Mark & Maximalist Historians: Studies in Mark, Pt. 42

With a little help from C. Clifton Black and some bible dictionaries, I offer here the maximalist’s approach to Mark’s Gospel (not because I agree with all of it!). Of course, there are a number of nuances when it comes to this view but what follows is, in general, the usual approach. It should also be said that there are minimalist methods that shoot down all of what follows (a method, which also has it’s own nuanced viewpoints) but ultimately, one must decide which is approach is the best or they must strive to see if there is yet another way to think about Mark’s work (which, isn’t out of the question)!

I want to start by listing all of the New Testament verses that talk about or mention the fellow named “John”, “Mark” or “John Mark”. Usually, maximalists approach texts this way in order to try to reconstruct Mark’s identity and his role within the early Jesus Movement. Here are the verse references, in a specific order, which will help construct the profile that follows: Acts 12.12, Mk. 14, Acts 12.1-17, Gal. 1.18-24 and 2.1-10, Acts 15.1-11, Acts 12.17 and 9.27, Col 4.10, Acts 11.27-30 and 12.25, Mk. 1.16, Mk. 4.36-8, Mk. 9.6 and 14.72, Mk. 1.21, Mk. 3.2 and 30, Mk. 4.33-4, Mk. 10.32 and 1.29, Mk. 1.36, Mk. 8.29 and 32, Mk. 9.5 and 10.28, Mk. 14.29 and 54-72, Mk. 16.7, Acts 4.36 and 13.1-13, Acts 13.14 and 15.1-38, Acts 15.39-14 and 16.1-5, Col. 4.10, Phm. 24, 2 Tim. 4.11, 1 Pet.5.13 and Mk. 16.8.

If you get out a Bible, read these verses in order (even in a chronological sense) and accept that they are all referring to “the” John Mark, here’s the picture you get:

Mark was the child of a Jerusalemite woman whose name was Mary, a widow who had a large estate and lots of money. In fact, it was her home that was the designated site of The Upper Room. It was here, too, that Mark first saw Jesus and His followers—it was also here that Mark saw (or heard) Judas betray Jesus. Late in the night, after the meal, Mark wrapped a sheet around himself and followed Jesus and company to the Garden of Gethsemane; he saw everything go down. After some time had passed, Mark and Peter came to know one another well—especially as Peter fled to the Jerusalem home after escaping prison. At this point, Mark—an Aramaic speaking Jew—began memorizing the stories of Jesus by heart. After Peter had left Jerusalem, Mark became acquainted with Paul, through his cousin Barnabas, and traveled around doing ministry with them. Upon their visit to Antioch, Mark recounted some of the stories about Jesus and the missionary trips and translated them into Greek. This is why Mark’s Greek works often seem clumsy and grammatically awkward (e.g. the Petrine Letters, too). Nevertheless, he could recount some of his, Paul’s and Peter’s adventures in multiple languages. Mark’s main task in his travels with Paul was to be secretary. However, upon their arrival in Pamphylia, Mark left Paul and friends and went back to Jerusalem. Paul and Barnabas continued on. Later, Mark met back up with them in Antioch, after the Jerusalem conference. Mark decided to join them again for another missionary tour but once again, he left them, this time angrily. On this occasion, Barnabas went with him. So, Paul picked up Silas and Timothy; Timothy took Mark’s tasks upon himself. After a number of years had passed, Mark made his way to Rome where Paul was on house arrest. (Enter the accounts of the Church Fathers) Luke had written a Gentile-oriented Gospel and Paul wanted Peter to make sure it was reliable. So, Peter came to Rome and with the Matthean Gospel in one hand and the Lukan version in the other, gave lectures. His lectures were comparisons of the two; making sure they weren’t erroneous or misleading. Some Romans in the crowd asked Mark to take notes and to develop an account of Peter’s lectures. Selectively, Mark did that and that is how the Gospel bearing his name came into being. His account may end at 16.8 because it was at this point that the guards burst into the place, swords flying, knives stabbing, and killed all the Christians there; hence, the abruptness. Again, I'm not saying I agree with every detail of this but if one were to simply take these texts at face value, this is what you get!

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