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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4
Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8
Chapter 9 Chapter 10 Chapter 11 Chapter 12
Chapter 13 Chapter 14 Chapter 15 Chapter 16

Book Overview - Mark

by Arthur Peake



Mk. is now generally recognised as the earliest of our existing gospels. The limited scope of the book, which corresponds with the range of the earliest apostolic witness (Acts 1:22), suggests its priority to the more inclusive narratives of Matthew and Luke. A detailed comparison of the gospels usually shows the divergences of Lk. and Mt. from Mk. to be of a secondary character. Mk. describes the human emotions and characteristic gestures of Jesus more freely than do his fellow-evangelists (study, e.g., Mark 3:5; Mark 10:14; Mark 10:21; Mark 3:34; Mark 9:36; Mark 10:16 with parallels). The numerous disparaging references to the disciples in Mk. which are either toned down or omitted in the other gospels also point to the priority of Mk. (See Mark 4:13; Mark 6:52; Mark 8:17 f; Mark 9:10; Mark 9:32; Mark 9:34, with parallels, and see note on Mark 4:13.)

Mk.'s treatment of the Twelve has been held to indicate a bias in favour of Paul. Some scholars detect a high degree of artificiality in Mk.'s narrative, due to a Pauline tendency or to some other theological presupposition (see especially Bacon, Loisy, and Wrede). At the same time, Mk. is charged with an almost over-popular interest in the miraculous. The nave realism, which undoubtedly characterises the gospel, is not readily compatible with the apologetic, now obscure, and now subtle, which these scholars suppose the evangelist to have forced on his material. The readers who delighted in the detailed stories of exorcism, e.g. Mark 5:1-20 and Mark 9:14-29, would hardly have followed the attempt to elevate Paul by depreciating the Twelve. Where references to the dullness of the disciples seem artificial, they are still best explained as an overzealous repetition of a characteristic feature of the earliest apostolic tradition.

To date the gospels is always hazardous. If the second gospel be really a record of Peter's preaching at Rome, it cannot be earlier than 63. Chapter 13 does not show any knowledge of the fall of Jerusalem. The gospel was, therefore, probably in existence before 70. If the view that Acts was drawn up to assist Paul's defence before Nero could be established, Mk.'s date must be put back still earlier.

Literature.—Commentaries: (a) Montefiore, Salmond (Cent.B), Glover, Bacon, Allen; (b) A. B. Bruce (EGT), Gould (ICC), Menzies, Swete, Plummer (CGT); (c) B. Weiss (Mey.), Holtzmann, Lagrange, Wohlenberg (ZK), Loisy, Klostermann (HNT), J. Weiss (SNT), Wellhausen; (d) Chadwick (Ex.B), Horton, The Cartoons of St. Mark. Other Literature: Wrede, Messiasgeheimnis; J. Weiss, Das älteste Evangelium; J. M. Thompson, Jesus according to S. Mark; Bennett. The Life of Christ according to St. Mark; Pfleiderer, Primitive Christianity, vol. ii.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, October 27th, 2020
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30
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