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First published in 1857, Mark was the second book to appear in J. C. Ryle’s series ofExpository Thoughts on the Gospels.
The earliest of the Gospel narratives to be written, Mark, says Ryle, ‘is singularly full of precious facts about the Lord Jesus, narrated in a simple, terse, pithy, and condensed style’. Those last four adjectives could well be used to describe Ryle’s own comments on the Gospel!
In one of the occasional explanatory notes, he quotes the following remarks of Rudolf Stier:
St Mark has the special gift of terse brevity, and of graphic painting in wonderful combination. While on every occasion he compresses the discourses, works, and history into the simplest possible kernel, he on the other hand, unfolds the scenes more clearly than St Matthew does, who excels in the discourses. Not only do single incidents become in his hands complete pictures, but even when he is very brief, he often gives, with one pencil stroke, something new and peculiarly his own.
TheseExpository Thoughts on Markdo full justice to such an inspired text, and are full of encouragement, wisdom and straightforward practical application. May they continue to fulfil Ryle’s desire to lead the reader ‘to Christ and faith in him, to repentance and holiness, to the Bible and to prayer’.