It’s good to recognize milestones. First published by Orbis Books in 1988, a 20th anniversary edition of this commentary with new front matter was issued in 2008. It is still widely used in theological schools, but also is tackled by lay readers in study groups (despite the teasing I get for writing “such a long and difficult tome”). I am grateful that this study has had measurable impact on the seminary, sanctuary and streets alike. People often tell me that it changed their lives—three lovely notes I’ve received over the years are below—and I can honestly say that it changed mine as well. A quarter century later, I’m still trying to embody the discipleship vision of Mark’s gospel in my life and work.
- I was a junior at St. Mary's University in San Antonio Texas in 2003 when I enrolled in an independent study. The sole text was Binding the Strong Man. I was way over my head intellectually at first, having to constantly carry both a standard and theological dictionary. I met weekly with my professor and each time I walked out of the conversation overjoyed. Someone put to words an understanding of Jesus that actually made sense to me. Jesus was once again compelling and worth listening to. My life was never the same. I carried Binding with me everywhere I would carry my Bible, and referenced it every week. I have purchased two copies in addition to my original, which was so covered in notes it was almost illegible. I cannot thank you enough for your work on the Gospel of Mark. You have helped revolutionize my faith and my life in such a way that I cannot imagine ever going back. May the Spirit of God continue to work in and through you. -- Jason Valendy, Nov 2011 (now a Methodist pastor in Saginaw, Tx)
- Binding the Strong Man has been a valuable tool for those of us who are disturbed and wounded by those who still talk about the possibility of doing “objective studies”… Your indignation found resonance in mine; your dreams of rupture, liberation and radical discipleship added to my own. Each day the challenge is more urgent: to enter the house of the strong man, bind him and recover what has been taken from us: the life and dignity of our peoples, of Afro-Latin Americans, of women, children, and impoverished men. Thank you for your expression of the community of those who are “tireless dreamers.”
-- Sylvia Regina de Lima, March 2008 (currently N.T. professor at Universidad Biblica Latinoamericana, Costa Rica)
- I'm a thirty-year old Vancouverite, a recent ThM grad from Regent College and have, in the last few months, read Binding the Strong Man, Who Will Roll Away the Stone?, and Say to This Mountain. I want to thank you for all the effort, thought and care that you put into these works. With all sincerity, I can say that they have been the most powerful and transformative books I have read. The Jesus you present, and the life of discipleship you articulate, is so challenging, radical and encouraging, and in my mind, it rings true to the Biblical text. I've undergone some kind of conversion through them. So thank you. I'm going to continually revisit these books in the years to come, and try to live out this radical and liberating life of discipleship. Many thanks.
-- Steve Heinrichs, Sept 2006 (now Director of Indigenous Relations, Mennonite Church Canada)
For longer reviews see Art Cabrera and Marc Delmonico. Of course you can purchase the book on this site. Finally, to keep things in perspective: A quick Google of “binding the strong man” shows that every URL not referencing my book—which is 90% of them—refers to some version of “spiritual warfare” and/or “prosperity theology” from the U.S. Christian Right! So we’re not exactly winning the hermeneutic battle… which is why the task of reconnecting Word and world continues.
Happy Anniversary, Strong Man!