The Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are the core of the New Testament, which is the foundation of Christianity. We Christians believe that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament based on the covenant that God sent his son to spread the word, or "good news", and the promise of eternal life. Out of the four gospels, most claim Matthew is the oldest; however, that spot goes to Mark. It has been dated anywhere from the 70's to the mid 80's of the first century. The way Mark arranges the story of Jesus' birth, death, and resurrection is the main reason I count it as my favorite. But who wrote Mark?
CrossExamined.org had a similar question in mind when they wrote a piece reviewing various theories, of which can be found here. The traditional view is that the gospel was written by John Mark who transcribed the teachings of Simon Peter. John Mark is said to be the son of a window named Mary, as seen in Acts 12:12-17). The Bible doesn't give much away as to the author's identity, but there are several traits to the gospel of Mark one could decipher from. Mark is fast paced, focuses on the humanity of Christ, writes with a Latin audience in mind, references Rome, focuses on Peter quite a bit, emphasizes the Messianic Secret, and tells of an unknown man. The unknown man mentioned in Mark 14:51-52 was a strange incident depicting the Garden of Gethsemane. The man is caught when Jesus was arrested and escaped Roman guards but lost his clothing in the scuffle. Many believe this man is the author of Mark!
Now, something I enjoyed about our sourced article mentioned above is that they also looked at the external evidence. They mentioned a quote from the early church who was unanimous in their belief that John Mark was the author stating,
“And the presbyter said this. Mark having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately whatsoever he remembered. It was not, however, in exact order that he related the sayings or deeds of Christ. For he neither heard the Lord nor accompanied Him. But afterwards, as I said, he accompanied Peter, who accommodated his instructions to the necessities [of his hearers], but with no intention of giving a regular narrative of the Lord’s sayings. Wherefore Mark made no mistake in thus writing some things as he remembered them. For of one thing he took especial care, not to omit anything he had heard, and not to put anything fictitious into the statements.” - Papias of Hierapolis (A.D. 60-130)
Papias was a Greek Apostolic Father and Bishop of Hierapolis (modern Pamukkale, Turkey) as noted from GotQuestions.org. He authored the Expostion of the Sayings of the Lord in five books. This piece's purpose was to present an accurate record of the teaching and works of the apostles as reported to him by "John the Elder" aka the Apostle John. Irenaeus (A.D. 130-200) also confers with Papias stating,
“After their departure, Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, did also hand down to us in writing what had been preached by Peter.”
Irenaeus was a Greek Bishop who is best known for his role in guiding and expanding the Christian communities into the south of France, especially the theology.
If we are to take from Irenaeus' statement, "after their departure", to mean Peter's execution, then Mark was written in the mid to late 60's A.D, but possibly as early as 50 A.D. But what is clear, the gospel was written while the author was still in Rome, which was the audience of the time period. The sourced article by CrossExamined.org conclusion is something I agree with:
"From the evidences considered, John Mark is the only clear candidate for the Second Gospel. While John Mark was not a primary witness of the life of Jesus of Nazareth and while he does not necessarily record the events of Jesus’s life in chronological order, he does act as a scribe, or amanuensis, to Peter whom Jesus knew and selected to be an inner circle disciple. We have a great testimony preserved for us in the Second Gospel. I believe we truly have the eyewitness accounts of Simon Peter documented for us by his good friend John Mark."
I truly enjoyed researching this topic and would like to do something similar in the future. If you have any suggestions on my next subject, then let us know in the comments or send us an email at QueerChristianFamilyValues@Gmail.com.
See ya in the next one!
Written by Alexander M. Burchnell
Edited by Christopher J. Burchnell