Deficiencies of Mark
Deficiencies of Mark

Deficiencies of Mark

The Low Popularity of Mark

 The Gospel of Mark was never popular in the Greek-speaking Hellenistic church. Papias, the mid-second-century bishop of Hierapolis in Phrygia, was the first church father to mention the Gospel and his statement was probably dictated by the general criticism voiced against Mark by the early Greek readers of the Gospel: “Mark,” Papias says, “did no wrong in writing down the things [he had only heard Peter say].” (Eusebius, Eccl. Hist. 3.39.15) … The order of the four Gospels in the earliest manuscripts often placed Mark at the end of the four, but in any case always secondary to Matthew (as in the modern order). It is now clear that ancient Greek manuscripts of the New Testament like Codex Bezae show a deliberate scribal attempt to revise the text of Mark through harmonization with Matthew and Luke. Mark’s Gospel is not quoted at all by such early writers as Clement of Rome or Ignatius of Antioch, and it was only in the fifth century that Mark even rated a commentator: Victor of Antioch… Saint Augustine wrote rather contemptuously of Mark as “a camp-follower and abridger” of Matthew. (De Consensu Evangelistarum 1.2.4.) Even in modern times the sections for Sundays and Saints’ Days in the Church of England Prayer Book show only three readings from Mark out of a total of seventy from the Gospels… Whatever the reasons, Mark’s Gospel was never popular in ancient times.(Robert L. Lindsey, “My Search for the Synoptic Problem’s Solution,” Jerusalem Perspective (2013))

Mark Lacks Completeness and is not as well arranged as Matthew and Luke

G.D. Kilpatrick, The Origins of the Gospel According to St. Matthew, Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers, 2007 (Originally published 1946 Oxford)

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It was natural that, in a revised gospel book produced for the worship of the Church, the needs and convenience of liturgical practice should be consulted. This was necessary since Mark, for example, for all its excellences, is not an ideal book for liturgical use. As a revised gospel book it would also show the influence of some twenty years’ exposition of its sources. In particular the use of quotations, the grouping of material, and rephrasing would be consequent upon this activity. Some of the changes are only in matters of detail, but the results as a whole are considerable… Other consequences of this thesis that Matthew is a revised gospel book will come to light as the thesis itself is tested by the evidence… Several features of Matthew would support the suggestion that it was written to be read liturgically. The stylistic changes from Mark increase lucidity. Unnecessary and distracting details are omitted. The additions make the passages easier to follow. (pp.70-71)

That the reception that the book [Matthew] received at the hands of the Church would agree with the view that is his revision of his sources the author of the Gospel intended to produce a work more acceptable to the Church’s liturgical use. If we compare the citation from Matthew with those from the other Gospels, in Irenaeus, Tertullian, Cyprian, and Augustine for example, it is seen to be the most popular of the four. The tendency was, other things being equal, to prefer the Matthean version wherever it was available. Two examples of this may be indicated. The Matthean for of the Lord’s Prayer is deservedly the form that has established itself in the Church’s liturgical use. The form of the Beatitudes, also, which is usually quoted, is that in our Gospel. Indeed, so successful was it as a revision of Mark, that Mark dropped almost completely out of use, and it is only modern scholarship, with its interest in the historical and the primitive, which as rescued Mark from this neglect. If Matthew is usually the most quoted of the Gospels in the Fathers, Mark is regularly and by far the least quoted. (p. 77) 
That there was a need for one such volume as [Matthew] may easily be seen. There would be a great inconvenience in attempting to use together in the Church’s services such dissimilar documents as Mark, Q, and M, together with odds and ends of tradition and exposition. As soon as this mass of material became quite unwieldy, it was inevitable that an attempt should be made to build the elements into one manageable whole. (p.99-100)
In Mark 1:1-15 there is a sequence of events and from Mark 11 onward an order, either already present or coming into being, which may run back into Mark 10. But between these two points we are confronted with the amorphous tradition of the Galilean ministry…  We may indeed detect small groups in the material , but any attempt to find an order or systematic arrangement of the whole comes to grief. (p.135)

The various endings of Mark

The manuscript tradition has three different endings of Mark, with a couple of additional minor variations. The earliest preserved manuscript tradition is missing an ending, which suggests that Mark was never finished by the original author, the original ending was lost, or that the original ending was deliberately removed. There is notable evidence to suggest the lost ending to Mark was incorporated into John 21, an appendix that was added later to John. 

For more on this, see the article Various Endings of Mark