from Ash Wednesday through to Pentecost. The readings are supplemented by a daily commentary by Tom Wright, explaining the background to the reading and challenging those using the book for whatever purpose to reflect, act, think or pray about any aspect of the reading or explanation that jumps out to them.

I've been using this as part of an online housegroup, in conjuction with the #BigBible Project. It has proven to be excellent material for its purpose and I believe that it will provide food for thought for many in times to come.

Highly Recommended.
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VINE VOICEon 11 April 2012
This is a Lent lectionary resource using Tom Wright's 'For Everyone' Bible translation. It's the third in a three-volume series to cover the three years of the Revised Common Lectionary. The Gospel designated for Year B was Mark, and so for each day of Lent, here we have a reading from this Gospel for weekdays, interspersed with thematically relevant readings from certain Psalms, Epistles and other Gospels for the weekend readings. These are all followed with a reflection by Tom Wright, in his own inimitable style of lived personal experience, or a vignette or mini parable drawn from contemporary life, used to illustrate and draw out the Gospel message.
The book has grown out of a project to encourage Lent reading in the diocese of Durham, and the Inroduction breathes excitement about the idea and possibilities springing from a large number of people all reading, studying and praying the same texts, 'Big Read' style.

As with other 'For Everyone' books, Tom Wright is excellent in hammering home just how profoundly revolutionary and world changing the Gospel events and message are, in a way that will lift them out of stale Sunday sermon doldrums, or the kind of familiarity that has bred contempt. The 'For Everyone' scripture translation is also fresh and clear without being patronising or robbing the words of their power and grandeur.

This is a Lent book that I can recommend placing at the heart of your Easter journey.
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on 21 April 2012
I enjoyed this very much, although I found the modern biblical translations a little irritating. Each section was the ideal length for a daily meditation, and I found the personal anecdotes from the author interesting and illuminating. I read this on my Kindle so was a little surprised to find that it carried on for a further week after Easter, but the readings did reflect why - and it gave some completion to the Easter theme. Highly recommended.
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on 21 February 2013
My wife and I are enjoying reading his daily thoughts on the passages of Mark's Gospel set for Lent Year B - we did Matthew last year - we started the series a year late and so will do this year's readings on Luke next year! We have found Tom Wright's comments are clear and challenging - just what we needed for our approach to Easter. This second hand copy was in pristine condition and arrived very promptly - wonderful value for 1p + p&p (£1.28)!
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on 17 April 2012
I always like to have a relevant book to read daily in Lent and I was delighted to find that this year Tom Wright had written another book to take me through the Gospel set for reading in church. In this way it was re-inforcing my Sunday worship. I have many books by this author as he is always clear in his explanations and is able to bring to life for today the events in Jesus' life 2000 years ago.
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on 20 March 2015
The ideal companion to a thoughtful meditative Lent,Tom Wright's scholarship enables him to produce a new translation and fresh explanations.His deceptively simple style makes each day's reading memorable and the study of Mark's Gospel as a whole makes the Christian story more meaningful. A study aide,a walk with a wise and gently humorous companion,this book is superb.
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on 10 April 2012
This is a really excellent book in that it is written in an exciting and interesting style, giving lots of background information. There are lots of OT and NT references and each daily commentary on the allotted reading is practically helpful for everyday life. I am really finding it so helpful. Thank you so much.
Susan Williams
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on 28 February 2012
I like the modern translation and the word 'illustrations' and it's nice to know that lots of other people are doing the same as me.

I will miss the odd day, but always catch up. Well worth buying, and I will get the others in the series too to vary my readings each year.
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on 15 March 2012
As with all tom wrights books this an excellent one. very clearly written with just enough for each day of Lent. I like the way he explains what the text would have meant in its day and then invites us to consider how we might respond to the challenges of Jesus now.
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