Author and Date

Unlike the epistles, the gospels do not name their authors in their texts. The early church fathers, however, unanimously affirm that Mark wrote this second gospel. Papias, bishop of Hieropolis, writing about a.d. 140, noted: “And the presbyter [the Apostle John] said this: ‘Mark having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately whatsoever he remembered. It was not, however, in exact order that he related the sayings or deeds of Christ. For he neither heard the Lord nor accompanied Him. But afterwards, as I said, he accompanied Peter, who accommodated his instructions to the necessities [of his hearers], but with no intention of giving a regular narrative of the Lord’s sayings. Wherefore Mark made no mistake in thus writing some things as he remembered them. For of one thing he took especial care, not to omit anything he had heard, and not to put anything fictitious into the statements.’ ” [From the Exposition of the Oracles of the Lord (6)]

Justin Martyr, writing about a.d. 150, referred to the Gospel of Mark as “the memoirs of Peter” and suggested that Mark wrote his gospel in Italy. This agrees with the uniform voice of early tradition, which regarded this gospel as having been written in Rome for the benefit of Roman Christians. Writing about a.d. 185, Irenaeus called Mark “the disciple and interpreter of Peter,” and he noted that the second gospel consists of what Peter preached about Christ. The testimony of the church fathers differs as to whether this gospel was written before or after Peter’s death (ca. a.d. 67–68).

Evangelical scholars have suggested dates for the writing of Mark’s gospel ranging from a.d. 50 to 70. A date before the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in a.d. 70 is required by Jesus’ comment recorded in 13:2, referring to the Temple: “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone shall be left upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”

Luke’s gospel was clearly written before Acts (Acts 1:1–3). The date of the writing of Acts can probably be fixed around a.d. 63 because that is shortly after the narrative ends. It is likely, therefore, though not certain, that Mark was written at an early date, sometime in the 50s.

 MacArthur, J. (2000). Mark: The Humanity of Christ (p. 2). Nashville, TN: W Publishing Group.


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