Who is John Mark?

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
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Ben C. Smith
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Re: Who is John Mark?

Post by Ben C. Smith » Fri Dec 06, 2019 7:16 am

davidmartin wrote:
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?
It is possible, but the term logia is not the key to this hypothesis. That term began as a word to describe oracles from a deity, but it ended up as a synonym for scriptures or authoritative writings. I have assembled just some of the evidence in another post. The upshot is that the logia could have included either words or deeds or both; they are words, to be sure, but they can be words either by someone or about someone.

Papias himself uses the term logia of a text allegedly written by Mark, which he characterizes as being about the words and the deeds of the Lord. When he wants to talk about sayings which the apostles passed on to their followers, he uses the more appropriate term, logoi.
Papias also says something like they each 'interpreted them as best they were able' which seems to hint at this
In the context of two different languages, as we have in Papias, "interpret" most likely means "translate." It is the normal Greek word for translation.

That said, there is possibly a case to be made for an early sayings gospel/text, since we know that the genre existed (the gospel of Thomas, for example, and various Jewish wisdom writings) and that the words of the Lord were given special treatment in early Christianity.
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!
The Elder whom Papias quotes about the Marcan text actually levels a mild criticism at it: it was not written in order. I do not necessarily think this Elder was comparing Mark to a different gospel which was in order; my working hypothesis is that he was comparing Mark to the Asiatic traditions, probably contained both in a developing liturgy (as evidenced a bit later by the Quartodeciman controversy) and in local lore (as evidenced by Papias himself), which eventually coalesced into the gospel of John, which strikingly "corrects" the Marcan record, particularly its order of events, at various points.

YMMV.
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Re: Who is John Mark?

Post by davidmartin » Fri Dec 06, 2019 8:55 am

interesting Ben, only just to add i didn't mean an early sayings source but an early source for deeds of Jesus,
did Mark get these from some proto-John source?
If I see Eusebius i'm going to tell him he totally fustrated me with his meagre quotes of Papias

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Re: Who is John Mark?

Post by Ben C. Smith » Fri Dec 06, 2019 9:52 am

davidmartin wrote:
Fri Dec 06, 2019 8:55 am
interesting Ben, only just to add i didn't mean an early sayings source but an early source for deeds of Jesus,
I see. Cool.
If I see Eusebius i'm going to tell him he totally frustrated me with his meagre quotes of Papias
You may have to take a ticket and stand in line for that.
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Re: Who is John Mark?

Post by John2 » Fri Dec 06, 2019 3:21 pm

I'm with Ben about the meaning of logia and "translate" in Papias regarding Matthew. As for Mark, what the presbyter (presumably John) says about it makes me think it would have been worthy of being translated into Hebrew by Nazarenes just as much as Ben thinks they translated Matthew into Hebrew:

Mark, having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately ... whatsoever he remembered of the things said or done by Christ. For he neither heard the Lord nor followed him, but afterward, as I said, he followed Peter, who adapted his teaching to the needs of his hearers ... Mark committed no error while he thus wrote some things as he remembered them. For he was careful of one thing, not to omit any of the things which he had heard, and not to state any of them falsely.
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Re: Who is John Mark?

Post by John2 » Fri Dec 06, 2019 3:52 pm

If I see Eusebius i'm going to tell him he totally frustrated me with his meagre quotes of Papias

More Papias is high on my wish list, along with Josephus' Hebrew (yes, I said Hebrew, not Aramaic) edition of the Jewish War and the original (presumably pre-interpolated) Greek Antiquities, Hegesippus, and the original Hebrew Matthew (heh, heh).
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Re: Who is John Mark?

Post by davidmartin » Fri Dec 06, 2019 4:18 pm

haha yes, is it possible to put forward a basic premise though, that at some point the different gospels were in use by different churches?
i can't believe that the gospels circulated like new Steven King novels and each church just stuck them on the bookshelf and started using them until the magic number of four was reached
the work that goes into making these makes my basic assumption that individual branches of the early church produced them for their own uses
add to this variations in theology of these branches and the first century perspective kicks it. its no use having a second century perspective trying to understand the first century is how i see it, so these four must be treated totally as individuals even if they copied each other's work
i don't see a central authority creating them as it didn't exist and when it did, it just compiled them together maybe with some tweaks
the point of this is to visualise the different theologies of these early church branches, here is how i see it


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Re: Who is John Mark?

Post by John2 » Fri Dec 06, 2019 5:43 pm

is it possible to put forward a basic premise though, that at some point the different gospels were in use by different churches?

As far as Papias goes, I would venture to guess that whatever church he belonged to (which I suspect was Nazarene-ish) used Mark and Matthew, since he learned about the origin of both of them from his sources and they don't say anything about not using them (at least in Eusebius' excerpts). And you and I agree that Papias is as early as it gets post-NT, and I would guess, to judge from what we have of him and what Eusebius says (and doesn't say) about him, that Mark and Matthew were also the only gospels he was aware of.

And let's factor in that the NT version of Matthew (in every manuscript and translation we have) is combined with Mark, as is Luke (which I think also used Matthew, as per the Farrer Hypothesis). Does this early harmonization not suggest that more or less all early Christians were okay with those three gospels (with a few tweaks) from the get go?

In other words, the first two gospels (Mark and Matthew) appear to have been used by our earliest source (Papias), and then when at least the NT version of Matthew came along it absorbed Mark, and when Luke came along, it absorbed at least Mark if not also Matthew or something like Matthew.

And even the Nazarene faction of Jewish Christianity (which in my view is the oldest) used all of the NT by the late fourth century CE (at least according to Epiphanius in Pan. 29.7.2).

The only sect I can think of offhand that used only one gospel and eschewed others is the Ebionite faction of Jewish Christianity (which Epiphanius says emerged from the Nazarenes after 70 CE and used only a corrupted version of Matthew).
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Re: Who is John Mark?

Post by John2 » Fri Dec 06, 2019 6:07 pm

In other words, Papias (our earliest source) appears to have used Mark and Matthew, and if anyone after him used only Matthew (in its NT version) or only Luke, they were in effect using Mark too (or all three in the case of Luke, at least in my view).

So my only question would be what evidence do we have of someone using only Mark? Offhand I can't think of anyone (but I'm vaguely recalling that maybe a Gnostic sect did).
Last edited by John2 on Fri Dec 06, 2019 6:25 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Who is John Mark?

Post by Ben C. Smith » Fri Dec 06, 2019 6:08 pm

John2 wrote:
Fri Dec 06, 2019 5:43 pm
The only sect I can think of offhand that used only one gospel and eschewed others is the Ebionite faction of Jewish Christianity (which Epiphanius says emerged from the Nazarenes after 70 CE and used only a corrupted version of Matthew).
Well, the Marcionites appear to have used a single gospel, as well. Some Eastern groups used a single gospel (= the Diatessaron, or even Diatessara) which had been created of the four.
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Re: Who is John Mark?

Post by John2 » Fri Dec 06, 2019 6:11 pm

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Fri Dec 06, 2019 6:08 pm
John2 wrote:
Fri Dec 06, 2019 5:43 pm
The only sect I can think of offhand that used only one gospel and eschewed others is the Ebionite faction of Jewish Christianity (which Epiphanius says emerged from the Nazarenes after 70 CE and used only a corrupted version of Matthew).
Well, the Marcionites appear to have used a single gospel, as well. Some Eastern groups used a single gospel (= the Diatessaron, or even Diatessara) which had been created of the four.

Ah, right, the Marcionites! But I wouldn't count those who used the Diatessaron, since that, of course, was a combination of the four NT gospels.
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