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The Oxford Bible Commentary Line-by-line commentary for the New Revised Standard Version Bible.

Author.

1.

About the author of the gospel we probably know very little. Ancient tradition calls him Mark, almost certainly intending to identify him as the John Mark mentioned elsewhere in the NT, a member of the primitive Jerusalem church. A tradition going back at least as early as the second-century Church Father Papias also connects Mark with the apostle Peter, so that the gospel is sometimes regarded as in some sense Peter's memoirs. The link with Peter has then also led to Mark's gospel being associated with the city of Rome, perhaps reflecting a situation of extreme suffering by the Christian community there in the persecutions instigated by Nero in the 60s after the great fire of Rome.

2.

None of this, however, is certain. It seems very unlikely, for example, that the author of the gospel was a Palestinian Jew. He appears to be rather ignorant about local geography (see MK 5:1; 7:31 ), as well as about Jewish customs or laws (see MK 7:3–4; 10:11–12 ). He may well have been called Mark, but the name was a very common one in the Roman empire and we cannot simply equate all the Marks we know!

Any link between our gospel and Peter is also hard to establish. It is true that Peter is regularly one of an inner group of disciples (cf. 1:29–31; 9:2–13; 13 ), and Peter is regularly belittled (cf. 8:33 ), a fact which some argue is only explicable if Peter had given explicit sanction to the gospel. However, Peter is not unique in all this, and the negative picture is shared with all the disciples; in fact Matthew and Luke have more traditions specifically about Peter (Mt 16:17–19; Lk 5:1–11 ). The link alleged between Mark's gospel and Peter is probably part of a second-century attempt to give the gospel more status by linking it with the leading apostle.

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