How the Gospel of Mark Was Dated (Is the Catholic Encyclopedia Correct?)

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    Feb 08, 2015 7:59 PM GMT

    The Place Where the Gospel of Mark Was Written

    It is certain that the Gospel was written at Rome.

    St. Chrysostom indeed speaks of Egypt as the place of composition ("Hom. I. on Matt.", 3), but he probably misunderstood Eusebius, who says that Mark was sent to Egypt and preached there the Gospel which he had written (Church History II.16).

    (Steefen: So, the misunderstanding is that Mark had already written the Gospel before being sent to Egypt.)

    Some few modern scholars have adopted the suggestion of Richard Simon ("Hist. crit. du Texte du N.T.", 1689, 107) that the Evangelist may have published both a Roman and an Egyptian edition of the Gospel. But this view is sufficiently refuted by the silence of the Alexandrian Fathers.

    Other opinions, such as that the Gospel was written in Asia Minor or at Syrian Antioch, are not deserving of any consideration.

    The Date of Composition for the Gospel of Mark

    The date of the Gospel is uncertain.

    The external evidence is not decisive, and the internal does not assist very much.

    St. Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Eusebius, Tertullian, and St. Jerome signify that it was written before St. Peter's death (circa 67).

    The subscription of many of the later unical and cursive manuscripts states that it was written in the tenth or twelfth year after the Ascension (A.D. 38-40).

    (Steefen: The Ascension may not be a scientific event; as such, it cannot be a historical event. If the non-scientific event is a symbolic event, we have to determine for what it is a symbol. If it is symbolic of the ascension of Flavians to the Roman throne, then Mark was written in 79, shortly before the dates (80-85) given to Matthew and Luke which copied sections of Mark.)

    The "Paschal Chronicle" assigns it to A.D. 40, and the "Chronicle" of Eusebius to the third year of Claudius (A.D. 43). Possibly these early dates may be only a deduction from the tradition that Peter came to Rome in the second year of Claudius, A.D. 42 (cf. Eusebius, Church History II.14; Jerome, "De Vir. Ill.", i).

    (Steefen: So, with Mark being a friend of Peter and with Mark being written in Rome, Mark could not have written his gospel before Peter got there to give him the accounts.)

    St. Irenæus, on the other hand, seems to place the composition of the Gospel after the death of Peter and Paul (meta de ten touton exodon--Against Heresies III.1).

    (Steefen: That would be after the year 67. BINGO: one reason for saying Mark was written in 67. This seems incorrect because one would think Mark would have taken some notes while Peter was relaying accounts.)

    Papias, too, asserting that Mark wrote according to his recollection of Peter's discourses, has been taken to imply that Peter was dead.

    This, however, does not necessarily follow from the words of Papias, for Peter might have been absent from Rome. Besides, Clement of Alexandria (Eusebius, Church History VI.14) seems to say that Peter was alive and in Rome at the time Mark wrote, though he gave the Evangelist no help in his work.

    (Steefen: Gave no help in his work? The accounts are Peter's, no? If not, then whose?)

    There is left, therefore, the testimony of St. Irenæus against that of all the other early witnesses; and it is an interesting fact that most present-day Rationalist and Protestant scholars prefer to follow Irenæus and accept the later date for Mark's Gospel, though they reject almost unanimously the saint's testimony, given in the same context and supported by all antiquity, in favour of the priority of Matthew's Gospel to Mark's.

    Various attempts have been made to explain the passage in Irenæus so as to bring him into agreement with the other early authorities (see, e.g. Cornely, "Introd.", iii, 76-78; Patrizi, "De Evang.", I, 38 ), but to the present writer they appear unsuccessful if the existing text must be regarded as correct. It seems much more reasonable, however, to believe that Irenæus was mistaken than that all the other authorities are in error, and hence the external evidence would show that Mark wrote before Peter's death (A.D. 64 or 67).

    From internal evidence we can conclude that the Gospel was written before A.D. 70, for there is no allusion to the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem, such as might naturally be expected in view of the prediction in xiii, 2, if that event had already taken place.

    (Steefen: Mark 13: 2, Jesus says not one stone will be left upon another. I disagree with the reasoning above. The prophecy of destruction is allusion to the actual destruction.)

    On the other hand, if xvi, 20: "But they going forth preached everywhere", be from St. Mark's pen, the Gospel cannot well have been written before the close of the first Apostolic journey of St. Paul (A.D. 49 or 50), for it is seen from Acts 14:26 and 15:3, that only then had the conversion of the Gentiles begun on any large scale.

    (Steefen: It seems a little odd that the Jerusalem Church would make Paul who only had a questionable vision of Jesus leader for the responsibility of going forth preach everywhere. Chapter 16: 20 has a shorter ending with Jesus himself sending the disciples at the Ascension from east to west. This going forth did not wait for Paul's conversion.)

    Of course it is possible that previous to this the Apostles had preached far and wide among the dispersed Jews, but, on the whole, it seems more probable that the last verse of the Gospel, occurring in a work intended for European readers, cannot have been written before St. Paul's arrival in Europe (A.D. 50-51).

    Taking the external and internal evidence together, we may conclude that the date of the Gospel probably lies somewhere between A.D. 50 and 67.

    (Steefen: I'm willing to extend the oral tradition to the year 79.)
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Feb 08, 2015 8:36 PM GMT
    The subscription of many of the later unical and cursive manuscripts states that it was written in the tenth or twelfth year after the Ascension (A.D. 38-40).

    # # #

    That's odd.
    The biblical Ascension would not have been AD 38-40 and
    The biblical Ascension +10/12 would not be AD 38-40.
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    Feb 09, 2015 6:35 PM GMT
    Cue the crickets. No one cares
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    Feb 10, 2015 5:36 AM GMT
    The silence is deafening.