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Theology Professor Revisits Mark’s Gospel to Complete 10 Volume Series

With the recent publication of A History of the Interpretation of the Gospel of Mark, the Rev. Sean Kealy, C.S.Sp., has completed more than 10 years of work on 10 volumes on the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Published through Edwin Mellen Press, A History of the Interpretation of the Gospel of Mark is a three-volume survey of 2,000 years of biblical exegesis or scholarly explanation. According to Kealy, professor of theology and the Noble J. Dick Endowed Chair in Academic Leadership at Duquesne University, those three volumes are in some ways the capstone of investigations that began when he was a graduate theology student.

While at the University of Dublin, one of his professors urged Kealy to undertake the writing of a thesis on the Gospel of Mark, which he says has been “much neglected,” with no full commentary on it appearing for the first six centuries of Christian history. Furthermore, Kealy said, Mark’s Gospel is thought by some scholars to be incomplete or perhaps derived from other sources.

Kealy explained that the Gospel of Mark has sometimes even been a flash point between Catholic and Protestant theologians, as Marks’s Gospel makes no reference to the Church being founded by Christ through St. Peter, a passage that appears in Matthew’s Gospel and is often cited in discussions about the authority of the Papacy. He accepted the challenge of investigating the Gospel of Mark, but didn’t publish his thesis. In the late 1970s, he began writing while he served on the faculty of Kenyatta University in Nairobi, Kenya. Five books and five years passed before Kealy saw his first work on Mark published.

Kealy completed A History of Mark’s Gospel, which was published by Paulist Press in 1982, while he was a visiting professor at Duquesne University. The three most recent volumes on Mark round out a series on the Gospels written by Kealy and published by Mellen: Matthew’s Gospel and the History of Biblical Interpretation (1997), John’s Gospel And The History of Biblical Interpretation (2002) and The Interpretation of the Gospel of Luke (2005).

Though Kealy has now produced 17 books and numerous scholarly articles on a wide range of scriptural and theological topics, the Gospel of Mark remains a touchstone of his writing because it deals forcefully with the refusal to see the truth for what it is. According to Kealy, Mark’s central question is “What do you think?” to which Kealy adds, “and he is quite emphatic on that question.”

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