Lectionary Calendar
Monday, April 15th, 2024
the Third Week after Easter
Tired of seeing ads while studying? Now you can enjoy an "Ads Free" version of the site for as little as 10¢ a day and support a great cause!
Click here to learn more!

Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature

Search for…
Prev Entry
Next Entry
Resource Toolbox
Additional Links

According to ecclesiastical testimonies, the evangelist Mark is the same person who in the Acts is called by the Jewish name John, whose Roman surname was Marcus (; ). This person is sometimes called simply John (; ); and sometimes Mark ().

Mary, Mark's mother, had a house at Jerusalem, in which the Apostles had used to assemble (). In the Epistle to the Colossians () Mark is mentioned among the assistants of Paul, and as being one of the converts from Judaism. From this passage we learn also that Mark was a cousin of Barnabas, which circumstance confirms the opinion that he was of Jewish descent. It was probably Barnabas who first introduced him to Paul. He accompanied Paul and Barnabas on their travels as an assistant (; ). When they had arrived in Pamphylia, Mark left them and returned to Jerusalem, from which city they had set out (). On this account Paul refused to take Mark with him on his second apostolic journey, 'and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus' (). It seems, however, that Mark, at a later period, became reconciled to Paul, since, according to , and , he was with the Apostle during his first captivity at Rome; and, according to , he was also with him during his second captivity. The passage in Colossians proves also that he was about to undertake for Paul a journey to Colosse.

There is a unanimous ecclesiastical tradition that Mark was the companion and 'interpreter' of Peter, probably so called because he was the assistant of Peter, and either orally or in writing communicated and developed what Peter taught. This tradition is the more credible, as the New Testament does not contain any passage that could have led to its invention. The testimony in favor of the connection between Mark and Peter is so old and respectable, that it cannot be called in question. It first occurs at the commencement of the second century, and proceeds from the presbyter John; it afterwards appears in Irenaeus; in Tertullian; in Clemens Alexandrinus, Jerome, and others.

Eusebius represents (Hist. Eccles. ii. 15) from the later life of Mark, that he was with Peter at Rome. Epiphanius and others inform us that he introduced the Gospel into Egypt, founded the church at Alexandria, and that he died in the eighth year of Nero's reign.

Gospel of Mark

The same ancient authors, who call Mark a disciple and secretary of Peter, state also that he wrote his Gospel according to the discourses of that Apostle. The most ancient statement of this fact is that of the presbyter John and of Papias, which we thus translate from Eusebius (Hist. Eccles. iii. 39):—Mark having become secretary to Peter, whatever he put into style he wrote with accuracy, but did not observe the chronological order of the discourses and actions of Christ, because he was neither a hearer nor a follower of the Lord; but at a later period, as I have said, wrote for Peter to meet the requisites of instruction, but by no means with the view to furnish a connected digest of the discourses of our Lord. Consequently Mark was not in fault when he wrote down circumstances as he recollected them; for he had only the intention to omit nothing of what he had heard, and not to misrepresent anything.

It has been noticed in the article Luke that, according to Irenaeus, the Gospels of Mark and Luke were written later than that of Matthew; and according to a tradition preserved by Clemens Alexandrinus, the Gospels of Matthew and Luke preceded that of Mark. The chronological order of the Gospels is, according to Origen, the same in which they follow each other in the codices. Irenaeus states that Mark wrote after the death of Peter and Paul; but, according to Clemens Alexandrinus and Eusebius, he wrote at Rome while Peter was yet living. These various data leave us in uncertainty.

In the article Gospel we have stated our opinion concerning the relative position in which the evangelists stand to each other. We do not see any reason to contradict the unanimous tradition of antiquity concerning the dependence of Mark upon Peter. We deem it possible, and even probable, that Luke read Mark, and that he also alludes to him by reckoning him among the many who had written gospel history before him. This supposition, however, is by no means necessary or certain; and it is still possible that Mark wrote after Luke. Some of the ancient testimonies which we have quoted, namely, those of Irenaeus, Clemens Alexandrinus, Jerome, and others, state that Mark's Gospel was written at Rome. Whether this was the case or not, it is certain that it was written for Gentile Christians. This appears from the explanation of Jewish customs (;;;;;; ). The same view is confirmed by the scarcity of quotations from the Old Testament, perhaps also by the absence of the genealogy of Christ, and by the omission of the Sermon on the Mount, which explains the relation of Christ to the Old Testament dispensation, and which was, therefore, of the greatest importance to Matthew.

The characteristic peculiarity of Mark as an author is particularly manifest in two points: 1. He reports rather the works than the discourses of our Savior; 2. He gives details more minutely and graphically than Matthew and Luke; for instance, he describes the cures effected by Jesus more exactly (;;;;; ). He is also more particular in stating definite numbers (;;;; ), and furnishes more exact dates and times (;;;;;;;; , etc.). It may be that these characteristics of Mark originated from his connection with Peter.

Most of the materials of Mark's narrative occur also in Matthew and Luke. He has, however, sections exclusively belonging to himself, viz.; , sq.; 6:17, sq.; 11:11; 12:28, sq.

We mention the conclusion of Mark's Gospel separately, since its genuineness may be called in question.

Among the Codices Majusculi the Codex B omits altogether, and several of the Codices Minusculi mark this section with asterisks as doubtful. Several ancient Fathers and authors of Scholia state that it was wanting in some manuscripts. We cannot, however, suppose that it was arbitrarily added by a copyist, since at present all codices, except B, and all ancient versions contain it, and the Fathers in general quote it. We may also say that Mark could not have concluded his Gospel with , unless he had been accidentally prevented from finishing it. Hence Michaelis and Hug have inferred that the addition was made by the evangelist at a later period, in a similar manner as John made an addition in John 21. Perhaps also an intimate friend, or an amanuensis, supplied the defect. If either of these two hypotheses is well founded, it may be understood why several codices were formerly without this conclusion, and why, nevertheless, it was found in most of them.





Bibliography Information
Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Mark'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature". https://www.studylight.org/​encyclopedias/​eng/​kbe/​m/mark.html.
adsFree icon
Ads FreeProfile