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Mark Time – The Book (4 CD set)

By Gerard Chrispin
January 2012 | Review by John Brand

Synopsis

Mark’s Gospel has always been a good starting point either for people who are searching for God, or for those who have become Christians and who want a good grounding in the gospel and teaching of Jesus. It is the shortest and simplest of the three synoptic gospels that summarize the birth, life, ministry, miracles, teaching, death, resurrection, and ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ. There are other significant resources on Mark’s Gospel—for instance, John Blanchard’s ‘Read, Mark, Learn’ (which was so helpful to me as a young Christian) and Rico Tice’s ‘Christianity Explored’. But Mark Time! is different from both of those valuable works. The stand-alone Mark Time! book, along with its four free audio CDs, will repay careful reading. It gives a clear, no- nonsense explanation of the whole of Mark’s Gospel, in 52 very short and easy-to-read chapters. Each chapter contains the whole text of Mark’s Gospel on which it comments. The Bible versions, used in equal measure, are New International Version, New American Standard Bible, English Standard Version, and New King James Version. Having said the book is a ‘stand- alone’ title, it is important to note that each book includes a Mark Time! audio 4 CD set of 52 short sessions, each one mirroring both the text of Mark’s Gospel and the explanation from the Mark Time! book. Reading and hearing really help to cement the blessing of time spent in Mark Time. And the good news is that there is also an optional Mark Time! correspondence course which is simple without being simplistic, and which enables anyone following it to be sure that he or she has understood the text properly. You will find it enjoyable to use. Churches and groups find such correspondence courses extremely valuable both in reaching out with the gospel and in nurturing new Christians, or those needing a refresher course. The book and audio 4 CD set are the basis for the correspondence course. (Bear in mind they include the text of Mark’s Gospel). And, some even more exciting news, there is a very simple-to- operate separate Mark Time! discussion course, based on three questions put at the end of each chapter of the book (or session of the audio 4 CD set.) The flexibility in how this can be used is commendable. It can be gone through as an enjoyable marathon, or broken into segments. The chapters or sessions are so succinct that you could cover one or more than one, depending on the time available and the depth of discussion required. There is excellent ‘know-how’ imparted in the discussion course, as to how it should be best conducted. This, too, is based on the book and the audio 4 CD set. As well as the obvious blessing and benefit any of the four segments can be to an individual, and to a church or a fellowship, this Mark Time! initiative is eagerly awaited in some prison chaplaincies, through Christian Prison Resources Ministries. Bible studies, Christian Unions, Youth Groups, and work-place fellowships all come to mind as potential beneficiaries.

  • Publisher: Day One Publications
  • ISBN: 978-1-84625-284-6
  • Pages: 176
  • Price: 15.00
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Book Review

Mark Time – The Book (4 CD set)
Gerard Chrispin
Day One Publications
176, £15.00
ISBN: 978-1-84625-284-6
Star Rating: undecided: good content, unhelpful format

When Rico Tice, author of the Christianity Explored programme which is based on Mark’s Gospel, says that from now on this is the first commentary he will reach for, you know it will be good.  Your view is reinforced when you realise that Gerard Chrispin is the author.  He is such a good and clear Bible teacher.   This is a hugely innovative and creative concept.   A simple commentary on Mark, with well explained studies and study questions for each of the 52 sessions which focus on application.   All the material except for the study questions is also on 4 accompanying CDS.   Then there is a Correspondence Course structured on two levels.  The basic level comprises mostly of a series of easy multiple choice questions on each of the 52 studies, with an advanced option which is largely the study questions from the book.  Then there is a Discussion Course, a small booklet aimed at promoting group studies of the 52 sections, involving the same study questions from the book.

Anything that will encourage people, individually and collectively to get into the Scriptures is to be applauded and Gerard Chrispin has done a great work here.  However, I do wonder whether it is somewhat over-complicated.   I am not sure of the value of having all the book material in both written and CD format.  Apart from anything else it prices the 175 page book with card covers at £15.     I am still not sure of the value of the Discussion Course booklet (£4 for 30 pages! and the same price as the much bigger Correspondence Book) since all the material is in the main book and in the opening guidelines it is advised that all involved in the discussion group have a copy of the main book.   I like the concept of a correspondence course but wonder whether, in this day and age, an online, more interactive version would have been the way to go. 

There are one or two other niggles, I confess.   I found the abbreviations (and explanations for the abbreviations) for all the different formats and versions annoying and I have not worked out why they have used four different Bible versions at various stages in the course, rather than just sticking with the same one all the way through.

The whole thing has been very attractively and thoughtfully packaged and the content is superb but I fear suffers from overkill and is very expensive.   A single book or CD option would have been better and cheaper, with suggestions for discussion groups and details of an online course.

 

John D Brand, The Faith Mission Bible College, Edinburgh

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