Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Mystery of Mark, Part Three, Catholic Editor and/or Author

Mark, Slavonic Dobrylo Gospel (1164 CE)
With the completion of my cataloging the unique phrases in the Gospel of Mark I am able to get back to answering the questions about authorship, ending my article writing hiatus. I’d like to say my siesta was the result of the difficult work in compiling the list, but in truth the fault lies more in procrastination. But perhaps that is a good thing after all, as it gave me a chance to reflect and figure out how to present the true nature of the Gospel of Mark.

In compiling the unique phrases and words in Mark I found I had to differentiate between words which are basically a similar word found in another Gospel, which may have more to do with the voice Mark chose or other grammatical need and those which constitute an actual thought or fact which is unique in Mark. The latter are what we are examining here in the context of identifying finally the Catholic editor and the Author.

Note: I am publishing the third part before the second. The second is a more tedious work focused on the composition of Mark examining the sources, especially the M document shared with Matthew and elements such as the development of the feeding of the four thousand and five thousand. Occasionally  I may make references to items not fully explained here which are in that as yet unpublished article - some quite fascinating.

Reviewing, the synoptic Gospel redactional model I laid out (part one) will used to determine what the development in Mark was. This means that elements such as Matthew chapter 5 and verses known to not have been in Marcion’s Gospel which are found in Luke are, until shown otherwise, considered unknown to the author of Mark – just as they would be for those following Mark priority.

So to summarize I divide the unique material into categories probable of composition. These are
     a) Marginal notes and extraneous material attached by a “random” scribe
     b) Deliberate late editorial addition by a Catholic editor after the main composition
     c) Additions by the author of Mark
     d) Material from the sources used by Mark, passed over or unknown by Matthew or Luke
We are not concerned with dubious material such as the long ending (verses 16:9ff), but only with the accepted.

The Mundane Elements

Unlike the other Gospels there are no digressions into theological points, and no unique arguments. What we do see instead is more like a series of footnotes that have made their way into the text, as means of clarifications and enhancements to the text; something of a running commentary. By far the majority of unique words and phrases found in Mark fall into the category of filling out details. Mark informs us of all sorts of little tidbits and name traditions unknown to the other Gospels, and clearly expand upon the base documents he built from. Some examples
In the wilderness he was among wild animals ἦν μετὰ τῶν θηρίων (1:13)
Levi is the son of Alphaeus
τὸν τοῦ Ἀλφαίου (2:14) 
David was at the alter when Abi'athar was high priest ἐπὶ Ἀβιαθὰρ ἀρχιερέως (2:26)
The tree branches were large μεγάλους and provide nests shade π τὴν σκιν αὐτοῦ (4:32) The region beyond the Galilee is called the Decap'olis ἐν τῇ Δεκαπόλει (5:20) 
the garment was so white that no fuller could possibly bleach it so well
οἷα γναφεὺς ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς οὐ δύναται οὕτως λευκᾶναι (9:3)
we're told the boy has had his condition since childhood δὲ εἶπεν, Ἐκ παιδιόθεν (9:21)
Jesus became angry ἠγανάκτησεν (10:14)
Bartimaeus is the son of Timaeus υἱὸς Τιμαίου Βαρτιμαῖος (10:46)
Jesus after overturning the money tables would not permit anything carried into the temple
καὶ οὐκ ἤφιεν ἵνα τις διενέγκη σκεῦος διὰ τοῦ ἱεροῦ (11:16)
two copper coins are worth one Roman bronze quarter ἐστιν κοδράντης  (12:42)
those with Jesus were Peter, James, John and Andrew 
Πέτρος καὶ Ἰάκωβος καὶ Ἰωάννης καὶ Ἀνδρέας (13:5) 
the nard was worth more than three hundred denarii ἐπάνω δηναρίων τριακοσίω (14:5) 
Simon of Cyrene is the father of Alexander and Rufus
τὸν πατέρα Ἀλεξάνδρου καὶ Ῥούφου (15:21)  
the sons of Zebedee's mother (Matthew 27:56, 20:20) is named Salome Σαλώμη (15:40) Mary is Joses' mother Ἰωσῆτος (Matthew 27:71 "the other Mary" ἄλλη Μαρία) (15:47) 
In addition several Aramaic translations are given to us formulaically
Bo-aner'ges, that is, sons of thunder Βοανηργές ἐστιν Υἱοὶ Βροντῆς (3:17) 
"Tal'itha cu'mi"; which means, "Little girl  
Ταλιθα κουμ, ἐστιν μεθερμηνευόμενον Τὸ κοράσιον (5:41)
"Corban," that is, an offering Κορβᾶν, ἐστιν Δῶρον (7:11) 
"Ephphatha," that is, "Be opened" Εφφαθα, ἐστιν, Διανοίχθητι (7:34) 
"Abba, father, all things are possible for you"  
Αββα Πατήρ, πάντα δυνατά σοι· παρένεγκε (14:36) [i] 
"E'lo-i, E'lo-i, la'ma sabach-tha'ni?" which means, 
"My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" 
Ἐλωί ἐλωί λαμὰ σαβαχθανεί; ὅ ἐστιν μεθερμηνευόμενον 
Ὁ θεός μου ὁ θεός μου, εἰς τί ἐγκατέλιπές (15:34) [ii]
I am not certain if the Aramaic represents accretion in the source, as this is not consistent elsewhere with M, as it appears Matthew’s source hints at more accretion than the version Mark knew, or if it represents a deliberate effort by Mark to represent Jesus as an Aramaic speaker, which may be important in establishing ethnicity. This is something to note now, for later examination.

Mark often adds to stories the words Jesus and other used in conversation. For example
they fell down before him and cried out, "You are the Son of God."  
προσέπιπτον αὐτῷ καὶ ἔκραζον λέγοντες ὅτι Σὺ εἶ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ (3:11)
for they had said, "He has an unclean spirit." ὅτι ἔλεγον, Πνεῦμα ἀκάθαρτον ἔχει (3:30)
and said to the sea, "Peace! Be still!" εἶπεν τῇ θαλάσσῃ, Σιώπα, πεφίμωσο (4:39) 
"What shall I ask?" And she said, "The head of John the baptizer" 
 Τί αἰτήσωμαι δὲ εἶπεν, Τὴν κεφαλὴν Ἰωάννου τοῦ βαπτίζοντος (6:24) 
And he said to them, "Do you not yet understand?" καὶ ἔλεγεν αὐτοῖς, Οὔπω συνίετε (8:21) 
And he asked them, "What are you discussing with them?"  
καὶ ἐπηρώτησεν αὐτούς, Τί συνζητεῖτε πρὸς αὐτούς (9:16)
he told his disciples for the demon "This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer"
καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς, Τοῦτο τὸ γένος ἐν οὐδενὶ δύναται ἐξελθεῖν εἰ μὴ ἐν προσευχῇ (9:33)  
he asked them, "What were you discussing on the way?" 
ἐπηρώτα αὐτούς,  Τί ἐν τῇ ὁδῳ διελογίζεσθε (9:33)  
"Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!"  
Τέκνα, πῶς δύσκολόν ἐστιν εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ εἰσελθεῖν (10:24) 
The bulk of the unique elements found only in Mark are details about settings and minor clarifications. In this category are explanations, often faulty, of rituals and practices. For example Mark 7:2-4 has a digression into Jewish washing purification rituals,[iii] The information is anecdotal, and probably common knowledge for anyone with contact with Jews. What is instructive is that the followers of Jesus, that is, the Christians represented are not Jews and do not follow Jewish rituals such as washing hands before eating. The need to explain the differences with Jews (and Pharisees, explained below) represents a certain distance and time has separated Mark’s account from Matthew 15:1-10. But in keeping with Mark’s tendencies there is no additional theological argument made here, simply added description of the scene.

I leave the link to the list of unique words and phrases in Mark I compiled, first pass and probably with a few inconsistencies, for the reader to examine and see examples for themselves.

The Scribes in Mark

At first I thought, as I began to write, that Mark having six unique appearances of the scribes, or the scribes of the Pharisees, had some significance in distancing Mark from Matthew, but this is a weak case. What I found instead was that scribes few mentions in Luke were almost entirely missing from Marcion. [iv] Mark 12:38 turns out to be derived from Marcion’s Gospel, switching out "lawyer" (νομικός) in Luke 10:25 with a scribe (εἷς τῶν γραμματέων). Since lawyer appears to be a Marcionite exclusive word (not Luke) which has the strong connotation of representing the proto-orthodox Jewish Christians who support the Torah Law, it is very possible that "scribe" like in the parallel Luke 20:39, likely stood in Marcion’s source L, or that for both L and M there was no identification of the speaker simply "one of them" as in Matthew 22:35 (εἷς ἐξ αὐτῶν). This latter scenario is what I think was the original, where Marcion and Mark both added their identifications accordingly. Some seem to merely be formulaic additions (e.g., 3:22 per Matthew 9:34 and 12:24 –compare Luke 11:15 τινὲς δὲ ἐξ αὐτῶν, for possible original–, 14:43, 15:1). And those in 12:32-35 seem to be from Luke 20:39, which is a duplicate element found in Marcion. Upon inspection this element in Mark can be explained away almost entirely by source and formula, without any need to consider theology. [v]

Possible Contact with the Apostolikon
Mark 7:19 includes the phrase "thus he declared all foods clean" (καθαρίζων πάντα τὰ βρώματα), which appears to map to Paul's declaration - not Jesus - in 1 Corinthians 10:25, 27 that you may eat all meats. However Tertullian is unclear in AM  5.7.14 saying that he is skipping over issues, meaning whether a verse is present or not and how it is to be interpreted, immediately before mentioning "a great argument for another God is the permission to eat all meats in contradiction to the law" (Magnum argumentum dei alterius permissio omnium obsoniorum adversus legem). My analysis when building the interlinear for 1 Corinthians was that 1 Corinthians 10:22-30 was entirely inserted later by the Catholic editor based on the appearance of Pastoral words (10:23 οἰκοδομεῖ, 10:28 ἱερόθυτόν, 10:30 εὐχαριστῶ) and themes such as conscience (1:25, 1:27, 1:29 συνεδησιν) - see Winsome Munro, p169. What this verse in mark and the Catholic addition to 1 Corinthians show is that a certain selectivity of Torah Law application existed in the Catholic camp, at variance with Matthew's view. This example turns out not to show a Pauline (Marcionite) heritage for Mark, as the sentiments agree with later Catholic version of the Pauline Epistles (1 Corinthians 10:25, 27, Romans 14:14) not with the attested Marcionite versions.

Mark 14:36 declares, "Abba, father" (Αββα Πατήρ) an Aramaic phrase that appears Galatians 4:6 (AM 5.4.3) and Romans 8:15, which were present in the Marcionite collection. Again both of these verses may have been from the Catholic edition as well as the Marcionite. 

Jesus as Teacher and the Crowds Approval

A primary theme of Mark's "mundane" additions is that Jesus is always mentioned as teaching (2:13 and 4:2 καὶ ἐδίδασκεν αὐτούς9:31 ἐδίδασκεν γὰρ, 10:1 καὶ ὡς εἰώθει πάλιν ἐδίδασκεν αὐτούς, 11:17 καὶ ἐδίδασκεν). But this teaching is often presented in the same sense as that of the teaching from a leader of Christian Sect would be viewed, evidenced by by Mark's portrayal of the doctrine taught by Jesus is of that sort. In 12:38  it is says to be wary of the scribes, not as an immediate saying to the crowd that moment but rather as part of his taught doctrine (Καὶ ἑν τῇ διδαχῇ), suggesting that Marcion/Luke 20:45-48 is an existing tenet. His teaching in parable of the Sower is said, in verse 4:2, to be from his taught doctrine (ἐν τῇ διδαχ αὐτοῦ), as if the parable (Marcion/Luke 8:4-8, Matthew 13:1-9) is already established.

Another primary theme in these additions is that the crowds were large and growing (e.g., 1:45, 3:9-10, 8:1, 8:34, 9:15), mostly to show the success of his mission. And these crowds  sided with Jesus, such that the Jewish authorities faced hostility from them (e.g., 9:14 καὶ γραμματεῖς συνζητοῦντας πρὸς αὐτούς). This seems more a sociopolitical statement of "the people" against the Jewish leaders, under scoring that Mark is not Jewish. 

Preaching the Gospel

Mark puts unique emphasis on  the Gospel itself, and by this I mean a written Gospel, as the basis of Jesus' teaching. In verse 1:14 Mark announces at the start of his mission that Jesus was preaching  "the gospel of God" (τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ θεοῦ), and that Christians are to "believe in the Gospel" (πιστεύετε ἐν τῷ εὐαγγελίῳ). This demonstrates that the writer holds the Jewish God as the father of Jesus, we are not dealing with a Gnostic or Marcionite God separate from the creator.

As I have explained in my notes on the Marcionite version of Romans, the Gospel of God was a name the Catholic Christians used because it implies that the Jewish God is the father; this very clear from the formula in Catholic version of Romans 1:1-3 "the Gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets and holy scriptures, concerning his son" (εὐαγγέλιον θεοῦ, ὃ προεπηγγείλατο διὰ τῶν προφητῶν αὐτοῦ ἐν γραφαῖς ἁγίαις, περὶ τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ). This stands in direct contrast to Marcion's Paul who declares in Galatians 1:7 that his Gospel is "the Gospel of Christ" (εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ Χριστοῦ) and that it was not from the scriptures but revealed to him from Christ (Galatians 1:1, 1:12). As I am simply summing up and wont digress further here, but the main point is that there is a clear distinction between the "Gospel of Christ" of the Marcionites and the "Gospel of God" of the Catholics. We can use this as a likely marker for identifying the camp for the author of a given verse. It is curious the opening of this Gospel seems to agree with Marcion Ἀρχὴ τοῦ εὐαγγελίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. [vi]

This emphasis on the Gospel shows up in an addition to saying in Mark 8:35 "For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's (καὶ τοῦ εὐαγγελίου) will save it." This extends defense of Christ found in Matthew 16:25 and Luke 9:24, to also include what must be a written Gospel, since the statement implies a consistency in message.  We are looking at a more established church than the sources M and L considered. This defense of Christ is extended to the Gospel again in Mark 10:29 (καὶ ἔνεκεν τοῦ εὐαγγελίου), confirming this is as a deliberate statement.
There is one other possible reference to Gospel content as already known, in Mark 9:12 the suffering of the son of man is prefaced by "and how it is written of" (καὶ πῶς γέγραπται ἐπὶ). There is no LXX reference, rather a Gospel reference to L source of Marcion (Luke 9:22, per Epiphanius P42 see note [iv]) "the son of man will suffer much and be killed and on the third day be raised" (Δεῖ τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου πολλὰ παθεῖν καὶ ἀποκτανθῆναι καὶ τῇ τρίτῃ ἡμέρᾳ ἐγερθῆναι) and the expanded versions of Matthew 16:21 (M source) and Mark 8:31. This is a slip that reveals the secondary nature of Mark in the verse. 

A similar addition follows in Mark 9:13 about John as Elijah coming before with the statement "as it is written of him" (καθὼς γέγραπται ἐπ' αὐτόν). The should reference is to Malachi 4:5 with the Christian view that John is the return of Elijah who must proceed Christ, which explains Malachi 3:1 in Mark 1:2 and the association we find Matthew 10:10 discussed below. However the verse discusses the death of John and there is no story of a death and imprisonment of Elijah anywhere. The reference must be to the arrest of John and the beheading stories of the Gospels. This is an example of Mark not actually knowing the content of the Septuagint, but is relying on Christian interpretation, and hence the confusion.

The Anti-Marcionite Elements from the LXX

Perhaps the strongest case that Mark presented theological intentions in the composition of the Gospel can be found in the story of when Jesus is asked a tricky question of Mark 12:28-37 (Matthew 22:34-46, Luke 10:25-28). Mark has Jesus respond to the question of the greatest commandment by prepending Jesus’ response to include Deuteronomy 6:4 LXX in verse 12:29 "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one" (Ἄκουε, Ἰσραήλ, κύριος θεὸς ἡμῶν κύριος εἷς ἐστιν). This phrase is missing in the militantly anti-Marcionite Matthew as his verse 22:37 has Jesus respond only with Deuteronomy 6:5, as does also Luke 10:27  where Jesus importantly does not quote the OT but asks the lawyer how he reads – a clear Marcionite element that survived Luke’s revision, unlike in Luke 18:20 per Epiphanius. Deuteronomy 6:4 was a cornerstone of the Jewish/Catholic Christian doctrine, and stands in sharp contrast to the Marcionites and Gnostic heretics who saw the Jewish God of Moses, and the creator, as separate from and lesser than the God of Christ. Deuteronomy 6:4 makes it clear that there is one God and he is the God of Israel, of the Jews, and the creator.

This anti-Marcionite point is further driven home when the scribe replies in 12:32 quoting Deuteronomy 4:35 "You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that he is one, and there is no other but he" (Καλῶς, διδάσκαλε, ἐπ' ἀληθείας εἶπες ὅτι εἷς ἐστὶν καὶ οὐκ ἔστιν ἄλλος πλὴν αὐτοῦ). This shows that the inclusion of Deuteronomy 6:4 was deliberate to make theological point. Further the scribe, who represents in Mark the strongest Jewish opponents, remarkably approves of Jesus’ teaching of the nature of God. Implied is that Christians are teaching something different than the unity of God. A situation identical to that found in1 Timothy,  2:5 "For God is one" (εἷς γὰρ θεός), demonstrating the debating point was Catholic and used against those who separated the Creator from the father. Mark is not saying this in a vacuum, the next commandment, "to love one's neighbor as oneself" from Leviticus 19:18, found in the Marcionite Apostolokon (Galatians 5:14, Romans 13:9) and the direct parallel in the Gospel (Luke 10:27).

Deuteronomy 6:4 and the reply 4:35 are fully embedded in Mark’s version, representing a clear theological point, clarifying which God it is that one is to love with all one’s heart. That Jesus himself is preaching it, is meant to trump Christian opponents who see the Jewish God as the mere demiurge. Matthew’s author showed similar sentiments, when in 22:40 he states "on these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets," (ἐν ταύταις ταῖς δυσὶν ἐντολαῖς ὅλος ὁ νόμος κρέμαται καὶ οἱ προφῆται) making very clear that God he speaks of is the same as the God who gave Moses the Ten Commandments and who is the God of the Old Testament prophets.

Curiously these accounts in Matthew and Mark stands in direct opposition to what follows from their common source document M, and where Mark separates Christ from the Jewish scribes, that Christ is not the son of David, that is not the Jewish God’s Christ. [vii] Clearly both Gospels added anti-Marcionite elements to the document they worked from independently. In Mark’s case the first commandment is explained following a common exegesis technique where Deuteronomy 6:5 is reflected in context of the prior verse Deuteronomy 6:4. 

The feature which stands out is that when Mark was writing, the Tricky Question in Luke 10:25-28 was already a point of contention between Marcionites and the proto-Orthodox when Mark was being written, (see AM 4.25.14-17) with the Marcionites using it as a point of emphasis to show that the Jewish God was not the father of Christ and that Mark felt the need for refutation. This clearly places authorship of Mark after the Marcionite eruption.

Malachi 3:1 and Other LXX quotes in Mark

Much debate and confusion has arisen from Mark’s insertion of Malachi 3:1 LXX in verse 1:2, which makes a mess of the introductory statement "as has been written in the prophet Isaiah" which clearly is referencing verse 1:3 which quotes Isaiah 40:3. The association of John the Baptist with the role of a forerunner and messenger for God heralding Christ, as interpreted by way of exegesis of Malachi 3:1, is clear and already established from the use of the same LXX verse in Matthew 11:10 and Marcion/Luke 7:27 where Jesus speaks of John. The concept is early, attested in Marcion [viii] and probably originated in that camp.  Mark lacks this passage found in Matthew and Luke but knows the same tradition with respect to John, so made use of the passage in the opening verses of his Gospel. By so doing he unwittingly made false the claim that the writing was of Isaiah, perhaps showing his ignorance of the LXX. This caused a number of later scribes to try and correct the text by changing 'Isaiah the prophet' to the more general 'the prophets.'
There are very few LXX quotes in Mark, and the above passage strongly indicates that Malachi 3:1 found its way into Mark from the notes very early in the process, either by Mark or one of the first copies. It is unlikely a Catholic editor would have made such an error. (Note, I lean toward Mark as author for this.)

The only other unique use of the Septuagint is found in Mark 9:48, which appears to loosely quotes from Isaiah 66:24. But this turns to be based on Matthew 18:8 εἰς τὸ πῦρ τὸ αἰώνιον, expanding 18:9 "Gahanna of fire" γέενναν τοῦ πυρός, quoting the LXX to give a description of Hell / Gahanna (γέενναν). [ix] What is unique is that Mark actually quotes Isaiah’s last verse, the very same prophet he was unaware did not write Malachi 3:1 in verse 1:2. Unlike the anti-Marcionite passage in 12:29 and 12:32, this is not an embedded element in the story. But as no citation is made by Mark, much like Malachi 3:1 in verse 1:2, it seems to be more commentary in nature, and lacking textual variants, the evidence suggests this was in fact from Mark, not a later editor.

Every other Septuagint reference in Mark is paralleled in Matthew, and a few in Marcion’s Gospel, which traces them back to the source documents, especially the one in common with Matthew I call M. As a result no theological position can be drawn from them for identifying Mark. [x]

Possible Theological and Political Positions

Herod Agrippa II, Judea coin 94/95 CE
Besides the anti-Marcionite additions in Mark 12:29, 32 there appear to be a handful of other theological and political issues addressed in the additions Mark made in his Gospel. The one which stands out is Fiscus Iudaicus (Ἰουδαϊκὸν τέλεσμα). The reference in 12:42 to two Jewish copper coins () being the value of one Roman bronze coin, could be a disguised reference to the Jewish tax, where you either paid two denarii (duo denarii Iudaeorum) or two attic drachma (δδραχμον), which equals one half shekel . This is a correct interpretation of the parable, as the old woman represents the burden on all Jews, including children and women, citizen and free and slave, who had to pay the tax no matter how great it was for them. But Mark's provided exchange value does not map to the one to four ratio of shekel to denarii, but instead is a mundane exchange rate report for readers unfamiliar with the Jewish currency. This is not surprising if it was written after Judea was dissolved and the currency out of circulation for awhile requiring translation, as would be the case a decade or more after the Bar Kokhba revolt was put down.

With the emergence of Christian's like Mark, who are clearly not Jewish, has the Pharisees asks the question of whether they (Jews) should be paid taxesto the Romans in Mark 12:14, "Should we pay or should we not pay"
(δῶμεν ἢ μὴ δῶμεν)? The question of whether it is lawful, which means Torah Law, clearly is concerned for temple taxes, which includes those collected in Synagogues to be brought to the temple as Josephus in Antiquities states "in accordance the law of their fathers" (κατὰ τὸν πάτριον αὐτῶν νόμον), should be paid to Rome (i.e., Καίσαρος). This is a situation which existed from the 3rd year of Vespasian (71 CE) until Julian (360 CE), when the Empire wide Jewish tax was paid to Rome and not to Judea, and corresponds to the main question. Mark's answer, like the other Gospels is yes, and with less ambiguity.

The Original Stories Elements

The most perplexing element unique to Mark is the naked young man from Mark 14:51-52. This passage has baffled scholars and led to all sorts of strange theories about its meaning and origin.[xi] But I think the real explanation is not especially exciting. The passage is appended and connected to the arrest of Jesus in Mark 14:43-50 on the concept of the disciples forsaking Christ on the phrase "they all fled" (ἔφυγον πάντες) in 14:50, with the young man "fleeing naked" (γυμνὸς ἔφυγεν).

The vocabulary is key to unraveling the meaning and origin of the fragment. In 14:51 we are told "a young man followed him, with nothing but a linen cloth over his naked body" Καὶ νεανίσκος τις συνηκολούθει αὐτῷ περιβεβλημένος σινδόνα ἐπὶ γυμνοῦ. This immediately reminds us of verse 16:5 where at the tomb the women see "a young man sitting on the right having been clothed in a white robe" νεανίσκον καθήμενον ἐν τοῖς δεξιοῖς περιβεβλημένον στολὴν λευκήν. The vocabulary overlap is not accidental. Clearly in verse 16:5 the reference to the young man in a white robe is the same as the angel in the version of the scene in Matthew 28:5. And this angelic clothing in white is explained in Revelation 7:14, where those saints referred to in verses 7:9-13 having gone through great tribulation "they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the lamb" καὶ ἔπλυναν τὰς στολὰς αὐτῶν καὶ ἐλεύκαναν αὐτὰς ἐν τῷ αἵματι τοῦ ἀρνίου. As I have covered elsewhere, the book of Revelation while deals with cosmic events, and blood of the lamb is Christ’s blood, and that is what makes the garments so dazzling white, like we see with the young man at the tomb.

What is left is the reference to nakedness which is only confusing because Mark did not comment on it. However the theology is clear enough and can be traced to 2 Corinthians 5:1-10, [xii] specifically 5:3, "if indeed having been unclothed we will not be found naked" εἴ γε καὶ ἐνδυσάμενοι οὐ γυμνοὶ εὑρεθησόμεθα. The clothing here is spiritual, as stated in the prior verses, "we have a house (οἰκίαν) not made with hands eternal in the heavens. For indeed we groan, longing to be clothed (οἰκητήριον) in our dwelling from heaven." The reference then to the linen cloth covering the naked body of the young man in Mark 14:51 represents a heavenly house for the body. But in forsaking Christ and fleeing "he leaves behind the linen cloth" δὲ καταλιπὼν τὴν σινδόνα and so doing flees without Christ’s heavenly cover is "found naked"; the very condition spoken of in 2 Corinthians 5:4 of "we do want to be unclothed but cloth" οὐ θέλομεν ἐκδύσασθαι ἀλλ' ἐπενδύσασθαι, because in verse 5:6 "we know that being at home in the body we are away from the Lord" εἰδότες ὅτι ἐνδημοῦντες ἐν τῷ σώματι ἐκδημοῦμεν ἀπὸ τοῦ κυρίου.

The young man in forsaking Christ and fleeing with the disciples is thus away from the Lord and found naked. It is a theological point which Mark does not seem to grasp, as he makes no comment on the allusion. There is some evidence of Mark wording in both verses 14:51 and 16:5, specifically περιβεβλημένος, but nothing to indicate he was aware of its implications. He treats the passage as a mundane addition. Thus I conclude that it was part of the source document Mark worked from, something which grew organically after Marcion and Matthew gospels were written – the source likely lost when Luke redacted Marcion.

Mark 8:22-26 is another healing of a blind man that shares some close similarities with Mark 10:46, 49-52 healing of Bartimaeus upon leaving Jericho without the son of David references. Like Matthew 9:27-31 with respect to Matthew 20:29-34, this story appears to be a more primitive version of the Jericho healing, only unlike Matthew 9:27-31 it is still attached to the Four Thousand Loop, albeit appended at the end.  


The first conclusion I draw about the composition of Mark is that it appears to be a conflation of source documents we can largely reconstruct from common text with Matthew (M) and Luke/Marcion (L) sources. The general lack of secondary theological layer, the primary motivator for any such expansion, largely rules out a Catholic editor. Nearly every expansion can be explained away as transition words to allow smoother conflation, accretion and minor variances in the source documents, and mostly detail enhancement to stories (e.g., who was present, what words were said, the actions Jesus took in a healing, etc), and to show the popularity of Jesus with the masses. What is left is very little which could possibly be assigned a later Catholic editor. Thus I conclude there was no Catholic layer, and no Catholic editor. 

There are several salient features in the unique material of Mark which bear note. The first of which is the variance from Matthew due quite possibly to differences in the version of the common source. For example Matthew 9:27-31 and the parallel Matthew 20:29-34 both have two blind men, while Mark 8:22-26 and the parallel 10:46-52 has only one blind man (as also Luke 18:35-43). It is unlikely Matthew changed both stories to two blind men, as his story telling was theologically driven, but rather the source document differed from Mark (Matthew's source seems later here). Similar adjustments no doubt drive several variants in Mark. (Note, these are covered in part two not yet published).
About all we can conclude is that the author of Mark appears to be a gentile Christian, who does not make copious use of the Septuagint for proof texts unlike Matthew and Luke.  His blunder in verse 1:2 suggests the LXX was not one of his sources, or was a book he was only acquainted with and not deeply knowledgeable, understood most likely through Christian commentary. But as can be seen from the anti-Marcionite elements he sides with the Jewish God as father of Christ, and so is firmly Catholic. But he also makes a strong effort to distance himself from Judaism unlike Matthew (e.g., Mark 7:8, 7:19).

This brings me to the question of motivation for writing this Gospel, conflating the M and L sources. The answer is possibly found in the opening of the Gospel of Luke, when the author of that Gospel states, "many have attempted to compile a narrative" (πολλοὶ ἐπεχείρησαν ἀνατάξασθαι διήγησιν). Mark's Gospel likely represents one of those compilations mentioned by Luke. [xiii] Luke 1:3 straight forward states in that the work was commissioned by one Theophilus, and one can assume similar motivation for Mark to cobble together the accounts M and L which he knew into a single narrative. But unlike Luke, who had an adoptionist message implanted on his Gospel, Mark appears only to have been motivated to harmonize the existing accounts without implanting a specific message beyond answering detail questions which had arisen since those ür-Gospels M and L went into circulation.

The audience was Gentile Christian and had concerns accordingly, such as whether to pay Fiscus Iudaicus (12:14 δῶμεν ἢ μὴ δῶμεν) and whether Torah Law applied to diet (7:19 καθαρίζων πάντα τὰ βρώματα) and beyond that curiosity of names, places, and Jewish customs. In the end all we can say is the Gospel was written after the Bar Kokhba revolt, after the Marcionite eruption, and before the Catholic letters of Paul and the Gospel of Luke were written, and that the author was a Gentile proto-Orthodox Christian without the legalistic concerns of Matthew. Assigning a more specific camp to the author is impossible. But it is worth noting that even with Jesus specified as a son of David, from Nazareth, and with the Jewish God as father, this author was comfortable without a protoevangelium or a post resurrection story which caused later Catholic scribes to append one - a clear sign that Orthodoxy was far from settled in second half of the second century.

I am comfortable placing a maximum date boundary of between 145 AD and 165 AD. Most likely the composition date was between 150-160 AD, as there is nothing to suggest the Parthian War has yet erupted (suggested by a few elements in Catholic Luke) and so Antoninus is still most likely on the throne, and Marcion has already split as suggested in both the terms "Gospel of God" and the anti-Marcionite references to Deuteronomy 6:4. It's a bit anticlimactic of an answer and somewhat unsatisfying to say, but that is the best we can do.

I will at some point release the middle section, part two of this series, when I am comfortable with the format. It will be the driest of the three, but will go into depth on the content of the two ür-Gospels M and L. And it has to be, since it really is meant to build a strong case to answer traditionalist defenders. There is a lot of foundation which has to be laid. One curious element of M, which includes the embedding of the four thousand loop, is that the feeding of the four/five thousand original story lacked any reference to fish. (Couldn't resist that spoiler)

I intend to return to my Marcionite Apostolikon interlinear work and push out Laodiceans and the Thessalonians. My aim is to complete and publish the entire collection by mid year. I need the deadline, as I am more than halfway through all three of those epistles and need to complete them. Colossians will for sure be the most difficult, and likely the last one I'll push out.

I am disappointed that I was unable to assign a specific camp to Mark, although there are some similarities to Carpocrates in that Jesus is educated in the way of the Jews but regards them with contempt; and that Jesus is show using incantations to remove daemons. But there are also significant differences, and not group is mentioned with all the characteristics and with the Jewish God as father. There simply isn't enough evidence one way or the other for docetism, so I was left without any further ability to identify the author's affiliation beyond proto-Orthodox gentile who does not know the OT directly. Anything more would be wild speculation that I am not comfortable with. The lack of a later Catholic layer also does not help, since there is no tendency which is trying to be corrected to help identify the author's leaning. I hope to revise this view with a more definitive answer in the future


[i] Mark 14:36 is unique because Luke 22:42-45a is not found in Marcion. The use of "Abba" Αββα shows contact with the Marcionite Pauline epistles, Romans 8:15 and Galatians 4:6. Matthew 26:36 lacks Abba, reading only Πάτερ μου.
[ii] Mark 15:24 is not unique, but shares this Aramaic explanation nearly identically with Matthew 27:46 (Ηλι ηλι λεμὰ σαβαχθανι; τοῦτ' ἔστιν, Θεέ μου θεέ μου, ἱνατί με ἐγκατέλιπες). Matthew elsewhere makes no effort to demonstrate that Jesus' native tongue was Aramaic. This poses a vexing question of whether these are original to Mark or accretion in the version of the source M which Mark knew compared to the version Matthew knew?
[iii] The New Testament is not a reliable source concerning Jewish practices, nor Roman history. However in the reference in Mark is consistent with Netilat yadayim (aka Mayim Rishonim)
[iv] The only attested presence of scribes in Marcion is from Luke 20:39, AM 4.38.9 'the Scribes exclaimed, "Master, Thou hast well said."' Atque adeo scribae, Magister, inquiunt, bene dixisti. Note, the scribe here is not an opponent of Jesus in Luke’s account.

Epiphanius P42 reads 20:19 Καὶ ἐζήτησαν ἐπιβαλεῖν ἐπ' αὐτὸν τὰς χεῖρας, καὶ ἐφοβήθησαν without "the scribes and the chief priests" (οἱ γραμματεῖς καὶ οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς) or "in that very hour" (ἐν αὐτῇ τῇ ὥρᾳ) and they merely are afraid, not "of the people" (τὸν λαόν). Epiphanius' reading maps closely to Mark 12:12 Καὶ ἐζήτουν αὐτὸν κρατῆσαι. Tertullian in AM 4.12.5 seems to read Luke 6:7 as only the Pharisees (accusant pharisaei) accusing Jesus, in line with Matthew 12:14. Curiously Mark 3:6 has the Pharisees in strange bedfellow alliance with the Herodians. These cast grave doubts that any instances of scribes as opponents were in Marcion's Gospel.

The evidence is inconsistence for Luke 9:22, with Tertullian and Epiphanius disagreeing. Tertullian AM 4.21.7 reads in agreement with the received text: "the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and scribes, and priests, and be slain, and be raised again the third day." quia oporteret filium hominis multa pati, et reprobari a presbyteris et scribis et sacerdotibus, et interfici, et post tertium diem resurgere; Epiphanius P42 appears to read a much abbreviated version "it is necessary for the son of many to suffer many things, and to be killed, and the third day be raised" Δεῖ τὸν ἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου πολλὰ παθεῖν, καὶ ἀποκτανθῆναι, καὶ μετὰ τρεῖς ἡμέρας ἐγερθῆναι, omitting the "and be rejected of the elders, and scribes, and priests." Epiphanius' reading is closer to 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 in Marcionite form ὅτι Χριστὸς ἀπέθανεν καὶ ἐτάφη καὶ ἐγήγερται τῇ ἡμέρᾳ τῇ τρίτῃ. The rejection by the priests and the scribes seems to be outside Marcion, making one wonder if Tertullian is not reverting to the Catholic text. I find myself siding with Epiphanius on this reading on the weight of Marcion's reading of 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, and against Tertullian's even though he agree with Matthew 16:21 and Mark 8:31. There is some instability in the witnesses: Clement seems to agree with Marcion per Epiphanius; family 1 is missing 'scribes', 565 is missing the 'chief priests'. The received text appears to be an expansion of the original creed, and there is nothing in that expansion which would have met any objection from Marcion.

I am uncertain about the 'woe to the scribes' saying in Luke 20:46 which is essentially identical form as Mark 12:38. It would be unusual for Mark to be original and Luke copy, but there is possibly evidence in the Wicked Tenants.  This needs more study.

All the others lack any mention, one way or the other in the anti-Marcionite Literature, so determining their presence has to move to internal evidence and consistency with Marcionite writing. Tertullian in AM 4.12.5 seems to read only 'Pharisees' in verse 6:7, which would align Marcion's text with Matthew 12:14, and even the expanded Mark 3:6 which has the Pharisees forming an unlikely alliance with the Herodians (huh?). Luke 20:1 Tertullian seems to read in agreement with Matthew 21:23 "the chief priests and the elders of the people" without scribes, and AM 4.38.1 mentions only Pharisees. AM 4.41.2 only reports Jesus was brought before the Sanhedrin in verse 22:66, a reading closer to Matthew 26:59. Verses 15:2 and 23:10 seem most likely to be later insertions by Luke. There is no evidence one way or the other for the reading of Luke 5:21, 5:30, 22:2, but that is a very weak case for the word being present (Peter Head’s easy acceptance of unattested material being included in Marcion's Gospel by default aside – it’s based on the circular logic of his presumed model … had to take a shot at him somewhere; but really it’s the same for all such supporters of Luke priority over Marcion side Harnack). It should be noted that scribes are entirely missing from the Gospel of John as well (verse 8:2 is part of the 5th century adulterous woman insertion).
[v] The one instance not explained away is verse 9:14 'and scribes arguing with them' καὶ γραμματεῖς συνζητοῦντας πρὸς αὐτούς. This is unique to Mark, with the scribes arguing with the crowd. My current speculation is the crowds in Mark represent Christians and the scribes some hither to now unidentified sect or other movement which opposes Mark. We have few clues to work with here.
[vi] Mark  1:1 reads Ἀρχὴ τοῦ εὐαγγελίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, which agrees with Marcion's Paul, and I think is the earliest form of the Gospel title was not τοῦ εὐαγγελίου τοῦ κυρίου as implied by Tertullian, but more likely τοῦ εὐαγγελίου Χριστοῦ in agreement with the Apostolikon. This is probably the the title the ür-Gospels had. Mark added  Ἰησοῦ and orthodox scribes worried about Adoptionist readings (and I think also to make clear that Jesus was the Jewish God's son) added υἱοῦ θεοῦ. See Bart D. Ehrman, The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture, pages 72-75, for a complete analysis.
[vii] These source document for Matthew 22:42-45 and  the parallel in 9:27, Mark 12:35-37, and Luke 20:44, appear on the surface to be inconsistent, as Jesus is called the "son of David" by the blind man in the healing at Jericho. But this is not the case, as the key element in the allegory is that those blind to the truth about Christ are the ones who think he is the "son of David." This is clear in the Mark/Luke accounts, as gaining faith in Christ cures the blindness, and they then "followed him," that is the true Christ, not the Davidic King. John 7:40-41underlines this very point, that Jesus is not the son of David, not from Bethlehem, but Galilee. Further in John 8:44 the God and father of the Jews is declared both a liar and a murderer.

Matthew being Jewish Christian also includes the after the healing of the two blind men at Jericho (note, he removed the faith element, understanding its implication), when Jesus rides into Jerusalem on a donkey, he has the crowd declare Jesus the son of David (21:9), and before (21:5) to tell the daughters of Zion the King is coming. Clearly Matthew sees Jesus as the Davidic king. Mark’s version lacks this detail, but mentions the restoration of "the Kingdom of our father David" in 11:10, clearly the same sentiment. This story is not found in Marcion (Epiphanius reports Luke 19:29-46 were not present). This shows an expansion in the source M compared to L.
[viii] Tertullian AM 4.18.7 Ecce ego mitto angelum meum ante faciem tuam, qui praeparabit viam tuam, Epiphanius Panarion 42 αὐτός ἐστι περὶ οὗ γέγραπται, Ἰδοὺ ἀποστέλλω τὸν ἄγγελόν μου πρὸ προσώπου σου. Traditional scholarship attributes this to Q. But it is in fact Marcionite
[ix] Interestingly, the first part of Isaiah 66:24 used by Mark, "where their worm never dies" ὅπου ὁ σκώληξ αὐτῶν οὐ τελευτᾷ appears to have been paraphrased by the Apocalypse of Peter when speaking of the fate of people who persecuted (οἱ διώξαντες τοὺς δικαίους) the righteous "and their bowels are forever consumed by sleepless worms" καὶ ἐσθιόμενοι τὰ σπλάγχνα ὑπὸ σκωλήκων ἀκοιμήτων
[x] The LXX quotes and allusions in Mark all map to Matthew and the M document, where they almost all came from. Several are missing from Marcion (Luke 3:4, 19:38, 46, 20:17, 37-38, 23:34 are all attested as not being in Marcion), and only a few are in Marcion (Luke 8:10 which is the Gospel writer's comment, 10:27 utter by a lawyer, 18:20 uttered by a scribe in Marcion's version, 21:27 = Daniel 7:13 the only one uttered by Jesus). 
[xi] Secret Mark is one such bizarre explanation which has unfortunately colored, or rather poisoned the well of scholarship. The story surrounding the supposed discovery of a Manuscript by Morton Smith and its subsequent vanishing after printing is remarkably similar the story of Pliny’s supposed tenth book, which was published by Giovanni Giocondo in the 15th century and the manuscript vanished.
[xii] These verses in 2 Corinthians are attested in Marcion (see Adversus Marcionem 5.12.1-4) and available to scribes.
[xiii] Luke alone among the Synoptic Gospels did not use one of the two ür-Gospels M and L, rather he worked from compiled versions of Marcion Gospel, The Gospel of the Hebrews, Matthew, and in my view Mark also for a handful elements such as Nazareth and stories like the Wicked Tenants. In large measure though he built on the Gospel of the Lord, which was Marcion's and took pieces here and there from the others and wove it into his own original narrative. This opinion is however not rigorously supported, so I present it as merely my preliminary observation.


  1. What is your take on the Letter to the Hebrews, where it appears a point of contention is "the readers are in danger of reverting to participation in the Levitical sacrificial system, which would only be possible for Jews" and before the destruction of the temple? This would have to be an allegory? Of a tax?

    1. Of course its allegorical, at least in the mind of the final redactor. Hebrews is a funny book, which appears to be unknown until the start of the 3rd century. Tertullian around 211 CE and Hyppolytus around 235 CE are the first attestations to the books existence. The vocabulary shares much with Luke (post Marcion) and Acts, and there are several themes common with the post Marcionite Jewish Christian positions. These all point toward a (final) composition in the 4th quarter of the 2nd century.

      Like Revelation it is a book of multiple layers and an evolving theology. There is considerable contact to the Pauline letters in Catholic form (circa 175 CE) which you can see in the table on Barry Smith's introduction page ( Read also section 5.2

      To be honest I have not spent a lot of time on Hebrews. But I think it is enormously important for understanding the developing Catholic exegesis of the 2nd century.

  2. I can't wait to read part two of Mark because I struggle with placement of Mark more than any other. I guess it is just reading Mark priority for so long.

    1. I do need to get back to finishing Mark. Since I wrote this I read Thomas L Thompson's book, the Messiah Myth, and it gave me better understanding of John the Baptist. He sort of destroys Robert Price's idea that Jesus is John the Baptist "resurrected," mostly by showing he is a literary stand in for the Elijah role. But I digress.

      I am about 75% done with a very long post on the Gospel of John, in honor of my late father. It's a survey of the content, or rather the pre-Catholic layer(s). Reading it with the keys to the terminology makes it extremely coherent. I had before thought it was five layers. I am now convinced the commentary elements (e.g., 1:1-18, 3:16-21, 3:31-26, chapter 17) are actually part of the composition, and so are the "signs" comments (there is no missing Gospel) - the comments are not part of the "4000" loop that includes the feeding and walking on water, but John's. The Catholic layer is much smaller than I had thought for the first 19 chapters (chapter 21 is an obvious tack on, and chapter 20 is a heavily doctored mess). It's pretty clear the author of John knows the Marcionite NT and probably Matthew. I date the first composition around 160-165 CE, and the Catholic layer around 170-180 CE. I can't place it later than that given Irenaeus' witness (c. 185 CE).

      The reason I mention John, is because I have changed my mind on how to do part 2 of Mark. I think the key is to focus on the composition of the ür-Gospel M shared by Matthew and Mark which includes the signs/4000 loop. I will focus my 2nd part on the writing of M as a development upon L in the time frame of the immediate post Bar Kokhba war. You'll probably have to wait 6 weeks or so for that (I have to scrap my draft of part two and start over).

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