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Bible Commentaries

Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New TestamentMeyer's Commentary

- Mark

by Heinrich Meyer





















T HE translation of the Commentary on the Gospels of Mark and Luke has been made from the fifth edition of the original the last form in which the work had the advantage of Dr. Meyer’s own corrections and additions. In the case of the Commentary on St. Matthew, the materials for a sixth edition had been carefully prepared by Dr. Meyer before his last illness; and the work was issued by its editor, Dr. Ritschl, substantially as the author had left it. The present portion has likewise been given forth since the author’s death in what professes to be a “sixth edition worked up anew” by Dr. Bernhard Weiss; but it is so considerably changed in form and substance, that, whatever may be its value on its own account, it can no longer be regarded as the proper work of Meyer;and I have had no hesitation in deeming it my duty to present to the English reader the last form of the book as it came from the great master of exegesis, rather than to reproduce the manipulation which it has undergone at the hands of its new editor. A few sentences will suffice to explain the state of the case, and I should hope sufficiently to justify the course which I have taken.

In the preface to the first volume that was issued of this translation (Romans, vol. I.), when speaking of the marked advantage which Meyer’s work possessed in having undergone successive revisions at the hands of its author , as compared with the rival work of de Wette, the revision of which passed early into other hands, I took occasion to remark on the strange and, as it appeared to me, unwarrantable procedure of Dr. Overbeck in overlaying de Wette’s book on the Acts of the Apostles with a running commentary largely devoted to the combating of de Wette’s views. Dr. Weiss can hardly be charged with anything so unseemly as this; but he contrasts unfavourably with Dr. Overbeck in another respect. The latter, even at the distance of twenty years after de Wette’s death, was careful to distinguish by brackets his own additions, though forming two thirds of the whole, from the original author’s text; but a strangely different course has been adopted with the great work of Meyer. Within less than five years after his death the Commentary on Mark and Luke has been reissued under his name; but he is spoken of throughout in the third person; his arrangement is discarded; his critical verdicts are recast to a considerable extent on other principles; his exegetical views are freely controverted; the statements of the author are often superseded by those of the editor; and, what is more, the character and complexion of the Commentary are materially altered by the superinducing on it of Dr. Weiss’s special theories regarding the structure of the Gospels and the relations of their parallel passages. In other words, the work is no longer such as Meyer left it; it is to a considerable extent a new book by another author, and from a standpoint in various respects different.

Now, it may be at once granted that if such a course were allowable at all in the case of an author so recently removed from us as Meyer, and of such a masterpiece of exegesis as his Commentary

Dr. Weiss might well be chosen to carry it out, for his investigations as to the relations of the Synoptic Gospels, as well as his contributions to Biblical Theology, have given him a foremost place among the critics and theologians of the day. In his preface he suggests some more or less plausible grounds for the course he has pursued, while indicating no small misgivings as to its legitimacy and its success. The plan has met with partial approval in Germany; but its propriety, as it seems to us, may well be questioned, on account both of the respect due to so great a name, and of the desirableness of permitting a reader, who buys a book on the faith of the writer’s reputation and of the title-page, to have with whatever else at any rate the entire work of the author in the form in which he left it. Weiss himself states with regard to the work of Meyer, that “it contains such treasures of erudite research, philological, archaeological, and biblicotheological; so laboriously collected and carefully grouped a summary of all different views on every passage of importance, drawn from the whole domain of the history of exegesis; and lastly, so exemplary a model of sober and strictly methodical exegesis, that generation after generation may learn from it.” As the case stands with the re-issue of it, the reader has no security that he gets more of the views of Meyer, or their grounds, than the subjective judgment of Weiss may have deemed worthy of reproduction; while he does get a good deal for which, it is safe to say, Meyer would not have held himself responsible. I shall only add, that the plan of entrusting the revision of the several portions of the work to different editors, whose methods of procedure and standards of judgment are necessarily various, breaks up the unity and consistency of the Commentary as stamped throughout with the impress of its author; and introduces a confusion, which cannot but materially interfere with the pertinence of the numerous references from one portion of the Commentary to another (introduced by “see on,” or “comp. on”), that form a main element of its value. I have therefore had little difficulty in coming to the conclusion that, having undertaken to issue the Commentary of Dr. Meyer in an English form, I ought to give it in its final shape as it came from himself, and not as it has been since transformed by another hand.

The translation, on which Dr. Wallis has expended a good deal of time and care, has been revised and carried through the press, in the case of the first volume, by myself, and, in that of the second, by my colleague and friend Dr. Stewart, who tells me that he has, as he went along, inserted [in square brackets] the readings of Tischendorf’s editio octava major , which, as Dr. Meyer explains in his Preface (p. xi.), had not been carried beyond the earlier chapters of Mark’s Gospel at the time of his sending to the press the fifth edition of the Handbook.

GLASGOW COLLEGE, February 1880.


T HE investigations as to the origin and mutual relations of the first three Gospels have again been pursued of late years with much vigour. A series of still unsettled questions has stimulated their prosecution; and the Christological discussions of the day, in which the authority of the evangelic records is of decisive importance, have imparted a peculiar and diversified interest of their own to the controversy, which has thus come to be of a more intensified and partisan character. That this critical ferment will last for some time longer, no one can doubt, who has given special attention to even the most prominent of the writings on the subject and compared their results with one another. And if, at the same time, we glance as the two fields of inquiry, in fact, are not to be separated from the Synoptic into the Johannine domain, in which very recently a valiant Swiss has raised the flaming sword, as if for a war of extermination, against the more popular 1 [1] than strictly theological work of a highly meritorious Saxon theologian whose laurels belong to another field of criticism [Tischendorf], we cannot but lament much impetuosity and even bitterness, which are the more apt to come into play when the contest is a contest of principles. Conflict in and by itself, indeed, over such critical problems as belong to the exciting questions of the present day in theology, is inevitable, and has its justification in the end at which it aims, the separating the dross of error from the truth. But the sharpness of passion should not interpose to banish the charitable belief that an opponent, even where he is chargeable with error, has been seeking the truth and striving to serve it. In so speaking we cannot mean and desire that men should cry peace when there is no peace. But as we cannot avail aught against the truth, so we ought never to will anything that is not pure free from selfish or even indecorous zeal for the truth. [2]

[1] 1 Of apologetic writings for cultivated non-theologians our day has produced many, and several that are excellent. Such writings because their problems of themselves belong primarily and preponderantly to the province of professional theology always occupy, in presence of the latter, a dubious position. For along with all the value of opportune and clever popularizing, there necessarily clings to them a certain incompleteness of proof and presentation, which may provoke the adversary at times to unfairness in his claims and in his criterion of judgment. It is indeed a material defect, when as often they deal with critical extravagances merely in the way of repelling , and leave untouched, or with a dubious mincing word evade, the necessary concessions , which in various important points are not to be refused to a sound, judicious, and thorough criticism. In this way there is no attempt to meet a justifiable requirement, and no clearness even as regards insight into the status causae .

[2] The extravagance of criticism, which in various productions of the day far transcends the boldness of Baur, does not advance the matter, bursts all the ties even of historical possibility, turns things upside down, promotes the convenient aversion already, alas! so widely diffused to criticism generally, as if it were an affair of unbelief, and works involuntarily into the hands of the Jews , who gladly accept the alleged negative results as if they were settled matters, as may be sufficiently seen from several writings of modern Jewish scholars.

Various as are the critical opinions of the present day on the question of the Synoptic Gospels, the view seems ever more evidently to be approaching final triumph, that among the three Gospels (apart from the “Logia collection” of Matthew) Mark is the first. The unfair judgments, [3] that may still be heard about him, will gradually be put to silence; just like Augustine’s “pedissequus Matthaei,” Griesbach’s “copyist of Matthew and Luke” will disappear from the arena of ancient error. This view derives special confirmation from the critical contributions some of them entering very thoroughly into the subject that have appeared since the publication of the fourth edition of this Commentary, or, in other words, since 1860, when we survey their aggregate results. It will easily be seen that I have sought [4] to give due heed to them, as well as generally to the latest literature relative to the subject, in their bearing on my purpose.

[3] No one can pronounce a judgment of rejection over Mark more decidedly than has been done, with French frivolity, by Eichthal ( les Évangiles , 1863, I. p. 51 ff.).

[4] Some minor works reached me too late for a consideration of their suggestions: e.g. Hilgenfeld, Markus zwischen Matth. und Luk. , in his Zeitschr. 1866, p. 82 ff.; Zahn, Papias von Hierapolis , in the Stud. u. Krit. 1866, p. 649 ff.; Stawars, üb. d. Ordnung Abia , in the Theol. Quartalschr. 1866, p. 201 ff.; also Volkmar, Urspr. uns. Evangelien , Zürich 1866, but chiefly in reference to John. The Christologie des Neuen Testamentes of Beyschlag, Berlin 1866, I have, to my regret, only been able to take into consideration here and there supplementarily, during the later progress of the printing. As I no longer had any fitting opportunity to express in the Commentary my view as to Beyschlag’s development of the idea of the Son of man , which he regards as the Ideal man, as the ideal of humanity, I may here be allowed, on account of the Christological importance of the subject, frankly to state that the deductions of the author however attractive they are, and however considerable the names of authority that may range themselves on the side of their result have not been able to convince me. I cannot but think that the notion of the Ideal man, as well in Daniel as in the Gospels, is one brought to them and introduced, and not the one there given. I find, that the only Synoptic passage which appears to favour this interpretation is Mark 2:28 . But even here it is, as I believe, only an appearance. For, firstly, the fundamental thought in this passage is not that of the ideal , but that of the representative of humanity, which is a different idea; secondly, even this conception does not attach to ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου in itself, but to the whole conception of the Messiah , and would be the leading thought of the argument, even if quite another appellation of the Messiah were used. That Christ, although without prejudice to His personal pre-existence, was and is the Ideal of humanity, is accordant with Scripture; but it is not contained in ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου , as, indeed, this expression in itself does not lexically contain the very slightest hint thereof. We may add, that it is much to be wished that the antagonism, which the work of Beyschlag will still abundantly encounter and must needs encounter, may be kept clear of the passionate vehemence which it has already so largely experienced.

In reference to the critical remarks, I must call attention to the fact that only for the first four chapters of Mark could I take the readings of the text of Tischendorf from the new large edition ( editio octava ), which had only appeared up to that point; and for the sequel I had to quote them from the second edition of the Synopsis Evangelica . For I might not fall back on the editio septima (1859), because after issuing it Tischendorf modified essentially his critical procedure, and reverted to the principles of Lachmann, constituting in accordance with these the text of the second edition of the Synopsis (1864), and, of course, diverging much from that of the editio septima . I am not quite free from hesitation as to this change of principles, whereby, instead of simply steering for the ideal goal as such, we are again directed, as in the case of Lachmann, only to an intermediate station, the actual reaching of which, especially if it is to be the text of the second century, must withal in numberless cases be uncertain.

In conclusion, may I be allowed, simply for those at a distance interested in my personal circumstances, to mention that since last autumn I have retired from my position as a member of the Royal Consistory here. “ Deus nobis haec otia fecit ,” this I have (in another sense, indeed, than the Roman poet meant it) to acknowledge with humble thanks to the everlasting Love, which has in great long-suffering and grace upheld me during many most laborious and, in part, momentous years, and has at length helped me to get over the difficult step of retiring from the vocation bound up with my very inmost life. As nothing else than considerations of health, which I might not and could not withstand any longer, gave occasion to this change, and as for me especially it has been deeply painful to separate from the circle of the dear colleagues highly and gratefully esteemed by me, with all of whom, amidst manifold diversity of our gifts and powers, I was bound in unity of spirit to the service of the one Lord, and, I venture to hope, may still continue bound, it is a fervent joy to my heart, that in the partial co-operation which still remains assigned to me, especially by my continuing to take part in the theological examinations, there is not yet wholly dissolved the official bond of fellowship, which has always been to me so high a blessing in my position here.

Let the future, which is to be developed out of the blood-stained seed-sowing of the present not only for the fleeting existence of this world, but also for the eternal kingdom of the Lord, be committed to God, who turns the hearts of men as water-brooks, and will turn all things for the best to His people the unknown and yet well known, the sorrowful and yet always rejoicing, the dying, and behold they live!


HANNOVER, 10 th August 1866.


[FOR Commentaries embracing the whole New Testament, the Four Gospels as such, or the three Synoptic Gospels (including the chief Harmonies), see the list prefixed to the Commentary on the Gospel of St. Matthew. The following list contains Commentaries on the Gospel of St. Mark or on that of St. Luke, along with a few works of historical criticism relative to these Gospels. Works mainly of a popular or practical character have, with a few exceptions, been excluded, since, however valuable they may be on their own account, they have but little affinity with the strictly exegetical character of the present work. Monographs on chapters or sections are generally noticed by Meyer in loc. The editions quoted are usually the earliest; al. appended denotes that the book has been more or less frequently re-issued; † marks the date of the author’s death; c. = circa , an approximation to it.]

ALEXANDER (Joseph Addison), D.D., [5] 1860, Prof. Bibl. and Eccl. Hist. at Princeton: The Gospel according to Mark explained. 8°, New York, 1858, al.

[5] The date of the author’s death

AMBROSIUS, [6] 397, Bishop of Milan: Expositio Evangelii secundum Lucam. [Opera.]

[6] The date of the author’s death

BAUR (Ferdinand Christian), [7] 1860, Prof. Theol. at Tübingen: Das Markusevangelium nach seinem Ursprung und Charakter. 8°, Tübing. 1851.

[7] The date of the author’s death

BORNEMANN (Friedrich August), [8] 1848, Pastor at Kirchberg: Scholia in Lucae Evangelium ad supplendos reliquorum interpretum commentarios.… 8°, Lips. 1830.

[8] The date of the author’s death


CORDERIUS [CORDIER] (Balthasar), [9] 1650, Jesuit: Catena sexaginta quinque Patrum Graecorum in S. Lucam.… Latinitate donata et annotationibus illustrata.… 2°, Antv. 1628.

[9] The date of the author’s death

COSTA (Isaac Da), Pastor at Amsterdam: Beschouwing van het Evangelie van Luke 8:0 °, Amst. 1850 52.

ELSNER (Jakob), [10] 1750, Consistorialrath at Berlin: Commentarius critico-philologicus in Evangelium Marci … Edidit Ferd. Stosch. 4°, Traj. ad Rhen. 1773.

[10] The date of the author’s death

FORD (James), M.A., Prebendary of Exeter: The Gospel of St. Mark [ and of St. Luke], illustrated from ancient and modern authors. 8°, Lond. 1849 51.

FRITZSCHE (Karl Friedrich August), [11] 1846, Prof. Theol. at Rostock: Evangelium Marci recensuit et cum commentariis perpetuis edidit D. Car. F. A. Fritzsche. 8°, Lips. 1830.

[11] The date of the author’s death

GODET (Frédéric), Prof. Theol. at Neuchâtel: Commentaire sur l’Evangile de saint Luke 2:0 tomes. 8°, Neuchâtel, 1871.

[Translated from the second French edition by E. W. Shalders and D. W. Cusin. 2 vols. 8°, Edin. 1875.]

HEUPEL (Georg Friedrich), Theological Tutor at Wittenberg: Marci Evangelium notis grammatico-historico-criticis illustratum. 8°, Argent. 1716.

HILGENFELD (Adolf), Prof. Theol. at Jena: Das Markusevangelium nach seiner Composition, seiner Stellung in der Evangelien-Litteratur, seinem Ursprung und Charakter dargestellt. 8°, Leip. 1850.

HOFMANN (Johann Christian Konrad von), [12] 1877, Prof. Theol. at Erlangen: Die Heilige Schrift Neuen Testamentes zusammenhängend untersucht. Achter Theil. Das Evangelium des Lukas. Cap. i. xxii. 66.… 8°, Nördlingen, 1878.

[12] The date of the author’s death

JUNIUS (Franciscus) [FRANCOIS DU JON], [13] 1602, Prof. Theol. at Leyden: Analytica expositio Evangelii Marci. [Opera.]

[13] The date of the author’s death

KLOSTERMANN (August), Prof. Theol. at Kiel: Das Markusevangelium nach seinem Quellenwerthe für die evangelische Geschichte. 8°, Götting. 1867.

MICHELSEN (Jan Hendrik Adolf): Het Evangelie van Markus. 1 gedeelte. 8°, Amst 1867.

MORISON (James), D.D., Prof. Theol. to the Evangelical Union, Glasgow: A Commentary on the Gospel according to Mark 8:0 °, Lond. 1873.

MORUS (Samuel Friedrich Nathan), [14] 1792, Prof. Theol. at Leipzig: Praelectiones in Evangelium Lucae. Ed. K. A. Donat. 8°, Lip. 1795.

[14] The date of the author’s death

NICETAS Serrariensis, c [15] 1150, Bishop of Heraclea: Catena veterum Patrum in Lucae Evangelium, colligente Niceta.… [Mai, Scrip. Vet. Coll. ix.]

[15] . circa

PAPE (Heinrich), [16] Mark 1805: Das Lucas-Evangelium umschrieben und erläutert. 2 Theile. 8°, Bremen, 1777 81.

[16] The date of the author’s death

PAREUS [WAENGLER] (David), [17] 1622, Prof. Theol. at Heidelberg: Adversaria in S. Marcum, S. Lucam … [Opera.]

[17] The date of the author’s death

PETTER (George), Min. at Bread, Sussex: A learned, pious, and practical commentary on the Gospel according to St. Mark 2:0 vols. 2°, Lond. 1661.

PISCATOR [FISSCHER] (Johann), [18] 1626, Conrector at Herborn: Analysis logica Evangelii secundum Lucam. 8°, Sigenae, 1596, al.

[18] The date of the author’s death

POSSINUS (Peter), [19] c [20] 1650, Jesuit at Rome: Catena Graecorum Patrum in Marcum Graece et Latine. Interprete P. Possino. 2°, Romae, 1673.

[19] The date of the author’s death

[20] . circa

REINHARD (Lorenz), [21] 1752, Superintendent at Büttstadt: Observationes philologicae et exegeticae in Evangelium Marci selectissimae. 4°, Lips. 1737.

[21] The date of the author’s death

SCHLEIERMACHER (Friedrich Daniel Ernst), [22] 1834, Prof. Theol. at Berlin: Ueber die Schriften des Lukas kritischer Versuch. 8°, Berl. 1817.

[22] The date of the author’s death

[Translated with an introduction by Connop Thirlwall, D.D. 8°, Lond. 1825.]

SCHOLTEN (Johan Hendrik), Prof. Theol. at Leyden: Het oudste Evangelie; critisch onderzoek naar de samenstelling, de onderlinge verhouding, de historische waarde en den oorsprong der Evangelien naar Mattheus en Marcus. 8°, Leid. 1868.

Het Paulinisch Evangelie; critisch onderzoek van het Evangelie naar Lucas, en seine verhouding tot Marcus, Mattheus, en die Handelingen. 8°, Leid. 1870.

SEGAAR (Carolus), [23] 1803, Prof. Theol. at Utrecht: Observationes philologicae et theologicae in Evangelii Lucae capita xi priora. 8°, Utrecht, 1766.

[23] The date of the author’s death

STEIN (Karl Wilhelm), Pastor at Niemegk: Commentar zu dem Evangelium des Lucas, nebst einem Anhange über den Brief au die Laodicäer. 8°, Halle, 1830.

STELLA [ESTELLA] (Diego), [24] 1578, Spanish monk: In Evangelium secundum Lucam enarrationes. 2 voll. 2°, Compluti, 1578, al.

[24] The date of the author’s death

TITUS Bostrensis? [25] c [26] Mark 370: Commentarius in Lucam. [Bibl. Max. Patrum. iv.]

[25] The date of the author’s death

[26] . circa

TROLLOPE (William), M.A.: Commentary on St. Luke’s Gospel. 12°, Lond. 1849.

VICTOR, Antiochenus, c [27] 400, Bishop of Antioch: Exegesis in Evangelium Marci. Ex codd. Mosq. edidit Chr. F. Matthaei. 8°, Mosquae, 1775.

[27] . circa

VINKE (Hendrik Egbert), [28] 1862, Prof. Theol. at Utrecht: Het Nieuwe Testament met ophelderende en toepasslijke aanmerkingen. 8°, Utrecht, 1852 54.

[28] The date of the author’s death

WEISS (Bernhard), Prof. Theol. at Berlin: Das Markusevangelium und seine synoptischen Parallelen erklärt. 8°, Berl. 1872.

Das Matthäusevangelium und seine Lucas-Parallelen erklärt. 8°, Halle, 1876.

WILLES (Bartus van), [29] 1844, Pastor at Niewland: Specimen hermeneuticum de iis quae ab uno Marco sunt narrata aut copiosius et explicatius ab eo exposita. 8°, Traj. ad Rhen. 1812.

[29] The date of the author’s death




T HE evangelist Mark, a Jew by birth (Colossians 4:10 f.), is the same [30] who, in the Acts of the Apostles, is sometimes called John Mark (Mark 12:12 ; Mark 12:25 , Mark 15:37 ), sometimes John only (Mark 13:5 ; Mark 13:13 ), sometimes only Mark (Mark 15:39 ; comp. Col 4:10 ; 2 Timothy 4:11 ; Philemon 1:24 ; 1 Peter 5:13 ). His original name, therefore, was John; [31] and the name Mark, adopted probably on his passing into the service of the apostles, became the prevailing one in Christian intercourse. Mary is named to us as his mother, who, at the time of the execution of James the Elder, was an esteemed Christian dwelling at Jerusalem, and in friendly relations with Peter (Acts 12:12 ). Jerusalem may therefore be regarded as the birthplace of Mark. According to 1 Peter 5:13 , he was converted by Peter ( υἱός μου ); he entered, however, into the service of Barnabas and Paul, when they commenced their missionary journeys (Acts 12:25 ), but subsequently became the occasion of a difference between them and of their separation from one another, when he accompanied Barnabas, whose sister’s son he was (see on Colossians 4:10 ), on his journey to Cyprus (Acts 15:36 ff.). It is probable that a want of dauntless perseverance (Acts 13:13 ; Acts 15:38 ) had withdrawn from him Paul’s favour, without, however, hindering their subsequent reunion. Of his further life and work nothing is known to us in detail from the N. T. beyond the fact that during Paul’s imprisonment at Caesarea according to the usual view, at Rome (see on Eph. , Introd. § 2) he was with that apostle to his comfort (Colossians 4:10 f.; Philemon 1:24 ; comp. 2 Timothy 4:11 ), and was at that time contemplating a journey to Asia Minor (Colossians 4:10 ). At 1 Peter 5:13 we find him again with his spiritual father Peter in Babylon. His special relation to Peter is specified by the unanimous testimony of the ancient church as having been that of interpreter ( ἑρμηνεύτης , Papias, in Eus. iii. 39; Iren. iii. 1, iii. 10, 5; Tertull. contr. Marc. iv. 5; Eusebius, Jerome, et al. ); and there exists absolutely no valid reason for doubting the statement, if only the notion of ἑρμηνεύτης be taken not as meaning that Peter, being himself insufficiently versed in Greek, caused what he delivered in Aramaic to be reproduced in Greek by Mark (Kuinoel and many others), or that Peter made use of him as Latin interpreter (Bleek), but rather as denoting the service of a secretary , who had to write down the oral communications of his apostle, whether from dictation or in a more free exercise of his own activity, and thus became his interpreter in writing to others. This view is plainly confirmed by Jerome, ad Hedib. 11 : “ Habebat ergo (Paulus) Titum interpretem (in drawing up the second Epistle to the Corinthians) sicut et beatus Petrus Marcum, cujus evangelium Petro narrante et illo scribente compositum est. Denique et duae epistolae quae feruntur Petri, stilo inter se et charactere discrepant structuraque verborum, ex quo intelligimus, pro necessitate rerum diversis eum usum interpretibus .”

[30] The supposition that there were two different Marks (Grotius, Calovius, and several others, including Schleiermacher in the Stud. u. Krit. 1832, p. 760) is absolutely without any sufficient foundation. It is nevertheless again taken up by Kienlen in the Stud. u. Krit. 1843, p. 423 ff., and in opposition to the tradition of the church further made use of for ascribing the Gospel not to the Petrine, but to the Pauline Mark, whom Papias had already confounded with the former.

[31] Thence Hitzig ( üb. Johannes Markus u. seine Schriften , Zürich 1843) could hold him to be the author of the Apocalypse, which, however, is decidedly incorrect. See Lücke, Einl. in d. Offenb. p. 781.

The tradition, that Mark was with Peter in Rome , is not yet attested, it is true, in the fragment of Papias, but is still very ancient, as it is designated by Clem. Al. Hypotyp. 6, in Eus. vi. 14, as παράδοσιν τῶν ἀνέκαθεν πρεσβυτέρων . It is not, however, free from the suspicion of having arisen out of 1 Peter 5:13 , where Babylon was taken as a designation of Rome (Eus. ii. 15; Jerome, Vir. ill. 8). From Rome, after the death of that apostle (not so early as the eighth year of Nero, as Jerome states), he is said to have gone to Alexandria , and there where, according to Eus. iii. 39, he is alleged to have founded the church [32] to have died as bishop (Eus. ii. 16; Epiph. Haer. Leviticus 6:0 ; Jerome, Vir. ill. 8), and, according to later tradition, in the character of a martyr (Niceph. ii. 43, Martyrol. Rom. , 25 Apr.).

[32] That this occurred before the composition of the Epistle to the Romans, Thiersch concludes ( d. Kirche im apost. Zeitalt. p. 104 f.) from Romans 15:19 ff. Certainly it is in itself probable that even at that early date Christianity existed, as in Rome, so also in Alexandria, where there was a very numerous body of Jews. Still the expression in Rom. l.c. is too indefinite as respects its geographical limits for any one to be able to maintain that Egypt belongs to the regions whereof Paul says that there is nothing more in them for him to do.


It is related, first of all by Papias (in Eus. iii. 39), and then unanimously by the entire ancient church, that Mark wrote his Gospel under the special influence of Peter, whose ἑρμηνεύτης he was. This account is, according to Papias (see on Matt., Introd. p. 41 ff.), to be understood as amounting more precisely to this, that Mark made notes for himself after the discourses of Peter which he heard, and subsequently employed these in the composition of his Gospel. This original relation to the authority of Peter [33] could not but receive more precise delineation by tradition, as there grew up an increasing desire to see the non-apostolic writing invested with apostolic validity. Already, at a very early date, our Gospel was regarded directly as the Gospel of Peter , as even Justin, c. Tryph. 106, quotes it as τὰ ἀπομνημονεύματα Πέτρου (see on John, Introd. p. 9 f.; Ritschl in the theol. Jahrb. 1851, p. 499 f.; Köstlin, Urspr. d. synopt. Evang. p. 368 f.; Weiss in the Stud. u. Krit. 1861, p. 677); and Tertull c. Macc. iv. 5, says: “Marcus quod edidit evangelium, Petri adfirmatur, cujus interpres Marcus ” (comp. Iren. iii. 1 : τὰ ὑπὸ Πέτρου κηρυσσόμενα ἐγγράφως ἡμῖν παραδέδωκε , similarly Origen in Eus. vi. 25). Still, however, there is no mention of any special recognition of the book on the part of Peter. Nothing can with any certainty be concluded from the fragmentary initial words of the Muratorian Canon (as has especially been attempted by Volkmar on Credner’s Gesch. d. Kanon , p. 351 f.); and Clement, Hypotyp. 6, in Eus. vi. 14, expressly states that the publication of the Gospel, composed after the apostle’s discourses, experienced at the hands of the latter neither a κωλύσαι nor a προτρέψασθαι . But in the course of tradition the apostolic confirmation also [34] does not fail to appear, and even Eusebius himself, [35] ii. 15, relates: γνόντα δὲ πραχθέν φασι τὸν ἀπόστολον … κυρῶσαί τε τὴν γραφὴν εἰς ἔντευξιν ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις . Comp. Epiph. Haer. Leviticus 6:0 ; Jerome, Vir. ill. 8.

[33] Which, however, most of the later critics (comp. on Matt. p. 39), without sufficient warrant either from the testimony of Papias, or from other testimonies, or from internal grounds, refer back to a lost primitive Mark, from which our Mark first took its rise. So, too, Schenkel and Weizsäcker, üb. d. Evang. Gesch. 1864. Recently Weiss and Tischendorf have decidedly declared themselves against the hypothesis of a primitive Mark [ Urmarkus ].

[34] The view which finds mention of the literary services of Mark even by Paul, namely at 2 Corinthians 8:18 (Storr, Hitzig), is a pure fancy.

[35] Eusebius does not here quote Clement’s words, so that Clement would have here, compared with the previous passage, contradicted himself (Strauss, de Wette, and others), but he is narrating in his own person. See Credner, Einl. i. p. 113; Thiersch, Hist. Standp. p. 212 f.

In the dependence to which Papias testifies of Mark on Petrine discourses and on notes made from them, there is not implied essentially and necessarily his independence of Matthew and Luke; for if Mark, when he composed his Gospel, found already in existence the writings of Matthew and Luke, even although he rested on the testimony of Peter, the comparison of that testimony with those other two evangelists might still be of the highest importance to him, inasmuch as it might furnish to him partly confirmation, partly, in the event of want of accord between Matthew and Luke, decision, partly inducement for omissions, partly additions and modifications. And thus the matter would have to be conceived of, if the hypothesis of Griesbach (see Introd. to Matt. p. 35), which is still in substance upheld by many (including Saunier, Fritzsche, de Wette, Bleek, Baur, Delitzsch, Köstlin, Kahnis, and others), were the correct one. [36] But it is not the correct one. For, apart from the fact that in any case Luke closes the series of the Synoptics and is only to be placed after the destruction of Jerusalem, our existing Gospel of Matthew cannot have taken its present shape until after Mark (see Introd. to Matt. p. 39 f.); and prior to Mark, as far as concerns the relation of the latter to Matthew, there can only have existed the apostolic collection of Logia , which became also the first foundation of our Matthew. Mark must have made use of this , although in general the presentation of the discourses of Jesus has been with him so subordinate a feature, that we may reasonably assume that he has taken for granted in his readers an acquaintance with the teaching (comp. Holtzmann, p. 385). But every kind of procedure in the way of epitome and compilation (according to the hypothesis of Griesbach, there would only be left to Mark as his own peculiar portions, Mark 4:26-29 , Mark 7:32-37 , Mark 8:22-26 , Mark 11:1-14 , Mark 13:33-37 , Mark 16:6-11 ) is absolutely incompatible with the creative life-like freshness and picturesqueness of detail, with the accurate designation of the localities and situations in his description, [37] with his taking no account of all the preliminary history, with the clear objectivity and simple, firmly-knit arrangement of his narratives, with the peculiar character of that which he gives either in greater brevity or in greater detail than the others. See especially, Ewald, Jahrb. II. p. 203 f.; Weiss in the Stud. u. Krit. 1861, p. 67 ff, 646 ff; Holtzmann, p. 284 f., 448 f. Besides, we do not find in Mark the peculiar elements which Matthew and Luke (the latter especially, Luke 9:51 to Luke 18:14 ) respectively have in matter and manner; indeed, precisely in the passages where Mark does not stand by their side (as in the preliminary history and in discourses of Jesus), those two diverge even the furthest from one another, while they in the main go together where Mark presents himself as the intervening link. Such an intervening link between the two Mark could not be as a subsequent worker and compiler, but only as a previous worker in the field, whose treatise freshly moulded from the apostolic fountainhead in simplicity, objectivity, homogeneousness, and historical continuity furnished a chief basis, first, in the gradual formation of our Matthew, and then also for Luke. It is simply inconceivable that Mark could have passed over, in particular, the rich materials which Luke has peculiar to himself (as is still the opinion of Köstlin, p. 334), merely from the endeavour after brevity and a laying aside of everything anti-Jewish. As regards the origin of the Gospel of Mark, we must accordingly abide simply by the testimony of Papias: it is primarily to be traced back to the communications of Peter, and with this view admirably agrees the characteristic discourse of the latter in Acts 10:36 ; in fact, this discourse may be regarded as a programme of our Gospel. Other special sources are not sufficiently recognisable, [38] apart from the primitive evangelic tradition in general, under the influence of which the companion of Paul, Barnabas, and Peter of necessity came, and from the collection of Logia of Matthew, which, as the most ancient (see on Matthew, Introd. p. 12 ff.) document intended for the natives of Palestine, could not have remained unknown to Mark, the inhabitant of Jerusalem. Rightly have not only Weisse and Wilke, but also Lachmann, Hitzig, Reuss, Ewald, Ritschl, Thiersch, Volkmar, Tobler, Plitt, Holtzmann, Weiss, Schenkel, Weizsäcker, and others (see also Güder in Herzog’s Encykhl. IX. p. 47 f.), maintained the primitive evangelic character of Mark in relation to the rest of our Gospels, and thus there is taken “a great step towards finding our way in the labyrinth of Gospel-harmony” (Thiersch, Kirche im Apost. Zeitalt. p. 102), however strongly Baur and his school (Köstlin, in the most complex fashion) contend against it with their hypothesis of a special “tendency” (see § 3), and with the aid of a Papian primitive-Mark; while Hilgenfeld withal, following Augustine and Hug, insists upon the priority of Mark to Luke, and consequently on the intermediate position of Mark between Matthew and Luke. [39] According to the opinion of Delitzsch ( neue unters, üb. d. Entsteh. u. Anl. d. kanon. Evang. I., 1853), in connection with his mistaken discovery (see on Matt. Introd. p. 36) that the writing of the evangelic history, proceeding in the footsteps of the Thora, was created by Matthew, the dependence of Mark on Matthew would appear as so great, that even the possibility of the converse relation vanishes before it, a dependence which, we may add, Hilgenfeld thinks to explain by the dubious hypothesis, opening the door to much that is arbitrary, of a Gospel of Peter or of the Petrine-Roman tradition as an intermediate step (see on the other hand Baur, Markusevang. p. 119 ff.; Ritschl in the theol. Jahrb. 1851, p. 482 ff.; Weiss in the Stud. u. Krit. 1861, p. 691 ff.; Holtzmann in his synopt. Evang. ).

[36] The best conjoint view of all that can be said on behalf of this hypothesis is given by Bleek in his Beiträge , p. 72 ff., and Einl. p. 243 ff. The most forcible refutation is found in Holtzmann, Synopt. Evang. p. 113 ff., 344 ff. Comp. Weiss in the Stud. u. Krit. 1861, p. 652 ff., 680 ff.

[37] Baur, Markusevang. p. 41, does Mark injustice, when he sees in his vividness of description merely the habit of seizing first of all on the most sensuously-concrete conception. Köstlin and others speak of Mark’s “mannerism.” Weisse, Evangelienfr. p. 73, rightly says: “in fact, nothing can be more dangerous to the ‘ criticism of tendency ’ than any kind of acknowledgment, be it ever so limited, of the independence of Mark.” Nevertheless, Eichthal ( les Evangiles , Paris 1863) has found in the pictorial description of Mark a proof of subsequent elaboration; he is held to be the epitomizer of Matthew, whose Gospel nevertheless, as it now stands, is full of interpolations. And so Luke too is in many ways interpolated. In this Eichthal goes to work with very uncritical licence, and regards Mark as being much less interpolated, merely because he was from the first looked on as of far less consequence (I. p. 267 ff.).

[38] According to Fritzsche and Bleek, Mark is alleged to have used not merely Matthew and Luke, but even the Gospel of John. The state of the case is directly the reverse.

[39] Especially since 1850, then in his long controversy with Baur, and once more in his Kanon u. Kritik d. N. T. 1863, and in his Zeitschr. 1864, p. 287 ff.

The Gospel has three main divisions , of which the first goes as far as the choice of the Twelve (Mark 3:13 ), and the last begins from the setting out for Judaea (chap. 10).


Although Mark was chiefly dependent on the communications of Peter, still the Petrine tendency is not to be attributed to his Gospel (in opposition to Hilgenfeld), as appears by the very fact, that from his Gospel there is actually absent the saying of Jesus concerning the Rock of the church (Matthew 16:17 ). See generally, Baur in the theol. Jahrb. 1853, p. 56 ff., and Markusevang. p. 133 ff. Comp. on Mark 8:29 ; also Weiss in the Stud. u. Krit. 1861, p. 674 f.


In making use of particular passages of Mark to prove his independence or dependence on the other Synoptics, the greatest caution is necessary, not to educe from our reading of them what is already in our own mind as the critical view of the relation. The experience of the most recent criticism is a warning against this, for in it very often what one takes to be in his favour is by another turned against him, according to the colouring imported by the subjectivity of each. Even from the O. T. citation in Mark 1:2-3 , compared with Matthew 3:3 ; Matthew 11:10 , we cannot draw any inference either for (Ritschl) or against the dependence of Matthew on Mark; see Baur in the theol. Jahrb. 1853, p. 89 f. Comp. on Mark 1:2 f.


Like all the canonical Gospels, ours also has the destined purpose of historically proving the Messiahship of Jesus: it seeks to accomplish this especially by setting forth the deeds of Jesus, but in doing so does not bear any special dogmatic colour. [40] It leaves out of consideration the doctrinal differences that agitate the subsequent apostolic period, and goes to work quite objectively. We must not on this account, however, assume a mediating aim in the interest of the idea of catholicity, and consequently a neutral character accordant with that tendency [41] (Schwegler, Baur, Köstlin, and others, with more precise definitions various in kind), or a mediating between the Jewish-Christian Matthew and the Pauline Luke (Hilgenfeld), for assumptions of which sort it was thought that a welcome external support was to be found in the very fact, that Mark’s place was from old assigned to him only after Matthew, and relatively (according to Clem. Al.) even only after Luke. The omission of a genealogy and preliminary history does not betray the design of a neutral attitude (Schwegler alleges even that a Docetic reference is implied), but simply points to a time for its origin, in which, among Gentile Christians, such matters as these had not yet attained the importance of being regarded as elements of the Gospel. [42] And the work is composed for Gentile Christians , as is evident beyond any doubt from the total absence of proofs drawn from the O. T. (excepting only Mark 1:2 f., see in loc. ) and of Judaistic elements of doctrine (Köstlin, p. 314), as also from the comparison of many points of detail with the parallel passages in Matthew (see Holtzmann, p. 385 ff.). Comp. on Mark 10:12 , Mark 7:1 ff., Mark 11:17 , and others.

[40] Not even the character of artistic construction, which (according to Hilgenfeld) is designed to turn on the contrast of light and shade. But the alternation of light and shade is involved in the course of the history, not in the artistic premeditation of a literary plan.

[41] According to Baur, even the name for this neutral and mediating Gospel is significantly chosen: “Mark,” the interpreter of Peter and the companion of Paul .

[42] The opinion of Volkmar ( d. Relig. Jesu u. ihre erste Entwickelung , 1857, and geschichtstreue Theol. 1858) that the Gospel of Mark as an Epos is a Pauline treatise with a set purpose in opposition to the Judaistic reaction, and has as its presupposition the Judaistic Apocalypse , and that, having come into existence under Titus , it became the foundation for the rest of the Gospels is a critical extravagance. See in opposition to it, Hilgenfeld in the theol. Jahrb. 1857, p. 387ff., and in his Zeitschr. 1859, p. 252 ff., 1861, p. 190 ff., also in Kanon u. Kritik , p. 175 ff.

With respect to the time of composition, the Gospel must, in accordance with the eschatological statements in chap. 13 (see especially, Mark 13:13 ; Mark 13:24 ; Mark 13:30 ; Mark 13:33 ), and because it preceded our Matthew, have been written at all events before the destruction of Jerusalem, although Weizsäcker concludes the contrary from the parable Mark 4:26-29 (see in loc. ). This is more precisely defined by the statement of Irenaeus, iii. 1 (in Eus. v. 8), that Mark published the Gospel after the death ( ἔξοδον , not: departure, as Mill, Grabe, Aberle, and others will have it [43] ) of Peter and Paul. By this we must abide; and as there is not historical ground for going back to an earlier period (Hitzig: years 55 57; Schenkel, 45 58), the treating of that assertion of Irenaeus with suspicion, as if it might have flowed from 2 Peter 1:15 (Eichhorn, Hug, Fritzsche), and were too much of a doctrinal nature (Weizsäcker), is unfounded. See Credner, I. p. 118. The account of Clement, Hypotyp. 6 (in Eus. H. E. vi. 14), that Mark published his Gospel while Peter was still alive in captivity at Rome, makes indeed but an inconsiderable difference in the definition of the time, yet was so welcome to the interest felt in its apostolic authority, that Eusebius not merely added the confirmation of the treatise on the part of Peter (see § 2), but also transferred the apostle’s sojourn at Rome in question to the very earliest time possible, namely, to the third year of Claudius (ten years after the death of Christ), when Peter was said to have been there together with Philo and Simon Magus (Eus. H. E. ii. 14, 15, 17), which incorrect determination of the date of our Gospel was in consequence adopted by Theophylact, Euthymius Zigabenus, and others. Later critics, who place Mark in point of time after Matthew and Luke (Griesbach’s hypothesis), or at least after Matthew (Hilgenfeld), do not make it come into existence till after the destruction of Jerusalem (de Wette, Bleek, and others; Hilgenfeld: under Domitian), to which view Weisse also (“under the influences of the lively impression of the conquest”) is inclined; Köstlin, assigning to the alleged older Mark of Papias the date 65 70 A.D., makes the canonical Gospel appear in the first decade of the second century. Baur puts it down still lower in the second century, as indeed he assigns to the canonical Gospels in general no earlier date than 130 170.

[43] See Hilgenfeld in his Zeitschr. 1864, p. 224.

The place of composition is not known with certainty, but the preponderant voice of ecclesiastical tradition (Clement, Eusebius, Jerome, Epiphanius, and many others) names Rome , which is not necessarily connected with the supposition that Mark wrote his Gospel while Peter was still alive, and has no internal reasons against it, but still is not to be made good by the Latin expressions which occur, as at Mark 6:27 , Mark 7:4 ; Mark 7:8 , Mark 15:39 ; Mark 15:44 , and explanations such as Mark 15:16 , Mark 12:42 , or by Mark 10:12 , Mark 15:21 . Most of the later critics have declared themselves in favour of the Roman origin (Gieseler, Ewald, Hilgenfeld, Köstlin, Schwegler, Guerike, and several others), and the evidence in its behalf can only gain in weight from the fact that even at a very early period Alexandria was assigned to Mark as a sphere of labour. It is true that Chrysostom names Alexandria as the place of composition, but to this the less value is to be attached that no Alexandrian confirms it. Hence the combination of Rome and Alexandria by the assumption of a twofold publication (Richard Simon, Lardner, Eichhorn) is unnecessary, and cannot be made good, not even by the statement of Jerome: “Assumpto itaque Evangelio, quod ipse confecerat, perrexit Aegyptum.”


Mark wrote in Greek , as the Fathers are unanimous either in presupposing or in expressly testifying. It is true that there occurs in the Peshito as a subscription, and in the Philoxenian on the margin (comp. also Ebedjesu, in Assem. Bibl. Or. III. 1, p. 9), the remark that at Rome he preached in the Roman tongue ; and several manuscripts of the Greek text (see Scholz, p. xxx.; Tisch. p. 325) distinctly affirm that he wrote in Latin, but this entire statement is a hasty inference from the supposition that Mark wrote at Rome and for Romans . Nevertheless, to the Roman Catholics, in the interest of the Vulgate, it could not but be welcome, so that it was defended by Baronius ( ad ann. 45, No. 39 ff.) and others. Since the days of Richard Simon, however, it has been again given up even among Catholic scholars. It was even given out that the Latin autograph was preserved in Venice, but that has long since been unmasked as a portion of the Vulgate (see Dobrowsky, fragment. Pragense ev. St. Marci vulgo autographi , Prag 1778; Michaelis, orient. Bibl. XIII. 108, Einl. II. p. 1073 ff.).

The originality of our Gospel has found assailants only in recent times, and that, indeed, on the ground of the account of Papias, on which its originality was formerly based . It was thought to be discovered that what Papias says of the Gospel of Mark does not suit our Gospel (see Schleiermacher in the Stud, u. Krit. 1832, p. 758 ff.; Credner, Einl. I, p. 123), and it was further inferred (see especially, Credner, l.c. and p. 205 [44] ) that the Gospel in its present form could not be the work of Mark, but that another had worked up the notes which Mark had made without regard to arrangement, and thereby the εὐαγγέλιον κατὰ Μάρκον had come into existence. In the further progress of criticism, the hypothesis was developed of a pre-canonical or primitive -Mark [ Urmarkus ] which had been an Evangelium Petri , a hypothesis variously elaborated in particular by Baur, Köstlin, and others. According to Köstlin, this primitive Gospel (which is held to form the basis of Matthew also) was composed in Syria, and formed, along with Matthew and Luke, a chief source for our canonical Mark, which is alleged to be a later product of the idea of catholicity. But the assumption of an original treatise that has been lost would only have a historical point of support, in the event of the contents of the fragment of Papias so far as it speaks of the treatise of Mark not really suiting our canonical Mark. But since, upon a correct interpretation (see on Matt. Introd. p. 41 ff.), it contains nothing with which our Mark is at variance, and therefore affords no ground for the assertion that it is speaking of another book ascribed to Mark, it remains the most ancient and the most weighty historical testimony for the originality of our second Gospel, and at the same time for the high historical value of its contents. With this view, no doubt, the much asserted dependence on Matthew or on Matthew and Luke cannot subsist, because this runs directly counter to the testimony of Papias; and to get rid of that testimony is a proceeding which amounts to peremptory dogmatism (de Wette), to arbitrary conjecture (Baur, Markusevang. p. 131 f., who alleges that Papias has combined things not connected with each other, namely, the existence of the Gospel of Mark, which, perhaps, had not been even known to him, and the tradition of the discourses which Peter is alleged to have delivered on his apostolic journeys), and to contradiction of history (as opposed to the testimonies of Irenaeus, Clement, Eusebius), as if the Fathers, to whom at any rate our Mark was very well known, would have only thus blindly repeated the story of Papias.

[44] Subsequently Credner (see his work, das neue Test. nach Zwech, Ursprung, Inhalt , 1843, II. p. 213 ff.) has declared in favour of the genuineness of our Gospel, and has looked upon the testimony of Papias as affirming that the order of events in the three Synoptics does not correspond to the reality. But even this does not follow from the words of Papias rightly apprehended.

On the supposition of the originality of our Mark, the comparison of Matthew and Luke, who made use of him, presents no constraining reason for the view , that the Gospel, in the form in which we possess it, has been preserved merely in a recension modified by various omissions, additions, and alterations (Ewald, comp. Hitzig, Weisse, Holtzmann, Schenkel, Weizsäcker, also Reuss, Köstlin, and others), or, indeed, that that form, in which his Gospel has been made use of in our Gospel of Matthew, as well as by Luke, was preceded by one still earlier (Ewald), especially as Mark has not always followed the most original tradition, and in accordance with the peculiar character of his book abstains from giving the longer discourses of Jesus, with the special exception of the eschatological in chap. 13; hence, also the Sermon on the Mount is not found in his Gospel, [45] and need not have stood between Mark 3:19 and Mark 3:20 (together with the narrative of the centurion at Capernaum). See on Mark 3:20 , Remark.

[45] On the hypothesis of the Gospel being prepared with a special purpose , this discourse is regarded as having been omitted by Mark, because he did not wish to bring into remembrance the continuing obligation of the law, Matthew 5:17 . See especially, Baur, Evang. p. 565. As if this would have been a sufficient reason for the exclusion of the entire discourse! Just as little as the alleged Ebionitic commencement of the discourse.

As to the integrity of the Gospel, the only question to be considered is that of the genuineness of the concluding section, Mark 16:6-20 . See, regarding this, the critical remarks on chap. 16.

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