Who Wrote the Gospel of Mark?

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There is debate concerning. whether Mark wrote the Gospel of Mark. It can be strongly argued that Mark is in fact the author.

Earliest Tradition Says Mark Wrote the Gospel of Mark

The earliest description of this Gospel that we have says that the Gospel was written by Mark. The book was circulated with Mark in the title.

The Title Mark Is Separate from the Gospel

One argument against Mark being the author is that the titles are not part of the body of the Gospels, so it is suggested that the Gospels were anonymous. However, even if there is no internal evidence that Mark is the author of the Gospel, the unanimous early tradition that ascribes this Gospel to Mark is strong evidence that Mark is indeed its author.

Papias (AD 95–120) – Who Wrote the Gospel of Mark?

The Elder used to say: Mark, in his capacity as Peter’s interpreter, wrote down accurately as many things as he recalled from memory—though not in an ordered form—of the things either said or done by the Lord. For he neither heard the Lord nor accompanied him, but later, as I said, Peter, who used to give his teachings in the form of chreiai, but had no intention of providing an ordered arrangement of the logia of the Lord. Consequently Mark did nothing wrong when he wrote down some individual items just as he related them from memory. For he made it his one concern not to omit anything he had heard or to falsify anything.

Papias. Cited by Eusebius.

Papias is very early evidence that Mark is the author of the Gospel of Mark. Here, Papias says that “Mark… wrote down accurately as many things as he recalled from memory.”

Irenaeus (AD 130–202) – Who Wrote the Gospel of Mark?

Wherefore also Mark, the interpreter and follower of Peter, does thus commence his Gospel narrative:  ‘The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, as it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who shall prepare your way.  The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare the way of the Lord; make the paths straight before our God.’  Plainly does the commencement of the Gospel quote the words of the holy prophets, and point out Him at once, whom they confessed as God and Lord, Him, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who had also made promise to Him, that He would send His messenger before His face, who was John, crying in the wilderness, in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘Prepare ye the way of the Lord; make straight paths before our God.’

Irernaeus, Against Heresies 3:10:5

Here, Irenaeus says that Mark, who is “the interpreter and follower of Peter,” is the author of “his Gospel narrative.” Irenaeus is another early source that says that Mark is the author of the Gospel of Mark.

The Muratorian Canon (about AD 170)

. . . at which nevertheless he was present, and so he placed. The third book of the Gospel is that according to Luke. Luke, the well-known physician, after the ascension of Christ, when Paul had taken with him as one zealous for the law, composed it in his own name, according to belief. Yet he himself had not seen the Lord in the flesh; and therefore, as he was able to ascertain events, so indeed he begins to tell the story from the birth of John. The fourth of the Gospels is that of John, of the disciples. 

The Muratorian Fragment

The Muratorian Canon refers to the Gospel of Luke as being the “third” book and the Gospel of John as being the “fourth of the Gospels.” This certainly implies that the sentence at the beginning that is cut off refers to Mark, the second Gospel.

The Muratorian Canon is another piece of early evidence that Mark wrote the Gospel of Mark.

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