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by Adam Clarke
Preface to the Gospel According to St. Mark
With a Short Account of His Life
For an explication of the word Gospel, and the title Saint, see the Preface to Matthew.
Mark. This person, the second in the commonly received order of the four evangelists, was named John Mark, and was the son of a pious woman called Mary, who dwelt at Jerusalem: she was an early believer, and the disciples used to meet at her house. Peter, having been delivered out of prison by an angel, came to the house of Mary, mother of John, whose surname was Mark, where many were gathered together praying, Acts 12:12. This very first mention of John Mark assures us of Peter's intimacy in that family: it is almost universally allowed that Mark, mentioned by Peter, 1 Peter 5:13, is this evangelist, and that he is the same with him who is called sister's son to Barnabas, Colossians 4:10, and is supposed to have been converted by Peter to the Christian faith. Mr. W. Whiston supposes him to have been Peter's own son. See his Primitive New Test. Notes at the end. He traveled from Jerusalem to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas, Acts 12:25, and some short time after he accompanied them to other countries as their minister, Acts 13:5. When they returned to the continent, and came on shore at Perga in Pamphylia, he departed from them and returned to Jerusalem, Acts 13:13. Afterwards he would have gone with Paul and Barnabas, but the former refused to take him, because of his having left them at Pamphylia; Paul and Barnabas then separated, and Mark accompanied his uncle Barnabas to Cyprus, Acts 15:36-41. Afterwards Paul and he were fully reconciled, as evidently appears from 2 Timothy 4:11 : Take Mark, and bring him with thee; for he is profitable to me for the ministry. This appears also from Philemon 1:24, where Mark is styled Paul's fellow-laborer; and from Colossians 4:10, where we find the apostle recommending him in a particular manner to the Church of God at that place. He is generally supposed to have been particularly intimate with St. Peter, to have written his Gospel at Rome, a.d. 64, and to have died at Alexandria in Egypt, in the eighth year of the reign of Nero. Dr. Lardner has fully proved that Mark the evangelist, and John Mark nephew to Barnabas, were one and the same person. See his Works, vol. vi. p. 77, etc.
How Mark composed his Gospel, is a question not yet decided among learned men. Many of the primitive fathers, such as Papias, Clemens, Alexandrinus, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Origen, Eusebius, etc., believed that he was only the amanuensis of St. Peter; that this apostle, through modesty, would not put his name to the work, but dictated the whole account, and Mark wrote it down from his mouth. St. Augustine appears to have been the first who maintained that Mark abridged St. Matthew's Gospel; and that it is not to be considered as an original work: - on this opinion several remarks will be made in the course of these notes. Others suppose that Mark compiled it, partly out of Matthew's Gospel, and partly out of the Gospel of Luke. But most of these are conjectures which appear to have very little foundation. Critics are also divided concerning the language in which it was written, and the people to whom it was sent. Some have contended for a Latin original, because of several Latin words found in it, such as σπεκουλατωρ, Mark 6:27, one of the guard; κεντυριων, Mark 15:39, Mark 15:44, Mark 15:46, a centurion, a captain of one hundred men; συσσημον, Mark 14:44, a signal, a sign agreed on. But such words are better accounted for by supposing that his Gospel was written for the use of the Roman people; and that it is on this account that he wholly passes by the genealogy of our Lord, as being a point of no consequence to Gentile converts, though very necessary for the Jews, and especially the Jews of Palestine. That it was originally written in Greek, is a point now acknowledged by almost all learned men.
It may be necessary to state the things omitted by Mark in the beginning of his Gospel which are mentioned by Matthew and Luke.
1. The Preface, found in Luke and John, Luke 1:1; John 1:1.
2. The Conception of Elizabeth, Luke 1:5-25.
3. The Salutation of Mary, Luke 1:26-38.
4. Mary's Visit to Elizabeth, Luke 1:39-56.
5. John Baptist's Birth, Luke 1:57-79.
6. The Angel's Appearance to Joseph, Matthew 1:18-25.
7. The Birth of Christ, Matthew 1:25; Luke 2:1-7.
8. The Genealogy of Christ, Matthew 1:1-17; Luke 3:23-38.
9. The Appearance of the Angel to the Shepherds, Luke 2:8-20.
10. The Circumcision of Christ, Matthew 1:25; Luke 2:21.
11. The Presentation of Christ in the Temple, Luke 2:22-38.
12. The Coming of the Magi, Matthew 2:1-12.
13. The Flight into Egypt, Matthew 2:13-15.
14. Herod's Murder of the Innocents, Matthew 2:16-18.
15. The Return of the Holy Family from Egypt, Matthew 2:19-23; Luke 2:39.
16. Christ's Journey to Jerusalem when twelve years of age, Luke 2:40-48.
From the particulars enumerated here, it appears that the things omitted by Mark are also omitted by John, except the Preface; and that St. Luke is the most circumstantial.
For other particulars relative to this Gospel, see at the end of the last chapter.
the Fifth Week after Easter