Binding the Strong Man: A Political Reading of Mark's Story of Jesus
Published: 10/30/2008
Format: Paperback
Since its publication in 1988, Binding the Strong Man has been widely recognized as a landmark in contemporary biblical criticism. Applying a multidisciplinary approach called socio-literary method, Myers integrates literary criticism, socio-historical exegesis, and political hermeneutics in his investigation of Mark as a manifesto of radical discipleship.

At the risk of hyperbole, I am going to open with the bold statement. I recommend Binding the Strong Man for every Western Christian of European dissent who wants to take the Bible seriously. Why? Because Myers‘ commentary on the Gospel According to Mark, if read carefully, will teach you how to read the Bible.

Our Conception of God

Let’s start with a clip from The Princess Bride:

“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means“. Could the same thing be true of how we read the Bible? Is it possible that what we think it means is not what it really means? Those of us in the West of European dissent are culturally hamstrung when it comes to reading and interpreting the Bible.

The Biblical Conception of God

The Bible centers on the story of a marginalized people. Israel went from being nomads, to slaves, and back to nomads. Eventually they settledinto a land that placed them in the constant crossroads of imperial powers. Those are the people God selects as the source of divine self-revelation. And they are chosen because that is who they are, not in spite of who they are.

Those of us who are of Western European dissent know little about oppression and marginalization. Texts that write from that perspective are foreign to us. We cannot help but read God’s self-revelation through the plight of disregarded outcasts through the lens of the oppressor. This is true even if we have never engaged in conscious oppression. It is the simple consequence of what we perceive as normal.

Help From “Binding the Strong Man”

Binding the Strong Man is a commentary on the Gospel of Mark. Mark is a Gospel that revolves around the overturning of oppressive power structures. By slowly working through Myers’ work, we are invited to see things from the perspective of the oppressed. In the process, we meet a previously inconceivable Jesus and a previously inconceivable God.

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