REVISED FROM THE EDINBURGH TRANSLATION, WITH ADDITIONS,
WILLIAM G. T. SHEDD, D. D.,
Professor In Union Theological Seminary, New York.
VOL. II. OF THE NEW TESTAMENT: CONTAINING THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MARK, AND THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO LUKE.
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MARK
BEING THAT OF THE NEW AND DIRECT MANIFESTATION OF CHRIST FROM HEAVEN, OF HIS ALL-CONQUERING DIVINE POWER, AND OF HIS DIVINE VICTORY
(SYMBOLIZED BY THE LION)
1. DISTINCTIVE CHARACTERISTICS OF THE SECOND GOSPEL
The Gospel by Mark, like that of Matthew, presents the theocratic side of the life and acts of Christ; while Luke and John bring out prominently their universal bearing, or application to mankind generally. On this common ground, however, it occupies a position distinct from that of Matthew. Matthew sets forth our Saviour as the New Testament King of the Jews, in whom the Old Testament has been completely and throughout fulfilled; Mark, on the other hand, exhibits Him in His independent Personality, as that new and absolute manifestation of the Deity in Israel which the whole Old Testament was designed only to pre-announce and make ready for. Matthew presents the history of the Lord as that of the true Prophet Priest, and King, in His conflict with the spurious representations of these set up by traditionalism; while Mark shows how all the powers existing in the world, representing as they did the-various phases of unbelief, rose in opposition to the Lord, and how all were vanquished by His absolute, victorious power. Hence, in the narrative of Matthew, the history of Jesus is presented as the summing up and culminating of the martyrdom of all the Old Testament worthies and prophets, as that deepest and fullest suffering which, through the Spirit of all grace, becomes and forms the expiatory service of the great High-Priest; in the Gospel of Mark, on the other hand, the element of victory and of triumph (Isaiah 9) appears, and is scarcely kept in the background, even amidst the scenes of intensest suffering. In the narrative of Matthew, Christ enters upon the scene in order to remove the conditions and limitations which had hitherto beset the course of history, and from His own infinite vantage-ground to transform it, and give it new direction; in the Gospel by Mark, the coming of Christ is presented as the absolute breaking up of the former state of things, by which the elements of the old broken world are reduced to subservient material out of which the new kingdom of salvation and of liberty is constructed. The first Evangelist delineates for us the life of Jesus in its theocratic aspect, and as bearing upon universal history; the second shows that, besides this human bearing, the life of Jesus, both in its nature and working, carries the direct impress of divinity. Thus the Gospel of history is followed by the history of the Gospel; the Gospel which details mighty suffering, by the Gospel which delineates mighty achievement; the Gospel which has appro priately been symbolized by the sacrificial bullock, by that to which even antiquity attached the symbol of the lion. (See the Introduction to the New Testament, p. 26.)
Hence, in tracing the Gospel history, Mark seems to have viewed his subject mainly in the light of that prophecy of the patriarch Jacob: “Judah is a young lion” (Gen_49:9)—a prediction taken up once more by Hosea (Mar_11:10) and by Amos (Mar_1:2), and swelling into a note of triumph in the last pages of Scripture (Rev_5:8). Accordingly, although the great adversary of that Lion, even Satan himself, goeth about like a roaring lion (1Pe_5:8), he is not a lion in the genuine and spiritual sense. The simile applies only allegorically, in reference to his bold appearance in the open persecution of believers; in its higher symbolical meaning, that title belongs to the Lord Himself. In this respect, Peter has well described the agency of Christ (Act_10:38) as “healing all that were oppressed of the devil.” Mark delineates Christ as, from first to last, pre-eminently the victorious Conqueror of all Satanic powers. He has left us a record of the manifestation of Christ’s power, when that great Lion seized upon the ancient world, and of His brief but decisive victory, after which only the ruins of the ancient world are left, which in turn furnish the materials for the new one.
This Gospel of the intrinsic power and life of Christ, in its original freshness, as it is reflected in the kindred soul of the Evangelist, possesses a great variety of distinguishing characteristics, both of a negative and positive kind. It is on the ground that it springs out into record from his own peculiar individual life, that we account for the conciseness of this the briefest of the Gospels, and not primarily on that of the historical occasion for its composition (Mark, one of Peter’s Evangelists, relating the events of evangelical history by way of explaining his preaching). We can understand thus, why there is apparent in it no deliberate leisurely contemplation of things and events; why meditation gives place to rapid and picturesque description; why he omits the longer discourses of Jesus, and, when he does record any of His discourses, selects those burning words of controversy, denunciation, judgment, or triumph; why, occasionally, there is an indulgence in hasty, dashing expression (such as not to “put on two coats,” Mar_6:9); and towards the close he even breaks off abruptly and begins again (Mar_16:9); and why the arrangement of his material, though distinct, is so often obscured by the rapid succession of the great events described, that Papias suggested that Mark had not written in the order of succession, such as he conceived it to have been (
, Euseb. iii. 39).
These negative traits owe their origin to the positive characteristics of this Gospel. The deeds of divine heroism which it describes, find, as it were, an appropriate body in peculiarities of expression, whether by an accumulation of strong negatives (
) and by rapid transitions, or by rapid succession in the narrative. In fact, the word
may be designated as the appropriate watch-word of our Gospel. While Matthew transports us gradually into the events of his time, as he relates what “came to pass in those days,” the peculiar expression “immediately,” “forthwith,” “straightway,” employed by Mark, hurries us from one event to another. So frequently, indeed, does the term occur, that ancient copyists not unfrequently questioned its authenticity, and in Codex D it is even omitted in several instances. (See Credner, Introd. i . p. 102.) It is this vividness of description also that leads to the frequent use of the present tense in the narrative (Mar_1:21; Mar_1:40, &c.) and to the introduction of the very language used by individuals (Mar_4:38; Mar_5:8, &c.). On the same ground also, the identical Aramæan words are introduced which were employed in the actual occurrence (Mar_3:17; Mar_3:22; Mar_5:41), and the new, customary, or popular expressions of the time are used (
). But while the Evangelist rapidly sketches his great picture, he also greatly delights to dwell on those particular events which form its essential features. That enthusiasm and vividness of realization which account for the brevity, rapidity, and somewhat dramatic tone of the narrative, also explain the introduction of details which seem to give life to the scene. Thus we have certain graphic touches of description,—such as Christ being in the wilderness among wild beasts; the cursed fig-tree withering to the root; Jesus asleep on a pillow in the hinder part of the vessel while crossing the lake. Along with those lifelike touches of the historian’s pencil, which appear in the delineation of that beautiful simile in Mar_4:26, or in that of the gradual cure of the blind man in Mar_8:22, we also find a freshness and accuracy of recollection, as in recalling, for example, the name of Bartimæus, the son of Timæus, the blind beggar on the road to Jericho, and a childlike affectionateness, leading to the frequent use of diminutive forms of expression, such as “little daughter,” “little child,” &c. Lastly, from the same causes there is a marked accuracy of details in reference to the persons introduced on the scene, the particulars of time and place, numbers, secondary circumstances, and other small points, more especially when the Evangelist describes the miraculous cures performed by the Lord. (See Credner, p. 103 seq.) Thus the second Gospel may be characterized as that of a rapt beholding of the Son of God manifesting His divine power by His divine working. The victorious work of Christ passes before us in a series of great life-pictures, rapidly succeeding each other. His mission of pardon and grace is accomplished in a few great stages, each the result of deepest energy and zeal, and the manifestation of His inmost life. It is as if the heavens were rent asunder, and were eternally pouring down their richest showers of blessing. Hence, also, both the attractive and the repelling influence of Christ are sharply and decisively set before us; the enmity of unbelievers rises immediately into mortal hatred, while the people, on the contrary, gather around Him in thronging crowds, bearing with them those who need His help. Sometimes there is not even room to stand, nor leisure so much as to eat. “Nay, His active love shines forth in such bright effulgence, and kindles such enthusiasm among the multitudes which surround Him, that on one occasion His kinsmen were about forcibly to remove Him from the throng, from an apprehension that He was beside Himself (Mar_3:21). He produces the deepest impression on the people; they are filled with wonder, astonished beyond measure, and dismayed, wherever He makes His appearance to manifest His power and love.” The effects produced correspond to the influence felt. “He healed many, insomuch that they rushed upon Him for to touch Him, as many as had plagues.” Wherever His arrival is announced, the sick are brought from all the neighborhood, and laid in the street on their couches; and they beseech Him that they might touch if it were but the hem of His garment, “and as many as touched Him were made whole.” Even His appearance among them causes the people to be greatly amazed, so that they tremble for joy and awe (Mar_9:15). But every deed He performs is a victory over the hostile powers. Mark’s Gospel is not so deeply pervaded by the anticipation of death as that of Matthew. Even of Christ’s last words on the cross, only these are recorded: “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”—as if in this hour of agony, also, we were to hear only the Lion’s cry of woe. In the same manner, in the history of the resurrection, only its astounding features are prominently brought forward. In their distress, the disciples believe not the tidings of His resurrection, whether from the lips of Mary Magdalene, or from those of the two disciples to whom He had appeared by the way. But as soon as Christ Himself appears among them, and upbraids them with their unbelief, they are completely changed; they are now ready to receive the commission to preach the Gospel to every creature. A continued manifestation of His power attends, after His resurrection and ascension, the messengers of Christ, and confirms the word. Thus characteristically closes the Gospel by Mark, even as, throughout his narrative, his eye was mainly fixed on those miraculous and healing manifestations of divine power by which the world was shaken and transformed. In this respect his narrative is unique; it exhibits the life of Christ as divine power pervading the world. Throughout, it presents the history of Christ as the working, manifestation, and influence of the God-man. From the pages of Mark we gather how, at the time, He touched every chord of feeling in the souls of the people—amazement, fear, confidence, hope, joy, and delight; and how He adapted His divine power to those varying states of emotion, whether by reproof, healing, or sanctification. The rapidity with which the Saviour achieved such immense results, the impetuous enthusiasm which characterizes that day’s work in which He pervaded the world with the power and efficacy of His name, and the victorious strength with which He triumphed over the bondage of the world and the sorrows of the grave, and rose to His throne of glory, are here presented as the grand characteristics of the divine Redeemer, who accomplishes His work of redemption by a series of rapid victories. At the same time, this glorious life of work and victory is to serve as a symbol, in the light of which we are to view and to understand every deed wrought in the name of the Lord, every awakening and vivifying operation in hearts divinely moved, every triumph of christological power, every lion-like bound, shout, and victory of faith on earth,—in short, every outgoing of that eternal energy which proceeds from the throne of the Son of God. (See Lange, Life of Jesus, i. p. 248.)
Another peculiarity of our Gospel deserves special mention. It will readily be noticed that the Evangelist lays emphasis on the periods of pause and rest which rhythmically intervene between the several great victories achieved by Christ. Each fresh advance, each new contest and victory, is preceded by a period of retirement. Thus, the Saviour, at the commencement of His work, leaves the obscure abode of His humiliation at Nazareth, that by humble submission to the baptism of John, He might insure His victorious progress. Thence He retires into the wilderness; again and again He repairs into the desert, to issue forth anew and to achieve ever larger conquests. Even His ascension is presented at the close of our Gospel under the peculiar aspect of Christ retiring in order to conquer, by His power and blessing, the whole world, through the instrumentality of His ambassadors. (See this feature fully brought out in Section 5.)
[To this sketching of Lange may be added the remarks of a thoughtful English critic, Which strikingly agree with it. “There are many, again, whose sympathies are entirely with the present, who delight in the activity and warmth of daily life, who are occupied with things around them, without looking far beyond their own age and circle. To them St. Mark addresses a brief and pregnant narrative of the ministry of Christ, unconnected with any special recital of His birth and preparation for His work, and unconnected, at least in its present shape, with the mysterious history of the Ascension.…It seems natural to find in St. Mark a characteristic fitness for his special work. One whose course appears to have been marked throughout by a restless and impetuous energy was not unsuited for tracing the life of the Lord, in the fresh vigor of its outward power. The friend alike of St. Paul and St. Peter, working in turn in each of the great centres of the Jewish world, at first timidly sensitive of danger, and afterwards a comforter of an imprisoned apostle, himself ‘of the circumcision,’ and yet writing to Gentiles, St. Mark stands out as one whom the facts of the Gospel had moved by their simple force to look over and beyond varieties of doctrine in the vivid realization of the actions of the ‘Son of God.’ For him teaching was subordinate to action; and every trait which St. Peter preserved in his narrative would find a faithful recorder in one equally suited to apprehend and to treasure it.” Westcott, Study of the Gospels, pp. 205, 213, 214.—Ed.]
2. HISTORY OF MARK THE EVANGELIST
In the Book of Acts, the writer of our Gospel is first designated as John Mark (Mar_12:12; Mar_12:25), then as John (Mar_13:5; Mar_13:13), and lastly as Mark (Mar_15:39). Comp. Col_4:10; 2Ti_4:11; Phm_1:24. Originally he seems to have borne the Jewish name of John; but it must not be imagined that on entering upon the duties of an Evangelist, he arbitrarily adopted the Roman name of Mark. His familiarity with the Latin, which may be gathered from the circumstance that he afterwards became “the interpreter of Peter” (his
, according to Papias in Euseb. 3:39, Iren. Mar_3:1et alia; also Tertullian, Jerome), may have been due to some connection between his family and Italy. His father, or some other of his relatives, may have been a proselyte from Rome; or else a wealthy family like that of Mark may have had other reasons for giving him, along with the Hebrew, a Roman name. Certain it is that, in his capacity of companion to the Apostles, he is generally designated Mark, just as Saul took the name of Paul when engaged in his great work. Later ecclesiastical tradition has in the present, as in other instances, availed itself of this circumstance to transform our Evangelist into two or three saints. The Evangelist Mark was represented as being a different personage from John Mark; and again, these two as distinct from the relative of Barnabas (compare the art. Mark in Winer, Real Encycl.). Among later divines, Grotius, Calovius, and Schleiermacher (Stud. u. Krit. for 1832), and still more recently Kienlen (Stud. u. Krit. for 1843, p. 423), have endeavored, though unsuccessfully, to maintain the existence of two biblical personages of the name of Mark,—the one a companion of Peter, the other of Paul. The fact that Mark acted as Evangelist alternately in connection with Paul and with Peter, is readily accounted for, both from the vitality and mobility of his temperament and character, and from the mutual understanding and accord between the two Apostles themselves. Nor is there more solid reason for including Mark among the seventy disciples,—upon the conjecture that he was one of those who were offended by the saying of Christ, about the necessity of eating His flesh and drinking His blood (Joh_6:53; Joh_6:60), but was afterwards restored through the admonitions of Peter. Stronger probability attaches to the supposition that Mark himself was the young man, of whom he relates in his Gospel (Mar_14:51), that on the night of the Lord’s betrayal he followed Him clothed in a light night-dress, which he left in the hands of the officers when he fled from them (Comp. Olshausen, Lange, Life of Jesus, i. p. 245, and our comment on this passage). From the Book of Acts, we gather that the mother of Mark was a wealthy proprietress; and the supposition does not appear far-fetched, that she may have owned a country-house in the valley of the Kidron, at the foot of the Mount of Olives,—perhaps even the garden of Gethsemane. At any rate, there is a striking resemblance between the character of that young man and the life of Mark, in whose quick and ardent, but mobile and inconstant disposition sin required to be specially met and conquered by sovereign grace. Thus we find that, while Mark boldly accompanied Paul on his first missionary journey, he suddenly forsook him, but afterwards again recovered himself, and offered his services in other expeditions of the same kind. For further particulars respecting the young man mentioned in Mar_14:51, see the Notes below.
As already noticed, Mark was the son of an influential Christian matron of Jerusalem, called Mary, in whose house the disciples were wont to meet for united worship, according to the custom of those days (Act_12:12). Mary had wholly devoted herself to the cause and service of Christ; for at a time when James the Elder had just fallen by the sword of Herod Agrippa, and Peter lay in prison awaiting a doom from which he was only delivered by a miracle, she risked her all by converting her house, so to speak, into the principal church of Jerusalem. Indeed, so well was this understood, that after his miraculous liberation from prison, Peter at once directed his steps to her house, as the great centre and meeting-place of the disciples. The son of such a woman—a worthy companion of the other heroic Maries of the Gospels—could not but be early acquainted with the blessed truths of Christianity. From the expression in 1Pe_5:13 (
), it has been inferred that the Apostle Peter had been the instrument of his conversion. That his religious convictions, however, depended not on those of any man in particular, is evidenced by the fact, that his peculiar relation towards Peter did not prevent him from joining Paul and Barnabas on their return from Jerusalem to Antioch, probably with a view to that missionary tour on which he afterwards accompanied them in the capacity of an evangelist or minister (
, Act_13:5). But this step was probably taken, mainly at the suggestion of his uncle Barnabas (Mark was
to Barnabas, Col_4:10). We are not informed on what ground our Evangelist deserted the mission at Perga in Pamphylia, and returned to Jerusalem. Luke is silent on the point; although Paul regarded the conduct as so blameworthy, that when he and Barnabas resolved to undertake a second missionary tour (Act_15:36), he firmly refused to accept the proffered assistance of Mark (Act_15:38). Nay, of such importance did he deem the matter, that, when Barnabas insisted on allowing his nephew to accompany them, Paul, rather than yield, separated from his old companion, and that, too, although he was in many respects under considerable obligations to one who, under the influence of that love which thinketh no evil, had first introduced him to the Apostles at Jerusalem, and afterwards, with an unselfishness truly Christian, had brought him to Antioch, to share in the work going on in that city. We cannot doubt that Barnabas had spiritual grounds for his conduct in reference to Mark, beyond a mere natural feeling for his young relative, and that large-hearted charity of which he otherwise had given proof (SeeAct_4:36). Still, it may be supposed that the well-merited reproof administered by Paul, proved of greater use to Mark in after-life than the apology offered for him by Barnabas. It is just possible that, at the time, some of the views on which Paul acted in his missionary labors had appeared too liberal to the young convert from Jerusalem. Even Barnabas does not seem to have always felt equally confident on the subject (Galatians 2). Suffice it that the presence of Mark was the occasion of “sharp contention” and separation between the two missionaries, who now took up different fields of labor. Paul went from Syria directly to Cilicia; while Barnabas took ship for Cyprus, his native island, where also, on his first journey, he had commenced a mission. It deserves special notice, that while Paul was in the habit of commencing a missionary tour by revisiting the place where on a former occasion he had first labored, he this time ceded it to Barnabas. It is on this occasion, that Luke for the first time designates our Evangelist simply by the name of Mark (Act_15:39). But the spirit of apostolic peace soon overcame the temporary misunderstanding and disagreement. Hence, we afterwards find Mark among the assistants of Paul during the time of his first captivity at Rome (Col_4:10; Phm_1:24), i. e., about the year 62. At a somewhat later period, however, he seems to have been with Peter at Babylon (1Pe_5:13), whence the Apostle, addressing the disciples in Asia Minor, sends salutations from Marcus his son. For we regard the following as settled points: First, that Babylon means the place of that name, and not Rome, as it could have served no rational purpose to conceal the name of a place under a mystical title, which might so readily be misunderstood; secondly, that the First Epistle of Peter bears evident marks of having been composed at the time when the persecution of Christians throughout the Roman Empire was just beginning, and the Jews were preparing for their last great war of nationality, i. e., some time after the year 62. But as, during his second captivity, Paul charged Timothy (2Ti_4:11) to bring Mark with him to Rome (probably from Asia Minor), the supposition is probable, that our Evangelist was at the time returning from Babylon. It is easily supposable, that in those great and portentous days—when, in rapid succession, the Epistle of James, that to the Hebrews, and the First Epistle of Peter were addressed to Jewish Christians, with the view of warning them against the danger of apostasy, and of entreating them to bear with patience the trials and sufferings which were approaching—Mark had been employed as the medium of special communication between Paul and Peter. At any rate, there is nothing strange in an interchange of service in the common work of the Lord, just as Silas was both a companion of Paul, and also engaged with Peter in the work of the Lord. Such special missions would be peculiarly in consonance with the bold and valiant character of Mark; and hence, we do not wonder to find him ranged by the side of the chief Apostles, like a young lion, at the most dangerous points of attack, now at Babylon, and now again at Rome. But from this commission of Paul to Timothy, it does not necessarily follow that the latter was in circumstances to obey it. In all probability, Peter arrived at Rome about the same time as Mark; as there is sufficient evidence of the fact, that Peter suffered martyrdom at Rome along with Paul, about the year 68. This fact, again, is the foundation for the other statements of antiquity (Papias in Euseb. 3:39; Iren. Mar_3:1, and others), to the effect, that Mark acted as interpreter (
) to Peter. Nor is it necessary to suppose, with Kuinoel, that, according to this statement, Mark translated into Greek what Peter spoke in Aramæan; nor, with Meyer (who quotes from Jerome a statement evidently marked with a dogmatic bias), that the expression Hermeneutes merely meant a secretary, whose duty it was to put on paper the oral communications of the Apostle (Comp. Meyer, Introd. to the Gospel of Mark, p. 2). It is evident that Mark, who was familiar with the manners and language of Rome, could render important assistance to Peter in Italy, as “interpreter” in the strictest sense, and that too, notwithstanding the apostolic gift of tongues. It is also sufficiently well attested (Euseb. vi. 14; Clemens Alex. Hypot. 6) that Mark was with Peter at Rome,—a statement wholly unconnected with the ecclesiastical hypothesis, according to which the Babylon of 1Pe_5:13 means the city of Rome (Euseb. Mar_2:15; Hieron. Vir. Ill. 8). The Gospel of Mark presents evidence of a protracted intercourse with Peter, as plainly as that of Luke shows that this Evangelist must have enjoyed continued intercourse with Paul. It is indeed true, that the New Testament idea of the kingdom of God is not so fully developed in the Gospel of Mark as in the Epistles of Peter; yet the narrative of the Evangelist presents Christ chiefly as the Lord of that kingdom, and as the conqueror of Satan and his legions,—and that in so marked a manner, as if the sacred historian had adopted for his motto the testimony of Peter, Act_10:28. Similarly, also, Irenæus (Mar_3:1; comp. Eusebius Mar_5:8) records that, after the death of the Apostles Paul and Peter at Rome, Mark, as the disciple and interpreter of Peter, wrote down the statements of that Apostle. According to the testimony of Clemens Alexandrinus (Hypot. 6; see Euseb. Mar_6:14), Mark composed his Gospel during the lifetime of Peter, in accordance with the request of that Apostle’s converts, and Peter, who was cognizant of the fact, did not interpose in the matter. (For other similar testimonies, see Credner, p. 113) In that case, we must, of course, not confound the first draft with the final revision of the work. According to the unanimous testimony of antiquity, Mark went, after the death of Peter, to Alexandria, where he founded a Christian church (Euseb. 3:39), became its first bishop, and suffered martyrdom (Epiphan. Hœres. 51:6; Euseb. 2:16; Hieron. Vir. Illust. 2:8, and others). The city of Venice, it is well known, has selected St. Mark as its patron-saint, and consecrated the renowned church of St. Mark to his name.
There is an entire correspondence between the character of Mark, and that of his Gospel. And this is another evidence of the fact, that the human form and aspect of a Gospel depended on the individuality of the Evangelist, and on the point of view which he took; deciding him in selecting, arranging, and presenting the historical material at his command. It may yet require some time before views like these will prevail in the schools, and the common error be discarded, that the auxiliaries and aids which the writer had enjoyed were the main thing, and the mental characteristics of the historian only secondary, if, indeed, at all to be taken into account. Mark the Evangelist, ardent and energetic (a kindred companion to Peter), kindly, warm-hearted, and affectionate (a nephew of Barnabas, in the spiritual sense also), liberal and original in his views (a friend of Paul), was called by the Lord to transmit unto the Church a Gospel, in which it is shown how the Lion of the tribe of Judah became the Lamb of God, and how all human heroism finds both its harmony and transfiguration in the glorious achievements and conquests of the God-man. Thus the Gospel of actual personal suffering, follows that of history and of historical suffering, [Lange’s thought seems to be, that Mark represents the God-man in his concrete and actual personality, almighty both in his miracles and his passion, while Matthew presents him more as an object of prophecy.—Ed.]
3. COMPOSITION AND INTEGRITY OF THE GOSPEL
The oldest testimony as to the origin of the second Gospel is that of Papias, Bishop of Hierapolis, dating from the first half of the second century, and communicated by Eusebius (Hist. Eccles. iii. 39): “Mark, being the interpreter of Peter, wrote down with great accuracy whatever he interpreted (in other words, what Peter stated), though he recorded not in the order (
ïὐ ìÝíôïé ôÜîåé
) in which it was spoken or done by the Lord (i. e., as Matthew, who arranged and combined together the sayings and the history of the Saviour); for he neither heard nor followed our Lord (as His disciple), but, as before said, he was afterwards the companion of Peter, who arranged his instructions as was necessary (for popular teaching i. e.), but did not give a history of our Lord’s discourses (which was one of Matthew’s main objects). Wherefore Mark has not erred in any way by writing some things as he remembered them. For he was careful of one thing, not to omit anything of what he had heard, or to falsify (or add) anything in these accounts.” It appears to us, that in his excessive anxiety to vindicate the apostolic authority of this Gospel, Papias has represented the undoubted fact of a connection between Mark and Peter, as if the Evangelist had been merely the penman of the Apostle. Hence the other ancient testimony, derived by Clement of Alexandria from primitive tradition, and recorded in extracts from the Hypotyposes (in Euseb. Mar_6:14), must be regarded as supplementary of this account. According to the statement of Clement, a great number of those who had heard Peter proclaiming the word of God at Rome requested Mark, who had followed the Apostle for a long time, and well remembered what he had said, to reduce to writing what the Apostle had declared. It is added that Peter was cognizant of this, and encouraged it (the work as a whole); while, at the same time, he abstained from all active interference, either in the way of directing or restraining (in its individual parts). We leave it to others to translate the passage so as to mean that he neither hindered nor encouraged (
) the matter. His encouragement of the work as a whole (
) consisted in this, that he did not find it necessary to omit anything from, or to add unto, its individual portions. It was the approbation of a work bearing evidence of independent authorship. This view of the passage agrees with the earlier account in Eusebius (Mar_2:15). In both cases, the ostensible reason assigned for the work is the same. We are told that Peter was cognizant of the fact that Mark had composed the Gospel by the revelation of the Holy Spirit, and that he rejoiced in the zeal of those who solicited the Gospel; finally, that he gave his authority to the work in order that it might be read in the churches. On these grounds the earlier Fathers were warranted in designating our Gospel as that of Peter, so far as its substance is concerned, without thereby invalidating the originality of Mark, so far as the style and arrangement of material are concerned. (Justin, c. Tryph.:
ôὰ ἀðïìíçìïíåýìáôá ÐÝôñïõ
; Tertull. c. Marc. 4, Mark 5 : “Marcus, quod edidit Evangelium Petri adfirmetur, cujus interpres Marcus”; Euseb. Mar_2:15; Hieronym. Vir. Ill.8.)
A very slight examination will suffice to convince the student, that in the third Gospel the distinctive mental characteristics of Luke coincided with the views of the Apostle Paul, and exactly met the wants of well-educated Grecian inquirers and converts. Similarly, in our Gospel we note how the mental characteristics of Mark corresponded with the manner in which Peter presented the truth, while at the same time they also harmonized with the wants of Roman Christians, and were peculiarly suited to the popular mind in the capital. This fact, along with the special occasion for the composition of the Gospel, must be regarded as giving its tone to the narrative. But before proceeding to consider this factor, we must refer to, and refute, some of the more popular theories on the subject. These are: 1. Mark was merely a compiler, who derived his Gospel from those of Matthew and of Luke, if not from the former alone. 2. The Gospel of Mark was the original record from which the other two were copied. 3. The Gospel of Mark and those of the other two Evangelists were equally derived from a primitive Gospel or tradition. 4. The Gospel of Mark was written for a special purpose (Tendenzschrift). Lastly, 5. The special notion of those who carry their views of inspiration so far as to ignore throughout Scripture, and in our Gospel also, all human individuality.—The first of these views was propounded in its most extreme form,—viz., that Mark was merely the pedisequus et breviator of Matthew,—by Augustine, De consensu Evang. 1, 2, and after him by Euthym. Zigadenus and Michaelis. In a less extreme manner, Michaelis, Griesbach, Saunier (On the sources of the Gospel of Mark, 1825), Theile, Strauss, Von Ammon, and others, maintain that our Evangelist made use of Matthew and Luke. To this we reply, 1st, That Mark introduces a number of things not mentioned at all in the other Gospels (Mar_3:20-21; Mar_4:26-29; Mar_7:31-37; Mar_8:22-26; Mar_9:11-14; Mar_14:51-52; Mar_16:9-11); and that he is marked by a peculiar way of presenting matter which he has in common with the others (Mar_1:42; Mar_5:4-5; Mar_7:3-4; Mar_9:21-26; Mar_10:24; Mar_10:34; Mar_10:49; Mar_12:32-34). 2. The Gospel of Mark commences and closes in an independent manner, and the material which it has in common with Matthew and Luke (39 sections), with Matthew alone (23 sections), or with Luke alone (18 sections), is presented in an independent form. Hence, these critics felt it necessary to modify the original hypothesis of Augustine as stated above.—The second hypothesis, that the Gospel of Mark contains the original and primitive record from which the other narratives were derived, was first propounded by Herder, and adopted by Storr, Wilke, Weisse, Reuss, and Ewald. Of late, critics have even gone further, and assigned to our Evangelist the authorship of the Book of Revelation (Hitzig, On John Mark; or, which John was the author of the Book of Revelation? Zürich, 1843). But it is evident that the other two Evangelists furnish too many details of their own—such as the history of Christ’s infancy, the longer discourses of Jesus, &c.,—to warrant us in supposing that their narrative was derived from Mark. Add to this the consideration, that they also have their peculiar manner of presenting and arranging the evangelical history.—The third hypothesis, of the existence of some primitive Gospel, from which the canonical Gospels were derived, may now be regarded as finally discarded. The Aramæan Matthew, to which Papias refers, could not have been that primitive Gospel, as Corrodi and others suggest (see Ebrard, Evangelien Kritik, p. 5), since our first Gospel is itself a Greek version of it. The same objection applies to the Gospel of the Hebrews (Niemeyer and others), which was merely a Judæo-Christian and interpolated edition of Matthew; while the hypothesis of Herder and of Eichhorn, of an original Gospel now wholly lost, is evidently a baseless fiction. Greater importance attaches to the supposition of the existence of an original evangelical oral tradition, which, in some considerable degree, became fixed in a written form (Eckermann, Gieseler). Nor is it a sufficient objection to this hypothesis, that the Apostles at an early period became separated from each other; for each original witness told and retold the evangelical narrative of and by himself. There was a mutual and unceasing narration of the same history. Moreover, we gather from Luk_1:1, that at a very early period there existed individual sketches, memorabilia, relating to events in the history of our Lord. It will be readily understood how witnesses of such events would feel constrained to write down these glorious facts; nor is it improbable that such narratives may have been disseminated, until they were incorporated into, or superseded by, the four Gospels. But this hypothesis of an original Gospel must be modified in its application, in three respects: 1. The first, second, and fourth Gospels are evidently derived from the personal recollection of the Apostles; and the third Gospel, at least indirectly. 2. The unique style of the Gospels, their peculiar apostolic simplicity, could have been produced only by the continuous influence of the apostolic spirit. 3. So far as the form is concerned, the mental individuality of the Evangelists constituted a most important element in shaping the historical materials at their command.—In reply to the fourth hypothesis, defended by Baur, Schwegler, Köstlin, and others, that the Gospel of Mark was written with a special object, it is sufficient to say, that this has fallen to the ground along with the peculiar notions about Ebionism upon which it was reared. The main source whence the Gospel narratives were derived was the vivid recollection of the Apostles, deepened, strengthened, and purified by the Spirit of God. Thus Mark depended on the narrative of Peter, which shaped itself in accordance with the peculiar point from which that Apostle viewed the facts of the Gospel. As a secondary source of information, our Evangelist, no doubt, drew from that general evangelical tradition, which had in particular instances been chronicled by eye-witnesses. As to the origin of this tradition, it is of great importance to bear in mind, that both the evangelical narratives themselves, and the peculiar form in which they were couched, originated in evangelical faith and feeling, and that their integrity, affectionateness, and simplicity were due to the inspiration of these writers. Thus, our Evangelist drew his materials from subjective recollection (on the part of Peter), which in turn rested on the more general basis of objective recollection (in apostolic tradition). This material took form in agreement with his particular charisma; i. e., objectively under the influence of inspiration by the Spirit, and subjectively under that of his mental idiosyncrasy.
According to the statement of Irenæus (Mar_3:1), Mark published his Gospel after the death of Peter and Paul (
, not their departure, as Mill, Grabe, Ebrard, and others render it). There is no contradiction between this and the statement of Clement of Alexandria, to the effect that this narrative had been composed during the lifetime of Peter, as Irenæus refers not to the commencement, but to the close of its composition. For the purpose of introducing the apocryphal story of the victory of Peter over Simon Magus at Rome, Eusebius has fixed the time of the Apostle’s stay in the capital in the third year of the Emperor Claudius (A. D. 43), evidently post-dating it. The publication of Mark’s Gospel must have taken place between the year 68 and 70. That it was written prior to the destruction of Jerusalem, we gather from the circumstance that in Mark 13. the Evangelist relates the prediction of that event without referring to its fulfilment. Hence it must have been composed about the same time as that by Matthew and probably that by John; the Gospel of Luke having been published several years earlier.
According to the testimony of Clement, Eusebius, Jerome, and others, the Gospel of Mark was composed at Rome—a tradition which is credited by most modern theologians. Richard Simon and others, on the strength of a statement by Chrysostom that Mark’s Gospel was written at Alexandria, have conjectured that it existed in a twofold recension. A comparison of the notice in Mar_15:21 with Act_11:20, led Storr to adopt the untenable hypothesis that it was composed in Antioch.
As our Gospel was, in the first place, intended for Roman Christians, it naturally addressed itself mainly to such as had formerly been Gentiles. Still, it cannot be inferred, from the total absence of Old Testament proof passages (with one or two exceptions), that it was exclusively designed for Gentile Christians (Meyer). We have already seen that it is one of the characteristics of Mark, to evince Christ to be the Son of God by His immediate divine working. That Mark introduces no Judaizing elements (Köstlin), is a trait which he has in common with all the New Testament writers. On the other hand, it cannot be doubted that, when the ardent Evangelist found himself addressing Latin readers, this may have influenced his style, as in the choice of Latin expressions (Mar_6:27; Mar_7:4; Mar_7:8; Mar_15:39; Mar_15:44), in giving explanation (Mar_12:42; Mar_15:16), and in making certain additions (Mar_10:12; Mar_15:21).
There is the strongest historical evidence in favor of the genuineness of Mark. Besides the general ecclesiastical testimonies, commencing with Justin Martyr’s Memorabilia and Tatian’s Diatessaron, and those of Irenæus, Clement, and Tertullian, we have a sufficiently clear quotation in Justin and the primitive testimony of Papias in his favor, as in that of Matthew. But, just as the testimony of Papias in favor of Matthew has been turned against him by putting a peculiar meaning upon the words to
, so in the present instance also it has been sought to invalidate the evidence in favor of our Gospel by an appeal to the expression
, used by Papias. This view was first propounded by Schleiermacher in the Studien und Kritiken (1832), and for a time adopted by Credner, although that writer has since discarded this interpretation. The criticism of Schleiermacher was based on the ungrounded hypothesis, that Mark’s Gospel was written in chronological order. Meyer refers the expression
to the first outlines of notices which Mark had made after hearing the discourses of Peter, and which were afterwards revised and arranged. In our opinion, the language of Papias refers more particularly to the contrast between the Gospel of Mark and the careful arrangement adopted by Matthew (of whom he had previously spoken), especially in recording the Lord’s discourses. Baur, as might be expected, supposes that the original Gospel of Mark was a work similar in character to the Clementines; Köstlin speaks of an original Gospel by Peter; while other writers indulge in similar fancies. In support of such freaks of critical imagination, each of these critics appeals to the
of Papias, no matter whether it was originally well or ill founded, or is at present properly or improperly interpreted. Others, such as De Wette, have cast doubts upon the testimony of Papias, in order thus to invalidate the authenticity of Mark. According to Ewald, there were many recensions of Mark, which underwent different variations. All these suggestions are sufficiently refuted by a proper appreciation of the internal testimony of Mark’s Gospel itself concerning its authorship.
The conclusion of Mar_16:9-20 has given rise to critical difficulties and doubts, which are better founded than any of those above referred to. Eusebius did not admit the authenticity of this passage (ad Marin. Quæstio I.), remarking, that in almost all manuscripts Mark’s Gospel closed with a description of the flight of the women from the sepulchre. Jerome (though not uniformly), Gregory of Nyssa, and Euth. Zigabenus make the same statement. Besides, the passage is wanting in the Vatican codex B.; and the Syriac Philoxeniana adds, that the close of the Gospel was different in other codices. Credner points out certain divergences in this paragraph from the ordinary modes of expression employed in this Gospel. He asserts that, while the distinctive characteristics of Mark are wanting in this passage, others not found throughout his Gospel may be traced there. Among the latter, are such expressions as
ãëþóóáéò êáéíáῖò ëáëåῖí
On the other hand, it should be noticed: 1. That Irenæus (adv. Hæres. iii 10, 6) was acquainted with the present conclusion of our Gospel, as appears from the following passage: In fine autem Evangelii ait Marcus (Mar_16:19): Et quidem dominus Jesus, postquam locutus est eis, receptus est in cœlos et sedet ad dexteram Dei. Considering how much older and more important the testimony of Irenæus is than that of Eusebius, we are naturally led to suppose it more likely that our present conclusion of the Gospel was originally found in all manuscripts, but was afterwards left out from ecclesiastical prejudices (because the Apostles were reproved in it, etc.), than that it was afterwards added. 2. In opposition to those codices in which this portion was wanting, we have the evidence of other codices in which it existed. 3. While the fact that minor characteristics of Mark—such as the expressions
—are wanting in this section, is prominently brought forward by opponents, the leading features of the passage are overlooked. But these are quite characteristic of our Evangelist, and show the conclusion of his Gospel to be quite in unison with the total narrative itself. Among these we reckon the fundamental idea of the section, that the risen Saviour overcame the unbelief of His disciples, and the promise of the Lord, that those who believed on Him should triumph over devils and serpents, and over the powers of death. The form and contents of the section, also, correspond with the idea of the Gospel generally. The strong expression, “Preach the Gospel to every creature,” is in keeping with the statement at the beginning of the Gospel, “Jesus was with the wild beasts;” as are also the closing words, “The Lord confirming the word with signs following.” Add to this, that the Gospel could not have closed with verse 8, without being fragmentary. Still, we cannot ignore the fact, that at an early period the Gospel of Mark seems to have existed in twofold recension or form. This we have, in another place (Lange, Leben Jesu, i. 166) explained by the supposition that an incomplete work of the Evangelist may have circulated among the Christian public before our present and complete Gospel. A certain degree of probability attaches to this hypothesis from the circumstance, which the Fathers record, that the Roman Christians were very anxious to obtain Mark’s Gospel. “This rapid compilation and publication, followed by delay and hesitation in view of new materials, and, lastly, the final completion of the work, are so many traits in accordance with the general character of Mark, as it is otherwise known to us.” Nor should it be forgotten that, as hierarchical views gradually spread in the Church after the third century, the fragment in question may have excited greater interest from the fact that the Apostles had been presented by Mark in an unfavorable light in his narrative of the resurrection. Considerations like these may have weighed with such men as Eusebius. Thus, it would almost seem as if the very characteristics of the Evangelist, appearing in the passage, had given rise to the doubts about its authenticity. In this paragraph, as in his Gospel generally, Mark seems mainly bent upon presenting the risen Saviour in the full majesty of His power, as He transforms, by one stroke, the remaining unbelief of His followers into a faith that overcomes the world.—The authenticity of this section has been impugned by Michaelis, Griesbach, Credner, Ewald, Hitzig (who, however, ascribes its composition to Luke), and many others; among them Meyer, who designates the passage as an “apocryphal fragment.” Its authenticity is defended by Richard Simon, Wolf, Bengel, Kuinoel, Hug, Guerike, and others.
In consequence of the supposition that Mark had composed his Gospel at Rome, and for Romans, the idea was broached in the Syrian Church, that he had originally written it in Latin. Hence the subscription of the old Syriac Peshito runs in these words: Completion of the Holy Gospel, the announcement of Mark; which he uttered and proclaimed at Rome. This view reappears in the Philoxeniana and some Greek manuscripts. Baronius availed himself of it in his Annals (ad ann. 45), for the purpose of adding to the authority of the Vulgate, and he was followed by others. Since the time of Richard Simon, however, the hypothesis has been abandoned, even by Romanist writers. A supposed Latin autograph of Mark’s Gospel at Venice has been found to be a fragment of the Vulgate. The older Fathers partly imply, and partly expressly state, that Mark wrote in Greek.
4. THEOLOGICAL AND HOMILETICAL WORKS ON THIS GOSPEL
For those exegetical and homiletical works which treat of the Gospel of Mark along with other smaller or larger sections of the New Testament, we refer the reader to the General Introduction, and the remarks prefatory to the Gospel by Matthew 4 To the writings there enumerated, we would add, the Commentary on the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, by Drs. Val. Loch and W. Reischl (Roman Catholic), Regensb., 1827; and Luther’s Exposition of the Gospels, edited by Eberle, Stuttg., 1857. Besides these, we would mention Besser’s Bible-Hours (Bibel-Stunden) Harms’ and Josephson’s works on the Sermon on the Mount. For the older commentaries on the Gospel by Mark, see Lilienthal’s Evangelium secundum Marcum; Danz’s Universal-Wörterbuch, Art. Markus; and Winer’s Handbuch, I:247. Rolle, J. B. Koppe, and Wilke, have written in defence of the originality of Mark’s Gospel; while the opposite view, that he was dependent upon Matthew, has been maintained chiefly by Griesbach and H. Saunier. Compare also the works of Knobel, Hitzig, Baur, and others. Of homiletical works, we specially mention those by Schleiermacher (Berlin, 1835), C. Brieger (Berlin, 1856), and W. L. Bauer (Dillenb. 1859).
5. FUNDAMENTAL IDEA AND ARRANGEMENT OF THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MARK
We find the motto of this Gospel in the declaration of Peter in Act_10:38,—“Jesus of Nazareth, anointed by God with the Holy Ghost and with power, who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil, for God was with Him.”
Jesus, the mighty God (
, Isa_9:6), who broke through all fetters and bonds, appeared as a Divine Person, both in His origin, mission and preparation, and as Prince of the kingdom of heaven engaging in warfare with, and achieving the victory over, Satan and his powers. Throughout, the narrative presents to view a continuous series of victorious onslaughts, like the leaps of a lion, followed by withdrawals on the part of Christ. Each victory is succeeded by a withdrawal with the acquired booty, which serves as preparation for fresh progress. The ascension of the Lord forms His last withdrawal, which is to be followed by His final onset and absolute victory.
Grand preparation. Royal appearance of Jesus by the side of John the Baptist. First manifestation, when He quits the retirement of His humiliation at Nazareth, and first withdrawal.—In principle and germ all the succeeding contests are now decided. (Mar_1:1-13)
1st Section.—John (Mar_1:1-8).
2d Section.—Christ (Mar_1:9-13).
Royal appearance of Christ after the Baptist. His conflicts and victories in Galilee, in the old Jewish Church. (Mar_1:14 to Mar_9:50)
1st Section.—Announcement of the kingdom of heaven (Mar_1:14-15).
2d Section.—Conquest of the first disciples at Capernaum, victory over the demons in that city, and withdrawal into the wilderness (Mar_1:16-35).
3d Section.—Conquest of disciples in Galilee, victory over the demons in the country, and withdrawal into the wilderness (Mar_1:36-45).
4th Section.—Attracting and repelling influence of the Lord. The multitude filled with enthusiasm; the traditionalists offended. Conflicts with the powers of evil under the form of traditionalism. Hardening, and mortal hatred of the hostile party, and withdrawal of Jesus into a ship. (The preaching in synagogues gives place to that on the sea-shore.) (Mar_2:1 to Mar_3:12)
5th Section.—Conflict of Jesus with the unbelief of His countrymen, and withdrawal into the villages (Mar_3:13 to Mar_6:6).
6th Section.—Conflict between Jesus and the hostility of Herod. Calling and mission of the Apostles. Beheading of John, and withdrawal into the wilderness on the other side of the lake (vers. 7–45).
7th Section.—Contest between Jesus and the scribes of Jerusalem, and withdrawal into the Pagan country about Tyre, and into the region of Decapolis (Mar_6:46 to Mar_8:9).
8th Section.—Decisive conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees in Galilee, and withdrawal to the mountains east of the lake. The preparation for the new Church (Mar_8:10 to Mar_9:29).
9th Section.—Retirement of Jesus in Galilee, preparatory to His journey to Peræa and Jerusalem. Further preparation for the new Church (vers. 30–50).
Conflicts and victories of the Lord in Peræa. Transition from the old to the new Church. Withdrawal of the Lord for the purpose of collecting the disciples for His last journey. (Mar_10:1-34)
1st Section.—Carnal views of the Pharisees, and spiritual law of the Lord, concerning marriage.
2d Section.—Rabbinical notions of the disciples, and theocratic and New Testament arrangements of the Lord (Mar_10:13-16).
3d Section.—Temporal riches of the world, and poverty of believers (Mar_10:17-31).
4th Section.—Solemn gathering of the disciples on the road to impending sufferings (Mar_10:32-34).
Conflicts and victories of the Lord in Judæa. Christ founding the new Church. (Mar_10:35 to Mar_15:47)
1st Section.—The departure and the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem (Mar_10:35 to Mar_11:26).
2d Section.—Decisive conflict of Jesus with His enemies at Jerusalem, and withdrawal of the Saviour to the Mount of Olives (Mar_11:27 to Mar_13:37).
3d Section.—The Saviour’s conflict of suffering, and His rest in the grave. Withdrawal into the realm of the dead (Mar_14:1 to Mar_15:47).
Resurrection of the Lord. The great victory, and appearance of the Victor in the midst of the Apostles for the purpose of completely establishing the new Church. Ascent to heaven (or last withdrawal), to achieve His victory throughout the whole world. (Mark 16)
1st Section.—The risen Saviour victorious for the Church; or, preparation for belief in the resurrection. The three Easter messages: the angel, the woman, the two men (Mar_16:1-12).
2nd Section.—The risen Saviour victorious in the Church, sweeping away the unbelief of the disciples, perfecting their faith, and giving them their glorious message and commission (Mar_16:13-18).
3rd Section.—The risen Saviour ascending to heaven victorious with the Church, confirming the “word” and message of the disciples throughout the world (Mar_16:19-20).
These periods of rest and withdrawal on the part of the Saviour, preparatory to fresh progress and victory, are also noticed by the other Evangelists, but not in so striking a manner as in Mark’s Gospel. In two instances, indeed, they appear less clearly, showing that, while it was the leading idea of Mark to indicate these contrasts, his Gospel was nevertheless not strictly and uniformly constructed or arranged upon such a plan. We subjoin a brief survey of the Gospel, with the view of setting more clearly before the reader these contrasts of withdrawal and renewed progress.
The Prelude: John in the wilderness; John arousing the whole country.
Fundamental Fact: Jesus (the Son of God) concealed in Nazareth; glorified in consequence of His baptism in the river Jordan.
1. Sojourn of Jesus in the wilderness; His appearance in room and stead of John; conquest of Capernaum.
2. Retirement of the Saviour into the wilderness; evangelization of Galilee until the preliminary conflict with traditionalism, Mar_1:40, &c.
3. Retirement of Jesus into the wilderness (Mar_1:45); commencement and completion of the conflicts in Galilee.
4. Retirement (from intercourse with the synagogue) to the ship, and commencement of the open-air sermons (Mar_3:7); and also, of the contest of the Saviour, in fellowship with His disciples, with the unbelief of the people.
5. Retirement to the villages in the mountains (Mar_6:6); and reappearance of the Saviour, to enter, in fellowship with His disciples, into conflict with the enmity of Herod—in the way of healing and feeding the people.
6. Retirement into the wilderness on the other side of the Lake of Galilee (Mar_6:30); and reappearance of the Saviour to enter into conflict with the scribes of Jerusalem. Preliminary separation from Judaism.
7. Retirement into the Gentile border-land of Tyre and Sidon, and to Decapolis (Mar_6:24, &c.); and decisive conflict with Pharisaism in Galilee. Final separation from the hierarchical party.
8. Retirement to the mountains on the other side of the Lake of Galilee, and secret sojourn in Galilee (Mar_8:13 to Mar_9:50); journey to Peræa.
9. Gathering of the disciples on the journey to Jerusalem (Mar_10:32), triumphal entry into the city, and decisive conflict in Jerusalem. Separation from the temple and the ancient theocracy.
10. Retirement of Jesus to the Mount of Olives (Mar_13:1), and reappearance to enter on His conflict of suffering.
11. Rest and concealment of Jesus in the grave (Mar_15:42), and reappearance in the personal victory and triumph of His resurrection. Victory over the realm of the dead.