George Petter (the largest Com. on M., London, 1661, 2 vols. fol.); C. Fr. A. Fritzsche (Evangelium Marci, Lips., 1830); A. Klostermann (Das Marcusevangelium nach seinem Quellenwerthe für die evang. Gesch., Göttingen, 1867); B. Weiss (Das Marcusevangelium und seine synopt. Parallelen, Berlin, 1872); Meyer (6th ed. by Weiss, Gött., 1878); Joseph A. Alexander (New York, 1858, and London, 1866); Harvey Goodwin (London, 1860); John H. Godwin (London, 1869); James Morison (Mark's Memoir of Jesus Christ, London and Glasgow, 1873, second ed., 1876, third ed., 1881, one of the very best Com., learned, reverential, and sensible); C. F. Maclear (Cambridge, 1877); Canon Cook (London, 1878); Edwin W. Rich (Philad., 1881); Matthew B. Riddle (New York, 1881).

Life of Mark

The second Evangelist combines in his name, as well as in his mission, the Hebrew and the Roman, and is a connecting link between Peter and Paul, but more especially a pupil and companion of the former, so that his Gospel may properly be called the Gospel of Peter. His original name was John or Johanan (i.e., Jehovah is gracious, Gotthold) his surname was Mark (i.e., Mallet). [942] The surname supplanted the Hebrew name in his later life, as Peter supplanted Simon, and Paul supplanted Saul. The change marked the transition of Christianity from the Jews to the Gentiles. He is frequently mentioned in the Acts and the Epistles. [943]

He was the son of a certain Mary who lived at Jerusalem and offered her house, at great risk no doubt in that critical period of persecution, to the Christian disciples for devotional meetings. Peter repaired to that house after his deliverance from prison (a.d.44). This accounts for the close intimacy of Mark with Peter; he was probably converted through him, and hence called his spiritual "son" (1 Pet.5:13). [944] He may have had a superficial acquaintance with Christ; for he is probably identical with that unnamed "young man" who, according to his own report, left his "linen cloth and fled naked" from Gethsemane in the night of betrayal (Mark 14:51). He would hardly have mentioned such a trifling incident, unless it had a special significance for him as the turning-point in his life. Lange ingeniously conjectures that his mother owned the garden of Gethsemane or a house close by.

Mark accompanied Paul and Barnabas as their minister (huperetes) on their first great missionary journey; but left them half-way, being discouraged, it seems, by the arduous work, and returned to his mother in Jerusalem. For this reason Paul refused to take him on his next tour, while Barnabas was willing to overlook his temporary weakness (Acts 15:38). There was a "sharp contention" on that occasion between these good men, probably in connection with the more serious collision between Paul and Peter at Antioch (Gal.2:11 sqq.). Paul was moved by a stern sense of duty; Barnabas by a kindly feeling for his cousin. [945] But the alienation was only temporary. For about ten years afterwards (63) Paul speaks of Mark at Rome as one of his few "fellow-workers unto the kingdom of God," who had been "a comfort" to him in his imprisonment; and he commends him to the brethren in Asia Minor on his intended visit (Col.4:10, 11; Philem.24). In his last Epistle he charges Timothy to bring Mark with him to Rome on the ground that he was "useful to him for ministering" (2 Tim.4:11). We find him again in company with Peter at "Baby]on," whether that be on the Euphrates, or, more probably, at Rome (1 Pet.5:3).

These are the last notices of him in the New Testament. The tradition of the church adds two important facts, that he wrote his Gospel in Rome as the interpreter of Peter, and that afterwards he founded the church of Alexandria. The Coptic patriarch claims to be his successor. The legends of his martyrdom in the eighth year of Nero (this date is given by Jerome) are worthless. In 827 his relics were removed from Egypt to Venice, which built him a magnificent five-domed cathedral on the Place of St. Mark, near the Doge's palace, and chose him with his symbol, the Lion, for the patron saint of the republic.

His Relation to Peter.

Though not an apostle, Mark had the best opportunity in his mother's house and his personal connection with Peter, Paul, Barnabas, and other prominent disciples for gathering the most authentic information concerning the gospel history.

The earliest notice of his Gospel we have from Papias of Hierapolis in the first half of the second century. He reports among the primitive traditions which he collected, that "Mark, having become the interpreter of Peter (hermeneutes Petrou genomenos], orote doon achchuratelps [akribos egrapsen) whatever he remembered, [946] without, however, recording in order (taxei) what was either said or done by Christ. For neither did he hear the Lord, nor did he follow Him; but afterwards, as I said, [he followed] Peter, who adapted his instructions to the needs [of his hearers], but not in the way of giving a connected account of the Lord's discourses. [947] So then Mark committed no error in thus writing down such details as he remembered; for he made it his one forethought not to omit or to misrepresent any details that he had heard." [948]

In what sense was Mark an "interpreter" of Peter? Not as the translator of a written Aramaic Gospel of Peter into the Greek, for of such an Aramaic original there is no trace, and Peter (to judge from his Epistles) wrote better Greek; nor as the translator of his discourses into Latin, for we know not whether he understood that language, and it was scarcely needed even in Rome among Jews and Orientals who spoke Greek; [949] nor in the wider sense, as a mere clerk or amanuensis, who wrote down what Peter dictated; but as the literary editor and publisher of the oral Gospel of his spiritual father and teacher. So Mercury was called the interpreter of the gods, because he communicated to mortals the messages of the gods. It is quite probable, however, that Peter sketched down some of the chief events under the first impression, in his vernacular tongue, and that such brief memoirs, if they existed, would naturally be made use of by Mark. [950]

We learn, then, from Papias that Mark wrote his Gospel from the personal reminiscences of Peter's discourses, which were adapted to the immediate wants of his hearers; that it was not complete (especially in the didactic part, as compared with Matthew or John), nor strictly chronological.

Clement of Alexandria informs us that the people of Rome were so much pleased with the preaching of Peter that they requested Mark, his attendant, to put it down in writing, which Peter neither encouraged nor hindered. Other ancient fathers emphasize the close intimacy of Mark with Peter, and call his Gospel the Gospel of Peter. [951]

The Gospel.

This tradition is confirmed by the book: it is derived from the apostolic preaching of Peter, but is the briefest and so far the least complete of all the Gospels, yet replete with significant details. It reflects the sanguine and impulsive temperament, rapid movement, and vigorous action of Peter. In this respect its favorite particle "straightway" is exceedingly characteristic. The break-down of Mark in Pamphylia, which provoked the censure of Paul, has a parallel in the denial and inconsistency of Peter; but, like him, he soon rallied, was ready to accompany Paul on his next mission, and persevered faithfully to the end.

He betrays, by omissions and additions, the direct influence of Peter. He informs us that the house of Peter was "the house of Simon and Andrew" (Mark 1:29). He begins the public ministry of Christ with the calling of these two brothers (1:16) and ends the undoubted part of the Gospel with a message to Peter (16:7), and the supplement almost in the very words of Peter. [952] He tells us that Peter on the Mount of Transfiguration, when he proposed to erect three tabernacles, "knew not what to say" (9:6). He gives the most minute account of Peter's denial, and -- alone among the Evangelists -- records the fact that he warmed himself "in the light" of the fire so that he could be distinctly seen (14:54), and that the cock crew twice, giving him a second warning (14:72). No one would be more likely to remember and report the fact as a stimulus to humility and gratitude than Peter himself.

On the other hand, Mark omits the laudatory words of Jesus to Peter: "Thou art Rock, and upon this rock I will build my church;" while yet he records the succeeding rebuke: "Get thee behind me, Satan." [953] The humility of the apostle, who himself warns so earnestly against the hierarchical abuse of the former passage, offers the most natural explanation of this conspicuous omission. "It is likely," says Eusebius, "that Peter maintained silence on these points; hence the silence of Mark." [954]

Character and Aim of Mark.

The second Gospel was -- according to the unanimous voice of the ancient church, which is sustained by internal evidence -- written at Rome and primarily for Roman readers, probably before the death of Peter, at all events before the destruction of Jerusalem. [955]

It is a faithful record of Peter's preaching, which Mark must have heard again and again. It is an historical sermon on the text of Peter when addressing the Roman soldier Cornelius: "God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him." [956] It omits the history of the infancy, and rushes at once into the public ministry of our Lord, beginning, like Peter, with the baptism of John, and ending with the ascension. It represents Christ in the fulness of his living energy, as the Son of God and the mighty wonder-worker who excited amazement and carried the people irresistibly before him as a spiritual conqueror. This aspect would most impress the martial mind of the Romans, who were born to conquer and to rule. The teacher is lost in the founder of a kingdom. The heroic element prevails over the prophetic. The victory over Satanic powers in the healing of demoniacs is made very prominent. It is the gospel of divine force manifested in Christ. The symbol of the lion is not inappropriate to the Evangelist who describes Jesus as the Lion of the tribe of Judah. [957]

Mark gives us a Gospel of facts, while Matthew's is a Gospel of divine oracles. He reports few discourses, but many miracles. He unrolls the short public life of our Lord in a series of brief life-pictures in rapid succession. He takes no time to explain and to reveal the inside. He dwells on the outward aspect of that wonderful personality as it struck the multitude. Compared with Matthew and especially with John, he is superficial, but not on that account incorrect or less useful and necessary. He takes the theocratic view of Christ, like Matthew; while Luke and John take the universal view; but while Matthew for his Jewish readers begins with the descent of Christ from David the King and often directs attention to the fulfilment of prophecy, Mark, writing for Gentiles, begins with "the Son of God" in his independent personality. [958] He rarely quotes prophecy; but, on the other hand, he translates for his Roman readers Aramaic words and Jewish customs and opinions. [959] He exhibits the Son of God in his mighty power and expects the reader to submit to his authority.

Two miracles are peculiar to him, the healing of the deaf and dumb man in Decapolis, which astonished the people "beyond measure" and made them exclaim: "He hath done all things well: he maketh even the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak" (Mark 7:31-37). The other miracle is a remarkable specimen of a gradual cure, the healing of the blind man at Bethsaida, who upon the first touch of Christ saw the men around him walking, but indistinctly as trees, and then after the second laying on of hands upon his eyes "saw all things clearly" (8:22-26). He omits important parables, but alone gives the interesting parable of the seed growing secretly and bearing first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear (4:26-29).

It is an interesting feature to which Dr. Lange first has directed attention, that Mark lays emphasis on the periods of pause and rest which "rhythmically intervene between the several great victories achieved by Christ." He came out from his obscure abode in Nazareth; each fresh advance in his public life is preceded by a retirement, and each retirement is followed by a new and greater victory. The contrast between the contemplative rest and the vigorous action is striking and explains the overpowering effect by revealing its secret spring in the communion with God and with himself. Thus we have after his baptism a retirement to the wilderness in Judaea before he preached in Galilee (1:12); a retirement to the ship (3:7); to the desert on the eastern shore of the lake of Galilee (6:31); to a mountain (6:46); to the border land of Tyre and Sidon (7:24); to Decapolis (7:31); to a high mountain (9:2); to Bethany (11:1); to Gethsemane (14:34); his rest in the grave before the resurrection; and his withdrawal from the world and his reappearance in the victories of the gospel preached by his disciples. "The ascension of the Lord forms his last withdrawal, which is to be followed by his final onset and absolute victory." [960]

Doctrinal Position.

Mark has no distinct doctrinal type, but is catholic, irenic, unsectarian, and neutral as regards the party questions within the apostolic church. But this is not the result of calculation or of a tendency to obliterate and conciliate existing differences. [961] Mark simply represents the primitive form of Christianity itself before the circumcision controversy broke out which occasioned the apostolic conference at Jerusalem twenty years after the founding of the church. His Gospel is Petrine without being anti-Pauline, and Pauline without being anti-Petrine. Its doctrinal tone is the same as that of the sermons of Peter in the Acts. It is thoroughly practical. Its preaches Christianity, not theology.

The same is true of the other Gospels, with this difference, however, that Matthew has a special reference to Jewish, Luke to Gentile readers, and that both make their selection accordingly under the guidance of the Spirit and in accordance with their peculiar charisma and aim, but without altering or coloring the facts. Mark stands properly between them just as Peter stood between James and Paul.

The Style.

The style of Mark is unclassical, inelegant, provincial, homely, poor and repetitious in vocabulary, but original, fresh, and picturesque, and enlivened by interesting touches and flickers.. [962]

He was a stranger to the arts of rhetoric and unskilled in literary composition, but an attentive listener, a close observer, and faithful recorder of actual events. He is strongly Hebraizing, and uses often the Hebrew and, but seldom the argumentative for. He inserts a number of Latin words, though most of these occur also in Matthew and Luke, and in the Talmud. [963] He uses the particle "forthwith" or "straightway" more frequently than all the other Evangelists combined. [964] It is his pet word, and well expresses his haste and rapid transition from event to event, from conquest to conquest. He quotes names and phrases in the original Aramaic, as "Abba," "Boanerges," "Talitha kum," "Corban," "Ephphathah," and "Eloi, Eloi," with a Greek translation. [965] He is fond of the historical present, [966] of the direct instead of the indirect mode of speech, [967] of pictorical participles, [968] and of affectionate diminutives. [969] He observes time and place of important events. [970] He has a number of peculiar expressions not found elsewhere in the New Testament. [971]

Characteristic Details.

Mark inserts many delicate tints and interesting incidents of persons and events which he must have heard from primitive witnesses. They are not the touches of fancy or the reflections of an historian, but the reminiscences of the first impressions. They occur in every chapter. He makes some little contribution to almost every narrative he has in common with Matthew and Luke. He notices the overpowering impression of awe and wonder, joy and delight, which the words and miracles of Jesus and his very appearance made upon the people and the disciples; [972] the actions of the multitude as they were rushing and thronging and pressing upon Him that He might touch and heal them, so that there was scarcely standing room, or time to eat. [973] On one occasion his kinsmen were about forcibly to remove Him from the throng. He directs attention to the human emotions and passions of our Lord, how he was stirred by pity, wonder, grief, anger and indignation. [974] He notices his attitudes, looks and gestures, [975] his sleep and hunger. [976]

He informs us that Jesus, "looking upon" the rich young ruler, "loved him," and that the ruler's "countenance fell" when he was told to sell all he had and to follow Jesus. Mark, or Peter rather, must have watched the eye of our Lord and read in his face the expression of special interest in that man who notwithstanding his self-righteousness and worldliness had some lovely qualities and was not very far from the kingdom. [977]

The cure of the demoniac and epileptic at the foot of the mount of transfiguration is narrated with greater circumstantiality and dramatic vividness by Mark than by the other Synoptists. He supplies the touching conversation of Jesus with the father of the sufferer, which drew out his weak and struggling faith with the earnest prayer for strong and victorious faith: "I believe; help Thou mine unbelief." [978] We can imagine how eagerly Peter, the confessor, caught this prayer, and how often he repeated it in his preaching, mindful of his own weakness and trials.

All the Synoptists relate on two distinct occasions Christ's love for little children, but Mark alone tells us that He "took little children into his arms, and laid his hands upon them." [979]

Many minor details not found in the other Gospels, however insignificant in themselves, are yet most significant as marks of the autopticity of the narrator (Peter). Such are the notices that Jesus entered the house of "Simon and Andrew, with James and John" (Mark 1:29); that the Pharisees took counsel "with the Herodians" (3:6); that the raiment of Jesus at the transfiguration became exceeding white as snow "so as no fuller on earth can whiten them" (9:3); that blind Bartimaeus when called, "casting away his garment, leaped up" (10:50), and came to Jesus; that "Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately" on the Mount of Olives about the coming events (13:3); that the five thousand sat down "in ranks, by hundreds and fifties" (6:40); that the Simon who carried the cross of Christ (15:21) was a "Cyrenian" and "the father of Alexander and Rufus" (no doubt, two well-known disciples, perhaps at Rome, comp. Rom.16:13).

We may add, as peculiar to Mark and "bewraying" Peter, the designation of Christ as "the carpenter" (Mark 6:3); the name of the blind beggar at Jericho, "Bartimaeus" (10:46); the "cushion" in the boat on which Jesus slept (4:38); the "green grass" on the hill side in spring time (4:39); the "one loaf" in the ship (8:14); the colt "tied at the door without in the open street" (11:4); the address to the daughter of Jairus in her mother tongue (5:41); the bilingual "Abba, Father," in the prayer at Gethsemane (14:36; comp. Rom.8:15; Gal.4:6).


The natural conclusion from all these peculiarities is that Mark's Gospel, far from being an extract from Matthew or Luke or both, as formerly held, [980] is a thoroughly independent and original work, as has been proven by minute investigations of critics of different schools and aims. [981] It is in all its essential parts a fresh, life-like, and trustworthy record of the persons and events of the gospel history from the lips of honest old Peter and from the pen of his constant attendant and pupil. Jerome hit it in the fourth century, and unbiassed critics in the nineteenth century confirm it: Peter was the narrator, Mark the writer, of the second Gospel. [982]

Some have gone further and maintain that Mark, "the interpreter of Peter," simply translated a Hebrew Gospel of his teacher; [983] but tradition knows nothing of a Hebrew Peter, while it speaks of a Hebrew Matthew; and a book is called after its author, not after its translator. It is enough to say Peter was the preacher, Mark the reporter and editor.

The bearing of this fact upon the reliableness of the Synoptic record of the life of Christ is self-evident. It leaves no room for the mythical or legendary hypothesis. [984]

Integrity of the Gospel.

The Gospel closes (Mark 16:9-20) with a rapid sketch of the wonders of the resurrection and ascension, and the continued manifestations of power that attend the messengers of Christ in preaching the gospel to the whole creation. This close is upon the whole characteristic of Mark and presents the gospel as a divine power pervading and transforming the world, but it contains some peculiar features, namely: (1) one of the three distinct narratives of Christ's ascension (16:19, "he was received up into heaven;" the other two being those of Luke 24:51 and Acts 1:9-11), with the additional statement that he "sat down at the right hand of God" (comp. the similar statement, 1 Pet.3:22) (2) an emphatic declaration of the necessity of baptism for salvation ("he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved"), with the negative clause that unbelief (i.e., the rejection of the gospel offer of salvation) condemns ("he that disbelieveth shall be condemned"); [985] (3) the fact that the apostles disbelieved the report of Mary Magdalene until the risen Lord appeared to them personally (Mark 16:11-14; but John intimates the same, John 20:8, 9, especially in regard to Thomas, 20:25, and Matthew mentions that some doubted, Matt.28:17; comp. Luke 24:37-41); (4) an authoritative promise of supernatural powers and signs which shall accompany the believers (Mark 16:17, 18). Among these is mentioned the pentecostal glossolalia under the unique name of speaking with new tongues. [986]

The genuineness of this closing section is hotly contested, and presents one of the most difficult problems of textual criticism. The arguments are almost equally strong on both sides, but although the section cannot be proven to be a part of the original Gospel, it seems clear: (1) that it belongs to primitive tradition (like the disputed section of the adulteress in John 8); and (2) that Mark cannot have closed his Gospel with Mark 16:8 (gar) without intending a more appropriate conclusion. The result does not affect the character and credibility of the Gospel. The section may be authentic or correct in its statements, without being genuine or written by Mark. There is nothing in it which, properly understood, does not harmonize with apostolic teaching.

Note on the Disputed Close of Mark, 16:9-20

I. Reasons against the genuineness:

1. The section is wanting altogether in the two oldest and most valuable uncial manuscripts, the Sinaitic (') and the Vatican (B). The latter, it is true, after ending the Gospel with Mark 16:8 and the subscription kata mapkon, leaves the remaining third column blank, which is sufficient space for the twelve verses. Much account is made of this fact by Drs. Burgon and Scrivener; but in the same MS. I find, on examination of the facsimile edition, blank spaces from a few lines up to two-thirds and three-fourths of a column, at the end of Matthew, John, Acts, 1 Pet. (fol.200), 1 John (fol.208), Jude (fol.210), Rom. (fol.227), Eph. (fol.262), Col. (fol.272). In the Old Testament of B, as Dr. Abbot has first noted (in 1872), there are two blank columns at the end of Nehemiah, and a blank column and a half at the end of Tobit. In any case the omission indicates an objection of the copyist of B to the section, or its absence in the earlier manuscript he used.

I add the following private note from Dr. Abbot:, "In the Alexandrian MS. a column and a third are left blank at the end of Mark, half a page at the end of John, and a whole page at the end of the Pauline Epistles. (Contrast the ending of Matthew and Acts.) In the Old Testament, note especially in this MS. Leviticus, Isaiah, and the Ep. of Jeremiah, at the end of each of which half a page or more is left blank; contrast Jeremiah, Baruch, Lamentations. There are similar blanks at the end of Ruth, 2 Samuel, and Daniel, but the last leaf of those books ends a quaternion or quire in the MS. In the Sinaitic MS. more than two columns with the whole following page are left blank at the end of the Pauline Epistles, though the two next leaves belong to the same quaternion; so at the end of the Acts a column and two-thirds with the whole of the following page; and at the end of Barnabas a column and a half. These examples show that the matter in question depended largely on the whim of the copyist; and that we can not infer with confidence that the scribe of B knew of any other ending of the Gospel."

There is also a shorter conclusion, unquestionably spurious, which in L and several MSS. of the Aethiopic version immediately follows Mark 16:8, and appears also in the margin of 274, the Harclean Syriac, and the best Coptic MS. of the Gospel, while in k of the Old Latin it takes the place of the longer ending. For details, see Westcott and Hort, II., Append., pp.30, 38, 44 sq.

2. Eusebius and Jerome state expressly that the section was wanting in almost all the Greek copies of the Gospels. It was not in the copy used by Victor of Antioch. There is also negative patristic evidence against it, particularly strong in the case of Cyril of Jerusalem, Tertullian, and Cyprian, who had special occasion to quote it (see Westcott and Hort, II., Append., pp.30-38). Jerome's statement, however, is weakened by the fact that he seems to depend upon Eusebius, and that he himself translated the passage in his Vulgate.

3. It is 'wanting in the important MS. k representing the African text of the Old Latin version, which has a different conclusion (like that in L), also in some of the best MSS. of the Armenian version, while in others it follows the usual subscription. It is also wanting in an unpublished Arabic version (made from the Greek) in the Vatican Library, which is likewise noteworthy for reading hosin 1 Tim.3:16.

4. The way in which the section begins, and in which it refers to Mary Magdalene, give it the air of a conclusion derived from some extraneous source. It does not record the fulfilment of the promise in Mark 16:7. It uses (16:9) prote sabbatoufor the Hebraistic te mia-i-i ton sabbatonof 16:2. It has many words or phrases (e.g., poreuomaiused three times) not elsewhere found in Mark, which strengthen the impression that we are dealing with a different writer, and it lacks Mark's usual graphic detail. But the argument from difference of style and vocabulary has been overstrained, and can not be regarded as in itself decisive.

II. Arguments in favor of the genuineness:

1. The section is found in most of the uncial MSS., A C D Ch G D S, in all the late uncials (in L as a secondary reading), and in all the cursive MSS., including 1, 33, 69, etc.; though a number of the cursives either mark it with an asterisk or note its omission in older copies. Hence the statements of Eusebius and Jerome seem to need some qualification. In MSS 22 (as Dr. Burgon has first pointed out) the liturgical word telosdenoting the end of a reading lesson, is inserted after both Mark 16:8 and 16:20, while no such word is placed at the end of the other Gospels. This shows that there were two endings of Mark in different copies.

2. Also in most of the ancient versions, the Itala (with the exception of "k," or the codex Bobbiensis, used by Columban), the Vulgate, the Curetonian Syriac (last part), the Peshito, the Philoxenian, the Coptic, the Gothic (first part), and the Aethiopic, but in several MSS. only after the spurious shorter conclusion. Of these versions the Itala, the Curetonian and Peshito Syriac, and the Coptic, are older than any of our Greek codices, but the MSS. of the Coptic are not older than the twelfth or tenth century, and may have undergone changes as well as the Greek MSS.; and the MSS. of the Ethiopic are all modern. The best MSS. of the old Latin are mutilated here. The only extant fragment of Mark in the Curetonian Syriac is 16:17-20, so that we cannot tell whether Mark 16:9-20 immediately followed 16:8, or appeared as they do in cod. L. But Aphraates quotes it.

3. In all the existing Greek and Syriac lectionaries or evangeliaries and synaxaries, as far as examined, which contain the Scripture reading lessons for the churches. Dr. Burgon lays great stress on their testimony (ch. X.), but he overrates their antiquity. The lection-systems cannot be traced beyond the middle of the fourth century when great liturgical changes took place. At that time the disputed verses were widely circulated and eagerly seized as a suitable resurrection and ascension lesson.

4. Irenaeus of Lyons, in the second half of the second century, long before Eusebius, expressly quotes Mark 16:19 as a part of the Gospel of Mark (Adv. Haer., III.10, 6). The still earlier testimony of Justin Martyr (Apol., I.45) is doubtful (The quotation of Mark 16:17 and 18 in lib. viii., c.1 of the Apostolic Constitutions is wrongly ascribed to Hippolytus.) Marinus, Macarius Magnes (or at least the heathen writer whom he cites), Didymus, Chrysostom (??), Epiphanius, Nestorius, the apocryphal Gesta Pilati, Ambrose, Augustin, and other later fathers quote from the section.

5. A strong intrinsic argument is derived from the fact that Mark cannot intentionally have concluded his Gospel with the words ephobounto gar(Mark 16:8). He must either have himself written the last verses or some other conclusion, which was accidently lost before the book was multiplied by transcription; or he was unexpectedly prevented from finishing his book, and the conclusion was supplied by a friendly hand from oral tradition or some written source.

In view of these facts the critics and exegetes are very much divided. The passage is defended as genuine by Simon, Mill, Bengel, Storr, Matthaei, Hug, Schleiermacher, De Wette, Bleek, Olshausen, Lange, Ebrard, Hilgenfeld, Broadus ("Bapt. Quarterly," Philad., 1869), Burgon (1871), Scrivener, Wordsworth, McClellan, Cook, Morison (1882). It is rejected or questioned by the critical editors, Griesbach, Lachmann, Tischendorf, Tregelles, Alford, Westcott and Hort (though retained by all in the text with or without brackets), and by such critics and Commentators as Fritzsche, Credner, Reuss, Wieseler, Holtzmann, Keim, Scholten, Klostermann, Ewald, Meyer, Weiss, Norton, Davidson. Some of these opponents, however, while denying the composition of the section by Mark, regard the contents as a part of the apostolic tradition. Michelsen surrenders only 16:9-14, and saves 16:15-20. Ewald and Holtzmann conjecture the original conclusion from 16:9, 10 and 16-20; Volkmar invents one from elements of all the Synoptists.

III. Solutions of the problem. All mere conjectures; certainty is impossible in this case.

1. Mark himself added the section in a later edition, issued perhaps in Alexandria, having been interrupted in Rome just as he came to 16:8, either by Peter's imprisonment and martyrdom, or by sickness, or some accident. Incomplete copies got into circulation before he was able to finish the book. So Michaelis, Hug, and others.

2. The original conclusion of Mark was lost by some accident, most probably from the original autograph (where it may have occupied a separate leaf), and the present paragraph was substituted by an anonymous editor or collector in the second century. So Griesbach, Schulthess, David Schulz.

3. Luke wrote the section. So Hitzig (Johannes Marcus, p.187).

4. Godet (in his Com. on Luke, p.8 and p.513, Engl. transl.) modifies this hypothesis by assuming that a third hand supplied the close, partly from Luke's Gospel, which had appeared in the mean time, and partly (Mark 16:17, 18) from another source. He supposes that Mark was interrupted by the unexpected outbreak of the Neronian persecution in 64 and precipitously fled from the capital, leaving his unfinished Gospel behind, which was afterward completed when Luke's Gospel appeared. In this way Godet accounts for the fact that up to Mark 16:8 Luke had no influence on Mark, while such influence is apparent in the concluding section.

5. It was the end of one of the lost Gospel fragments used by Luke 1:1, and appended to Mark's by the last redactor. Ewald.

6. The section is from the pen of Mark, but was purposely omitted by some scribe in the third century from hierarchical prejudice, because it represents the apostles in an unfavorable light after the resurrection, so that the Lord "upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart" (Mark 16:14). Lange (Leben Jesu, I.166). Unlikely.

7. The passage is genuine, but was omitted in some valuable copy by a misunderstanding of the word teloswhich often is found after Mark 16:8 in cursives. So Burgon. "According to the Western order," he says (in the "Quarterly Review" for Oct., 1881), "S. Mark occupies the last place. From the earliest period it had been customary to write telos(The End) after 16:8, in token that there a famous ecclesiastical lection comes to a close. Let the last leaf of one very ancient archetypal copy have begun at 16:9, and let that last leaf have perished; -- and all is plain. A faithful copyist will have ended the Gospel perforce -- as B and ' have done -- at S. Mark 16:8." But this liturgical mark is not old enough to explain the omission in ', B, and the MSS. of Eusebius and Jerome; and a reading lesson would close as abruptly with garas the Gospel itself.

8. The passage cannot claim any apostolic authority; but it is doubtless founded on some tradition of the apostolic age. Its authorship and precise date must remain unknown, but it is apparently older than the time when the canonical Gospels were generally received; for although it has points of contact with them all, it contains no attempt to harmonize their various representations of the course of events. So Dr. Hort (II., Appendix, 51). A similar view was held by Dean Alford.

For full information we refer to the critical apparatus of Tischendorf and Tregelles, to the monograph of Weiss on Mark (Das Marcusevang., pp.512-515), and especially to the exhaustive discussion of Westcott and Hort in the second volume (Append., pp.29-51). The most elaborate vindication of the genuineness is by Dean Burgon: The Last Twelve Verses o f the Gospel according to S. Mark Vindicated against Recent Critical Objections and Established (Oxford and Lond., 1871, 334 pages), a very learned book, but marred by its over-confident tone and unreasonable hostility to the oldest uncial MSS. (' and B) and the most meritorious textual critics (Lachmann, Tischendorf, Tregelles). For other able defences see Dr. Scrivener (Introd. to the Criticism of the New Test., 3d ed., 1883, pp.583-590), Dr. Morison (Com. on Mark, pp.446 and 463 sqq.), and Canon Cook (in Speaker's Com. on Mark, pp.301-308).

Lachmann gives the disputed section, according to his principle to furnish the text as found in the fourth century, but did not consider it genuine (see his article in "Studien und Kritiken" for 1830, p.843). Tischendorf and Tregelles set the twelve verses apart. Alford incloses them in single brackets, Westcott and Hort in double brackets, as an early interpolation; the Revised Version of 1881 retains them with a marginal note, and with a space between Mark 16:8 and 9. Dean Burgon ("Quarterly Rev." for Oct., 1881) holds this note of the Revision (which simply states an acknowledged fact) to be "the gravest blot of all," and triumphantly refers the critical editors and Revisionists to his "separate treatise extending over 300 pages, which for the best of reasons has never yet been answered," and in which he has "demonstrated," as he assures us, that the last twelve verses in Mark are "as trustworthy as any other verses which can be named." The infallible organ in the Vatican seems to have a formidable rival in Chichester, but they are in irreconcilable conflict on the true reading of the angelic anthem (Luke 2:14): the Pope chanting with the Vulgate the genitive (eudokias,bonae voluntatis), the Dean, in the same article, denouncing this as a "grievous perversion of the truth of Scripture," and holding the evidence for the nominative (eudokia) to be "absolutely decisive," as if the combined testimony of '* A B D, Irenaeus, Origen (lat.), Jerome, all the Latin MSS., and the Latin Gloria in Excelsis were of no account, as compared with his judgment or preference.


[942] Marcus, and the diminutive Marcellus (Little Mallet), are well known Roman names. Marcus Tullius Cicero wrote an oration pro Marco Marcello.

[943] Acts 12:12, 25; 13:5, 13; 15:37; Col. 4:10; 2:Tim. 4:11; Philem. 24; 1:Pet. 5:13.

[944] There is no good reason for taking "son" here literally (with Credner), when the figurative meaning so fully harmonizes with Scripture usage and with what we otherwise certainly know of Mark's intimate relations to Peter both from the Acts and from tradition. A daughter of Peter (Petronilla) is mentioned by tradition, but not a son. Clement of Alexandria says that Peter and Philip begat children."

[945] anepsios, Col. 4:10.

[946] emnemoneuse. It is so translated by Valois, Lardner, Meyer, Weiss, Lightfoot. The rendering "recorded," which is preferred by Crusé and Morison, makes it tautological with the preceding egrapsen. The "he" may be referred to Mark or to Peter, probably to the former.

[947] all ouch hosper suntaxin ton kuriakon logon(orlogion, oracles).

[948] Euseb., Hist, Eccl., III. 39. For a critical discussion of this important testimony see Weiss and Morison, also Lightfoot in the "Contemp. Rev.," vol. XXVI. (1875), pp. 393 sqq. There is not the slightest evidence for referring this description to a fictitious pre-canonical Mark, as is still done by Davidson (new ed., I. 539).

[949] The Latin was provincial, the Greek universal in the Roman empire. Cicero (Pro Arch., 10): "Graeca leguntur in omnibus fere gentibus; Latina suis finibus, exiguis sane, continentur." The tradition that Mark wrote his Gospel first in Latin is too late to deserve any credit. Baronius defends it in the interest of the Vulgate, and puts the composition back to the year 45. The supposed Latin autograph of Mark's Gospel at Venice is a fragment of the Vulgate.

[950] Justin Martyr (Dial.c. Tryph., c. 106) actually quotes from the "Memoirs (apomnemoneumata) of Peter" the designation of the sons of Zebedee, "Boanerges" or "Sons of Thunder;" but he evidently refers to the written Gospel of Mark, who alone mentions this fact, Mark 3:17.

[951] See the testimonies of Jerome, Eusebius, Origen, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, and Papias, well presented in Kirchhofer (ed. Charteris) on Canonicity, pp. 141-150, and in Morison's Com., pp. xx-xxxiv

[952] Mark 16:19: "The Lord Jesus ... was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God;" comp. 1 Pet, 3:22: "who is on the right hand of God, having gone into heaven."

[953] Mark 8:27-33; compared with Matt. 16:13-33.

[954] Dem. Evang., III. 5, quoted by Morison, p. xxxv. In view of the facts quoted above the reader may judge of Dr. Davidson's assertion (Introd. 1882 vol. I., 541): "That Mark was not the writer of the canonnical Gospel may be inferred from the fact that it is not specially remarkable in particulars relative to Peter."

[955] Irenaeus (Adv. Haer., III. 1) says "after the departure" of Peter and Paul, "post horum excessum," or in the original Greek preserved by Eusebius (H. E., V. 8. ed. Heinichen, 1. 224), meta ten touton exodon. This must mean "after their decease," not "after their departure from Rome" (Grabe). But Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Epiphanius, Eusebius, Jerome, and other fathers assign the composition to a time before the martyrdom of Peter. Christophorson (in his Latin Version of the Church History of Eusebius, publ. 1570, as quoted by Stieren in Iren. Op., I. 423, note 4) suggested a different reading, meta ten ekdosin, i.e., after the publication of Matthew's Hebrew Gospel, as spoken of in the preceding sentence, and Morison (p. xxv) seems inclined to accept this conjecture. Very unlikely; all the MSS., Rufinus and the Latin translator of Irenaeus read exodon. See Stieren, in loc. The conflicting statements can be easily harmonized by a distinction between the composition before, and the publication after, the death of Peter. By publication in those days was meant the copying and distribution of a book.

[956] Acts 10:38. The sermon of Peter to Cornelius is the Gospel of Mark in a nutshell.

[957] Lange (Com., p. 2): "Mark delineates Christ as, from first to last, preeminently the victorious conqueror of all Satanic powers. He has left us a record of the manifestation of Christ's power when that great Lion seized upon the ancient world, and of his brief but decisive victory, after which only the ruins of the ancient world are left, which in turn furnish the materials for the new one." Thomson (Speaker's Com., Introd. to Gospels, p. xxxv): "The wonder-working son of God sweeps over his kingdom, swiftly and meteor-like: and men are to wonder and adore. His course is sometimes represented as abrupt, mysterious, awful to the disciples: He leaves them at night; conceals himself from them on a journey. The disciples are amazed and afraid (Mark 10:24, 32). And the Evangelist means the same impression of awe to be imparted to the reader."

[958] The reading of the textus rec. huiou (tou) theou in Mark 1:1 is sustained by 'ABDL, nearly all the cursives, and retained by Lachmann and Tregelles in the text, by Westcott and Hort in the margin. Tischendorf omitted it in his 8th ed. on the strength of his favorite '*(in its original form), and Origen. Irenaeus has both readings. The term occurs seven times in Mark, and is especially appropriate at the beginning of his Gospel and a part of its very title.

[959] Mark 3:17; 5:41; 7:1-4; 12:18; 15:6, 35.

[960] See Lange's Analysis of Mark, Com., pp. 12-14; also his Bibelkunde, pp. 185-187. Lange discovered many characteristic features of the Gospels, which have passed without acknowledgment into many other books.

[961] As asserted by Baur, Schwegler, Köstlin, and quite recently again by Dr. Davidson, who says (I. 505): "The colorless neutrality of the Gospel was an important factor in conciliating antagonistic parties." Dr. Morison (p. xlvi) well remarks against this Tübingen tendency criticism: "There is not so much as a straw of evidence that the Gospel of Mark occupied a position of mediation, or irenic neutrality, in relation to the other two Synoptic Gospels. It is in the mere wantonness of a creative imagination that its penman is depicted as warily steering his critical bark between some Scylla in St. Matthew's representations and some Charybdis in St. Luke's. There is no Scylla in the representations of St. Matthew. It must be invented if suspected. There is no Charybdis in the representations of St. Luke. Neither is there any indication in St. Mark of wary steering, or of some latent aim of destination kept, like sealed orders, under lock and key. There is, in all the Gospels, perfect transparency and simplicity, 'the simplicity that is in Christ.'"

[962] Ewald characterizes Mark's style as the Schmelz der frischen Blume, as the volle, reine Leben der Stoffe, Kahnis as drastisch and frappant, Meyer as malerisch anschaulich. Lange speaks of the "enthusiasm and vividness of realization which accounts for the brevity, rapidity, and somewhat dramatic tone of the narrative, and the introduction of details which give life to the scene."

[963] kensos (census), kenturion(centurio),xestes(sextarius),spekoulatop(speculator), and the Latinizing phrases to hikanon poiein(satisfacere, Mark 15:15), eschatos echei, (in extremis esse), sumboulion didonai (consilium dare). Mark even uses the Roman names of coins instead of the Greek, kodrantes(quadrans, 12:42).

[964] eutheos or euthus occurs (according to Bruder's Concord.) forty-one times in the Gospel of Mark, nearly as often as in all other New Test. writings combined. But there are some variations in reading. Codex D omits it in several passages. The English Version, by its inexcusable love of variations, obliterates many characteristic features of the sacred writers. This very particle is translated in no less than seven different ways: straightway, immediately, forthwith, as soon as, by and by, shortly, and anon.

[965] Mark 3:17; 5:41 7:11, 34; 14:36; 15:34.

[966] Mark 1:21, 40, 44 2:3, 10, 17; 11:1; 14:43, 66.

[967] Mark 4:39; 5:8, 9, 12; 6:23, 31; 9:25; 12:6.

[968] Such as anablepsai, emblepsas, periblepsamenos , anapedesas, kupsas , embrimesamenos, epistrapheis apostenaxas.

[969] As paidion, korasion, kunarion, thugatrion, ichthudion, otarion.

[970] Time: Mark 1:35; 2:1; 4:35; 6:2; 11:11, 19; 15:25; 16:2.:Place: 2:1; 5:20; 7:31; 12:41; 13:3; 14:68; 15:39; 16:5.

[971] Asagreuein, alalos, alektorophonia, gnapheus , ekthambeisthai, enankalizesthai, exapina, eneileo, exoudenoo, ennuchon, mogilalos, prasiai prasiai, prosabbaton, promerimnan, prosormizesthai, sunthlibein, telaugos , hupolenion, and others.

[972] Mark 1:22, 27; 2:12; 4:41; 6:2, 51; 10:24, 26, 32.

[973] Mark 3:10, 20, 32; 4:1; 5:21, 31; 6:31, 33.

[974] Mark 6:34: "he had compassion on them;" 6:6: "he marvelled because of their unbelief" (as he marvelled also at the great faith of the heathen centurion, Matt. 8:10; Luke 7:8); Mark 3:5: "when he had looked round about them with anger, being grieved at the hardening of their heart;" 8:12: "he sighed deeply in his spirit;" 10:14: "he was moved with indignation," or "was much displeased" with the conduct of the disciples.

[975] Mark 1:31; 3:5, 34; 5:32; 7:33, 34; 8:12, 33 ("but he, turning about, and seeing his disciples, rebuked Peter") 9:35; 10:23, 32; 11:11.

[976] Mark 4:38; 6:31; 11:12.

[977] Mark 10:21, 22: emblepsas auto hegapesen auton. This must be taken in its natural meaning and not weakened into " kissed him," or " spoke kindly to him," or " pitied him." Our Saviour, says Morison, in l., " would discern in the young man not a little that was really amiable, the result of the partial reception and reflection of gracious Divine influences. There was ingenuousness, for instance, and moral earnestness. There was restraint of the animal passions, and an aspiration of the spirit toward the things of the world to come."

[978] Mark 9:21-25. Comp. Matt. 17:14-18; Luke 9:37-42.

[979] Mark 9:36; 10:16; comp. with Matthew 18:2; 19:13; and Luke 9:48; 18:16.

[980] By Augustin, Griesbach, De Wette, Bleek, Baur, Davidson.

[981] As C. H. Weisse, Wilke, Ewald, Lange, Holtzmann, Bernhard Weiss, Westcott, Abbott, Morison. See 79, this vol.

[982] Jerome wrote to Hedibia, a pious lady in Gaul (Ep. 120 c. 10, in Opera, ed. Migne, I. 1002): "Habebat ergo [Paulus] Titum interpretem; sicut et beatus Petrus Marcum, cuius evangelium Petro narrante (not dictante), et illo [Marco]scribente, compositum est." This letter was written in 406 or 407, from Bethlehem. Morison (p. xxxvii): "If we assume the Patristic tradition regarding St. Peter's relation to St. Mark, we find the contents and texture of the Gospel to be without a jar at any point, in perfect accord with the idea."

[983] So James Smith in his Dissertation on the Origin and Connection of the Gospels, and again in the Dissertation on the Life and Writings of St. Luke, prefixed to the fourth ed. of his Voyage and Shipwreck of St. Paul (1880), pp. 29 sqq.

[984] "In substance and style and treatment, the Gospel of St, Mark is essentially a transcript from life. The course and the issue of facts are imaged in it with the clearest outline. If all other arguments against the mythic origin of the Evangelic narratives were wanting, this vivid and simple record, stamped with the most distinct impress of independence and originality,--totally unconnected with the symbolism of the Old Dispensation, totally independent of the deeper reasonings of the New,--would be sufficient to refute a theory subversive of all faith in history. The details which were originally addressed to the vigorous intelligence of Roman bearers are still pregnant with instruction for us. The teaching which 'met their wants' in the first age, finds a corresponding field for its action now." Westcott, l.c., 369 (Am. ed.).

[985] Mark 16:16 ho pisteusas kai baptistheis sothesetai, ho de apistesas katakrithesetai. This declaration takes the place of the command to baptize, Matt. 28:19. It applies only to converted believers (ho pisteusas), not to children who are incapable of an act of faith or unbelief, and yet are included in the covenant blessing of Christian parents (comp. 1 Cor. 7:14). Hence it is only positive unbelief which condemns, whether with or without baptism; while faith saves with baptism, ordinarily, but exceptionally also without baptism. Else we should have to condemn the penitent thief, the Quakers, and all unbaptized infants. St. Augustin derived from this passage and from John 3:5 (ex hudatos) the doctrine of the absolute and universal necessity of water-baptism for salvation; and hence the further (logical, but not theological inference drawn by the great and good bishop of Hippo, with reluctant heart, that all unbaptized infants dying in infancy are forever damned (or, at least, excluded from heaven), simply on account of Adam's sin, before they were capable of committing an actual transgression. This is the doctrine of the Roman Church to this day. Some Calvinistic divines in the seventeenth century held the same view with regard to reprobate infants (if there be such), but allowed an indefinite extension of the number of elect infants beyond the confines of Christendom. Zwingli held that all infants dying in infancy are saved. Fortunately the Saviour of mankind has condemned the dogma horribile of infant damnation by his own conduct toward (unbaptized) children, and his express declaration that to them belongs the kingdom of heaven, and that our heavenly Father does not wish any of them to perish. Matt. 18:2-6; 19:13-15; Mark 10:13-16; Luke 18:15-17. In the light of these passages we must explain John 3:5 and Mark 16:16, which have been so grossly misunderstood.

[986] glossais lalesousin kainais .Tischendorf retains kainais? Tregelles, Westcott and Hort put it in the margin, as it is omitted in several uncials and ancient versions.

section 80 matthew
Top of Page
Top of Page