At 09:10 AM 6/6/00 +0100, Ken Durkin wrote:
>> ----- Original Message -----
>> From: Stephen C. Carlson <scarlson@...>
>> > For those who identify John Mark as the Fourth Evangelist, I would
>> > like to know how they deal with Papias' testimony, because it is
>> > that part that gives me the difficulties.
>I've given this more thought. Regarding Papias' testimony, I've never been
>convinced that the Second Gospel has any special relationship to Peter.
>Kümmel (Intro to NT) used to sum up my thoughts on this: "The tradition that
>Mark was written by John Mark is therefore scarcely reliable." From the
>extant words of Papias there is no reason to relate them to the Second
>Gospel. We can conclude that there is a tradition that a companion of Peter
>was a writer, and what he wrote was possibly in a different order from other
>written traditions. The insistence that he neither heard the Lord nor
>followed him is the part that gives me difficulties. Perhaps this is one way
>of saying Mark was not an apostle.
Let me quote Papias's statement:
15 And the presbyter would say this: Mark, who was indeed Peter's
interpreter, accurately wrote as much as he remembered, yet not in order,
about that which was either said or did by the Lord. For he neither heard
the Lord nor followed him, but later, as I said, Peter, who as necessary
would make his teachings but not exactly an arrangement of the Lord's
reports, so that Mark did not fail by writing certain things as he recalled.
For he had one purpose, not to omit what he heard or falsify them.
Could this statement refer to the Second Gospel? We may infer from
Papias's three defenses of Mark, three characteristics of this gospel.
1. Mark's lack of order was due to writing down Peter's disconnected
anecdotes. This implies that the gospel was criticized for its order.
I have just listened to the Second Gospel on tape, and my strongest
impression is that the gospel is episodic without a strong narrative
order, except for the occasional intercalation. Although I haven't
listened to John on tape, my recollection is that its narrative flow
is clearer (e.g. this is the first sign that Jesus did).
2. Mark's purpose was not to omit what he heard. This defense implies
that the gospel was criticized for missing material. The Second Gospel
is the shortest of the four and arguably lacks a lot material Christians
have found most interesting (e.g. Sermon on the Mount, resurrection
3. Mark's purpose as not to falsify what he heard. This defense implies
that the gospel was criticized for relating the same incidents differently.
Although this charge could be laid at any of the synoptics because they
share much material in common, the 4G has much less material in common
with the others.
Therefore, I find the best understanding of Papias's defense is a
defense of the Second Gospel, which Papias' clearly associates with
Mark. It is easy to fault Papias because it is equally hard to see
how the Second Gospel is Petrine and therefore call into question
this identification. However, if we look closely at the presbyter's
statement, we notice that the presbyter only states that someone
named Mark had been Peter's interpreter and wrote a gospel. There
is nothing in the presbyter's statement that the relationship between
Peter and Mark was close (in fact, it is not uncommon for ex-employee
to be "disgruntled") nor that Mark wrote closely with Peter or even
when Peter was still alive. Whether the subject matter of Mark came
from Peter is merely an inference that Papias drew from the presbyter's
statement and is difficult to credit. Interestingly, Papias does not
even go far to express whether Peter was still alive when Mark wrote
what "he" (Peter? Mark?) remembered. Thus, I find the supposition
"that the Second Gospel has any special relationship to Peter" to be
unsupported by Papias's testimony.
What I conclude from Papias's testimony is that the tradition that
Mark wrote the Second Gospel is early, extending as back to this
presbyter, who flourished at least in the last decade of the first
century. This presbyter was named John, and there is good reason
to connect him first with 2, 3 John, then with 1 John, and finally
with (the final form of) the 4G (see Hengel for the argument).
Since the presbyter talks about Mark as if Mark was another person,
it is difficult to identify John Mark as the same person as the
Fourth Evangelist. Even Pierson Parker, who made a case for this
identification, conceded he couldn't explain Papias's testimony.
Stephen C. Carlson mailto:scarlson@...
Synoptic Problem Home Page http://www.mindspring.com/~scarlson/synopt/
"Poetry speaks of aspirations, and songs chant the words." Shujing 2.35