Who is John Mark?

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Ben C. Smith
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Re: Who is John Mark?

Post by Ben C. Smith » Thu Dec 05, 2019 4:16 pm

John2 wrote:
Thu Dec 05, 2019 4:08 pm
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Thu Dec 05, 2019 3:53 pm
John2 wrote:
Thu Dec 05, 2019 3:46 pm
So what do have then? I think Papias and Acts line up, in that both mention someone named Mark who had a close relationship with Peter. And Acts says that its Mark had a falling out with Paul and followed Barnabas, and Paul says that Barnabas had sided with Peter in Antioch and mentions someone named Mark in Philemon 1:24 and describes him as a "fellow worker," while Acts describes its Mark as having once helped Paul in his "work" (and I wonder if both use the same word for "work"/"worker"). And as Hengel noted, the gospel of Mark gives Peter a special status and mentions him more than any other disciple.

And I forgot that 1 Peter (which I think is genuine) 5:13 mentions a Mark and calls him his "son," which I gather denotes a special relationship.

And while I suppose it can be argued that Papias' sources deduced that the gospel of Mark was written by a follower of Peter because these references in the NT, as David put it upthread, "Papias's merit is based on the time period he was around in in and of itself" (which I date c. 100 CE).

So ... I think Acts' John Mark and Papias' Mark could be real and the same person (even if the accounts of him in Acts are spin).
The gospel of Mark also comes across as having Pauline elements but being about (Jesus as viewed by) Peter.

And that fits too, if its author had once followed Paul. And in my view Peter belonged to the Nazarene faction of Jewish Christianity, which reproved but accepted Paul, and that fits the gospel of Mark too, since it has Pauline elements but presents Jesus as being pro-Torah like the Nazarenes. So I'm on board with the idea that the Mark in Papias, Acts, Paul and 1 Peter was real and the same person and that he wrote the gospel of Mark.
There are certainly many elements of this case which make sense together. Unfortunately, they are all circumstantial except for the datum from Papias, which (being hearsay) is difficult to verify on its own.
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John2
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Re: Who is John Mark?

Post by John2 » Thu Dec 05, 2019 5:40 pm

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Thu Dec 05, 2019 4:16 pm
There are certainly many elements of this case which make sense together. Unfortunately, they are all circumstantial except for the datum from Papias, which (being hearsay) is difficult to verify on its own.

What if we take what Papias says about the gospel of Matthew into consideration, that it was originally written in Hebrew. Since a Hebrew Matthew existed by Jerome's time (because he had one in his hands and translated it), it seems like we have three options here.


1. it is a coincidence that Papias said there was a Hebrew Matthew and a Hebrew Matthew existed by Jerome's time.

2. A Hebrew Matthew was created by Jerome's time because of what Papias said.

3. Papias mentioned a Hebrew Matthew because it existed.


Number one just seems a little too coincidental to me.

And regarding number two, since Jerome says a Hebrew Matthew was used by Nazarene Jewish Christians, would they have created one just because Papias had said one existed? Perhaps, since Papias does seem kind of Nazarene-ish to me, but it just seems unlikely to me.

So unless I'm overlooking another option, that leaves number three. And if Papias' sources were right about Matthew, then maybe they were right about Mark too.
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Re: Who is John Mark?

Post by Ben C. Smith » Thu Dec 05, 2019 7:53 pm

John2 wrote:
Thu Dec 05, 2019 5:40 pm
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Thu Dec 05, 2019 4:16 pm
There are certainly many elements of this case which make sense together. Unfortunately, they are all circumstantial except for the datum from Papias, which (being hearsay) is difficult to verify on its own.
What if we take what Papias says about the gospel of Matthew into consideration, that it was originally written in Hebrew. Since a Hebrew Matthew existed by Jerome's time (because he had one in his hands and translated it), it seems like we have three options here.

1. it is a coincidence that Papias said there was a Hebrew Matthew and a Hebrew Matthew existed by Jerome's time.

2. A Hebrew Matthew was created by Jerome's time because of what Papias said.

3. Papias mentioned a Hebrew Matthew because it existed.

Number one just seems a little too coincidental to me.

And regarding number two, since Jerome says a Hebrew Matthew was used by Nazarene Jewish Christians, would they have created one just because Papias had said one existed? Perhaps, since Papias does seem kind of Nazarene-ish to me, but it just seems unlikely to me.

So unless I'm overlooking another option, that leaves number three. And if Papias' sources were right about Matthew, then maybe they were right about Mark too.
My thoughts on the gospel of Matthew are many and complex.

First, I think that something like our Mark predated something like our Matthew. Matthew, therefore, is very unlikely to be eyewitness testimony. It is also very unlikely to have been originally written in Hebrew; rather, it is based on Mark, in Greek.

Second, the gospel of Matthew is basically a gentle fraud; the coincidence of its title being "the gospel according to Matthew" and Levi having been replaced by Matthew in Matthew 9.9 (Matthew) = Mark 2.13-14 (Levi) = Luke 5.27-28 (Levi) is probably not truly a coincidence; this text was passed off as having come from Matthew. I have argued before, in basic agreement with Klijn, that both this maneuver and the replacement of Judas by Matthias in Acts 1.21-26 are attempts to make the author Matthew/Matthias an eyewitness and an apostle.

Third, this state of affairs presupposes that it was known that there was an important author named Matthew/Matthias. So it is not at all unlikely that somebody named Matthew/Matthias (not an apostle) wrote some early and influential text; it just was not our canonical gospel of Matthew.

Fourth, was this original Matthean text in Hebrew? Maybe. I see no real way of determining whether it was or not. It makes sense, but the only evidence is indirect and, as I mentioned before, hearsay at that.

Fifth, because of Papias and other early testimony, any gospel text written either in Aramaic or in Hebrew was bound to be attributed to Matthew at some point. I think that any necessary connection with the texts discussed by Jerome and Epiphanius is a fantasy. I see no reason why Jewish Christians would not have gospels written in their own language(s), whether sooner or later, just like Syrians had texts in Syriac and Egyptians had texts in Coptic. The later church fathers, then, are not reliable evidence for the earliest texts in Hebrew or Aramaic; we are left almost completely with Eusebius quoting Papias quoting John the Elder. (I say almost completely because we do have evidence of a Hebraic background for at least some of the gospel materials; I am as yet undecided on how much material leans in that direction.)

There is more, but I have to run some errands.
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John2
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Re: Who is John Mark?

Post by John2 » Thu Dec 05, 2019 8:24 pm

I see no reason why Jewish Christians would not have gospels written in their own language(s), whether sooner or later, just like Syrians had texts in Syriac and Egyptians had texts in Coptic.

But why do you suppose they wrote only Matthew in Hebrew (unlike the Syriac and Coptic gospels)? That's what I mean about it being a little too coincidental that Papias says there was a Hebrew Matthew (and only Matthew) and there being a Hebrew Matthew (and only Matthew) by Jerome's time. Why did they not write a Hebrew Mark, which seems just as Jewish Christian in character to me and was said to have been originally written by a follower of a pillar of Jewish Christianity (Peter)?
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Re: Who is John Mark?

Post by Ben C. Smith » Thu Dec 05, 2019 8:37 pm

John2 wrote:
Thu Dec 05, 2019 8:24 pm
I see no reason why Jewish Christians would not have gospels written in their own language(s), whether sooner or later, just like Syrians had texts in Syriac and Egyptians had texts in Coptic.
But why do you suppose they wrote only Matthew in Hebrew (unlike the Syriac and Coptic gospels)? That's what I mean about it being a little too coincidental that Papias says there was a Hebrew Matthew (and only Matthew) and there being a Hebrew Matthew (and only Matthew) by Jerome's time. Why did they not write a Hebrew Mark, which seems just as Jewish Christian in character to me and was said to have been originally written by a follower of a pillar of Jewish Christianity (Peter)?
Because Papias did not claim that Mark wrote in Hebrew, but he did claim that Matthew wrote in Hebrew.

It all comes down to that single, unverified claim by Papias and/or his Elder John. That is what I mean. If they made a mistake or a bad guess or whatever, then the whole idea is moot. Historical data that depend upon only a single source are not very solid, especially when that source is itself hard to assess.
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Re: Who is John Mark?

Post by John2 » Thu Dec 05, 2019 8:44 pm

Because Papias did not claim that Mark wrote in Hebrew, but he did claim that Matthew wrote in Hebrew.

It sounds like you prefer my option two then:

2. A Hebrew Matthew was created by Jerome's time because of what Papias said.
Last edited by John2 on Thu Dec 05, 2019 8:46 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Who is John Mark?

Post by Ben C. Smith » Thu Dec 05, 2019 8:45 pm

John2 wrote:
Thu Dec 05, 2019 8:44 pm
Because Papias did not claim that Mark wrote in Hebrew, but he did claim that Matthew wrote in Hebrew.

It sounds like you prefer my option two then:

2. A Hebrew Matthew was created by Jerome's time because of what Papias said.
No, that is not actually my preference. I have no preference, because either option is possible, and I cannot very easily tell which is more likely.
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Re: Who is John Mark?

Post by John2 » Thu Dec 05, 2019 8:48 pm

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Thu Dec 05, 2019 8:45 pm
John2 wrote:
Thu Dec 05, 2019 8:44 pm
Because Papias did not claim that Mark wrote in Hebrew, but he did claim that Matthew wrote in Hebrew.

It sounds like you prefer my option two then:

2. A Hebrew Matthew was created by Jerome's time because of what Papias said.
No, that is not actually my preference. I have no preference, because either option is possible, and I cannot very easily tell which is more likely.

Alright, just checking, and I appreciate your feedback.
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Re: Who is John Mark?

Post by Ben C. Smith » Thu Dec 05, 2019 8:57 pm

John2 wrote:
Thu Dec 05, 2019 8:48 pm
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Thu Dec 05, 2019 8:45 pm
John2 wrote:
Thu Dec 05, 2019 8:44 pm
Because Papias did not claim that Mark wrote in Hebrew, but he did claim that Matthew wrote in Hebrew.

It sounds like you prefer my option two then:

2. A Hebrew Matthew was created by Jerome's time because of what Papias said.
No, that is not actually my preference. I have no preference, because either option is possible, and I cannot very easily tell which is more likely.

Alright, just checking, and I appreciate your feedback.
No problem, and likewise. :)
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Re: Who is John Mark?

Post by davidmartin » Fri Dec 06, 2019 3:01 am

Didn't Papias only say that Matthew collected a list of logia, not write a complete gospel?

It possible that the gospel of Matthew was so named because it was based on the sayings collected by Matthew in Aramaic?
Papias also says something like they each 'interpreted them as best they were able' which seems to hint at this

Maybe
A) the Gospel of Matthew was still to be written in that time
B) Some prior edition of Matthew hadn't yet been accepted into Papias's community and when it was accepted it was given the name Matthew

So Eusebius didn't find in Papias's writings anything firm about the Gospels apart from Mark but put in what he could find about Matthew even though it didn't fit very well, he put it in anyway?

Further, Papias related John the E defending Mark against critics... could it be that Papias's community only used Mark? Other churches that used different gospels obviously preferred their own ones and objected to those used by others.. a time before multiple gospels becames accepted and way before the 'four' became the standard! wow, we are seeing into the past here!

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