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The Gospel of Mark and Paul

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  • Richard Richmond
    How much influence did Paul have on the Gospel of Mark? I am postponing my posts on the word counting in Mark to address this issue because it is very close to
    Message 1 of 2 , Jul 9, 2005
      How much influence did Paul have on the Gospel of

      I am postponing my posts on the word counting in Mark
      to address this issue because it is very close to my

      Before I say anything to show that Paul is behind this
      Gospel of Mark, I think it important for us to
      consider how a person comes to know a thing to be
      true. One of the points made in the Gospel of Mark and
      elsewhere was that Jesus spoke with “authority” and
      not as the scribes and Pharisees. I would like to
      translate that phrase into modern English according to
      what I understand it to mean. I do not regard it as a
      reference to supernatural powers or omniscience. As I
      read the text it appears to say that Jesus did not
      teach by referring his audience to Rabbinical
      authorities or those who had addressed the subject in
      the past. He spoke from what he perceived in his own
      study of the Old Testament and Greek Literature and
      any other source that life had brought into his world.

      In the tradition in which I was ordained after
      seminary, the book of discipline says (paraphrasing
      here) that truth comes to those who seek it from four
      basic avenues. Scripture, Tradition, Experience
      (understood as spiritual experience) and Reason. This
      doctrinal confession of sorts is what drew me to this
      denomination. It resonated with what I already knew to
      be true. Having said that, I wamt to present to the
      group my own understanding of the Mark/Paul connection
      which is not at all based on the work of others though
      at times the Rabbis have been correct. Before I do I
      will digress a moment and present you with a poem that
      addresses this all important issue of how we come to
      know a things is true, just to stimulate your thinking
      about what you know and how you know it to be true.

      the significance of knowing

      how can we know a thing to be true
      what are the factors convincing you
      something was written to make knowing last
      people told stories remembered the past
      some things just are, yet i we cannot say how
      others i tried back when and then now
      to know is a gift to all who have eyes;
      help to discard all falsehood and lies
      what do i know - a thought quite profound
      i venture not much when truth comes round
      but the things that you know many or few
      affect how you think and what you will do
      ask you this question and tell you the truth
      what do i know, what learned since my youth
      all that we are and ever will be
      comes from that knowing - for you and for me

      The similarities between Paul (as I experience him
      from his letters), and the Gospel according to Mark.

      (We must remember to hold in our mind the realization
      that the letters of Paul preceded the text of Mark as
      did Paul's life and death).

      Style: The Gospel of Mark has clearly and without
      question been created in conformity to the following
      formula in style.

      1Co 2:1 When I came to you, brethren, I did not come
      proclaiming to you the testimony of God in lofty words
      or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you
      except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 And I was
      with you in weakness and in much fear and trembling; 4
      and my speech and my message were not in plausible
      words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit
      and of power. -- If one were writing a commentary on
      the Gospel of Mark he could not describe the literary
      style of Mark more accurately than Paul has described
      his own method of presenting his Gospel.

      Mark has no birth myth stories and no genealogies
      (forbidden by Paul)

      In Mark, Peter is presented as a hypocrite his actions
      did not agree with what he professed and went counter
      to the spirit of Jesus (Paul and Mark share this

      There is no reward and no resurrection for people who
      are unwilling to identify with the suffering of Jesus
      epitomized in his rejection by Jews and finalized in
      the cross. Paul intentionally went up to Jerusalem in
      the face of warnings that he would be facing great
      danger and proceeded identifying with the cross.

      The reputed pillars of the church (Peter-James and
      John) are persented in Mark in a negative light as
      self-seeking and far too concerned about heavenly

      Key parable of the sower drawn from Paul 1Cor 2:8-10
      As it is written, "He scatters abroad, he gives to the
      poor; his righteousness endures for ever." 10 He who
      supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will
      supply and multiply your resources and increase the
      harvest of your righteousness. And 1Cor 3:6.

      No commendation to preserve the Law of Moses and no
      references to the Law of Moses except one response to
      the rich young man which is followed up by a request
      for total commitment reflecting Paul's values.

      No commendation to seek righteousness, conversely
      there are several commendations to exercise faith.

      Jewish elements and Jewish thought were primarily
      responsible for rejecting the teaching of Jesus and
      ultimately his death, the same was the case with the
      life of the Apostle Paul.

      Gentiles were more receptive and humble in there
      response to Jesus in Mark and to Paul in life.

      The correct attitude for a disciple of Jesus was the
      attitude of a servant. (1Cor 3:5)

      The loss of every earthly treasure was a small price
      to pay for knowing Jesus (Phil 3:8)

      Reference and equal response to paying taxes and Mark
      12:14-17 (Romans 13:6-7)

      Reference and equal response to the question of the
      great commandment of love of neighbor (Mark 12:28-31)
      (Rom 13:8-10) Notice that these last two items in Mark
      follow the same order of presentation as the same two
      items in Romans.

      The Jesus of Mark is presented with foreknowledge of a
      tragic fate as he proceeds on a journey to Jerusalem,
      Paul also had this knowledge and took this journey
      intentionally, to fulfill the will of God.

      The use of parables and codified expressions to avoid
      interference by outsiders (primarily Jewish
      opposition). (see 1Cor 2:7-9)

      A dramatic split with Jews (Pharisees and scribes0
      from Jerusalem that dined with Jesus in a setting
      involving ritual before eating loaves(Gal 2:12-15)

      The mark of a real apostle is his ability to break and
      distribute the spiritual bread ( preaching that
      demonstrates spirit and power) not to execute the
      rituals of tradition.

      To the Jew first and to the "Greek" and in the same
      fashion not to a lesser degree with respect to

      The presence of spies among his associates
      (2Cor.11:26) Jewish spies (Gal:4)

      I have not even begun to illustrate how many of the
      stories within Mark's text are actually based on
      events in the life of Paul but I would be remiss if I
      did not include at least one.

      I presnt the rough translation of Mark 9:33-37
      attempting to keep natural word oder which I believe
      emphsizes the expression in the Way, symbolic of the
      movement of which Paul was part.

      and they came to Capernaum and being in the house he
      questioned them "what in the way were you debating?"
      and they were silent toward one another for they
      debated in the Way who was greater. And sitting he
      called the twelve and says to them, If anyone wished
      first to be he shall be of all last and of all
      servant. And taking a child he set him in the midst of
      them an folding in his arms him he said to them
      "whoever receives one of the children like this one in
      my name receives me and whoever receives me not me
      receives but the one who sent me.

      This passage describes an event in the life of Paul as
      recorded in 1 Corinthians. It is the very subject of
      the letter. Paul like Jesus had herd that there was an
      argument developing in Corinth over which of the big
      name preachers in "the Way" was the greatest. Mind you
      he himself had begun the work in Corinth but Apollos
      had been there and evidently so had Cephas and the
      circumcision party. So now the factions were forming
      around the leaders and Paul himself had gotten word of
      it second hand. In his address on "who was the
      greatest" Paul rejected the basis for the argument as
      completely inappropriate and explained that He and
      Apollos and Cephas and whoever was the head of the
      Christ party (James is suspect) were each one, only
      servants of God. As a remedy to the situation Paul in
      4:17 said he was sending his beloved child Timothy to
      remind them of his teaching and he asked them to
      receive this youngster with graciousness indicating
      that if they were to do so they would be receiving him
      and in actuality receiving God. Now for all who have
      eyes to see and for all who have ears to hear
      themselves read this text. I cannot imagine anyone not
      recognizing the relationship between these events as
      recorded in both texts and in the same order. Yet I
      know there will be a host of people advancing the
      position that his is not the case at all. For those
      who respect such evidence there are no less than
      twelve vocabulary words in the short text of Mark that
      appear in 1Corinthians, not counting articles and
      prepositions and the like.

      And now what I conceive to be the most striking
      attestation of the Pauline influence in the Gospel of

      The Jesus of Mark in the garden of Gethsemane used the
      term Abba (14:36) with reference to God which is only
      found in Mark and in the letters of Paul (Romans 8:15
      and Galatians 4:6). This FACT alone is a remarkable
      connection which was not repeated in the either of the
      other two Synoptics. I am confident that the reason it
      is not repeated is because among traditionalists
      whether Greek Jewish believers or Palestinian Jewish
      believers this term is much too intimate and familiar
      to be used in reference to God). I believe Paul’s use
      of the term originates from Homer and was not Jewish
      at all. The fact that Mark puts this expression into
      the mouth of Jesus is unquestionably due to his
      connection to Paul.

      There are good reasons as to why Mark has conformed
      his Gospel to the style of Paul's preaching and they
      stem from what Paul did for a living which was not
      making tents as is commonly thought. The word that
      describes the trade of Paul, Aquila and Priscilla is
      skene. In Paul’s own lifetime that word was used to
      describe the stage set of a Greek Theater. Paul was
      actually a carpenter of sorts. These stages began as
      tents to house the chorus and actors, but in Paul’s
      lifetime these tents had long been replaced by
      elaborate stages also called skene. The tent had been
      gone for hundreds of years by the time Paul was born.
      Someone who was described as a skene would quite
      naturally be a person who put up and took down the
      elaborate stage sets of Greek Theater in the first
      Christian century. Every city that had a Theater,
      Corinth, Thessalonica, Athens, Antioch, Ephesus, they
      all celebrated at least to yearly festivals in January
      and March. The festivals would last four days and
      there would be competitions where compositions like
      the Gospel of Mark could be enacted on stage and
      judged for the chief prize after the manner of of th
      trilogies of Aeschylus and Sophocles. The eloquent
      Apollos was almost certainly an Actor that Aquila and
      Pricilla met at Synagogue during one of these
      festivals in Corinth.

      All of the missionary journeys of Paul were based
      around cities that had large Greek theaters and that
      would include Antioch which had a theater that could
      seat 14000 people. Greek theater was a demonstration
      of whatever the playwright had to say. It was a place
      where the epic poems where performed and the works of
      Socrates and Plato and Aristotle were recited. The
      presentation was for the eyes and ears of the audience
      to be seen and perceived, heard and understood. I have
      gone through the text of Mark and noted all of the
      elements of Greek tragedy, the prologue, the Parados,
      the episodes and stasimons, and the parts of the
      chorus and actors as well as the setting descriptions
      spoken by the chorus. Mark is a trilogy of Greek
      tragedies. And was probably presented in competition
      on stage.

      So there you have my reasons for connecting Mark with
      Paul with the exception of one which anyone can read
      for themselves in II Timothy 4:6-18. I regard this
      letter as the beginning of the enterprise we call the
      Gospel of Mark. The reference to Rome in II Timothy is
      an addition to make it agree with the account of Paul
      sailing to Rome that we have in Acts. Paul was in
      Caesarea when he wrote this letter to Timothy. (Paul
      would never have been able to count on the presence of
      Mark had Timothy had to travel to Jerusalem first and
      then to Rome. Timothy was going from Ephesus (not far
      from Troas) to Caesarea and would pick up Mark in
      Jerusalem first. The blank parchment that Paul so
      desperately needed was for the committing the Gospel
      to writing. How much of the actual text came from the
      mind of Paul is difficult to determin as it was not
      finished until after the fall of Jerusalem and
      probably not until 74 after the soldires left the

      Some of these things I know others i am waiting for
      life to confirm. But there is nothing that I know for
      certain that conficts with what I have just written.

      Rick Richmond

      Rick Richmond rickr2889@...

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    • fathchuck@aol.com
      I have a couple of obvious questions. 1. If Paul wrote before the gospels, as is generally held, then it stands to reason that the authors of the Gospels
      Message 2 of 2 , Jul 11, 2005
        I have a couple of obvious questions.

        1. If Paul wrote before the gospels, as is generally held, then it stands to
        reason that the
        authors of the Gospels would (or may) have at least heard the letters
        read, or that the
        teaching had become part of the deposit of faith. So the question is,
        given that statement,
        why WOULDN'T they have reflected some Pauline influence?

        2. If Mark wrote as late as some suggest (a point I do not hold myself),
        wouldn't it make it
        that much more likely that he would have come in contact with at least
        some of the
        Pauline corpus?

        Rev. Charles Schwartz, Parochial Vicar
        Church of St. Joan of Arc, Marlton, NJ

        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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