the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
Mark, Gospel According to
Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible
MARK, GOSPEL ACCORDING TO
1. External testimony . It is possible that the first reference to Mk. is the preface to Lk. ( Luke 1:1-4 ), which implies that the narratives spoken of were, in St. Luke’s opinion, incomplete and not in the best order. Mk. is certainly incomplete from the point of view of one who wished to begin ‘from the beginning.’ From internal evidence it is probable that St. Luke used Mk. (see Â§Â§ 3 5). Papias (quoted by Eusebius, HE iii. 39) gives the following account ( c [Note: circa, about.] . a.d. 140 or earlier), as derived from ‘the Elder’ from whom he gleaned traditions:
‘Mark, having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately everything that he remembered, without, however recording in order what was either said or done by Christ [cf. the Lukan preface]. 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 [ or words]. So then Mark made no mistake while he thus wrote down some things as he remembered them; for he made it his one care not to omit anything that he heard, nor to set down any false statement therein.’
Here Papias vindicates Mark from in accuracy 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, He was Peter’s ‘interpreter’ a phrase which may mean that he translated Peter’s words into a foreign tongue during the Apostle’s lifetime, as a dragoman, or that, being Peter’s disciple, he made the Apostle’s teaching widely known through his written Gospel. Justin Martyr ( c [Note: circa, about.] . a.d. 150) says ( Dial . 106) that Christ changed Simon’s name to Peter, and that this is written ‘in his Memoirs,’ and also that He changed the name of the sons of Zebedee to ‘Boanerges, which is Sons of Thunder.’ But the last words occur only in Mark 3:17 , where also we read of Simon’s new name. It is reasonable (in spite of Harnack and Sanday’s opinion that Justin is here quoting the apocryphal Gospel of pseudo-Peter, which, as far as we know, did not contain these words it is only a fragment) to suppose that Justin by Peter’s ‘Memoirs’ means our Second Gospel; he elsewhere speaks of ‘Memoirs’ ‘the Memoirs composed by [the Apostles] which are called Gospels’ ( Apol . i. 66, cf. also Dial . 103, where he uses the same name for the narratives written by followers of the Apostles). Tatian included Mk. in his Diatessaron , or Harmony of the four Gospels. (IrenÃ¦us ( HÃ¦r . iii. 1. 1 and 10. 6) speaks of Mark as ‘Peter’s interpreter and disciple’ (cf. Papias), and says that he handed on to us in writing the things preached by Peter after the departure of Peter and Paul (note the indication of date). Tertullian calls Mark ‘Peter’s interpreter.’ The Muratorian Fragment ( c [Note: circa, about.] . 170 200?) begins in the middle of a sentence which is generally believed to refer to Mk., and which may mean that the Evangelist was present at some of Peter’s discourses only, or perhaps that he heard some of our Lord’s discourses; but the latter interpretation is against the words that follow, which say of Luke: ‘Neither did he himself see the Lord in the flesh.’ The writer probably therefore had said that Mark had never seen our Lord. Clement of Alexandria ( c [Note: circa, about.] . a.d. 200) says that while Peter was preaching the Gospel at Rome (ct. [Note: t. contrast.] IrenÃ¦us above), Mark wrote down what he said at the request of the hearers, Peter neither forbidding it nor urging it. Origen seems to bear this out, but in the Muratorian Fragment there is a similar story about John. Of later writers only Augustine need be quoted. He calls Mark ‘Matthew’s follower and abbreviator.’ This saying, which is probably widely removed from the truth, has had great influence on ecclesiastical opinion, and to a great extent brought about the comparative neglect into which the Second Gospel fell for many centuries. There are probable allusions to Mk. in Polycarp ( c [Note: circa, about.] . a.d. 111) and pseudo-Clement of Rome (‘2 Clem, ad Cor .’) and Hermas, all early in the 2nd cent.; it was used by Heracleon, the Valentinians, and the authors of the Gospel of ( pseudo- ) Peter and the Clementine Homilies , and is found in all the old versions. We conclude that there is valid evidence that Mk. was in circulation before the middle of the 2nd century. By ecclesiastical writers Mark is connected almost uniformly with Peter, but (see above) there is a difference of tradition as to whether he wrote before or after Peter’s death. Some make him go from Rome to Alexandria and take his Gospel there; but it is remarkable that the Alexandrian Fathers Clement and Origen do not mention this.
2. The Second Gospel and the ‘Petrine tradition .’ Internal evidence to a considerable extent confirms, however indirectly, the Patristic evidence (Â§ 1) that Mark wrote down the preaching of Peter. Mk. tells us the facts of which Peter was an eye-witness. The vividness of description (especially in Mk.) in the scenes common to the Synoptics where only Peter, John, and James were present, suggests that one of them was the authority on which the common source rests such as the raising of Jairus’ daughter ( Mark 5:37-43 ), the Transfiguration ( Mark 9:2-13; the story in Mk. is told from the point of view of one of the three: cf. Mark 9:14 ‘ they saw’), and Gethsemane ( Mark 14:33-42 ). The authority could hardly be James, who was martyred early ( Acts 12:2 ), or John, on whom another account depends (even if he were not the author of the Fourth Gospel, we might probably say this). Peter therefore remains, and he alone would be likely to remember the confused words which he spoke on awakening at the Transfiguration ( Mark 9:5; cf. Luke 9:32 f.). Other passages suggesting a Petrine source are: Mark 1:36; Mark 11:21; Mark 13:3 (these are found only in Mk.); and the accounts of Peter’s denials ( Mark 14:54; Mark 14:66-72 ). As Eusebius noticed, Mk. is silent on matters which reflect credit on Peter. These facts and the autoptic character of the Gospel (Â§ 4) lead us to the conclusion that we have in Mk. the ‘Petrine tradition’ in a far more exact form than in the other Synoptics.
3. Presentation of Christ’s Person and work . The Second Gospel describes shortly the Baptist’s preaching and the baptism of our Lord, and then records at length the GalilÃ¦an ministry. It is noteworthy that in this account the proclamation of Jesus’ Messiahship in Galilee is very gradual (see art. Gospels, Â§ 3). Even in the discourses to the Apostles there is great reserve. After the Transfiguration, the future glory and the Passion of our Lord are unfolded ( Mark 8:31; Mark 8:38 , Mark 9:12; Mark 9:31 etc.), but it is only after the short account (ch. 10) of the journeys in JudÃ¦a and PerÃ¦a, and on the final approach to Jerusalem, that this reserve passes away. In describing our Lord’s Person, the Evangelist lays great emphasis on His Divinity, but still more on His true humanity, ( a ) For the former we note how in Mk. Jesus claims superhuman authority, especially to forgive sins ( Mark 2:5 ff., Mark 2:28 , Mark 8:38 , Mark 12:8 ff., Mark 14:62 ); He is described as a Supernatural Person ( Mark 1:11; Mark 1:24 , Mark 3:11 , Mark 5:7 , Mark 9:7 , Mark 15:39 ); 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 , Mark 8:31; Mark 8:38 , Mark 9:31 , Mark 10:39 , Mark 13:2; Mark 13:10 , Mark 14:27 ); His death has an atoning efficacy ( Mark 10:45 , Mark 14:24 ). ( b ) For the latter we note not only (as with the other Evangelists) the references to Jesus’ human body weariness and sleep ( Mark 4:33 ), eating and drinking ( Mark 14:3 , Mark 15:35 ), etc. but especially the description of His human soul and spirit ( Mark 2:8 , Mark 14:34; Mark 14:36 ), His human compassion ( Mark 1:41 ) and love ( Mark 10:21 ), and the more painful emotions which Mk. has in a pre-eminent degree, while in the parallels in Mt. and Lk. the phrases are almost uniformly altered or omitted. Instances are Mark 1:43 RVm [Note: Revised Version margin.] (the word denotes sternness, not necessarily anger but deep feeling), Mark 3:5 , Mark 6:8 , Mark 10:14; note especially Mark 14:33 f. where St. Mark alone speaks of the surprise, added to the distraction from grief, of Jesus’ human soul in the Agony. St. 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 ). St. Mark relates the one perfectly certain instance of Jesus’ human ignorance, as to the Day of Judgment ( Mark 13:32 , so || Mt.). It is because so much stress is laid in Mk. on the true humanity of our Lord that Augustine assigns to the Second Evangelist the symbol of the man; by other Fathers the other Evangelic symbols are assigned to him. The Second Gospel represents an early stage of the Gospel narrative; it shows an almost childlike holdness in speaking of our Lord, without regard to possible misconceptions. An example of this is seen in passages where Mark tells us that Jesus ‘could not’ do a thing ( Mark 1:45 , Mark 6:5 , Mark 7:24 ). 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 phrase might he misunderstood as taking from the Master’s glory, have altered or omitted it.
4. Autopic character . Whereas Mk. was for centuries depreciated as telling us little that is not found in the other Gospels, we have now learned to see in it a priceless presentation of the story of our Lord’s life, inasmuch as no historical narrative in the Bible, except Jn., gives such clear signs of first-hand knowledge. Many of the instances lose much point in a translation, but even in English the fact is noticeable. An eye-witness is betrayed in such little details as the heavens ‘in the act of opening’ ( Mark 1:10 the present participle is used), the incoherent remarks of the crowd at the healing of the Capernaum demoniac ( Mark 1:27 RV [Note: Revised Version.] they are softened down by later scribes of Mk. and in Lk.), the breaking up of the mud roof in Mark 2:4 (see art. Luke [Gospel acc. to], Â§ 6), the single pillow, probably a wooden head-rest, in the boat ( Mark 4:38 RV [Note: Revised Version.] ), the five thousand arranged on the green grass ‘like garden heds’ ( Mark 6:40 : this is the literal translation; the coloured dresses on the ‘ green grass’ another autoptic touch had to the eye-witness the appearance of flowers), the taking of the children by Jesus into His arms ( Mark 9:36 , Mark 10:16 ), and His fervent blessing ( Mark 10:16 : this is the force of the Greek), 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. RV [Note: Revised Version.] ). All these details, and many others, are found in Mk. only; many of the signs of an eye-witness throughout the Gospel are removed by the alterations introduced in Mt. and Lk. For the vividness of the scenes at the Transfiguration, the raising of Jairus’ daughter, and the Agony, see Â§ 2 . Notice also the evidence of exceptional knowledge of facts in Mark 1:29 (Andrew and Peter living together, though the latter was married; Andrew omitted in || Mt. Lk.), and in the mention of some names not found elsewhere ( Mark 2:14 , Mark 10:45 , Mark 15:21 ). We have then an eye-witness here; in this case we need not look for him in the writer, but the facts show that the latter was in the closest touch with one who had seen what is described.
5. Comparison with the other Synoptics . The facts which follow appear to prove that Mk., either in the form in which we have it, or at least in a form very closely resembling our present Gospel, was before the other Synoptists when they wrote, ( a ) Scope . Except about 30 verses, all the narrative of Mk. is found in either Mt. or Lk. or in both, and (especially as regards Lk.) in nearly the same order; though the other Synoptists interpolate matter from other sources. ( b ) Parallel passages . If we compare these, we see that though Mk. is as a whole shorter than Mt. and Lk., yet in the parallels it is longer. St. Mark’s style is diffuse, and it was necessary for the other Synoptists, in order to make room for the matter which they were to introduce from other sources, to prune Mk. considerably, ( c ) Correction of Markan details in Mt. and Lk . As we have seen, Mark describes our Lord’s painful emotions; these passages are softened down in Mt. and Lk. Sometimes a slip of the pen is corrected; e.g . Mark 1:2 f. RV [Note: Revised Version.] quotes as from Isaiah a passage which is a cento of Malachi 3:1 , Isaiah 40:3 , but the others silently avoid this by omitting the Malachi passage here, though they give it elsewhere ( Matthew 11:16 , Luke 7:27 ); the words in Mark 2:26 RV [Note: Revised Version.] , ‘when Abiathar was high priest,’ are omitted in Mt. and Lk., for Abiathar was not yet high priest at the time in question. The alteration of ‘abomination of desolation’ ( Mark 13:14 , so Matthew 24:15 ) into ‘Jerusalem compassed with armies’ ( Luke 21:20 ) is clearly an explanation of a writer later than Mk.; and so the change from ‘Son of God’ ( Mark 15:39 , so Matthew 27:54 ) to ‘a righteous man’ ( Luke 23:47 ). In some cases, by the turn of a phrase the accuracy of Mk. in minute points is lost by the other Synoptists. Thus cf. Mark 4:36; our Lord was already in the boat ( Mark 4:1 ); in || Mt. Lk. He is described by an oversight as embarking here. In Mark 10:1 Jesus comes ‘into the borders of JudÃ¦a and beyond Jordan’; the parallel Matthew 19:1 omits ‘and,’ but doubtless Mk. is right here, and Jesus went both into JudÃ¦a and into PerÃ¦a. But the most striking corrections of Mk. in Mt. Lk. are found in the phraseology. The Markan style is rough and unpolished, reflecting the Greek commonly spoken by the Jews of the 1st cent.; many diminutives and colloquialisms are found, but are usually corrected in Mt. or in Lk. or in both. In Mk. there are many awkward and difficult phrases sometimes smoothed over in a translation like ours, and usually corrected in Mt. or Lk. or both: e.g . Mark 3:16 , Mark 4:11; Mark 4:24 (see Luke 8:18 ) Mark 4:32 (the ‘yet’ of RV [Note: Revised Version.] is ‘and’ in Gr.) Mark 7:11 f. (grammatical but harsh) Mark 9:41 , Mark 13:19 , Mark 14:56 (note RV [Note: Revised Version.] in these cases). These facts are most significant, and appear to be conclusive as to the priority of Mk. For no writer having before him a smooth text would gratuitously introduce harsh or difficult phraseology, whereas the converse change is natural and common.
There are also some changes made for greater precision, especially in Lk.; thus in Mk. ( e.g . Mark 1:16 ) and Mt. we read of the ‘Sea’ of Galilee, but St. Luke with his superior nautical knowledge calls it a ‘lake’; Herod Antipas in Mark 6:14 is called ‘king,’ but in Mt. Lk. more commonly ‘tetrarch’ (but ‘king’ is retained in Matthew 14:9 ); in Mark 15:32 (so Mt.) we read that ‘they that were crucified with him reproached him,’ but St. Luke, who had independent knowledge of this incident (for only he relates the penitence of the robber), emphatically corrects this to ‘ one of the malefactors’ ( Luke 23:39 ). In two or three cases it is possible that the priority lies the other way. Thus in Mark 6:3 ‘the carpenter’ = Matthew 13:55 ‘the son of the carpenter’ = Luke 4:22 ‘the son of Joseph,’ the correction may be in Mt. Lk., the giving of the name ‘the carpenter’ to Jesus not being liked; or it may be in Mk., the phrase ‘son of Joseph’ being altered as capable of misconception by those who had not the Birth story before them. But as the phrases in Mt. and Lk. are not the same, the priority probably lies with Mk. Also the Second Evangelist alone relates the two cock-crowings ( Mark 14:30; Mark 14:68; Mark 14:72 ), though the state of the text suggests that perhaps originally only one was mentioned in Mk., but in a different place from that of Mt. Lk. It is hard to see why a later writer should have omitted one cock-crowing and it is suggested that therefore our Mk. is later than Mt. Lk. in this respect. It is, however, equally hard to see why St. Mark, if he wrote after the others, should have added a cock-crowing. If in two or three such cases the priority be decided to lie with Mt. and Lk., the meaning would be that our Mk. had received some editorial additions (see Â§ 9). But this does not seem to be very likely.
The general conclusion is that Mk. as we have it now, or at least a Gospel which differs from our Mk. only in unessential particulars, lay before the First and Third Evangelists when they wrote.
The matter peculiar to Mk . is small: the parable of the seed growing silently ( Mark 4:26 ff.), the healing of the deaf stammerer ( Mark 7:31 ff.), of the blind man at Bethsaida ( Mark 8:22 f.), the questions about the dulness of the disciples when they forgot to take bread ( Mark 8:17 f.), about the dispute of the disciples ( Mark 9:33 ), the incidents of the young man with the linen cloth ( Mark 14:51 f.), of the smiting of Jesus by the servants of the high priest ( Mark 14:65 ), of Pilate’s wonder, and of his question put to the centurion ( Mark 15:44 ).
6. Authorship, purpose, date, and place of writing . There is no reason to dispute the Patristic statements (Â§ 1) that John Mark was the author of the Second Gospel. Clement of Alexandria states that he wrote in Rome; Chrysostom (two centuries later) that he wrote in Egypt. The former statement, both as being earlier and as agreeing with the negative testimony of the Alexandrian Fathers, is more probable, though some moderns have supposed a double publication, one in Rome and one in Alexandria. In either case it is probable that, as in the case of the Third Gospel, Gentiles are specially addressed, though St. Mark as a Jew writes (unlike St. Luke) from a Jewish point of view. There is a general absence of OT quotations except when our Lord’s words are cited ( Mark 1:2 f. is an exception; Mark 15:28 must almost certainly he expunged, with RV [Note: Revised Version.] , from the text). The Aramaic transliterations like Talilha cum ( i ) are interpreted, and Jewish customs and geography are explained [ Mark 7:2 ff., Mark 12:42 (the ‘mite’ was a Jewish coin) Mark 13:2 , Mark 15:42 ]. The absence of mention of the Jewish Law points in the same direction.
The date is probably before the Fall of Jerusalem in a.d. 70. (For the argument from the Discourse on the End, see art. Matthew [Gospel acc. to], Â§ 5, and note especially Mark 13:13 f., Mark 13:24 , Mark 13:30 , Mark 13:33 , which point to the fulfilment of the prophecy being, at the time of writing, only in prospect.) The reference to the shewbread ( Mark 2:26 , ‘it is not lawful’) suggests that the Temple still stood when Mark wrote. The characteristics already mentioned, the description of Jesus’ inner feelings, the style and details of the Gospel, give the same indications. If the early date of Acts be adopted (see art. Acts of the Apostles, Â§ 9), Lk. and therefore Mk. must be earlier still. The external testimony, however, raises some difficulty when we consider the date of 1Peter . For Papias by implication and IrenÃ¦us explicitly say that Mark wrote after Peter’s death, while Clement of Alexandria and Origen say that he wrote in Peter’s lifetime (see Â§ 1). If the former statement be correct, and if 1Peter be authentic, the Epistle must have preceded Mk.; but it is not easy to assign a very early date to it ( e.g . 1 Peter 4:18 ‘suffer as a Christian’; though Dr. Bigg disputes this inference and thinks that 1Peter was written before the Neronic persecution in a.d. 64). There is no need to dispute the authenticity of 1Peter because of supposed references to late persecutions, for there is no good reason for saying that St. Peter died in the same year as St. Paul, and it is quite possible that he survived him for some considerable time, during which Mark acted as his ‘interpreter.’ If, then, we are led by internal evidence so strongly to prefer an early date for Mk., we must either choose an early date for 1Peter , or else prefer the Alexandrian tradition that Mark wrote in Peter’s lifetime [Dr. Swete gives c [Note: circa, about.] . 69 for Mk., Dean Robinson c [Note: circa, about.] . 65].
7. Was Mk. written in Greek or Aramaic? The Second Gospel is more strongly tinged with Aramaisms than any other. It retains several Aramaic words transliterated into Greek: Boanerges Mark 3:17 , Talitha cum ( i ) Mark 5:41 , Corban Mark 7:11 , Ephphatha Mark 7:34 (these Mk. only), Abba Mark 14:36 (so Romans 8:15 , Galatians 4:6 ), Rabbi Mark 9:5 , Mark 11:21 , Mark 14:45 , Hosanna Mark 11:9 (these two also in Mt. and Jn.), Rabboni Mark 10:51 (Jn. also), Eloi Eloi lama sabachthani Mark 15:34 (or as || Mt. Eli ); and several Aramaic proper names are noticeable: BartimÃ¦us Mark 10:48 (a patronymic), CananÃ¦an Mark 3:18 , Iscariot Mark 3:19 , Beelzebub Mark 3:22 , Golgotha Mark 15:22 . Aramaisms are also found freely in the grammar of Mk. and in several phrases. From these facts it is argued (Blass, Allen) that Aramaic was the original language. Dr. Blass also suggests that St. Luke in Acts 1:1-26; Acts 2:1-47; Acts 3:1-26; Acts 4:1-37; Acts 5:1-42; Acts 6:1-15; Acts 7:1-60; Acts 8:1-40; Acts 9:1-43; Acts 10:1-48; Acts 11:1-30; Acts 12:1-25 used an Aramaic source, while the rest of that book was his own independent work. In these twelve chapters, unlike the rest, Aramaisms abound, and the style is rough. The argument is that Mark, the son of a prominent lady is Jerusalem, wrote the Aramaic source of Acts 1:1-26; Acts 2:1-47; Acts 3:1-26; Acts 4:1-37; Acts 5:1-42; Acts 6:1-15; Acts 7:1-60; Acts 8:1-40; Acts 9:1-43; Acts 10:1-48; Acts 11:1-30; Acts 12:1-25 , and that if so his former work (our Second Gospel) would be in Aramaic also. This argument will probably be thought to be too unsubstantial for acceptance. There is no reason for saying that Mark wrote the supposed Aramaic source of Acts 1:1-26; Acts 2:1-47; Acts 3:1-26; Acts 4:1-37; Acts 5:1-42; Acts 6:1-15; Acts 7:1-60; Acts 8:1-40; Acts 9:1-43; Acts 10:1-48; Acts 11:1-30; Acts 12:1-25 . and even if he did, he might, being confessedly bilingual, have written his Gospel equally well in Greek as in Aramaic. The Aramaic tinge is probably best explained by the fact that Mark thought in Aramaic. If our Greek were a translation, the Aramaic phrases like Talitha cum ( i ) might have been bodily incorporated by transliteration, or else translated; but they never would have been transliterated and then interpreted, as is actually the case. The Fathers, from Papias downwards, had clearly never heard of an Aramaic original. The most fatal objection to the theory, however, is the freshness of the style of the Gospel. Even the best translation loses freshness. The Greek of Mk. reads as if it were original; and we may safely say that this is really the language in which the Evangelist wrote.
8. The last twelve verses . The MSS and versions have three different ways of ending the Gospel. The vast majority have the ending of our ordinary Bibles, which is explicitly quoted by IrenÃ¦us as a genuine work of St. Mark, is probably quoted by Justin Martyr, possibly earlier still by ‘Barnabas’ and Hermas, but in the last three cases we are not certain that the writer knew it as part of the Gospel . The two oldest Greek MSS (the Vatican and the Sinaitic), the old Syriac version (Sinaitic), and the oldest MSS of the Armenian and Ethiopic versions, end at Mark 16:8 , as Eusebius tells us that the most accurate copies of his day did. An intermediate ending is found in some Greek MSS (the earliest of the 7th cent.), in addition to the ordinary ending; and in a MS of the Old Latin (pre-Hieronymian) version, standing alone. It is as follows: ‘And they immediately ( or briefly) made known all things that had been commanded (them) to those about Peter. And after this Jesus himself [appeared to them and] sent out by means of them from the East even to the West the holy and incorruptible preaching of the eternal salvation.’ This intermediate ending is certainly not genuine; it was written as a conclusion to the Gospel by some one who had the ordinary ending before him and objected to it as unauthentic, or who had a MS before him ending at Mark 16:8 and thought this abrupt. It appears that the copy from which most of these MSS with the intermediate ending were made, ended at Mark 16:8 .
Now it is confessed that the style of the last twelve verses is not that of the Gospel. There are, then, two possible explanations. One is that Mark, writing at a comparatively late date, took the ‘Petrine tradition,’ a written work, as his basis, incorporated it almost intact into his own work, and added the verses Mark 1:1-15 , Mark 16:9 ff., and a few editorial touches such as Mark 3:5 , Mark 6:6; Mark 6:52 , which are not found in the other Synoptics, and which resemble phrases in the last twelve verses ( Mark 16:11; Mark 16:13 f.). This was Dr. Salmon’s solution. There are various objections to it; two seem fatal (1) that ecclesiastical writers never represent Peter as writing a Gospel either by himself or by any scribe or interpreter except Mack, and yet this theory supposes that the ‘Petrine tradition’ was not first written down by Mark; and (2) that the last twelve verses seem not to have been written as an end to the Gospel at all, being apparently a fragment of some other work, probably a summary of the Gospel story. For the beginning of Mark 16:9 is not continuous with Mark 16:8; the subject of the verb ‘appeared’ had evidently been indicated in the sentence which had preceded; yet the necessary ‘Jesus’ cannot be understood from anything in Mark 16:8 . Further, Mary Magdalene is introduced in Mark 16:9 as a new person, although she had just been mentioned by name in Mark 15:40; Mark 15:47 , Mark 16:1 , and was one of the women spoken of throughout Mark 16:1-8 . On the other hand, it is inconceivable that Mark 16:8 with its abrupt and inauspicious ‘they were afraid’ could be the conclusion of a Gospel. that the book should deliberately end without any incident of the risen life of our Lord, and with a note of terror. The other possible explanation, therefore, is that some verses have been lost. Probably the last leaf of the original, or at least of the copy from which all the MSS existing in the 2nd cent were taken, has disappeared. This is conceivable, the last leaf of a MS being that which is most likely to drop; and the difficulty that the original MS of Mk. must have been copied before it got so old that the last leaf fell may perhaps be satisfactorily met by supposing that (as we know was the case later) the Second Gospel was not highly prized in its youth, as not giving us much additional information, and as being almost entirely contained in Mt. and Lk. On the other hand, the last twelve verses are extremely ancient. Most scholars look on them as belonging to the first few years of the 2nd cent., and Aristion has been suggested as the writer, on the strength of a late Armenian MS. But it is quite possible that they are part of an even earlier summary of the Gospel story; and, like the passage about the woman taken in adultery ( John 7:53 to John 8:11 ), they are to be reverenced as a very ancient and authoritative record.
9. Have we the original Mark? This has been denied from two different and incompatible points of view. ( a ) Papias speaks of Mk. being ‘not in order’ and of Matthew writing the ‘oracles’ or ‘logia’ (see Â§ 1 above, and art. Matthew [Gospel acc. to]). It is objected that our Second Gospel is an orderly narrative, and cannot he that mentioned by Papias. Renan maintained that Mark wrote a disconnected series of anecdotes about Christ, and Matthew a collection of discourses, and that our present First and Second Gospels took their present form by a process of assimilation, the former assimilating the anecdotes and adding them to the discourses, the latter adopting the reverse process. This rests on the unproved assumption that Matthew’s original work consisted of Jesus’ sayings only , which is very improbable. But as a matter of fact there is no time for the process imagined by Renan to have taken place, and the result, moreover, would have been a large number of variant Gospels a given passage appearing in some MSS in one Gospel, in others in another, as is the ease with the story of the woman taken in adultery. [For a more probable interpretation of Papias’ words, see Â§ 1.] ( b ) It is sometimes argued that our present Mk. is an ‘edited’ form of the original Mk., being very like it, but differing from it by the insertion of some editorial touches and additions. [For Salmon’s form of this theory, see above, Â§ 8; but the theory is held by many ( e.g . Schmiedel) who reject the last twelve verses as Markan.]
The only argument of real importance urged by those who hold this theory is that Mt. and Lk. occasionally agree together against Mk. To take one example only, Mark 1:8 has ‘with the Holy Ghost’ where || Matthew 3:12 and Luke 3:16 have ‘with the Holy Ghost and fire .’ If Mt. and Lk. are later than Mk., unless the First Evangelist knew the Third Gospel or the Third Evangelist the First, both of which suppositions are confessedly improbable, we cannot, it is said, explain their agreements against Mk. Therefore we must suppose, it is urged, that these phrases where they agree were in the original Mk., but have been altered in our Mk. This idea in itself is grossly improbable, for it means in some cases that a later editor (our Mark) altered a smooth construction into a hard or a difficult one not found in Mt. or Lk. (see Â§ 5 (c)), which is hardly to be conceived. But this difficulty rests on the unproved assumption noticed just now, that the ‘non-Markan document’ contained discourses only. If, as is almost certain, it contained narrative also, and if this narrative (as it is only reasonable to suppose) sometimes overlapped the ‘Petrine tradition,’ the result is exactly what we should expect. Mt. and Lk. sometimes follow Mk. rather than the non-Markan source; sometimes one follows the one and the other the other; and sometimes both follow the non-Markan source. This fully accounts for their agreements against Mk.
It is indeed possible, as many think, that a very few phrases in our Mk. are later editorial additions; but even this hypothesis is unnecessary, and it seems on the whole most probable that our Mk. is the original Mk., and that it was used by the First and Third Evangelists.
A. J. Maclean.
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Hastings, James. Entry for 'Mark, Gospel According to'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​hdb/​m/mark-gospel-according-to.html. 1909.