St. Mark

Who is Mark?

  • Mark was his Roman name, John his Jewish.
  • Mark lived in Jerusalem with his mother Mary.
  • Peter sent Mark to be the first bishop of Alexandria, Egypt.
  • Martyred April 25, 68 in Alexandria.
  • Relics at Venice, Italy.
  • Representation as Lion.
  • Today the largest church in Cairo is dedicated to St. Mark.
  • We first meet Mark in Acts 12 after Peter’s miraculous release from prison.
    • “When he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying” [Acts 12:12].
  • After this, Mark became the travelling companion to Paul & Barnabas.
    • “And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had fulfilled their mission, bringing with them John whose other name was Mark” [Acts 12:25].
  • Mark caused an argument between Paul and Barnabas because he had left from in Pamphylia. Mark ended up going with Barnabas to Cyprus.
    • “And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Come, let us return and visit the brethren in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.” And Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia, and had not gone with them to the work. And there arose a sharp contention, so that they separated from each other; Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and departed, being commended by the brethren to the grace of the Lord” [Acts 13:36-40].
  • Mark eventually reconciled with Paul.
    • Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, and Mark the cousin of Barnabas (concerning whom you have received instructions—if he comes to you, receive him) [Col. 4:10].
    • Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you; for he is very useful in serving me [2 Tim. 4:11].
    • Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings to you, and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers [Phlm 23-24].

 

  • Mark’s close relationship to Peter
    • She who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen [i.e., the church of Rome], sends you greetings; and so does my son Mark [1 Pet. 5:13].

Earliest testimony linking St. Mark to the 2nd Gospel

John the Presbyer, 1st century.

  • Mark, having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately, though not in order, whatsoever he remembered of the things said or done by Christ. For he neither heard the Lord nor followed him, but afterward, as I said, he followed Peter, who adapted his teaching to the needs of his hearers, but with no intention of giving a connected account of the Lord’s discourses, so that Mark committed no error while he thus wrote some things as he remembered them. For he was careful of one thing, not to omit any of the things which he had heard, and not to state any of them falsely.

Church Father’s on Mark

St. Jerome:

  • Mark the disciple and interpreter of Peter wrote a short gospel at the request of the brethren at Rome embodying what he had heard Peter tell. When Peter had heard this, he approved it and published it to the churches to be read by his authority as Clemens in the sixth book of his Hypotyposes and Papias, bishop of Hierapolis, record. Peter also mentions this Mark in his first epistle, figuratively indicating Rome under the name of Babylon She who is in Babylon elect together with you salutes you and so does Mark my son. So, taking the gospel which he himself composed, he went to Egypt and first preaching Christ at Alexandria he formed a church so admirable in doctrine and continence of living that he constrained all followers of Christ to his example. Philo most learned of the Jews seeing the first church at Alexandria still Jewish in a degree, wrote a book on their manner of life as something creditable to his nation telling how, as Luke says, the believers had all things in common at Jerusalem, so he recorded that he saw was done at Alexandria, under the learned Mark. He died in the eighth year of Nero and was buried at Alexandria, Annianus succeeding him [De Viris Illustribus 8].

Other Early Sources on St. Mark:

Eusebius

  • “So brightly shone the light of true religion on the minds of Peter’s hearers that, not satisfied with a single hearing or with the oral teaching of the divine message, they resorted to appeals of every kind to induce Mark (whose gospel we have), as he was a follower of Peter, to leave them in writing a summary of the instruction they had received by word of mouth, nor did they let him go till they had persuaded him, and thus became responsible for the writing of what is known as the Gospel according to Mark. It is said that, on learning by revelation of the spirit what had happened, the apostle was delighted at their enthusiasm and authorized the reading of the book in the churches” (The History of the Church 2, 15).

Papias (c. 60—130)

  • “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 teachings 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” (Eusebius, History of the Church 3, 39).

 

 

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