Papias states that the Gospel was written by St Mark, who drew his information from St Peter. Later tradition connects the Gospel with Rome. It may have been written by John Mark (see the previous entry); there is no obvious reason why it should have been wrongly attributed to so unimportant a figure, but ‘Mark’ is a common name. Written in ‘koine’ or common Greek, Mk. is the least polished of the Gospels. It was probably written soon after the death of Peter (commonly put in ad 64) and during the siege of Jerusalem, or perhaps soon after ad 70.
Mk. makes it clear that Jesus is Messiah and Son of God (1: 1). This truth, known to demons, is disclosed only gradually. After an account of the preaching of St John the Baptist, the Baptism and Temptation of Christ, and His ministry of healing and preaching, a turning-point occurs at 8: 27 ff. with the confession of Peter that Jesus is the Messiah. From this point Mk. describes the burden of the Lord's teaching as the need for the ‘Son of Man’ to suffer, die, and rise from the dead. The story of the Passion describes the death of Christ as a fulfilment of OT prophecy and as a sacrifice inaugurating the new covenant. The Crucifixion is followed by the Resurrection, but the Gospel ends abruptly at 16: 8. 16: 9–20 is one of two early supplements.
See also Marcan hypothesis; messianic secret; and Synoptic problem.
Subjects: Biblical Studies.