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Bible Commentaries

Haydock's Catholic Bible CommentaryHaydock's Catholic Commentary

- Mark

by George Leo Haydock





St. Mark, who wrote this Gospel, is called by St. Augustine, the abridger of St. Matthew; by St. Jerome, the disciple and interpreter of St. Peter; and according to Origen and St. Jerome, he is the same Mark whom St. Peter calls his son. Stilting, the Bollandist, (in the life of St. John Mark, T. vii. Sep. 27, p. 387, who was son of the sister of St. Barnabas) endeavours to prove that this was the same person as our evangelist; and this is the sentiment of St. Jerome, and some others: but the general opinion is that John, surnamed Mark, mentioned in Acts xii. was a different person. He was the disciple of St. Paul, and companion of St. Barnabas, and was with St. Paul, at Antioch, when our evangelist was with St. Peter at Rome, or at Alexandria, as Eusebius, St. Jerome, Baronius, and others observe. Tirinus is of opinion that the evangelist was not one of the seventy-two disciples, because as St. Peter calls him his son, he was converted by St. Peter after the death of Christ. St. Epiphanius, however, assures us he was one of the seventy-two, and forsook Christ after hearing his discourse on the Eucharist, (John vi.) but was converted by St. Peter after Christ’s resurrection, hær. 51, chap. v. p. 528. --- The learned are generally of opinion, that the original was written in Greek, and not in Latin; for, though it was written at the request of the Romans, the Greek language was commonly understood amongst them; and the style itself sufficiently shews this to have been the case: ---

    ----------Omnia Græce;

    Cum sit turpe magis nostris nescire Latine.---Juvenal, Satyr vi.

The old manuscript in Latin, kept at Venice, and supposed by some to be the original, is shewn by Montfaucon and other antiquaries, to have been written in the sixth century, and contains the oldest copy extant of St. Jerome’s version. --- St. Peter revised the work of St. Mark, approved of it, and authorized it to be read in the religious assemblies of the faithful; hence some, as we learn from Tertullian, attributed this gospel to St. Peter himself. St. Mark relates the same facts as St. Matthew, and often in the same words: but he adds several particular circumstances, and changes the order of the narration, in which he agrees with St. Luke and St. John. He narrates two histories not mentioned by St. Matthew; the widow’s two mites, and Christ’s appearing to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus; also some miraculous cures; (Mark i. 40; vii. 32; viii. 22, 26) and omits many things noticed by St. Matthew ... But nothing proves clearly, as Dom. Ceillier and others suppose, that he made use of St. Matthew’s gospel. In his narrative he is concise, and he writes with a more pleasing simplicity and elegance.

It is certain that St. Mark was sent by St. Peter into Egypt, and was by him appointed bishop of Alexandria, (which, after Rome, was accounted the second city of the world) as Eusebius, St. Epiphanius, St. Jerome, and others assure us. He remained here, governing that flourishing church with great prudence, zeal, and sanctity. He suffered martyrdom in the 14th year of the reign of Nero, in the year of Christ 68, and three years after the death of Sts. Peter and Paul, at Alexandria, on the 25th of April; having been seized the previous day, which was Sunday, at the altar, as he was offering to God the prayer of the oblation, or the mass.


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