Last modified on May 1, 2022, at 22:20

Mark

This is a page about the author. For Mark's Gospel, see Gospel of Mark.

Mark was the eyewitness author of the Gospel of Mark, and outsider to the group of the Apostles. Though placed second in the New Testament due to its incompleteness,[1] the Gospel of Mark was probably the first Gospel written, probably without authorization by the Apostles. It was written in Greek in a simple, forceful style. As a young boy, Mark was almost certainly an eyewitness to the arrest of Jesus, as described in Mark 14:51-52. Mark was probably also the boy mentioned at John 6:8-9 ("One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, *said to Him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what are these for so many people?”).[2]

Mark was likely too young to be an Apostle of Jesus, and probably simply accompanied his mother (likely Salome as uniquely mentioned at Mark 15:40 and Mark 16:1 ) when she followed Jesus. See the Gospel of Mark for a discussion of how young Mark was. Mark's description of Jesus walking on water is from the perspective of watching it from the shore, where someone too young to be with the Apostles in the boat would have been.[3] Mark's description thereby contrasts with that by the Apostles Matthew and John.[4]

Mark's Identity

Mark was almost certainly a Gentile, as he describes without precision Jewish customs in his Gospel. Also, his bold opening sentence would have been blasphemy punishable by death under Jewish law, proclaiming (unlike the other Gospels) that his work is "the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God."[5] In addition, Mark was always an outsider with respect to the Apostles, and was not invited into their group after the Resurrection or when a new 12th Apostle was chosen. Furthermore, Mark was more critical of the Sabbath, the Apostles themselves, and even Jesus's family who rejected him, in his Gospel than other Gospel writers were. See Mark 3:21 (And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.”[6]).

Mark preferred Aramaic and quoted Jesus in Aramaic while the other authors of the Gospels did not. Also, Mark was the first to say that Jesus had changed the Jewish law for blasphemy, such that those who blasphemed anyone except the Holy Spirit would be forgiven.

Traditional Misinformation about Mark

Although his concise gospel was plainly written by an outsider, there have been strained attempts to fit Mark into the group.

Some link Mark to "John Mark" as referenced in Acts 12:12. Others suggest that Mark accompanied Paul and Barnabas, his cousin, on their missionary journey.[7] Mark’s unexplained departure from that trip at Perga possibly caused a later split between Paul and Barnabas, when Paul refused to take Mark on the second mission. Barnabas, in loyalty to his cousin Mark, broke off his relationship with Paul and traveled with Mark instead to Cyprus.[8] Later Paul realized he was wrong about Mark and requested him to come visit. Mark and Paul were reunited and went on an additional trip together.

A theory suggests that Mark was close to the Apostle Peter, who once described Mark as "my son."[9] According to Papias, Mark was the interpreter for Peter and the Gospel According to Mark is often considered to be Peter’s Gospel as transcribed by Mark. In Acts 12:12 when Peter escapes from prison, he goes to the home of Mark's mother, which was then the center of the Church.[10] If Mark 14:51-52 is truly a self-description of Mark as a young man, which some scholars believe, then the Last Supper (Mark 14:22-25) was also held in the home of Mark's mother.

Mark has been the patron saint of Venice ever since the Venetians led a successful mission to recover his body from the Muslims in Alexandria, and to this day his body lies in St. Mark's Basilica in the city. Depictions of Mark are common in Venetian art, and often feature a lion, the animal that is identified with him.

First Pope of Alexandria

The Christian Coptic Orthodox Church of Egypt reveres Mark (Saint Mark, or Mark the Evangelist) as its first Pope (Bishop of Alexandria).[11]

Son of a visitor to the tomb?

Given Mark's eyewitness account of the visit to Jesus's tomb, it is possible he was the son of either Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, or Salome.[12]

References

  1. The original Gospel of Mark lacks any account of Jesus's background or the Resurrection, neither of which the non-Apostle Mark would have known anything about.
  2. NASB version.
  3. Mark 6:45-49.
  4. https://hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/30437/why-is-it-only-matthew-who-records-peter-walking-on-water-in-matthew-1426-31
  5. Mark 1:1 (ESV).
  6. ESV.
  7. Acts 12:25
  8. Acts 15:36-39
  9. I Peter 5:13
  10. The Men, the Meaning, and the Message of the New Testament Books, William Barclay, Westminster Press, 1977, page 15
  11. http://st-takla.org/Coptic-church-1.html
  12. Mark 16:1