John Mark

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A common Latin name. In the Acts a certain John Mark lived in his mother's house in Jerusalem (Acts 12: 12) and was the companion of Paul and Barnabas on their mission of aid for Jerusalem (Acts 12: 25). However, Mark deserted them during a later journey (Acts 13: 5, 13), and when Barnabas suggested him as a companion once more, Paul angrily severed the partnership with Barnabas, leaving the latter to go off to his native Cyprus with Mark (Acts 15: 39). It is possible that a deeper reason for the separation was Paul's determination that Gentile converts should not be subject to the Jewish law—a quarrel between Paul and Barnabas which had blown up at Antioch (Gal. 2: 13).

A Mark (a ‘cousin of Barnabas’) is mentioned in Col. 4: 10; and in 2 Tim. 4: 11, Mark is praised as a useful assistant to the writer. He is referred to affectionately in 1 Pet. 5: 13. It is possible that these, and the Mark who sends greetings to Philemon (24), all refer to the same man, and that therefore a reconciliation took place between Paul and Mark. That is the traditional view, and it is certainly more plausible than the legend that Mark founded the Church in Alexandria and that his body was eventually buried in Venice in 829 ce. Mark's emblem of a winged lion is ascribed to him on account of the supposed portrayal in his gospel of regal characteristics of Jesus. The emblem is familiar in Mark's patronal city of Venice, and there is a sequence of mosaics of him dating from the 13th cent. in the Capella Zeno.

Subjects: Biblical Studies.

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