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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Mark, Gospel According to

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i. The problems to be discussed.

ii. The Second Gospel in the Early Church.

1. Statements as to its composition.

2. Early quotations, references, and use.

iii. Character of the Gospel as shown by internal evidence, and by comparison with the other Synoptics:

1. The presentation of Christ’s Person and work.

2. Autoptic characteristics.

3. Description of the inner feelings of our Lord and the Apostles.

4. Comparison with the other Synoptics:

(a) As to Scope.

(b) Diffuseness and redundancies of Mark.

(c) Correction of Mark’s matter by Matthew and Luke.

(d) Correction of Mark’s phraseology—Diminutives.

(e) Colloquialisms.

(f) Latinisms.

(g) Aramaisms.

(h) Grammar and awkward or difficult phrases.

(i) Corrections for precision.

(j) Doubtful cases.

(k) Conclusion from the evidence on this head.

5. Mark’s other characteristics of diction.

6. Matter peculiar to Mark.

iv. Authorship, Date, and Place of Writing.

v. Aramaic or Greek original.

vi. The last twelve verses.

vii. Is our Second Gospel the original Mark?


i. The problems to be discussed.—No book of the NT has experienced such a change in public estimation as the Second Gospel. Formerly regarded as comparatively unimportant and receiving little attention from commentators, who in effect re-echoed Augustine’s opinion that it was but an abbreviation of the First Gospel, it has of late years been more carefully studied, and has received a juster appreciation. It has now been recognized as a book of supreme importance, as giving us the narrative of the life of Christ in a most primitive form, and as being not improbably the foundation, if not directly at least indirectly, of all the Gospels. It will be necessary, then, in this article first to investigate the statements about its composition in the earlier Fathers and their use of it, and then to examine the Gospel itself, to see what picture it gives of our Lord’s Person and work, and what relation it bears to the other Synoptic Gospels. We shall then be able to come to a conclusion about questions of date, authorship, and place of writing, of the original language, and of the integrity of the Gospel. Finally, we will consider the question of an ‘Ur-Marcus,’ that is, if the Gospel in our hands is the original work of St. Mark.

It will be convenient here to state the results arrived at in this article with regard to some points. The present writer thinks it most probable that the Second Gospel as we have it, or at any rate with the very slightest differences, was in the hands of all the other Evangelists when they wrote; and that the latter freely used the material before them, altering it, or adding to it, or omitting parts of it, as they thought right when following other guides. The theory put forward by Alford (Prolegomena to his Greek Testament, i. 2) and other holders of the ‘oral hypothesis,’ that the later writers would not have so treated a book which they regarded as inspired or even as authoritative, does not greatly commend itself, as it appears to interpret the feeling of the Christians of the 1st cent. by those of a later age.—The very style of Mk., with its roughness and inelegances, is of great value, and still more is its description of the Saviour in words which were often in after times misunderstood, of the utmost importance as showing a very early record. For these and other reasons a date at least before the Fall of Jerusalem seems to be probable. Further, it is considered likely that the Gospel was written in Greek, and primarily for Roman readers, the last twelve verses being an appendix, not composed as an ending to the Gospel, but having once had an independent existence, and being added later to the Gospel to supply a lost leaf.

ii. The Second Gospel in the Early Church

1. Statements as to its composition.—We will first consider those passages of early writers which may be thought to throw light on the composition of Mk., before discussing those which only quote or refer to it; later (§ vii.) we will consider whether the Gospel known to these writers is the same as our Mark.

The first passage which may refer to Mk. is St. Luke’s prologue. This shows that some who were not from the beginning eye-witnesses and ministers of the word had already written narratives of the Gospel history, and by implication avers (Luke 1:3) that these narratives were incomplete in not beginning ‘from the first’ (ἅνωθεν); also we perhaps gather that they were not in St. Luke’s judgment in good chronological order (καθεξῆς, cf. ἀκριβῶς just before). Internal evidence leads us to think that not improbably St. Luke knew Mk. (see below, § iii.), and, if so, we may have here the first criticism on the Second Gospel; it has some striking resemblances to Papias’ account, for which we are indebted to Eusebius (Historia Ecclesiastica iii. 39). Eusebius says:

Ἀναγχαίως νῦν τροσθήσομιν ταῖς προεκτεθείσαις αὐτοῦ [σχ. τοῦ Πατία] φωναίς ταράδεσιν, ἤ τιρὶ Μάρχου τοῦ ιὐαγγίλιον γιγραφότος ἰχτεθίεται διὰ τούτων. ̔Καὶ τοῦτα ὁ τρισβύτιρος ἴλεγε μάρχας μὲν ἑρμηνευτὴς Πέτρου γενὀμενος, ὃσα ἐμνημονευσιν, ἀχριβῶς ἴγραΨεν, οὐ μέντοι τάξει, τὰ ὑτὸ τοῦ Χριστοῦ ἤ λεχθέντα ἤ τραχθεντα, εὔτε γὰρ ἤχουσι τοῦ κυρίου, οὔτς ταρηχολούθνσεν αὑτῶ̣ ἴστιραν δε, ὠς ἴφην, Πέτρω, ὄς τορὸς τὰς χρείας ἰσοιετε τὰς διδασχααλίας, ἀλλʼ οὐχ ὥσσερ σύνταξιν τῶν χυριαχῶν ταιούμενος λογίων [ς. λ. λογων], ὥστε οὐδὲς ἥμαρτε Μάρχος, οὕτως ἴνια γράψας ὡς ἀπεμνημονιυσιν. ἱνὸς γὰρ ἐτοιήσατο πρόνοιας, τοῦ μηδὶν ὦν ἥχουσε ταραλετεῖν ἤ ψεύσασθαί τε ἐν αὐτοϊςΤαῦτα μεν οὖν ἰστόρηται τῶ̣ Πατία τερἱτοῦ Μάρχευ. Lightfoot’s translation (Apost. Fathers, compend. ed. p. 529) is here appended, and some points where Schmiedel (Encyc. Bibl. s.v. ‘Gospels’) differs from him are noted: ‘For our present purpose we will merely add to his [Papias’] words which have been quoted above, a tradition which has been set forth through these sources concerning Mark who wrote the Gospel: “And the Elder said this also: Mark, having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately everything that he remembered [Schmiedel: ‘mentioned’], without, however, recording in order what was either said or done by Christ. For neither did he hear the Lord, nor did he follow Him; but afterwards, as I said, (attended) Peter, who adapted his instructions to the needs (of his hearers), but had no design of giving a connected account of the Lord’s oracles [v.l. ‘words’]. So then Mark made no mistake [Schm. ‘committed no fault’; but see Lightfoot’s Essays on Sup. Rel. pp. 8, 163], while he thus wrote down some things as he remembered them [Schm. ‘repeated them exactly from memory’], for he made it his one care not to omit anything that he heard, or to set down any false statement therein.” Such, then, is the account given by Papias concerning Mark.’

Here Papias vindicates Mark from inaccuracy, and from errors of omission, as far as his knowledge went, but finds fault with his chronological order, which was due to his being dependent only on Peter’s oral teaching. If this is a correct interpretation of Papias, which account of the Gospel story did he prefer? Lightfoot (Essays on Supernatural Religion, pp. 165, 205 f.) thinks John, Salmon (Introd. Lect. vii.) thinks Luke; while Schmiedel, in a not very convincing argument, thinks that Papias did not recognize Jn. and Lk. as being of equal authority with Mt. and Mk. (Encyc. Bibl. ii. 1813; see, further, § vii. below). Schmiedel takes no account of Lightfoot’s essay ‘On the Silence of Eusebius’ (Sup. Rel. ii.). However this may be, Papias describes the Second Gospel as being limited to Peter’s reminiscences, the writer being the ‘interpreter’ of that Apostle. This phrase may mean (Zahn, Einleit. ii. 209, 218) that Mark, being Peter’s scholar, made Peter’s teaching widely known through his written Gospel, or (Swete, St. Mark, p. xxiv) that he was the secretary or dragoman who translated Peter’s words into a foreign tongue during the Apostle’s lifetime. Papias does not call the work of Mark a ‘gospel,’ and the word εὐαγγέλιον is not undoubtedly found in the sense of the record of good tidings before Justin (Apol. i. 66, see below), though some find this sense in Ignatius, Philad. 5, 8, and in the Didache 8, 11, 15. In these places, however, it is probably not the written word that is referred to. [For a complete discussion of the Papias fragment see Lightfoot, Ess. on Sup. Rel. v., vi., and Sanday, Gosp. in Second Cent. v. 2].

Justin Martyr (Dial. 106) says that Christ changed Simon’s name to Peter, and that this is written ‘in his memoirs’ (ἐν τοῖς ἀπομνημονεύμασιν αὐτοῦ), and also that He changed the name of the sons of Zebedee to ‘Boanerges, which is Sons of Thunder.’ But these last words actually occur only in Mark 3:17, where we read of both names, Peter and Boanerges, together, and in no other Gospel. We may probably dismiss the idea that αὐτοῦ refers to Christ, as if Justin meant ‘Christ’s memoirs,’ and conclude that Justin is speaking of a Petrine Gospel. Harnack (Bruchstücke d. Ev.… d. Petrus, p. 37) proposes to find this in the apocryphal Akhmîm Fragment which goes by St. Peter’s name, and Sanday (Inspiration2 [Note: designates the particular edition of the work referred] [Bampton Lectures], p. 310) agrees that Justin used pseudo-Peter. But as there is no other reason to suppose that this apocryphal Gospel ever contained the passage in question,—the fragment lately discovered beginning in the middle of the story of the Passion,—and as Justin elsewhere probably refers to our Second Gospel (see below), it is more reasonable to suppose with Swete (Gospel of St. Peter, p. xxxiii), Salmond (Hastings, DB [Note: Dictionary of the Bible.] iii. 256), and Stanton (JThSt [Note: ThSt Journal of Theological Studies.] ii. 6, and Gospels as Hist. Doc. p. 93 ff.) that he refers to it here. If so, we have another authority for regarding St. Peter as a chief source of Mark. In considering the question whether Justin refers to Mk. or to the apocryphal Gospel, we must note that while some points of contact are found between pseudo-Peter and Justin, there are also some considerable differences (see esp. Stanton, loc. cit.), and that if one borrowed from the other, it is as likely that pseudo-Peter is the borrower as Justin.—The Evangelic narratives are in Justin commonly called ‘memoirs’—e.g. Apol. i. 66, ‘the memoirs composed by them [the Apostles] which are called Gospels.’ From Dial. 103 it appears that he included in the term some not composed by the Apostles themselves but by their followers. He speaks of ‘the memoirs drawn up by the Apostles and by those who followed them,’ and in this context recalls the (Lukan?) account of the Agony and the drops of blood.

Tatian, Justin’s pupil, affords evidence that Mk. was received in his time (c. [Note: circa, about.] 170 a.d.) as one of the four Gospel narratives pre-eminently above, and on a different platform from, all others. His Diatessaron is now known to be a harmony of our four Gospels, and probably it was not the first of its kind.

Irenaeus is the first explicitly to expound the doctrine of the necessity of a fourfold Gospel (ἔδωκεν ἡμῖν τετράμορφον τὸ εὐαγγέλιον, iii. 11. 8). As the world has four quarters, and as the Church is spread over the whole world, and as the pillar and ground of the Church is the Gospel and the Spirit of life, so it is right that there should be four Gospels. Irenaeus finds other equally fanciful reasons for a fourfold Gospel, and identifies our Evangelists with the fourfold appearance of the cherubim, St. Mark being the eagle (see § iii. 1 below). This reasoning, however erroneous, shows that our four Gospels had a position entirely by themselves in Irenaeus’ estimation; and Dr. Taylor conjectures that he borrowed the idea from Hermas (Witness of Hermas, § 1). In an earlier passage (iii. 1. 1) Irenaeus says that Mark was Peter’s disciple and interpreter (ἑρμηνευτής, as Papias), and that he handed on to us in writing the things preached by Peter, after the departure of Peter and Paul. In iii. 10. 6 (where the Greek is wanting), Irenaeus calls Mark ‘interpres et sectator Petri.’

Tertullian (adv. Mare. iv. 5, Migne, P. L. ii. 396) gives similar witness (‘… licet et Marcus quod edidit, Petri affirmetur, cujus interpres Marcus’).

The Muratorian fragment (c. [Note: circa, about.] a.d. 170? or perhaps a little later) begins in the middle of a sentence thus: ‘… quibus tamen interfuit, et ita posuit. Tertium Evangelii librum secundum Lucan.… Quarti evangeliorum Johannes ex discipulis.…’ Thus the writer had been speaking of two Gospels, which were neither Luke nor John. It is generally recognized that the opening words of the fragment refer to Mk. rather than to Mt., and that the latter had come first, as in Irenaeus; but there is some difference of opinion as to their meaning. Swete, Lightfoot, and Chase interpret them to mean that Mark was present at some discourses of Peter; he reported Peter’s teaching as far as he had the opportunity. The first word ‘quibus’ may be the second half of ‘aliquibus’ some; Chase (Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible iii. 24) takes ‘quibus tamen’ as the equivalent of an original οἶς δέ—for the fragment is a Latin translation from Greek. Zahn (Einleit. ii. 200 f.) thinks that the author of the fragment had quoted Papias as saying that Mark was not a hearer of our Lord, and then qualified Papias’ assertion by saying that Mark had been present at some of our Lord’s discourses. Compare this with the idea of some later writers (e.g. Epiphanius, Hœr. xx. 4, li. 6) that Mark was one of the Seventy (Seventy-two) Disciples; and with the modern opinion that the young man of Mark 14:51 was the Evangelist. But, as Swete shows (St. Mark, p. xxxiii), this is against the words that follow about Luke: ‘Neither did he [Luke] himself see the Lord in the flesh.’

Clement of Alexandria (Hypotyp., ap. Euseb. Historia Ecclesiastica vi. 14) says that while Peter was preaching the gospel at Rome, many of those present begged Mark to write down what was said. Peter neither forbade nor urged it. There is a story similar to this told in the Muratorian fragment about John. In Historia Ecclesiastica ii. 15, Eusebius says, on the authority of Clement and Papias, that Peter confirmed the writing; but the passage afterwards quoted by Eusebius from Papias does not bear out this detail. Origen (quoted by Euseb. Historia Ecclesiastica vi. 25) says that Mark composed the Gospel at Peter’s instruction (ὡς Πέτρος ὑφηγήσατο), being acknowledged as his son (1 Peter 5:13).

It is unnecessary to quote later writers, who could scarcely have other means of information than we have; but we may notice that Eusebius (Historia Ecclesiastica ii. 16) makes Mark go to Egypt and found the Church at Alexandria after he had written his Gospel, and says (ib. 24) that Annianus succeeded him as bishop there in the eighth year of Nero, a statement which Jerome improves upon by saying that St. Mark died then (de Vir. Illustr. § 8). It is also desirable to quote Augustine, as his opinion has had such weight in the Church. He says (de Consensu Evangelistarum, i. 3, aliter i. 6) that of the four Evangelists, Matthew wrote first, then Mark, and that Mark was, as it were, Matthew’s follower and abbreviator (‘Marcus eum subsecutus tanquam pedissequus et breviator ejus videtur’). Seldom has one short sentence had such an unfortunate effect in distorting a judgment on a literary work; and largely in consequence of it Mk. has been generally neglected. The Second Gospel seems hardly to have engaged the attention of commentators; and the writer known as Victor of Antioch (quoted by Swete, St. Mark, p. xxxiv) in the 5th cent. (or later), says that he had not been able to find a single author who had expounded it.

2. Early quotations, references, and use.—The use of Mk. by the Apostolic Fathers is not certain, though in some cases quite probable. The quotation in Clement of Rome (Cor. 23) and pseudo-Clement (Ancient Homily, 11), which in the latter is introduced by λέγει γὰρ καὶ ὁ προφητικὸς λόγος, is more likely to be from some lost Christian writing than to be a fusion of Mark 4:26 ff. and other NT passages; but Polycarp, Phil. [Note: Philistine.] 5, διάκονος πάντων, seems to come from Mark 9:35. In other cases it is probable that one of our Gospels is referred to, but we cannot be sure that it is Mk. in particular that is before the writer. As an example we may take Polycarp, Phil. [Note: Philistine.] 7, which quotes Matthew 26:41 and Mark 14:38 exactly, and both in Polycarp and in the Gospels the context is about not going into temptation. Pseudo-Clement (§ 2), after quoting Is 54:1 LXX Septuagint , continues: ‘Another Scripture saith, I came not to call the righteous, but sinners,’ exactly as Matthew 9:13, Mark 2:17, where ‘to repentance’ is not in the best manuscripts, but comes from || Luke 5:32. But Mt. and not Mk. might have been before Polycarp and pseudo-Clement, though in the latter case the omission of the γάρ of Mt. makes Mk. more likely. And so with Clement of Rome, Ignatius, and others. The Didache apparently refers to Mt. and Lk., and the name itself seems to be derived from Acts 2:42; but though a probable reference (x. 5) to 1 John 4:18 makes the writer’s knowledge of Jn. likely, there is no trace of his knowing Mark. For the possible references to the last twelve verses in Barnabas, etc., see below, § vi. The use of Mk. by Hermas is very probable. He apparently refers to Mark 3:29; Mark 10:24 where they differ from Mt. and Lk., in Mand. ii. 2 (οὕτως οὖν ἔνοχος ἔσῃ ἁμαρτίας τοῦ καταλαλοῦντος), and Sim. ix. 20. 3 (τοῖς τοιούτοις δύσκολόν ἐστιν εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ Θεοῦ εἰσελθεῖν). Indirectly the Shepherd of Hermas supplies a great argument for the antiquity of the Gospels, because it shows the uniqueness of our Lord’s parables as there narrated. Hermas essays the same method of teaching, but his attempt is utterly feeble. If the Gospels were 2nd cent. productions, and the words of our Lord had been handed on only by oral tradition, the parables could never have been kept so pure. They would in the course of time, before the narratives reached us in their present form, have assimilated features such as we find in Hermas. [For further references in the Shepherd see Zahn, Hirt d. Hermas, p. 456 ff.; Stanton, Gosp. as Hist. Doc. p. 45].

To Justin’s probable reference to the Boanerges passage (see above) must be added Dial. 88, where he speaks of Jesus as ‘supposed to be the carpenter’ (τέκτονος νομιζομένου; but Otto’s text has νομ. Ἰωσὴφ τοῦ τέκτ. υἱοῦ ὑπάρχειν). Only Mark (Mark 6:3) calls Jesus a carpenter (see § iii. 4 (j) below). Justin also probably quotes from the last twelve verses (below, § vi.).

The use of Mk. by heretics is presumed from references to it in Heracleon, the Valentinians, pseudo-Peter, and the Clementine Homilies (the first two as reported by Clement of Alexandria and Irenaeus), for which reference may be made to Swete’s St. Mark, p. xxxi; and Sanday’s Gospels in the Second Century, ch. vi. p. 177 ff.

The Gospel is found in all the old Versions—Curetonian and Sinaitic Syriac (of the former only 16:17–20 is extant), Old Latin, Bohairic, Sahidic; and in all catalogues and Greek manuscripts of the Gospels.

Putting together the statements, references, and quotations, and deferring the question of an editor later than the original writer of the Gospel (see § vii.), we may conclude, (a) that there is valid evidence that Mk. was in circulation before the middle of the 2nd cent.; (b) that ecclesiastical tradition almost uniformly connects the Second Evangelist with St. Peter—the Apostolic Constitutions (ii. 57, Lagarde, p. 85, c. [Note: circa, about.] a.d. 375) being the only writing which undoubtedly connects him with St. Paul (οἱ συνεργοὶ ΠαύλουΛουκᾶς καὶ Μάρκος, cf. Philemon 1:24, Colossians 4:11); (c) that there was a difference of tradition as to whether he wrote while St. Peter was alive or after his death (see § iv. below). Further, (d) the Alexandrian Fathers Clement and Origen do not mention Mark’s preaching at Alexandria—a strange silence; and (e) there is no hint till Hippolytus that there was more than one Mark; apparently the other writers identified the cousin of Barnabas and the disciple of Peter.

iii. The Character of the Gospel as shown by itself and by comparison with the other Gospels.—If we had no information from ecclesiastical writers, we could have made no conjecture as to the authorship of the Second Gospel, as we can in the case of Lk. (by comparing it with Acts) and Jn. (by comparing it with the Synoptics). But from internal evidence we should gather that the author was either an eye-witness of the events described or at least that he had first-hand information. Further, a close examination of the Gospel makes it exceedingly probable that the writer’s informant was St. Peter. So that, while we should never from the NT itself have arrived at the name Mark, yet the internal evidence fully corroborates the external, that the author was the ‘interpreter of Peter.’ The impression left from a study of Mk. is that we have here in effect, though not in form, and not without some additions due to the Evangelist himself, that Apostle’s Gospel. It begins the narrative at the point when Peter could give his own recollections—at the preaching of the Baptist and the baptism of Jesus. This, not the Birth-narratives, as in the case of Mt. and Lk., nor yet the account of our Lord’s pre-existence, as in the case of Jn., was to Mark ‘the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God’ (1:1), whether these words are part of the record or are the title prefixed by an early scribe.

1. Presentation of Christ’s Person and work.—Beginning with the preaching of John and our Lord’s entering on His ministry, St. Mark describes at length the Galilaean ministry and the slow unfolding of Jesus’ claims. Our Lord, for example, does not at once proclaim His Messiahship, nor does He allow evil spirits to proclaim it in-opportunely (Mark 1:25; Mark 3:12; cf. Mark 1:44 etc.). Even after Peter’s confession at Caesarea Philippi, when the Galilaean ministry was nearly ended, the disciples were charged to tell no man (Mark 8:30). At first Jesus begins by calling Himself the Son of Man (Mark 2:10). Then the crowds begin to see in Him a prophet; His own people and the learned scribes from Jerusalem think Him mad. We might even think, at first sight, especially if we have the Matthaean account (Mark 16:16) of Peter’s confession chiefly in mind and not the Markan, that the disciples then and then only found out that Jesus was Messiah. But this deduction would be precarious. The account in Jn., which makes the Baptist begin by calling Jesus the Lamb of God and the Son of God, and makes Andrew, Philip, and Nathanael at once recognize Him as Messiah (John 1:29; John 1:34; John 1:41; John 1:45; John 1:49), bears all the marks of probability. A Judaean ministry, as to which the Synoptists are almost silent, must have been carried on simultaneously with the Galilaean preaching. We should expect Jesus, as a religious Jew, to visit Jerusalem frequently; and indeed, if the last Passover were His first visit during the ministry, we could not explain the sudden enmity of the Jerusalem Jews, or the fact of there being Judaean disciples—Judas Iscariot (probably from Kerioth in Judaea), Joseph of Arimathaea, the owners of the colt at Bethphage and of the room where the Last Supper was celebrated (these evidently knew Jesus), the household at Bethany, and Simon ‘the leper.’ Also non-Markan portions of Mt. and Lk. imply visits to Jerusalem or a wider ministry than that in Galilee (Matthew 23:37, Luke 4:44, BCא, Luke 13:21; Luke 13:33 f.); and in Acts the Apostles at once make their headquarters at Jerusalem, which would have been unlikely if they had only just arrived there for the first time. On that occasion they were perfectly familiar with places and people. But if this be so, we should expect two methods of proclaiming the Person of Christ to have been adopted for these two quite distinct people, of such different characteristics, and separated by hostile Samaria. In Jerusalem, where religious controversy was rife, the question of Jesus’ Personality and office could not be postponed; this is shown by the way in which the Pharisees questioned the Baptist. But in Galilee this was not the case, and the revelation consequently was much more gradual. The Apostles, doubtless, had heard the questions asked in Judaea, and did know the claim of Jesus to be the Christ, though perhaps they did not fully realize all that it meant until the incident at Caesarea Philippi. Thenceforward Jesus speaks to them of His future glory (Mark 8:38; cf. Mark 9:7) and of His Passion (Mark 8:31, Mark 9:12; Mark 9:31 etc.). After the Galilaean ministry (which ends at Mark 9:50) Mark gives some short account (ch. 10) of journeys in Judaea and Peraea, and it is only on the final approach to Jerusalem that all reserve passes away. In common with all the Evangelists, Mark gives a detailed account of the last days at Jerusalem.

In describing our Lord’s Person, Mark emphatically brings out His Divinity. Jesus claims super human authority—e.g. Mark 2:28 (lord of the Sabbath), Mark 8:38 and Mark 14:62 (coming in glory, the latter in answer to Caiaphas’ question, ‘Art thou the Christ?’), Mark 12:6 ff. (the beloved Son and Heir); and especially authority to forgive sins, Mark 2:5; Mark 2:10 (the paralytic). He is a supernatural Person: Mark 1:11, Mark 9:7 (‘my beloved Son’), Mark 1:24 (‘the Holy One of God’), Mark 3:11 (‘the Son of God’), Mark 5:7 (‘Son of the Most High God’), Mark 15:39 (‘the Son of God’ or ‘a son of God’). He knows the thoughts of man, Mark 2:8; Mark 8:17; Mark 12:15, and what is to happen in the future, Mark 2:20 (fasting), Mark 8:31 and Mark 9:31 etc. (the Passion), Mark 8:38 (the Second Advent), Mark 10:39 (the sufferings of the Apostles), Mark 13:2 (destruction of the Temple), Mark 13:10 (the universal gospel), Mark 14:27 (scattering of the sheep). His death has an atoning efficacy, Mark 10:45 (λύτρον ἀντὶ πολλῶν), Mark 14:24 (‘my blood of the covenant which is shed for many’).

But still more striking is the emphasis laid on the true humanity of our Lord. The reality of His human body is referred to much as in the other Evangelists—e.g. He is wearied and sleeps (Mark 4:38; sleep is perhaps implied also in Mark 1:35); He eats (Mark 14:3) and drinks Mark 15:36); His ‘touch’ is frequently spoken of (Mark 1:41 etc.) (see Gestures); the burial of His body is dwelt on in Mark 15:43 ff. But Mark pre-eminently describes the human soul and spirit of our Lord. Note especially His human compassion (Mark 1:41) and love (Mark 10:21), and the more painful emotions (Mark 1:43, Mark 3:5, Mark 6:6, Mark 10:14 Mark 14:33 f., Mark 15:34), for which see below, § iii. 3. Note also the reference to our Lord’s human soul and spirit in Mark 2:8, Mark 14:34, and to His human will in Mark 14:36. Mark also refers to the sinless limitations of Jesus’ human nature. Questions are asked apparently for information (Mark 5:30, Mark 8:5, Mark 9:16)—for in these cases an ‘economical’ questioning seems scarcely worthy. The Evangelist also records the one perfectly certain instance of Jesus’ ignorance qua man, Mark 13:32 (the Day of Judgment—so Mt.). It is because so much stress is laid in Mk. on our Lord’s true human nature that St. Augustine assigns to the Second Evangelist the symbol of the man. Other Fathers vary much in assigning the four symbols, but it is remarkable that each one of the four is assigned to St. Mark in some one or other of the Fathers, Irenaeus making him the eagle, Victorinus the lion, Augustine the man, pseudo-Athanasius the calf (see Swete, St. Mark, p. xxxviii).

2. Autoptic character.—In many passages Mk. shows, equally with Jn. and much more than Mt. and Lk., clear signs of first-hand knowledge. In these places Mk. often gives a lifelike touch, though Mt. and Lk. in their parallels have lost it. Such are the stooping down of the Baptist to loose the shoe-latchet (Mark 1:7), the heavens in the act of opening (σχιζομένους [present], Mark 1:10), the ‘incoherent and excited remarks of the crowd’ at the healing of the Capernaum demoniac (Mark 1:27 best text, see Revised Version NT 1881, OT 1885 ; they are softened down by later scribes of Mk. and by Lk.), the ‘house of Simon and Andrew’ (Mark 1:29, where || Mt. and Lk. omit Andrew; in the East it is common for several brothers, even when married, to live in one house, but it required first-hand knowledge to know that Andrew and Peter lived together), Simon starting in pursuit of Jesus (Mark 1:36), the breaking up of the mud roof to let the paralytic down through it, with other details (Mark 2:4, where Mt. tells none of the small points, and Lk., writing for a Roman nobleman, as has been conjectured, translates these, to him, unintelligible details into the language of Western Europe, and says that the man was let down through the tiles; see Ramsay, Was Christ born at Bethlehem? p. 63), the single pillow, τὸ προσκεφάλαιον, probably a wooden headrest, in the boat in the storm (Mark 4:38, Mk. only), Jesus turning round in the crowd to see who touched Him (so Mt., not Lk.), and His glance at the woman (Mark 5:30 ff., Mk. only), His not allowing the crowd who were with Him to come near Jairus’ house, a very probable and lifelike detail (Mark 5:37, Mk. only; Lk. makes Jesus dismiss the crowd on His entering). The scene at Jairus’ house is especially vivid in Mk., and is instructive as showing who the Evangelist’s authority was. It must have been one of the inner circle of Apostles, i.e. Peter, James, or John (Andrew was not here present). As James died early, and another Gospel was written by (or, at least, depends on) John, we are led to think of Peter as the source. Further instances of lifelike touches are: the five thousand arranged ‘like garden beds’ πρασιοί πρασιαί (Mk. only) on the green grass (Mark 6:40), the details in the account of the Transfiguration (Mark 9:2 ff., where Mt. and Lk. also are vivid), but especially of the healing which followed, where the story is told from the point of view of the three Apostles, not of those who remained behind (Mark 9:14 ἐλθόντεςεἶδον ὄχλον, Mk. only), and where Mk. only has the delicate touch (Mark 9:17) that the man brought the cataleptic boy to Jesus and applied to the disciples only when he found that Jesus was absent, and other autoptic details; Mt. and Lk. greatly abbreviate this narrative. So Mark alone relates that in the dispute about precedence and in the blessing of the little ones Jesus took the children into His arms (ἐναγκαλισάμενος, Mark 9:36, Mark 10:16), and in the latter case that He blessed them fervently (κατηυλόγει). Notice also how Mk. alone tells us of the searching glance of love cast by Jesus on the rich young man and the clouding over of the young man’s brow (Mark 10:21 f.), and of the colt tied at the door without in the open street (Mark 11:4; probably Peter was one of the two disciples sent), of Jesus refusing to permit vessels to be carried through the Temple (Mark 11:16), of the command to bring a denarius, the Roman coin, into the Temple (where only Jewish coins were current) at the question of paying tribute (Mark 12:15). For the Agony in the Garden, see below, 3; but here again we note that the source must have been Peter, James, or John. The account of Peter’s denials is indecisive, as he must have been the ultimate authority for all the narratives; but the ἐπιβαλών of Mark 14:72 (see below, 4 (h)) argues the priority of our Evangelist. Exceptional knowledge is evidenced by the mention of the names of Levi’s father (Alphaeus, Mark 2:14), of the father of the blind man at Jericho (Timaeus, Mark 10:46), and of the sons of Simon of Cyrene (Alexander and Rufus, Mark 15:21). These and other instances lead us to see in the Second Gospel a graphic account of one who had first-hand knowledge at his command, and, to a large extent, confirm Papias’ description of Mark as Peter’s interpreter. Mk. consists almost entirely of things of which Peter had personal knowledge. As Eusebius noticed long ago (Demonstr. Evangel. iii. 5, Cologne ed. p. 120 f.), it is silent on matters which reflect credit on Peter. It alone records several Petrine touches. We have, in fact, here in all particulars the Petrine tradition in a far more exact form than in the other Synoptics.

3. Description of the inner feelings of our Lord and of the Apostles.—This is found in Mk. to an extent which argues an early narrative based on intimate personal knowledge of Jesus and of the Twelve. In Mt. and Lk. the painful emotions of our Lord are not mentioned, except in the case of the Agony, and even that disappears in the Westcott-Hort text of Lk. (Luke 22:43 f.); a fact probably to be accounted for by a feeling of reverence due to a slightly later age. In Mk. we find a more childlike boldness in describing Jesus’ feelings. See the following instances, which are found in Mk. only: Mark 1:43 ἐμβριμησάμενος (denoting sternness: not necessarily anger, but deep feeling); Mark 3:5 righteous anger and grief; Mark 6:6 wondering at the people’s unbelief (here Mt. retains διὰ τὴν ἀπιστίαν αὐτῶν, but omits ἐθαύμασεν; on the other hand, Matthew 8:10, Luke 7:9 have the wonder of Jesus’ human mind at the centurion’s faith—an incident which was not part of the Petrine tradition and is not in Mk.); Luke 10:14, indignation when the disciples kept back the little children; and especially Luke 14:33 f., the Agony in the Garden, where Mk. alone speaks of the surprise (ἐκθαμβεῖσθαι) added to the distraction from grief (ἀδημονεῖν) of Jesus’ human soul. Mt. changes the former to λυπεῖσθαι while retaining the latter, and Lk. omits the whole passage. If, as seems probable, the passage Luke 22:43 f. is not an original part of the Third Gospel, it is perhaps a fragment older than Lk. and reflects the same stage of thought as Mark. It is referred to in Justin, Dial. 103.—It is not unlikely that the difference between Mark 10:18 (the rich young man) and Matthew 19:16 f. in the best text (BDא, Origen, etc.; see Westcott-Hort, Notes) is due to the same feeling. Possibly when the First Evangelist wrote, the Markan phrase, ‘Why callest thou me good? none is good save one, even God,’ may have been misunderstood to imply a merely human Christ. Or perhaps the Westcott-Hort text of Mt. is not original, but is due to an early scribe or editor who disliked the Markan form of the incident. Another example is the πτῶμα of Mark 15:43 (so אBDL; Westcott-Hort with AC, etc., read σῶμα). This was a word used of the carcase of a dead animal or of a human being, with a touch of contempt. Mt. and Lk. have therefore altered πτῶμα to σῶμα, as also have some scribes in Mk., from feelings of reverence.

The same thing is true of another matter almost peculiar to Mk., the account of the inner feelings of the Apostles. See mark Mark 4:38, showing the Apostles’ resentment against the Lord (‘Carest thou not?’), and similarly Mark 4:41, showing their awe or holy fear at the revelation of Jesus’ power and Divinity (cf., however, St. Peter at the miraculous draught of fishes in Luke 5:8); Mark 10:32, showing their amazement and fear, apparently arising from our Lord’s manner as He went before them; and Mark 14:5 ἐνεβριμῶντο, here (unlike Mark 1:43) of anger.

A similar result follows from the passages where Mk. tells us that Jesus ‘could not’ do a thing. The inability is, doubtless, relative and conditional. Jesus ‘could not’ do that which was inconsistent with His plan of salvation. Yet here the other Synoptists, feeling that the phrases might be misunderstood as taking from the Master’s glory, have altered or omitted them. See Mark 1:45, Mark 7:24, and the specially significant Mark 6:5 f., where οὐκ ἐδύνατο ἐκεῖ ποιῆσαι οὐδεμίαν δύναμιν εἰ μἠ, κ.τ.λ., καὶ ἐθαύμασεν διἁ τἠν ἀπιστίαν αὐτῶν = Matthew 13:58 οὐκ ἐποίησεν ἐκεῖ δυνάμεις πολλὰς διὰ τὴν ἀπιστίαν αὐτῶν, the two possible causes of offence being removed in Mt.

4. Comparison with the other Synoptics.—The indications given in the last two subsections will lead us to believe that the Second Gospel, either in the form in which we have it now, or at least in a form very like that which we have, is chronologically the first of the Synoptics, and that it lay before the writers of the First and Third Gospels. This impression is greatly strengthened by the considerations which follow. We still postpone the question whether the Markan Gospel known to Matthew and Luke is the same as our Mark.

(a) Scope of Mark.—Except about thirty verses, all the narrative that we find in Mk. we find also (and in the same order) in either Mt. or Lk., or in both. This might tell both ways. If Mark were only an abbreviator, borrowing from Mt. and Lk., without much independent information, it would stand to reason that he would have little to tell us that was not found in them. But, then, his Gospel would not be the fresh and vivid, first-hand and autoptic, composition that it is. Therefore we are led to the conclusion that Matthew and Luke borrowed from Mark, and that one or other of them took almost everything that was found in his Gospel.

That Luke borrowed from Mark is seen from another fact. In the Third Gospel there is a long section which is not in the Second (Luke 9:51 to Luke 18:14). For this, Luke is dependent on some other source. But, having followed the Markan order somewhat closely up to the point where the section begins, he goes back, when the section ends, to within a few verses of the place in Mk. where he dropped it. Thus, Luke 9:50 = Mark 9:39 f.; Luke 18:15 = Mark 10:13. This looks as if Mk. (or something very like it) was lying open before the Third Evangelist as he wrote.

(b) Diffuseness and redundancy of Mk. as compared with parallel passages of Mt. and Luke.—The idea that Mark is an abbreviator of Matthew is at once shown to be wrong when we compare parallels. When we do so, we shall find, in almost every case, that Mk. is much fuller than either Mt. or Lk. taken singly. The greater bulk of the two latter is due to their relating many incidents and speeches which are not in Mark. The style of Mk. is somewhat diffuse, and it was necessary for the other Synoptists, if they were to make room for the new matter which they desired to introduce, to prune it considerably. This they did. Instances are: Mark 1:32 (Mt. omits ‘when the sun did set,’ Lk. omits ‘at even’); Mark 1:35 πρωὶ ἔννυχα λἰαν (= Lk. γενομέ&

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Mark, Gospel According to'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. 1906-1918.

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