Thursday, April 25, 2013

Feast of St. Mark, Evangelist

In addition to being the traditional date of the Major Rogation, today is the Feast St. Mark, Evangelist. While there are some important critical and even dissenting views, it is the overwhelming consensus that Mark's was first of the four canonical Gospels to be written. According to the Four Source Hypothesis, the sacred authors of both Matthew and Luke used Mark's Gospel as a source.

It is also important to note the original ending of Mark's Gospel (ending with verse eight of the sixteenth chapter) did not feature an encounter with the Risen Lord by any of His followers, including St. Mary Magdalene. Instead, when Mary Magdalene, Mary, who is identified as "the mother of James," and Salomé arrive at the tomb on the first day of the week, they wonder who will roll the stone from the mouth of the tomb for them so that they could enter. But, finding the stone already rolled back, they entered the tomb where they encountered an angel, "a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a white robe" (Mark 16:1-5). The angel said to them, "Do not be amazed! You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Behold the place where they laid him. But go and tell his disciples and Peter, 'He is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him, as he told you'" (Mark 16:6-7). The original ending concludes by conveying that the women fled and "said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid" (Marl 16:8).

From the façade of St. Mark's Cathedral, Venice

There is an ancient tradition, largely accepted today, that Mark's Gospel was written in Rome sometime shortly after AD 70.

The symbol for the Evangelist Mark is a winged lion. The symbols for all of the Evangelists date to back to the early Church, at least as early as St. Ireneaus of Lyons, who lived in the late second/early third centuries. The symbols are derived from Sacred Scripture: Ezekiel 1:1-14; Ezekiel 10:1-22; Daniel 7:1-8.


  1. You wrote, "It is also important to note the original ending of Mark's Gospel (ending with verse eight of the sixteenth chapter) did not feature an encounter with the Risen Lord by any of His followers, including St. Mary Magdalene."

    How have you tested the sources of that claim, if you have tested them at all? Two Greek manuscripts from the 300's end the text of Mark at 16:8, but Irenaeus, in about 184, specifically quoted Mark 16:19, stating that he is quoting from near the end of Mark's Gospel. Tatian, c. 172, incorporated Mark 16:9-20 in his Diatessarion. Justin, c. 160, makes a strong allusion to 16:20 in First Apology ch. 45. And the author of Epistula Apostolorum, c. 150, borrows narrative framework from Mark 16:9-14.

    How many other passages of the New Testament which are attested by over 99.9% of the Greek manuscripts, and which are included in the Vulgate and the Peshitta, and which have four pieces of support from the 100's, do you regard as non-original?

    Yours in Christ,

    James Snapp, Jr.

  2. James:

    I have not personally “tested” that claim apart from relying on the work of various well-regarded New Testament scholars writing in commentaries. Among scholars, what I assert is the consensus, which is why it is usually denoted in most English editions of the New Testament. This is the reason for footnotes, like this one from the New American Bible concerning Mark 16:9-20: “This passage, termed the Longer Ending to the Marcan gospel by comparison with a much briefer conclusion found in some less important manuscripts, has traditionally been accepted as a canonical part of the gospel and was defined as such by the Council of Trent. Early citations of it by the Fathers indicate that it was composed by the second century, although vocabulary and style indicate that it was written by someone other than Mark. It is a general resume of the material concerning the appearances of the risen Jesus, reflecting, in particular, traditions found in Lk 24 and Jn 20.”

    I assume the information you supply in your response constitute “Early citations of it by the Fathers.” While there is a consensus, I also realize there are important critiques concerning the consensus, just as there is concerning the “Four Source Hyopthesis.”

    I do not know what the autograph copy of the Gospel According to St. Mark contains. My approach to Scripture is very much “Post Critical.” By that I mean I am opposed to the atomization of the Scriptures that often results from the highly reductive application of the historical-critical method, which leads to what has been described as a “hermeneutic of suspicion.” The Scriptures in the form we possess them, which is how they have been handed down to us, are inspired, including Mark 16:9-20.