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  • How do we know that Mark was written first?

    Most people think that Mark was written first. Why is that?

    Is it because people assume that Christian theology must have evolved and, since it's the simplest of the Gospels, therefore Mark must be the earliest? Or is there a different reason?

    Thanks =)
    "God created mankind and men created the gods. This is how it is in the world—
    the men create gods and they worship their creations. It would have been more
    appropriate for the gods to worship mankind!"
    --Gospel of Philip 92 (Author Unknown)

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  • #2
    I think Matthew was written first not Mark.

    For the cause of Christ
    Roger

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    • #3
      I don't know why some folk think Mark was written first, and I don't think it matters one iota.

      We have 4 Gospels written by 3 eye-witnesses and one, Luke, who starts off by saying he has made a thorough investigation. I have seen it suggested that Luke may have written it as part of Paul's defence when he was on trial in Rome, and therefore could be substantiated by eye-witnesses.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by GreekAsianPanda View Post
        Most people think that Mark was written first. Why is that?

        Is it because people assume that Christian theology must have evolved and, since it's the simplest of the Gospels, therefore Mark must be the earliest? Or is there a different reason?

        Thanks =)
        Realistically we don't...that was something that was accepted for a couple of hundred years, but with the advances in Biblical Archaeology and the discovery of different fragments of manuscripts dating earlier and earlier, that whole line of reasoning (Mark being the earliest gospel) is being re-thought.
        Ιησούς Χριστός ο κυριος μου και ο θεος μου



        ****When the Lord opens a door, don't walk through it....run full speed; if it's the wrong one He'll let ya know...sometimes He just wants to see if you'll move at all!****


        A Minister of God Ministry - Support and understanding for a Christian serving in the military

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Frances View Post
          I don't know why some folk think Mark was written first, and I don't think it matters one iota.

          We have 4 Gospels written by 3 eye-witnesses and one, Luke, who starts off by saying he has made a thorough investigation. I have seen it suggested that Luke may have written it as part of Paul's defence when he was on trial in Rome, and therefore could be substantiated by eye-witnesses.
          Well if we didn't argue about it we would need to use the time to tell the lost of Christ and their need to come to Him to be saved.

          For the cause of Christ
          Roger

          Comment


          • #6
            The reason why I think it matters is because of the people we believe wrote the Gospels. There are two eyewitnesses and two who are not. Supposing Mark, a non-eyewitness (according to Papias), wrote first, it would be rather suspicious that the author of the Gospel of Matthew would use so much of the same information as contained in the Gospel of Mark, since Matthew is supposed to be an eyewitness.

            I personally think that Matthew wrote his Gospel first in Aramaic or Hebrew, then Mark wrote his, then Matthew or someone else reconstructed a Greek version of the Gospel of Matthew in a different order for teaching purposes, which we use as his Gospel today. I need to look into it more, but that's what I hold to for now. Assuming evolution in theology is not a good reason to say that Mark is the earliest, in my opinion, if it's the only reason.
            "God created mankind and men created the gods. This is how it is in the world—
            the men create gods and they worship their creations. It would have been more
            appropriate for the gods to worship mankind!"
            --Gospel of Philip 92 (Author Unknown)

            sigpic

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by GreekAsianPanda View Post
              Most people think that Mark was written first. Why is that?

              Is it because people assume that Christian theology must have evolved and, since it's the simplest of the Gospels, therefore Mark must be the earliest? Or is there a different reason?

              Thanks =)
              I'm sure there are some who reason that way, but the weight of the historical evidence suggests that Mark was actually written not too many years after the resurrection which puts it before the other Gospels. This is the majority view, but there are those who dispute it.


              Beginning with the latter half of the period in question—hence, 50–65—, it has already been shown that Peter and Mark were together in Rome about the year 63. That would therefore seem to be an ideal date for the composition of Mark’s Gospel. Nevertheless, the date is not without difficulty. As has been shown in N.T.C. on The Gospel according to Matthew—see the section on The Synoptic Problem—Mark was probably written before Matthew, and Matthew before Luke. Luke’s Gospel, in turn, was followed by Acts. The question may well be asked whether, on the basis of this chronology, some of this literary activity is not thus pushed too far forward, perhaps into the terrible period of the Jewish War against the Romans, accompanied by bitter strife between the various Jewish factions. Neither Luke nor Acts indicates that anything of the kind was actually occurring when these books were written.

              The late fifties have been suggested. Our historical summary of important events in the lives of Peter and of Mark has shown that from the side of Scripture there is no objection to supposing that sometime between the years 52 and 59 Peter and Mark were together in Rome (exception, as has also been indicated, the year 58, when Peter was clearly not in that city).

              Of late, however, the attention is being riveted upon the possibility that in our attempt to fix the date of Mark’s Gospel we must look away from 50–65 and settle on 35–50, even better 40–50. Considerations that would seem to favor this view are the following:

              First, according to the statement of Eusebius, quoted above, it was during the reign of Claudius (a.d. 41–54) that “the Providence of the universe guided to Rome … the great and mighty Peter” whose “follower” Mark, at the request of “the hearers of Peter” composed a record of Peter’s teaching, this record being The Gospel according to Mark.

              Secondly, the subscriptions of many of the later uncials (manuscripts with large and separate letters) and cursives (running-hand manuscripts) inform us that the Gospel according to Mark was written in the tenth or twelfth year after Christ’s ascension, hence sometime between the years 39 and 42.

              Thirdly, the small papyrus scrap found in cave #7 near Qumran, and deciphered by the Spanish priest Father O’Callighan as being part of Mark 6:52, 53, belonged to material to which upon discovery the date approximately a.d. 50 had been ascribed. This scrap would therefore seem to point back to a considerably earlier (than 50) date for the actual composition of that Gospel. Therefore a date somewhere in the beginning of the reign of Emperior Claudius might not be far from the truth. Besides, it has been shown that Peter and Mark may well have spent some time together in Rome at that time.

              The discovery and identification of the papyrus scrap containing the keystone Marcan passage has created great interest among New Testament scholars. The comments range all the way from “nothing has changed” to “the mathematical probabilities that Dr. O’Callighan is right are astronomical.” I would especially recommend the reading of the excellent articles by William White, Jr., “O’Callighan’s Identifications: Confirmation and Its Consequences” WTJ, 35 (Fall 1972), pp. 15–20, and “Notes on the Papyrus Fragments from Cave 7 at Qumran” WTJ, 35 (Winter 1973), pp. 221–226.

              Conclusion: When was Mark 1:1–16:8 written? Answer: sometime between a.d. 40 and 65, with the balance of evidence now favoring the earlier part of this period. It is too early to speak more definitely.

              Hendriksen, William ; Kistemaker, Simon J.: New Testament Commentary : Exposition of the Gospel According to Mark. Grand Rapids : Baker Book House, 1953-2001 (New Testament Commentary 10), S. 14
              In His Service,

              Nomad

              Got questions about Reformed theology? Want solid Biblical answers without all of the usual nastiness, mud slinging and straw-man portraits of Reformed Theology found in public forums? Then ask a Calvinist.

              Ask a Calvinist

              http://abidingtruth.wordpress.com/

              Warranted Faith - Reformed Apologetics & Theology

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              • #8
                I don't think we can know for sure. Why do you think it matters?

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by inn View Post
                  I don't think we can know for sure. Why do you think it matters?
                  2Pe 1:16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.

                  It matters because our Faith is grounded in real history, not cunningly devised fables. For that reason alone dating the gospels is very important. If it can be demonstrated that the gospels were written early then we would have good reason for believing that they were written by the disciples of Jesus himself. If they were written by the disciples, then their reliability, authenticity, and accuracy are better substantiated. This would surely distinguish them from later so called gnostic gospels that are no gospel at all.

                  Also, if they were written early, this would mean that there would not have been enough time for fables to enter into the gospel accounts since it was the eyewitnesses or those who had access to eyewitnesses to Christ's life that wrote them.

                  In addition to this, those who were alive at the time of the events could have contradicted the gospel accounts and since we have no contradictory writings to the gospels, their early authorship as well as apostolic authorship becomes even more critical. It's a matter of authenticity. Do we need exact dates? Do we need to know with absolute certainty who wrote first? No. But ignoring the evidence that's available simply isn't an option.
                  In His Service,

                  Nomad

                  Got questions about Reformed theology? Want solid Biblical answers without all of the usual nastiness, mud slinging and straw-man portraits of Reformed Theology found in public forums? Then ask a Calvinist.

                  Ask a Calvinist

                  http://abidingtruth.wordpress.com/

                  Warranted Faith - Reformed Apologetics & Theology

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    When I was growing up, my parents and teachers told me that when they were growing up, each student was required to memorize vast amounts of text, including but not limited to The Gettysburg Address, The Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, entire Shakespeare Plays, etc. Scholars seem to think that Mark copied from Matthew or Matthew copied from Mark or Mark and Matthew copied from 'Q'. But I would bet that Mark, Matthew, and many others had memorized the stories and accounts and wrote the gospels based on what they remembered. While this might seem like an unreliable way to do things, I think we tend to underestimate human mental ability. If I am right, then there is no way to know exactly which gospel came first, but neither does it matter. Just as I don't need to be an eye-witness of the battle of Gettysburg in order to memorize and faithfully dictate the Gettysburg Address, those who wrote the gospels didn't necessarily need to be eye-witnesses of the events in order to have the truth available and at hand.

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                    • #11
                      It is hard to establish the order of 'publication', you will see so many different schemes. You can just about choose among the three Synoptics and build a case. But, it just might be that is not really important.
                      What is important is that there is so much agreement between the approach of the three 'Synoptics' (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) that lays the ground for the actions of Jesus in showing his glory and power among the people of Israel. John gives us a set fo 'signs' to ponder which became the major framework for what Jesus taught. In the OT tradition we have 'two or three witnesses...' in two ways. We have three witnesses to the works, parables and teaching of Christ. Then John becomes a second type of witness to flesh our the 'signs' and the teaching ministry of Christ in a different way, we have a greater reliance on the words of Christ, and a teaching that points more to what became the teaching of the church as regards salvation and the sealing of the Holy Spirit.
                      All of this is seen in distinction to the 'other gospels' who were spurious and gnostic in nature. The 'four' gives us a full picture of 'all that Jesus did and said while He completed His ministry to Israel and to the world...'.
                      God happens!
                      'I Can Only Imagine'

                      Bless the Beasts and the Children:
                      http://youtu.be/AhR36gV6vW4

                      On cautionary note:
                      Originally posted by ProjectPeter
                      When they say something... it is about anyone's guess what it is they really mean... but NEVER ask for clarification of their mysterious language... they are often very happy to give it and that's when the discussion goes FREAKY!

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                      • #12
                        Here is something I am reading from a book...

                        Explicit evidence comes from Irenaeus writing before the end of the 2nd cent. :he declares that mathew not only preached to the Hebrew (ie Aramaic) speaking public but also produced for them a gospel written in thier own tongue (adv. Haer 3:1, quoted by Eusebius, HE 5,8,2).

                        A possible date of this book is before 62 AD.


                        Originally posted by GreekAsianPanda View Post

                        I personally think that Matthew wrote his Gospel first in Aramaic or Hebrew, then Mark wrote his, then Matthew or someone else reconstructed a Greek version of the Gospel of Matthew in a different order for teaching purposes, which we use as his Gospel today. I need to look into it more, but that's what I hold to for now. Assuming evolution in theology is not a good reason to say that Mark is the earliest, in my opinion, if it's the only reason.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          It is a fact that John A. T. Robinson, more of a liberal than anything, did push for publications dates of all three synoptics before the fall of Jerusalem, which would place them much earlier than any 'liberal' dating would allow for.

                          I believe it is Eusebius who quotes Clement of Rome as saying that it was Mark who wrote down Peter's witness to the acts of Jesus. It is possible that this is the same clement mentioned in Phil. 4:3.
                          God happens!
                          'I Can Only Imagine'

                          Bless the Beasts and the Children:
                          http://youtu.be/AhR36gV6vW4

                          On cautionary note:
                          Originally posted by ProjectPeter
                          When they say something... it is about anyone's guess what it is they really mean... but NEVER ask for clarification of their mysterious language... they are often very happy to give it and that's when the discussion goes FREAKY!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by GreekAsianPanda View Post
                            The reason why I think it matters is because of the people we believe wrote the Gospels. There are two eyewitnesses and two who are not. Supposing Mark, a non-eyewitness (according to Papias), wrote first, it would be rather suspicious that the author of the Gospel of Matthew would use so much of the same information as contained in the Gospel of Mark, since Matthew is supposed to be an eyewitness.
                            The main reason for suggesting Markan priority is that Matthew and Luke both seem to quote from Mark. According to tradition though, Mark is based on eyewitness testimony from Peter.

                            Originally posted by GreekAsianPanda View Post
                            I personally think that Matthew wrote his Gospel first in Aramaic or Hebrew, then Mark wrote his, then Matthew or someone else reconstructed a Greek version of the Gospel of Matthew in a different order for teaching purposes, which we use as his Gospel today. I need to look into it more, but that's what I hold to for now. Assuming evolution in theology is not a good reason to say that Mark is the earliest, in my opinion, if it's the only reason.
                            Such an Aramaic proto-Matthew (or a Greek translation of it) is sometimes identified with the hypothetical document Q, which the present Matthew and Luke seem to have copied from, i.e.:

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by slightlypuzzled View Post
                              It is a fact that John A. T. Robinson, more of a liberal than anything, did push for publications dates of all three synoptics before the fall of Jerusalem, which would place them much earlier than any 'liberal' dating would allow for.
                              Yep; he argues that all of the New Testament books were written pre-70 AD, something with which I agree for many of the same reasons. (I came to my conclusions prior to reading his book.)

                              He places the four gospels as following:

                              Matthew: 40-60 AD
                              Mark: 45-60 AD
                              Luke: 57-60 AD
                              John: 40-60 AD (with chapters 1 and 21 being added probably a few years later, around 65 AD, by the same writer)
                              Acts: 57-62 AD
                              To This Day

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