Authorship and Dating of Mark
Authorship and Dating of Mark

Authorship and Dating of Mark

Conclusion from Prior Articles

Lindsey and other Hebrew scholars at the Jerusalem School  have been forced to recognize that Mark was rewritten. They have identified his text as a strange mixture of Hebrew memories and of Greek popular style. They also discovered that Luke shows no traces of being influenced by the editorial activity of Mark, and the third Gospel, written by a Greek physician, is far more Hebraic than the Gospel supposedly written by  John Mark.

From these facts, as supported by all the evidence in the previous articles, we can conclude that Mark had entirely rewritten a source which was known to Luke before it was edited. In rewriting his source, Mark was helped by the already existing Gospel of Luke.

The excerpts below from Benjamin Bacon on the Composition and Date of Mark provider further substantiation that Mark is not an original source and shed some light on when Mark was composed. Some additional quotes of F.F. Bruce are provided which are pertinent to Authorship.

Authorship and Dating of Mark: Additional Book Excerpts

The Gospel of Mark – Its Composition and Date

Bacon, Benjamin Wisner, Yale University Pressv. Press, 1925

Benjamin Wisner Bacon (1860 – 1932) was an American theologian. He was born in Litchfield, Connecticut and graduated from Yale College in 1881 and Yale Divinity School in 1884. After serving in pastorates at Old Lyme, Connecticut (1884–1889), and at Oswego, New York (1889–1896), he was made an instructor in New Testament Greek at Yale Divinity School and became in 1897 professor of New Testament criticism and exegesis. The degrees D.D., Litt.D., and LL.D. were conferred upon him.

Summary Excerpts (Chapter 24)

The testimony of the Elder, representing the judgment of Jerusalem authorities shortly after 110 A.D., appears to be based on the title and general nature of the Gospel rather than personal knowledge of the circumstances of its composition. (p. 317)

Our study confirms the generally accepted verdict of criticism that the Gospel of Mark is based on written sources, among which must be included some form of the Second Source. (p. 318)

For the question of date none of the sources of Mark can compare in importance with the sources he employs in his great discourse of Jesus on the Doom of Jerusalem (Mk. 13:1-37). The chapter is certainly composite, and includes elements derived from the Second Source in combination with others which place in the mouth of Jesus definite predictions concerning the overthrow of the temple and accompanying woes on “ those in Judea.” (p. 318)

Our conclusion from the eschatology of Mark, after comparison with the Pauline on the one side, with Matthew and Luke on the other, was that Mark“ looks back” … on the events of 66-70 as“ already past.” …  The original form of the primitive “revelation” can therefore be dated with very great probability in 40 A.D…. The further Markan modification is certainly later than 70 A.D. (pp. 319-320)

There are even indications of the use of some form of Petrine narrative ( Sińynois) of (north- ? ) Syrian origin also employed by Luke. But such earlier compilations of narrative type as may have existed were soon superseded by Mark itself. The important point for us to observe is that the field into which we are carried back by the attempt to extricate the written sources of Mark and Luke is not that of Petrine teaching as known to Paul, but that which we have designated deutero – Petrine. These sources were in Aramaic or in ‘translation ? -Greek. This implies for the sources a Syrian, perhaps a Palestinian origin. But they too were ` post- apostolic ‘ if with the ancients we limit the. “ teaching of the Apostles,” to the reign of Nero. The narrative source which we can most clearly trace almost certainly looked back with a sympathy and regret quite lacking to Mark on the destruction of the city of David. Jerusalem had perished according to this source because it knew not the time of its visitation, and had rejected the things which belonged to its peace. Equally cogent, though less definite as a mark of date is the Paulinization ” of this deutero – Petrine literature. The claims made in behalf of Peter as supreme authority, even in regions most distinctly of Pauline foundation, are such as could not have been advanced during Paul’s lifetime. Hand in hand with these excessive imputations of authority to Peter go sweeping concessions in the line of universalism. (pp. 320-321)

Miracle and legend in the story of Mark have overgrown the figure of the historic Jesus, though estimates of early and late in this field are precarious. We should judge more safely by the absence of the historical than by the presence of the unhistorical. From this point of view we cannot but conclude that in spite of a graphic style and an interest in externals much more apparent than in Matthew and Luke our evangelist is conspicuously lacking in a really historical conception of Jesus ‘ career. He writes from a period when the outlook of the Church is universalistic beyond dispute. Gentile missions are scarcely argued. They are rather presupposed. (p. 323)

If the growth of miracle and legend, and the inaccuracies of Mark in matters of geography and history afford too precarious’ a means of judgment for more than corroboration of independent results such is also the case with the development of doctrine here encountered. The evangelist combats a Son of David Christology of the Jewish- Christian type and by opposing presupposes it . He stands on a level in this respect with the author of Hebrews. (p. 323)

Doubtless it is in reality a better and sounder foundation for apologetic to regard the Gospel of Mark as a post-apostolic compilation of traditions and documents current under the name of Peter, than to assume for it a reflection of the very words of Peter such as the internal evidence fails to support. But our object is not apologetic, but historical. It now appears that we are not dealing, as apologists have so long maintained, with Peter’s preaching reduced to writing by an amanuensis either before, or shortly after his death. The Gospel according to Mark was really the output of some great church in the sub apostolic period. Whether this was the church at Rome, as tradition has maintain. (pp. 323-334)

In a sense far from that contemplated by the critics of Tübingen Mark is the Gospel of Peter and Paul. Not in an effort at compromise between opposing parties in the Church does it seek the welfare of the whole, but conscious of the great message each Apostle had to convey, and in the spirit of their heroic martyrdom , it opens to the universal brotherhood of Christ the treasury of its apostolic teaching. Reflections are not wanting here of the free spirit of Paul. The lessons of Romans dominate in more than one of its carefully compiled discourses. (p.334)

Archive Book Link:

The beginnings of Gospel story, a historico-critical inquiry into the sources and structure of the Gospel according to Mark

Bacon, Benjamin Wisner, New Haven, Yale Univ. Press, 1909

Beginning of the gospel story

Date and Composition of Mark (xxxi-xxxiii)

As to the period also, we are not left without evidence. Rome as the scene and Nero’s persecution (64 a.d.) as the occasion of Peter’s martyrdom is supported by a very strong array of early testimony, with which must be included I Peter 5:13, even if — as seems most probable — this writing of the later years of Domitian (90-95 a.d.) be not from the hand of the Apostle. In John 21:18 the allusion to Peter’s martyrdom seems to bring his ”carrying away” from the flock of Jesus’ first fold into immediate connection with his martyrdom, as had been the case with Paul. Even apart from this, the complete silence of Paul’s own letters from Rome makes it clear that such stay as Peter had in Rome was at least of the briefest. The testimony of Irenaeus (ca. 189 a.d.), a better witness for Roman than for Asiatic writings, is explicit that Mark wrote after the death of Peter, and is borne out by the implication of the Papias fragment (”Mark who had been the interpreter of Peter wrote,” etc.), and even by the futile attempt of the divergent form of the tradition in Clement of Alexandria, to bring the writing under the imprimatur of Peter without making him responsible for all its contents. Even the very beginnings of the composition must therefore date almost as late as the outbreak of the Jewish war (66 a.d.), while elements from Q, to which we must certainly assign the great discourse on the overthrow of the temple cannot have been attached until some time later, in all probability not until the Mark narrative had acquired a degree of authority in the Roman community which forbade for the time being a very large admixture from gospels of so completely different type as those which made the ”commandments of the Lord” their principal nucleus.”

In spite of much endeavor to base upon the eschatological chapter [Mark 13] and its relation to the parallels, an argument for dating this Gospel earlier than 70 a.d., it is the very reverse which should properly be inferred from the chapter [Mark 13]. For the intended sense of the separate verses, we must refer to the notes. Here it must suffice to say the author’s prime object is to prevent the agitations and chiliastic excesses which the accomplishment of “all these things” would inevitably tend to produce among Christians, especially Palestinian Christians. This conservative effort is made at the same time that he holds them firmly to their hope in the sure fulfillment of “the promise of his Coming” and exhorts to watchfulness. Troubles of all kinds are to be expected from the start, especially persecutions; but ”be not agitated.” Only when the gospel has been proclaimed to the whole world can the end come. Such is Mark’s first paragraph.

In the second [paragraph], he is more specific. “They which are in Judaea” will undergo sufferings unparalleled. The Danielic vision of ‘the abomination which makes desolate” will be fulfilled to them. Only God’s merciful  “shortening of the days” will preserve them. All this will result in the rise of many “false Christs and false prophets” who will say, “Lo, here is Christ, or Lo there.” Believe them not! Be not led astray. I have forewarned you.

In the third paragraph, Mark presents the real signs of the Coming of the Son of Man, which are so entirely supernatural that confusion with earthly events, even the Great Tribulation in Judaea, should be wholly impossible for men forewarned. The parables of the Fig Tree and of the Watchful Servants set forth in conclusion the two aspects of sound teaching: 1. The Coming will not be until the harvest is fully ripe. Nevertheless, it will be as a thief in the night, overtaking the careless unawares.

Surely if any inference is to be drawn from an outline of this exhortation against taking earthly commotions and tribulations, however great, as anything more than general precursors of the Coming, it must be (since the Great Tribulation of ”those that are in Judaea” is certainly alluded to) that the author has already had experience of this, and knows that it is to be distinguished from the actual Coming, which must be awaited still with patience, quiet confidence, and watchfulness.

But certain details, especially in comparison with Matthew, are supposed to show that the catastrophe of 70 a.d. had not yet occurred. For the supposed reference to the temple as still standing in ver. 14, see note ibid. Again in ver. 24 the Coming is put “In those days, after that tribulation” (in Judaea). In both cases Matthew becomes more specific. It is widely maintained that even if Mark himself is writing shortly after 70 a. d., at least he is here transcribing an older document… in which the Coming was looked for if not before the demolition of the temple, at all events ”immediately after the tribulation of those days.” All that need here be said is to admit the contrast.

We should not have such a composition as Mk. 13 at all if the writer had not found occasion for it in the recent occurrence of the demolition of the temple and Great Tribulation for “those in Judaea.” More particularly it would seem to have been for the very purpose of quieting the agitation of those who believed that the Coming would be ”immediately after that tribulation” that he wrote; though he himself expected the Coming within the lifetime of Jesus’ contemporaries. That a still later writer with more sympathy for Jewish-Christian apocalyptic hopes inserts the little word “immediately” where Mark had only said “In those days after that tribulation,” shows only the difference in point of view between a Palestinian evangelist whose chief aim is the affirmative one of encouraging the belief that the Coming is near, and a Roman evangelist whose chief aim is to discourage the belief that it is immediately impending. We have occasion here for assuming neither an older document, nor an older form of Mark, but only (if we are not resting too heavily on a single word) that both Mark and his more sanguine transcriber Matthew wrote within a decade or so after the Great Tribulation. If we knew just the year in which Matthew fixed its termination, our dating might be more exact. As it is, Mark must be dated about 70-75 a.d., and Matthew but very few years later. The former leaves open a period equal to the expectation of fife of Jesus’ contemporaries before the Coming. The latter, with the same absolute terminus, thinks of it in closer connection with the sufferings of his countrymen in the Great Tribulation.

If we may attribute our canonical Mark to some ardently Pauline evangelist writing in Rome ca. 75 a.d., and may also consider that he builds upon the basis of an ancient Petrine tradition, though not without drastic recasting and supplementation from Q and from other sources, the question finally confronts us of the value of this compilation as a source for the historical career of Jesus.

Archive Book Link:

Criticism of Mark: Quotes from F.F. Bruce

Bruce, F.F.. The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? (p. 47). Kingsley Books. Kindle Edition.

As appears from the textual evidence, the original ending of this Gospel may have been lost at a very early date, and the narrative breaks off short at 16:8. (The verses which follow in our Bibles are a later appendix.)

F. F. Bruce. The Canon of Scripture (Kindle Locations 1202-1206). Kindle Edition.

On Mark’s record Papias speaks somewhat defensively, as though he knew of criticisms that had been voiced against it, especially on the ground that its order was defective. To this Papias replies that Mark did not set out to write an orderly account: his aim was to record in writing whatever Peter had to tell of the works and words of Jesus; and Peter simply mentioned from time to time those things which the circumstances of the moment required. In what he wrote down Mark made no mistake: in order, as in matter, he adhered to what Peter said.

F. F. Bruce. The Canon of Scripture (Kindle Locations 2613-2614). Kindle Edition.

As for Mark, the tradition that his record is based (in part at least) on the preaching of Peter may have a foundation in fact, but no appeal is made to Peter’s authority in the course of the record.