Sunday, 9 October 2011

On our marks ...

our new series starts today
Papias was a bishop in Hierapolis (in Asia Minor) in first half of second century ... so 100-150 AD. He had been discipled by John (probably in Ephesus). He writes (recorded for us in Eusebius's History of the Church): ' Mark ... was the interpreter of Peter and wrote accurately all that he remembered, not indeed, in order, of the things said or done by the Lord. For he had not heard the Lord, nor was he a follower of his, but at a later date followed Peter, who used to give teaching as necessity demanded but not making, as it were, an arrangement of the Lord's oracles, so that Mark did nothing wrong in writing down single points as he remembered them. For to one thing he gave attention, to leave out nothing of what he had heard and to make no false statements in them.'

Peter as a Galilean, probably spoke some Greek along with his first language Aramaic; and as this passage suggest, Mark's role may have been to assist the ageing apostle tell the gospel to Greek-speaking audiences. 

The NT links Peter to Mark in a number of ways. Acts 12:12 where Peter goes to the house of Mark's mother after his escape from King Agrippa. 1 Peter 5:13 where Peter refers to him as 'my son'. 

John Mark was from a house in Jerusalem, sufficiently large to accommodate many people (Acts 12:12) and with servant girls (Acts 12:13). Affluence in antiquity was usually associated with literacy and some level of education. John (Hebrew) and Mark (Greek) are names that seem consistent with a picture that emerges of an educated, bilingual Jew. 

Mark was related to Barnabas (Colossians 4:10) and accompanied him on two missionary tours of Cyprus in about AD 47-50 (Acts 13:4-5; 15:39). 

Paul was part of the earlier tour which, however, Mark quit after the group arrived in southern Asia Minor from Cyprus (Acts 13:13). Although Paul was not prepared to have Mark accompany him in the overland tour of Asia Minor, his letter written in the 60's suggest that by then they had reconciled their differences (Philemon 24; 2 Timothy 4:11). 

An interesting term is applied to Mark by Luke in Acts 13:5. When Barnabas and Paul proclaimed the word of God on Cyprus, 'John [Mark] was with them as 'catechist' or 'minister' (Luke 1:2 the same word is used). This was a word used of synagogue assistants who, among their other duties, taught boys to read and recite the Hebrew Bible.   [The Servant King: Reading Mark Today]. 

Andrew Page alerts us to another early church document, this time from Clement of Alexandria: 
Mark the follower of Peter, while Peter was preaching the gospel publicly in Rome in the presence of certain of Caesar's knights ..., being requested by them that they might be able to commit to memory the things which were being spoken, wrote from the things which were spoken by Peter the Gospel which is called According to Mark. 
The Mark Experiment

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