The Gospel of Mark: A Lutheran Gospel (Part 2 of 8)

           There has been much debate over the Synoptic Gospels.  Which one came first, where are they dependent on each other, how did they interact, etc…  To begin this section, a brief history on what the testimony of the Patristic Fathers in regards to the book of Mark is important to survey.
            Justin the Martyr in 100-165 A.D. is one of the earliest church fathers to comment that Peter had written memoirs.  He states, “And when it is said that he [Jesus] changed the name of one of his apostles to Peter, and when it is is written in his [Peter’s] memoirs that this happened…”[1] 
             Fast forward several decades and we hear Irenaeus in 130-200 A.D. confirming that after Mark’s death in the 60’s AD[2] that, “the disciple and recorder of Peter, has also handed on to us in writing what had been proclaimed by Peter.”[3]
            Furthermore, we hear Clement of Alexandria in 150-215 A.D. expounding in more detail that, “Mark, the follower of Peter, while Peter was publicly preaching the gospel at Rome in the presence of some of Caesar’s knights and uttering many testimonies about Christ, on their asking him to let them have a record of the things that had been said, wrote the gospel that is called the Gospel of Mark from the things said by Peter…”[4]
            Finally, an important thought on the order and structure of the Gospel of Mark is recorded in Eusebius.  Eusebius quotes Bishop Papias of Hierapolis where he says,
“This too the Elder used to say: Mark, having become the recorder of Peter, indeed wrote accurately albeit not in order whatever he [Peter} remembered of the things either said or done by the Lord.  For he had neither heard the Lord nor was a follower of him, but later, as I said, of Peter, who used to deliver his teachings in the form of short stories, but not making as it were a literary composition of the Lord’s sayings, so that Mark did not err at all when he wrote down certain things just as he [Peter] recalled them…”[5]
It is important for us to understand that Mark is spoken through the eyes of Peter.  The Gospel of Mark is an account of a live eye witness to the events and life of Jesus the Christ.  It is real history.  Furthermore, it is important to note that the early fathers recognized that the contents of Mark were not written in order but portrayed in written form the dramatic preaching of Peter about our Lord.  On a personal note, I happen to find a nice correlation between how the other Gospels portray Peter with intensity and the rapid movement in the Gospel of Mark.  Peter is a “guys, guy” who acts first and speaks second.  The use of euquV throughout the Gospel of Mark seems to be typical of the characteristics of Peter as portrayed in the other Gospels.    

[1] Justin the Marty, Dialogue with Trypho (E-sword Reference Library, 10.0.5),106.9-10.
[2] "Catholic Encyclopedia: Saint Mark". 1910-10-01. Retrieved 2011-01-14
[3] Irenaeus, Against Heresies (E-sword Reference Library, 10.0.5), 3.1.1-2.
[4] Clement of Alexandria, Adumbrationes in epistolas canonicas on 1 Peter 5:13 (E-sword Reference Library, 10.0.5)
[5] Papias of Hierapolis Quoted in Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History(E-sword Reference Library, 10.0.5), 3.39.15-16.