Concordia Seminary Newsroom

Concordia Seminary Newsroom and Press Releases

Faculty Book Reviewed at Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting

Voelz, JamesVoelz’ commentary on Gospel of Mark subject of full seminar session


The Mark Seminar of the prestigious Society for Biblical Literature (SBL) formally reviewed the Concordia Commentary on Mark 1:1 – 8:26, recently published by Dr. James W. Voelz, chair and professor of exegetical theology at Concordia Seminary, at its annual meeting Nov. 22-25. The book is the first of two volumes designed to provide textual, grammatical, and theological commentary on the Gospel of Mark.

Voelz’ commentary delves deeply into the original Greek text, with pastors as the intended audience. Its extensive grammatical analysis enables parish pastors to work through the details of pericopes (units of text), and its focus on literary and theological issues enables those using it to understand passages within the context of the Scriptures as a whole and of the Christian faith.

“The main difference [between this and other commentaries] is that it takes absolutely and fundamentally seriously the Greek of the Gospel of Mark in its linguistic context,” said Voelz. “The commentary also deals with literary features but at the same time allies those with a deep theological concern in order to get a total understanding of the book of Mark.”

The four reviewers at the SBL seminar were Joseph Fantin of Dallas Theological Seminary, focusing upon Greek grammar; Peter Head from Tyndale House, Cambridge, England, dealing with textual criticism; Jocelyn McWhirter from Albion College, considering theology and literary matters; and Earl Johnson, Jr. of Siena College, evaluating the pastoral usefulness of the commentary.

Johnson’s review of the commentary notes, “Of particular importance are the introductory studies of the linguistic and literary features of the gospels, which provide invaluable information and analysis of the redactional, textual, and narrative features of this unique gospel, which will be starting and check points for scholars and preachers in the future.”

Concerning the actual interpretation of the Marcan text, McWhirter writes: “Given the presuppositions that allow him to interpret Scripture with Scripture, Voelz orchestrates a masterful symphony of allusive resonance that plays on the themes of Jesus’ divinity and humanity, his reconciling work, and the necessity for faith.”

“Having a literary work reviewed at the SBL is a once in a lifetime opportunity for the greatest scholars,” says Dr. Jeff Kloha, provost of Concordia Seminary. “It is a great honor for Dr. Voelz and reflects the respect with which his work is held not only in our church but also around the world.”

Voelz has taught at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, since 1989. Previously he taught at Concordia Theological Seminary, Springfield, Illinois/Fort Wayne, Indiana (1975–1989), and served as pastoral assistant at Zion Lutheran Church, Fort Wayne (1984–1988).

Voelz is a graduate of Concordia College, Milwaukee, Wisconsin (A.A., 1965); Concordia Senior College, Fort Wayne (B.A. in classics, 1967); and Concordia Seminary, St. Louis (M.Div., 1971). He earned his Ph.D. in biblical studies from Cambridge University, England (1978). His Fundamental Greek Grammar, in its fourth edition, has been published by Concordia Publishing House since 1986, and his hermeneutics textbook, What Does This Mean? Principles of Biblical Interpretation in the Post-Modern World, now in its second revised edition by the same publisher, has been in circulation since 1995.

About Concordia Seminary
Concordia Seminary provides Gospel-centered graduate-level theological education for pastors, missionaries, deaconesses, scholars and other leaders in the name of The Lutheran Church —Missouri Synod (LCMS). Since its founding in 1839, Concordia Seminary has equipped more than 12,000 graduates to serve Church and world. Today, a world-renowned faculty teaches more than 600 students in the classroom, off-campus, and online. Learn more at

Photo of Dr. Voelz available online by clicking here.