|Mark, Slavonic Dobrylo Gospel (1164 CE)|
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 Occasionally I may make references to items not fully explained here which are in that as yet unpublished article - some quite fascinating.
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 ὑπὸ τὴν σκιὰν 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 ὁ δὲ εἶπεν, Ἐκ παιδιόθεν (9:21)
Jesus became angry ἠγανάκτησεν (10:14)
Bartimaeus is the son of Timaeus ὁ 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 ὅ 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 ἡ Ἰωσῆτος (Matthew 27:71 "the other Mary" ἡ ἄλλη Μαρία) (15:47)
Bo-aner'ges, that is, sons of thunder Βοανηργές ὁ ἐστιν Υἱοὶ Βροντῆς (3:17)
"Tal'itha cu'mi"; which means, "Little girl
Ταλιθα κουμ, ὅ ἐστιν μεθερμηνευόμενον Τὸ κοράσιον (5:41)
"Corban," that is, an offering Κορβᾶν, ὅ ἐστιν Δῶρον (7:11)
"Ephphatha," that is, "Be opened" Εφφαθα, ὅ ἐστιν, Διανοίχθητι (7:34)
"Abba, father, all things are possible for you"
Αββα ὁ 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]
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 ὁ 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 ἡ 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)
Mark 14:36 declares, "Abba, father" (Αββα ὁ 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.
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 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.
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.
|Herod Agrippa II, Judea coin 94/95 CE|
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
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 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
[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.
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.