Markan Theory

Essay by ataf78University, Master'sA, April 2009

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BackgroundQuestions concerning the authorship, date, place of composition, audience, and purpose of Mark's Gospel continue to receive a variety of answers from contemporary scholars. The shortest of the three Synoptic Gospels (661 verses as compared to 1,068 in Mt and 1,149 in Lk), the Gospel of Mark was probably the first of the three to be written, and Matthew and Luke made use of it as a major source in composing their own Gospels.

AuthorshipAlthough the Gospel is attributed to "Mark," the author of the Gospel never explicitly identifies himself. The superscriptions or titles of the Four Gospels ("According to Matthew," "According to Mark,") come from the late 1st, or early 2d, century when it became necessary to distinguish one Gospel from another. Eusebius (263–339), however, preserves an important quotation from Papias, a 2d century bishop of Hieropolis in Asia Minor, that identifies Mark as the author of the Gospel and associates him with Peter.

In this text, Papias relates a quotation from someone called the PRESBYTER.

This, too, the presbyter used to say. "Mark, who had been Peter's interpreter, wrote down carefully, but not in order, all that he remembered of the Lord's sayings and doings. For he had not heard the Lord or been one of His followers, but later, as I said, one of Peter's. Peter used to adapt his teaching to the occasion, without making a systematic arrangement of the Lord's sayings, so that Mark was quite justified in writing down some things just as he remembered them. For he had one purpose only—to leave out nothing that he had heard, and to make no misstatement about it." Ecclesiastical History (3, 39, 15)This text is difficult to interpret since it is not clear if the entire quotation is from the Presbyter. Part of this quotation may...