Click to donate today!
Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
Mark, Gospel of
the second of the evangelical narratives in the N.T. Although the shortest of the four Gospels, its treatment is beset with difficulties in some respects peculiar to itself. (See NEW TESTAMENT).
I. Authorship. — The voice of the Church with one consent assigns our second Gospel to Mark, the "son" (1 Peter 5:17) and "interpreter" (Papias, ap. Eusebius, H. E. 3:39) of Peter. The existence of this ascription is the best evidence of its truth. Had not Mark been its author, no sufficient reason can be given for its having borne the name of one so undistinguished in the history of the Church. His identity with the "John Mark" of the Acts and Epistles has usually been taken for granted, nor (see last article) is there any sufficient ground for calling it in question. It must, however, be acknowledged that there is no early testimony for the fact-as there is none against it — which appears first in the preface to the Commentary on the evangelist usually attributed to Victor of Antioch, cir. A.D. 407 (Cramer, Catena, 1:263), and in a note of Ammonius (ibid. ii, iv), where it is mentioned with some expression of doubt τάχα ουτός ἐστιν Μάρκος ὁ εὐαγγελιστής ...πιθανὸς δὲ ὁ λόγος (Westcott, Introd. p. 212). An argument in favor of their identity has been drawn with much acnteness by Tregelles (Journ. of Philol. 1855, p. 224; Horne's Introd. to N.T. p. 433) from the singular epithet "stump-fingered," κολοβοδάκτυλος, applied to the evangelist in the Philosophumena, 7:30, as illustrated by the words of the Latin preface found in some MSS. "at least nearly coeval with Jerome," "amputasse sibi post fidem pollicem dicitur ut sacerdotio reprobus haberetur;" as if, by his desertion of the apostles (Acts 13:13), he had become figuratively a "pollice truncus" — a poltroon.
II. Source of this Gospel. — The tradition of the early Church asserts that Mark wrote his Gospel under the special influence and direction of the apostle Peter. The words of John the presbyter, as quoted by Papias (Eusebius, H. E. 3:39), are explicit on this point: "This, then, was the statement of the elder: Mark, having become Peter's interpreter (ἑρυηνευτής ), wrote accurately all that he remembered (ἐμνημόνευσε ); but he did not record the words and deeds of Christ in order (οὐ μέν τοι τάξει τὰ ὑπὸ τοῦ Χριστοῦ ἣ λεχθέντα ἣ πραχθέντα), for he was neither a hearer nor a follower of our Lord, but afterwards, as I said, became a follower of Peter, who used to adapt his instruction to meet the requirements of his hearers, but not as making a connected arrangement of our Lord's discourses (ἀλλ᾿ οὐχ é σπερσύνταξιν τῶν κυριακῶν ποιούμενος λόγων ); so Mark committed no error in writing down particulars as he remembered them (ἔνια γράψας ώς ἀπεμνημόνευσεν), for he made one thing his object — to omit nothing of what he heard, and to make no erroneous statement in them." The value of this statement, from its almost apostolic date, is great, though too much stress has been laid upon some of its expressions by Schleiermacher and others, to discredit the genuineness of the existing Gospel of Mark. In addition to Peter's teaching having been the basis of the Gospel, we learn from it three facts of the greatest importance for the right comprehension of the origin the he Gospels: "The historic character of the oral Gospel, the special purpose with which it was framed, and the fragmentariness of its contents" (Westcott, Introd. p. 186). The testimony of later writers is equally definite, though probably to a certain extent derived from that of Papias. Justin quotes from the present Gospel under the title τὰ ἀπομνημονεύματα Πέτρου . Irenseus (H. E. 3:1) asserts that Mark "delivered in writing the things preached by Peter;" and Origen (ibid. 6:25) that he "composed it as Peter directed him" (ὡς Πέτρος ὑφηγήσατο αὐτῷ ποιήσαντα). Clement of Alexandria enters more into detail, and, according to Eusebius's report of his words (H. E. 6:14; 2:15), contradicts himself. He ascribes the origin of the Gospel to the importunity of Peter's hearers in Rome, who were anxious to retain a lasting record of his preaching from the pen of his ἑρμηνευτής , which, when completed, the apostle viewed with approbation, sanctioning it with his authority, and commanding that it should be read in the churches; while elsewhere we have the inconsistent statement that when Peter knew what had been done "he neither forbade nor encouraged it." Tertullian's testimony is to the same effect: "Marcus quod edidit evangelium Petri affirmatur" (Adv. Marc. 6:5); as is that of Eussebius (H. E. 3:5) and Jerome (De Vir. ill. c. 8; ad hedib. c. 2), who in the last passage writes, "Cujus (Marci) evangelium Petro narrante et illo scribente compositum est." Epiphanius says that, immediately after Matthew, the task of writing a Gospel was laid on Mark, "the follower of Peter at Rome" (Haer. 51).
Such, so early and so uniform, is the tradition which connects, in the closest manner, Mark's Gospel with the apostle Peter. To estimate its value we must inquire how far it is consistent with facts; and here it must be candidly acknowledged that the Gospel itself supplies very little to an unbiased reader to confirm the tradition. The narrative keeps more completely to the common cycle of the Synoptic record, and even to its language, than is consistent with the individual recollections of one of the chief actors in the history; while the differences of detail, though most real and important, are of too minute and refined a character to allow us to entertain the belief that Peter was in any way directly engaged in its composition. Any record derived immediately from Peter could hardly fail to have given us far more original matter than the slender additions made by Mark to the common stock of the Synoptical Gospels It is certainly true that there are a few unimportant passages where Peter is specially mentioned by Mark, and is omitted by one or both of the others (Mark 1:36; Mark 5:37; Mark 11:20; Mark 13:3; Mark 16:7); but, on the other hand, there are still more numerous and more prominent instances which would almost show that Mark was less intimately acquainted with Peter's life than they. He omits his name when given by Matthew (Matthew 15:15; comp. Mark 7:17); passes over his walking on the sea (Matthew 14:28-31; comp. Mark 6:50-51), and the miracle of the tribute-money (Matthew 17:24-27; comp. Mark 9:33), as well as the blessing pronounced on him by our Lord, and his designation as the rock on which the Church should be built (Matthew 16:17-19; comp. Mark 8:29-30). Although Peter was one of the two disciples sent to make ready the Passover (Luke 22:8), his name is not given by Mark (Mark 14:13). We do not find in Mark the remarkable words, "I have prayed for thee," etc. (Luke 22:31-32). The notice of his repentance also, ἐπιβαλών ἔκλαιε (Mark 14:72), is tame when contrasted with the ἐξελθὼν ἔξω ἔκλαυσεν πικρῶς of Matthew and Luke. Advocates are never at a loss for plausible reasons to support their preconceived views, and it has been the habit from very early times (Eusebius, Chrysostom) to attribute these omissions to the modesty of Peter, who was unwilling to record that which might specially tend to his own honor — an explanation unsatisfactory in itself, and which cannot be applied with any consistency. Indeed, we can hardly have a more striking proof of the readiness with which men see what they wish to see, and make the most stubborn facts bend to their own foregone conclusions, than that a Gospel, in which no unbiassed reader would have discovered any special connection with Peter, should have yielded so many fancied proofs of Petrine origin.
But while we are unable to admit any considerable direct influence of Peter in the composition of the Gospel, it is by no means improbable that his oral communications may have indirectly influenced it, and that it is to him the minuteness of its details and the graphic coloring which specially distinguish it. are due. While there is hardly any part of its narrative that is not common to it and some other Gospel, in the manner of the narrative there is often a marked character, which puts aside at once the supposition that we have here a mere epitome of Matthew and Luke. The picture of the same events is far more vivid; touches are introduced such as could only be noted by a vigilant eye-witness, and such as make us almost eye-witnesses of the Redeemer's doings. The most remarkable case of this is the account of the demoniac in the country of the Gadarenes, where the following words are peculiar to Mark: "And no man could bind him, no, not with chains: because that he had often been bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him. And always night and day he was in the mountains crying and cutting himself with stones. But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran," etc. Here we are indebted for the picture of the fierce and hopeless wanderer to the evangelist whose work is the briefest, and whose style is the least perfect. He sometimes adds to the account of the others a notice of our Lord's look (Mark 3:34; Mark 8:33; Mark 10:21; Mark 10:23); he dwells on human feelings and the tokens of them; on our Lord's pity for the leper, and his strict charge not to publish the miracle (Mark 1:41; Mark 1:44); he "loved" the rich young man for his answers (Mark 10:21); he "looked round" with anger when another occasion called it out (Mark 3:5); he groaned in spirit (Mark 7:34; Mark 8:12).
All these are peculiar to Mark, and they would be explained most readily by the theory that one of the disciples most near to Jesus had supplied them. To this must be added that while Mark goes over the same ground for the most part as the other evangelists, and especially Matthew, there are many facts thrown in which prove that we are listening to an independent witness. Thus the humble origin of Peter is made known through him (Mark 1:16-20), and his connection with Capernaum (Mark 1:29); he tells us that Levi was "the son of Alphaus" (Mark 2:14), that Peter was the name given by our Lord to Simon (Mark 3:16), and Boanerges a surname added by him to the names of two others (Mark 3:17); he assumes the existence of another body of disciples wider than the twelve (Mark 3:32; Mark 4:10; Mark 4:36; Mark 8:34; Mark 14:51-52); we owe to him the name of Jairus (v. 22), the word "carpenter" applied to our Lord (Mark 6:3), the nation of the "Syro- Phoenician" woman (Mark 7:26); he substitutes Dalmanutha for the "Magdala" of Matthew (8:10); he names Bartimeus (10:46); he alone mentions that our Lord would not suffer any man to carry any vessel through the Temple (Mark 11:16); and that Simon of Cyrene was the father of Alexander and Rufus (Mark 15:21). Thus in this Gospel the richness in subtle and picturesque touches, by which the writer sets, as it were, the scene he is describing before us in all its outward features, with the very look and demeanor of the actors, betoken the report of an eye- witness; and with the testimony of the early Church before us, which can hardly be set aside, we are warranted in the conclusion that this eye- witness was Peter. Not that the narrative, as we have it, was his; but that when Mark, under the Holy Spirit's guidance, after separation from his master, undertook the task of setting forth that cycle of Gospel teaching to which — from grounds never yet, nor perhaps ever to be satisfactorily explained — the Synoptists chiefly confine themselves, he was enabled to introduce into it many pictorial details which he had derived from his master, and which had been impressed on his memory by frequent repetition.
III. Relation to Matthew and Luke. — The question of priority of composition among the Synoptic Gospels has long been the subject of vehement controversy, and to judge by the diversity of the views entertained, and the confidence each appears to feel of the correctness of his own, it would seem to be as far as ever from being settled. (For monographs under this head, see Volbeding, Index, p. 3; Danz, Worterbuch, s.v. Marcus.) The position of Mark in relation to the other two has, in particular, given rise to the widest differences of opinion. The independence of his record was maintained up to the time of Augustine, but since his day three theories have been entertained.
(a.) That father conceived the view, which, however, he does not employ with much consistency, that Mark was merely "tanquam pedissequus et breviator" of Matthew (De Consens. EV. 1:4); and from his day it has been held by many that Mark deliberately set himself to make an abridgment of one or both the other Synoptists. Griesbach expressed this opinion most decidedly in his Commentatio quo Marci Evangeliumn totumn a Matthtei et Lucae conmmentariis decemptunm esse monstratur (Jena, 1789-90; also in Velthuysen, Comment. 1:360 sq.); and it has been stated in a more or less modified form by Paulus, Schleiermacher, Thiele, De Wette, Delitzsch, Fritzsche, and Bleek, the last two named adding John's Gospel to the materials before him. Nor can it be denied that at first sight this view is not devoid of plausibility, especially as regards Matthew. We find the same events recorded, and apparently in the same way, and very often in the same words. Mark's is the shorter work, and that principally, as it would seem, by the omission of the discourses and parables, which are a leading feature in the others. There are in Mark only about three events which Matthew does not narrate (Mark 1:23; Mark 8:22; Mark 12:41), and thus the matter of the two may be regarded as almost the same. But the form in Mark is, as we have seen. much briefer, and the omissions are many and important. The explanation is that Mark had the work of Matthew before him, and only condensed it. But many would make Mark a compiler from both the others (Griesbach, De Wette, etc.), arguing from passages where there is a curious resemblance to both (see De Wette, Handbuch, § 94 a). Yet, though this opinion of the dependence, more or less complete, of Mark upon the other Gospels, was for a long time regarded almost as an established fact, no very searching investigation is needed to show its baselessness. Instead of Mark's narrative being an abridgment of that of Matthew or of Luke, it is often much fuller. Particulars are introduced which an abridger aiming at condensation would have been certain to prune away if he had found them in his authority; while the freshness and graphic power of the history, the life-like touches which almost put us on the stage with the actors, and his superior accuracy as regards persons, words, times, and places, prove the originality and independence of his work.
(b.) Of late, therefore, opinion has been tending as violently in the opposite direction, and the prevailing view among modern critics is that in Mark we have the primitive Gospel, "Urevangelium," from which both those of Matthew and Luke awere derived. This is held by Weisse, Wilke, Ewald, Lachmann, Hitzig, Reuss, Ritschel, Thiersch, Meyer, etc., and has lately been maintained with considerable ingenuity in Mr. Kenrick's Biblical Essays.
(c.) Hilgenfeld again adopts an intermediate view, and considers Mark to have held a middle position both as regards form and internal character; himself deriving his Gospel from Matthew, and in his turn supplying materials for that of Luke; while doctrinally he is considered to hold the mean between the Judaic Gospel of the first, and the universal Gospel of the third evangelist.
Many formidable difficulties beset each of these theories, and their credit severally is impaired by the fact that the very same data which are urged by one writer as proofs of the priority of Mark, are used by another as irrefragable evidence of its later date. We even find critics, like Baur, bold enough to attribute the vivid details, which are justly viewed as evidences of the independence and originality of his record, to the fancy of the evangelist; thus importing the art of the modern novelist into times and works to the spirit of which it is entirely alien.
So much, however, we may safely grant, while maintaining the substantial independence of each of the Synoptical Gospels — that Mark exhibits the oral tradition of the official life of our Lord in its earliest extant from, and furnishes the most direct representation of the common basis on which they all rest. "In essence, if not in composition," says Mr. Wescott, Introd. p. 190 (the two not being necessarily identical, the earlier tradition being perhaps possibly the latest committed to writing), "it is the oldest." The intermediate theory has also so much of truth in it, that Mark does actually occupy the central position in regard to diction; frequently, as it were, combining the language of the other two (Mark 1:32; comp. Matthew 8:16; Luke 4:40; Luke 1:42; comp. Matthew 8:3; Luke 5:13; Luke 2:13-18; comp. Matthew 9:9-14; Luke 5:27-33; Luke 4:30-32; comp. Matthew 13:31-33; Luke 13:18-21), as indeed would naturally be the case if we consider that his Gospel most closely represents the original from which all were developed. In conclusion we may say, that a careful comparison of the three Gospels can hardly fail to convince the unprejudiced reader that, while Mark adds hardly anything to the general narrative, we have in his Gospel, in the words of Meyer (Comment.), "a fresher stream from the apostolic fountain," without which we should have wanted many important elements for a true conception of our blessed Lord's nature and work.
If now we proceed to a detailed comparison of the matter contained in the Gospels, we shall find that, awhile the history of the conception, and birth, and childhood of our Lord and his forerunner have no parallel in Mark, afterwards the main course of the narrative (Luke 9:51 to Luke 18:14, being of course excepted) is on the whole coincident; and that the difference is mainly due to the absence of the parables and discourses, which were foreign to his purpose of setting forth the active ministry of Christ. Of our Lord's parables he only gives us four: "the sower," "the mustard seed," and "the wicked husbandmen" — common also to Matthew and Luke; and one, "the seed growing secretly," Mark 4:26-29 (unless, indeed, it be an abbreviated and independent form of the "tares"), peculiar to himself. Of the discourses, he entirely omits the sermon on the mount, the denunciations against the Scribes and Pharisees, and almost entirely the instructions to the twelve; while of the other shorter discourses he only gives that on fasting (Mark 2:19-22), the Sabbath (Mark 2:25-28), the casting out devils by Beelzebub (Mark 3:23-29), on eating with unwashen hands, and corban (Mark 7:6-23), and divorce (Mark 10:5-9). That on "the last things" (chap. 13) is the only one reported at any length. On the other hand, his object being to develop our Lord's Messianic character in deeds rather than words, he records the greater part of the miracles given by the Synoptists. Of the twenty-seven narrated by them, eighteen are found in Mark, twelve being common to all three; three — the Syro-Phcenician's daughter, the feeding of the four thousand, and the cursing of the fig tree — common to him and Matthew; one — the daemoniac in the synagogue — to him and Luke; and two — the deaf stammerer (Mark 7:31-37), and the blind man at Bethsaida (Mark 8:22-26) (supplying remarkable points of correspondence, in the withdrawal of the object of the cure from the crowd, the use of external signs, and the gradual process of restoration) — peculiar to himself. Of the nine omitted by him, only three are found in Matthew, of which the centurion's servant is given also by Luke. The others are found in Luke alone. If we suppose that Mark had the Gospels of Matthew and Luke before him, it is difficult to assign any tolerably satisfactory reason for his omission of these miracles, especially that of the centurion's servant, so kindred to the object of his work. On the contrary hypothesis, that they copied from him, how can we account for their omitting the two remarkable miracles mentioned above?
The arrangement of the narrative, especially of our Lord's earlier Galilaean ministry, agrees with Luke in opposition to that of Matthew, which appears rather to have been according to similarity of subject than order of time.
According to Norton (Genuineness of Gospels), there are not more than twenty-four verses in Mark to which parallels, more or less exact, do not exist in the other Synoptists. The same painstaking investigator informs us that, while the general coincidences between Mark and one of the other two amount to thirteen fourteenths of the whole Gospel, the verbal coincidences are one sixth, and of these four fifths in Mark occur in the recital of the words of our Lord and others; and only one fifth in the narrative portion, which, roughly speaking, forms one half of his Gospel.
Additions peculiar to Mark are, "the Sabbath made for man" (Mark 2:27); our Lord's friends seeking to lay hold on him (Mark 3:21); many particulars in the miracles of the Gadarene daemoniac (Mark 5:1-20); Jairus's daughter, and the woman with issue of blood (Mark 5:22-43); the stilling of the tempest (Mark 4:35-41), and the lunatic child (Mark 9:14-29); the salting with fire (Mark 9:49); that "the common people heard him gladly" (Mark 12:37); the command to watch (Mark 13:33-37); the young man with the linen cloth about his body (Mark 14:51); the want of agreement between the testimony of the false witnesses (Mark 14:59); Pilate's investigation of the reality of Christ's death (Mark 15:44), and the difficulty felt by the women as to the rolling away the stone (Mark 16:3-4). Mark has also preserved several words and phrases, and entire sayings of our Lord, which merit close attention (Mark 1:15; Mark 4:13; Mark 6:31; Mark 6:34; Mark 7:8; Mark 8:38; Mark 9:12; Mark 9:39; Mark 10:21; Mark 10:24; Mark 10:30; Mark 11:17; Mark 13:32; Mark 14:18-37; Mark 16:7 [15-18]).
The hypothesis which best meets all these facts is, that while the matter common to all three evangelists, or to two of them, is derived from the oral teaching of the apostles, which they had purposely reduced to a common form, our evangelist writes as an independent witness to the truth, and not as a compiler; and the tradition that the Gospel was written under the sanction of Peter, and its matter in some degree derived from him, is made probable by the evident traces of an eye-witness in many of the narratives. The omission and abridgment of our Lord's discourses, and the sparing use of O.T. quotations, might be accounted for by the special destination of the Gospel, if we had surer data for ascertaining it; since it was for Gentiles, with whom illustrations from the O.T. would have less weight, and the purpose of the writer was to present a clear and vivid picture of the acts of our Lord's human life, rather than a full record of his divine doctrine. We may thankfully own that, with little that is in substance peculiar to himself, the evangelist does occupy for us a distinct position, and supply a definite want, in virtue of these traits.
IV. Characteristics. — Though this Gospel has little historical matter which is not shared with some other, it would be a great error to suppose that the voice of Mark could have been silenced without injury to the divine harmony. The minute painting of the scenes in which the Lord took part, the fresh and lively mode of the narration, the very absence of the precious discourses of Jesus, which, interposed between his deeds, would have delayed the action, all give to this Gospel a character of its own. It is the history of the war of Jesus against sin and evil in the world during the time that he dwelt as a Man among men. Our Lord is presented to us, not as in Matthew, as the Messiah, the Son of David and Abraham, the theocratic King of the chosen people; nor, as in Luke, as the universal Savior of our fallen humanity; but as the incarnate and wonderworking Son of God, for whose emblem the early Church justly selected "the lion of the tribe of Judah." His record is emphatically "the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God" (Mark 1:1), living and working among men, and developing his mission more in acts than by words. The limits of his narrative and its general character can hardly be better stated than in the words of his apostolic teacher, Acts 10:36-42. Commencing with the Baptist preaching in the wilderness, and announcing the "Mightier One" who was at hand, he tells us how, at his baptism, "God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power," and declared him to be his "beloved Son:" gathering up the temptation into the pregnant fact, "He was with the wild beasts;" thus setting the Son of God before us as the Lord of nature, in whom the original grant to man of dominion over the lower creation was fulfilled (Maurice, Unity of the N.T. p. 226; Bengel, ad loc.; Wilberforce, Doctrine of Incarnation, p. 89. 90). As we advance, we find him detailing every exercise of our Lord's power over man and nature distinctly and minutely — not merely chronicling the incidents, as is Matthew's way, but surrounding them with all the circumstances that made them impressive to the bystanders, and making us feel how deep that impression was; how great the e a and wonder with which his mighty works and preaching were regarded, not only by the crowd (Mark 1:22; Mark 1:27; Mark 2:12; Mark 6:2), but by the disciples themselves (Mark 4:41; Mark 6:51; Mark 10:24; Mark 10:26; Mark 10:32); how the crowds thronged and pressed upon him (Mark 3:10; Mark 5:21; Mark 5:31; Mark 6:33; Mark 8:1), so that there was scarce room to stand or sit (Mark 2:2; Mark 3:32; Mark 4:1), or leisure even to eat (Mark 3:20; Mark 6:31); how his fame spread the more he sought to conceal it (Mark 1:45; Mark 3:7; Mark 5:20; Mark 7:36-37); and how, in consequence, the people crowded about him, bringing their sick (Mark 1:32-34; Mark 3:10); and whithersoever he entered into villages, or cities, or country, they laid the sick in the streets, and besought that they might touch if it were but the border of his garment: and as many as touched were made perfectly whole" (Mark 6:56); how the unclean spirits, seeing him, at once fell down before him and acknowledged his power, crying, "Thou art the Son of God" (Mark 1:23-26; Mark 3:11); how, again, in Peter's words, "He went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil, for God was with him."
But while the element of divine power is that which specially arrests our attention in reading his Gospel, there is none in which the human personality is more conspicuous. The single word ὁ τέκτων (Mark 6:3) throws a flood of light on our Lord's early life as man in his native village. The limitation of his knowledge is expressly stated (Mark 13:32, οὐδὲ ὁ Υἱός ); and we continually meet with mention of human emotions-anger (Mark 3:5; Mark 8:12; Mark 8:33; Mark 10:14), wonder (Mark 6:6), pity (Mark 6:34), love (Mark 10:21), grief (Mark 7:34; Mark 8:12); and human infirmities — sleep (Mark 4:38), desire for repose (Mark 6:31), hunger (Mark 11:12).
In Mark we have no attempt to draw up a continuous narrative. His Gospel is a rapid succession of vivid pictures loosely strung together (usually by καί καὶ πάλιν , or εὐθέως ), without much attempt to bind them into a whole, or give the events in their natural sequence. This pictorial power is that which specially characterizes this evangelist; so that, as has been well said, "if any one desires to know an evangelical fact, not only in its main features and grand results, but also in its most minute and, so to speak, more graphic delineation, he must betake himself to Mark" (Da Costa, Four Witnesses, p. 88). This power is especially apparent in all that concerns our Lord himself. Nowhere else are we permitted so clearly to behold his very gesture and look; see his very position; to read his feelings and to hear his very words. It is Mark who reveals to us the comprehensive gaze of Christ (περιβλεψάμενος, Mark 3:5; Mark 3:34; Mark 5:32; Mark 10:23; Mark 11:11); his loving embrace of the children brought to him (ἐναγκαλισάμενος , Mark 9:36; Mark 10:16); his preceding his disciples, while they follow in awe and amazement (Mark 10:32). We see him taking his seat to address his disciples (καθίσας, Mark 9:34), and turning round in holy anger to rebuke Peter (ἐπιστραφείς, Mark 8:33); we hear the sighs which burst from his bosom Mark 7:34; Mark 8:12), and listen to his very accents ("Talitha cumi," v. 41; "Ephphatha," Mark 7:34; "Abba," Mark 14:36). At one time we have an event portrayed with a freshness and pictorial power which places the whole scene before us with its minute accessories — the paralytic (Mark 2:1-12), the storm (Mark 4:36-41). the demoniac (Mark 5:1-20), Herod's feast (Mark 6:21-29), the feeding of the 5000 (Mark 6:30-45), the lunatic child (Mark 9:14-29), the young ruler (Mark 10:17; Mark 10:22), Bartimeus (Mark 10:46-52), etc. At another, details are brought out by the addition of a single word (κύψας, Mark 1:7; σχιζομένους , Mark 1:10; σπλαγχνισθείς, Mark 1:41; τοῖς ἔξω , Mark 4:11; προσωρμίσθησαν, Mark 6:53; ἔσωθεν, ἔξωθεν , Mark 7:21; Mark 7:23; κράξας, σπαράξάς, Mark 9:26; στυγνάσας , Mark 10:22; συντρίψασα, Mark 14:3; ἐμβλέψασα , Mark 14:67), or by the substitution of a more precise and graphic word for one less distinctive (ἐκβάλλει, Mark 1:12; ἐξίστασθαι, Mark 2:12; γεμίζεσθαι Mark 4:37; ἐξηράνθη i, Mark 5:29; ἀποταξάμενος, Mark 6:46; ἀθετεῖτο, Mark 7:9; ἐκθαμβεῖσθαι , Mark 14:33). It is to Mark also that we are indebted for the record of minute particulars of persons, places, times, and number, which stamp on his narrative an impress of authenticity.
(1.) Persons. — Mark 1:20; Mark 2:14; Mark 3:5; Mark 3:17; Mark 3:32; Mark 3:34; Mark 4:11; Mark 5:32; Mark 5:37; Mark 5:40; Mark 6:40; Mark 6:48; Mark 7:1; Mark 7:25-26; Mark 8:10; Mark 8:27; Mark 9:15; Mark 9:36; Mark 10:16; Mark 10:23; Mark 10:35; Mark 10:46; Mark 11:21; Mark 11:27; Mark 13:1; Mark 13:3; Mark 14:20; Mark 14:37; Mark 14:65; Mark 15:7; Mark 15:21; Mark 15:40; Mark 15:47; Mark 16:7.
(2.) Places. — Mark 1:28; Mark 4:1; Mark 4:38; Mark 5:11; Mark 5:20-21; Mark 6:55; Mark 7:17; Mark 7:31; Mark 8:10; Mark 8:27; Mark 9:30; Mark 11:4; Mark 12:41; Mark 14:66; Mark 15:16; Mark 15:39; Mark 16:5.
(3.) Time. — Mark 1:32; Mark 1:35; Mark 2:1; Mark 2:26; Mark 4:35; Mark 5:2; Mark 5:18; Mark 5:21; Mark 6:2; Mark 11:11; Mark 11:19-20; Mark 14:1; Mark 14:12; Mark 14:17; Mark 14:30; Mark 14:68; Mark 14:72; Mark 15:1; Mark 15:25; Mark 15:33-34; Mark 15:42; Mark 16:1-2.
(4.) Number. — Mark 5:13; Mark 5:42; Mark 6:7; Mark 8:24; Mark 14:30; Mark 14:72. Other smaller variations are continually occurring.
Here a single word, there a short parenthesis, sometimes an apparently trivial accession — which impart a striking air of life to the record; e.g. Zebedee left with the hired servants (Mark 1:20); our Lord praying (Mark 1:35); the paralytic borne of four (Mark 2:3); the command that a ship should wait on him (Mark 3:9); "thy sisters" (Mark 3:32); our Lord taken "even as he was in the ship" (Mark 4:36); "other little ships with them" (ibid.); Jairus's daughter ‘ walked" (Mark 5:42); "divers came from far" (Mark 8:3); only "one loaf" in the ship (Mark 8:14); "so as no fuller on earth can white" (Mark 9:2); the danger of trusting in riches (Mark 10:24); "with persecutions" (Mark 10:30); "no vessel suffered to be carried through the Temple" (Mark 11:16); "a house of prayer for all nations" (Mark 11:17); "she hath done what she could" (Mark 14:8); Barabbas, one of a party of insurrectionists all guilty of bloodshed (Mark 15:7).
We cannot conclude our remarks on this head better than in the words of Mr. Westcott (Introd. p. 348) — that "if all other arguments against the mythic origin of the evangelic narratives were wanting, this vivid and simple record, stamped with the most distinct impress of independence and originality, would be sufficient to refute a theory subversive of all faith in history."
V. Style and Diction. — The style of Mark may be characterized as vigorous and abrupt. His terms of connection and transition are terse and lively; he is fond of employing the direct for the indirect (Mark 4:39; Mark 5:8-9; Mark 5:12; Mark 6:23; Mark 6:31; Mark 6:37; Mark 9:25; Mark 9:33; Mark 12:6), the present for the past (Mark 1:25; Mark 1:40; Mark 1:44; Mark 2:3-5; Mark 3:4-5; Mark 3:13; Mark 3:20; Mark 3:31; Mark 3:34; Mark 4:37, etc.), and the substantive instead of the pronoun; he employs the cognate accusative (Mark 3:28; Mark 7:13; Mark 13:19; Mark 4:41; Mark 5:42), accumulates negatives (οὐκέτι οὐδείς, Mark 7:12; Mark 9:8; Mark 12:34; Mark 15:5; ουκέτι οὐ μή, Mark 14:25; μηκέτι μηδείς, Mark 11:14), and for sake of emphasis repeats what he has said in other words, or appends the opposite (Mark 1:22; Mark 1:45; Mark 2:27; Mark 3:26-27; Mark 3:29; Mark 4:17; Mark 4:33-34), and piles up synonymes (Mark 4:6; Mark 4:8; Mark 4:39; Mark 5:12; Mark 5:23; Mark 8:15; Mark 13:33; Mark 14:68), combining this forcible style with a conciseness and economy of expression consistent with the elaboration of every detail. Mark's diction is nearer to that of Matthew than to that of Luke. It is more Hebraistic than the latter, though rather in general coloring than in special phrases. According to Davidson (Introd. 1:154), there are forty-five words peculiar to him and Matthew, and only eighteen common to him and Luke. Aramaic words, especially those used by our Lord, are introduced, but explained for Gentile readers (Mark 3:17; Mark 3:22; Mark 5:41; Mark 7:11; Mark 7:34; Mark 9:43; Mark 10:46; Mark 14:36; Mark 15:22; Mark 15:34). Latinisms are more frequent than in the other Gospels: κεντυρωίν, Mark 15:39; Mark 15:44-45; σπεκουλάτωρ , Mark 6:27; τὸ ἱκάνον ποιῆσαι, Mark 15:15; ξέστης , Mark 7:4; Mark 7:8, are peculiar to him. Others δηνάριον, κῆνσος, λεγίων, πραιτώριον, φραγελλόω, κοδράντης — he has in common with the rest of the evangelists. He is fond of diminutives — θυγάτριον, κοράσιον, κυνάρια, ὡτάριον — but they are not peculiar to him. He employs unusual words and phrases (e.g. ἀλαλάζειν, ἐπισυντρέχειν,
These files are public domain.
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Mark, Gospel of'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/m/mark-gospel-of.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.