SEARCH ME
Comments and Replies ... and Who We Are

TANATA is devoted to discussing the paradoxes and the mysteries of life, among which is the paradox of the coexistence of good and evil. “God is love,” John tells us. Evil exists, we would suggest, not because God is detached or unconcerned, but because free will exists which is required for true, unforced love to exist. Still, it is painfully hard to reconcile this paradox. We believe that all evil one day will be judged and destroyed, until then we must pray.

DANIEL 7:13-14

13 “I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him.

14 Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed.

REVELATION 1:7

7 Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.

No RSS feeds have been linked to this section.
Powered by Squarespace

 

 
Thursday
Mar122009

Was John Mark Martyred? Or Has He Been Hidden?

The Beholder of God: Mark the Evangelist, Saint and Martyr by His Holiness Pope Shenouda III, patriarch of the Holy See of St. Mark, Alexandria, Egypt

Link here

PLEASE NOTE: According to Pope Shenouda’s biography of John Mark, Coptic historians “throughout the years” have stated that John Mark was one of the seventy apostles, as described by Luke (Luke 10:1-12). Among these cited are: Severus Ben Al- Mokafaa, Bishop of Al-Ashmouneen, who in the tenth century mentioned in his book that John Mark was an apostle. Ben Kabar included John Mark’s name in his Coptic and Greek lists of the apostles. John Mark’s apostleship was also attested to by Al Maqrizi, a Muslim historian from the Middle Ages, Shenouda reports. The patriarch writes: “Al Maqrizi described John Mark as someone who ‘spoke three tongues — Foreign (or Latin), Hebrew and Greek.’ ” Ibn Al Salibi, bishop of Amad, in 1149 included John Mark among the seventy, according to the biographer. “St. Epiphanius, bishop of Cyprus, mentioned this fact in his book,” Shenouda writes. “Before him, Origen, a scholar of the second and third centuries, reported John Mark’s apostolic role in his book ‘Faith in God,’ saying that John Mark was among the seventy ‘who were chosen by God to be His messengers.’ ”

Pope Shenouda identifies among “non-Orthodox” historians reporting the apostleship of John Mark Al Mushreki, who in an introductory preface points out John Mark was among the seventy apostles, and, was named “Theophoros,” which means “the bearer of God.” Chineau, a Catholic historian, in his book “Les Saints d’Egypte” called John Mark an apostle.

Shenouda also tells us that John Mark founded one or more universities, in addition to founding the Coptic church in Alexandria, something which Africanus suggests to us is accurate by his naming John Mark as Alexandria’s first bishop. Alas, admittedly, there are many unanswered questions. But better to ask them than not.  

Despite the scholarly disregard I have encountered concerning Shenouda’s work, these sources are viable enough, it would strongly appear, to refute the view that The Beholder of God is mere hagiography. Published in 1968 and translated from Coptic into English in 1997, this biography of John Mark is the only document of its kind in existence crediting any of Jesus’ apostles with being a scholar and a scribe. In the absence of any other “new materials to assist us in discerning the author of the Gospel of John, Revelation, the Johannine epistles, 2 Peter and Hebrews, The Beholder of God is worthy of some reasonable consideration.

In a nutshell, we look at John Mark’s possible authorship of these works this way: If Shenouda’s biography of John Mark is reliable on the question of apostleship and his scholarly position, if the claims regarding John Mark’s martyrdom are not true, and if Mark 14:51-52 is a fraudulent or grossly misleading description of “a certain youth” and “follower of Jesus” … then we arguably have our Beloved Disciple who presumably lived to the end of the 1st century A.D. and who wrote at Patmos. The “certain youth” passage describes this person as being disrobed while following Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, thus eliminating him as a person who might have accompanied Peter to the house of the high priest. We can rightly assume that John Mark, the writer of Mark’s Gospel, is the “certain youth.” But we suggest that he was either not disrobed … or, he went home to redress, before continuing on to the house of the high priest, where he legally but unsuccessfully defended Jesus. A scholar and scribe, such as John Mark may have been, would have made “the other disciple” professionally known to the high priests Annas and Caiaphas.

We know that “the other disciple” in John 18 was also the Beloved Disciple by virtue of the designation “the other disciple, the one Jesus loved” found in John 20:2. Does the vague and mysterious term “the other disciple” suggest that the Beloved Disciple was not one of the twelve? Perhaps. If it does, we have a “13th disciple,” whose identity as the Beloved Disciple may therefore on this point have been unknown to us for all these centuries. Whether John Mark has been obscured by the claims of his martyrdom and Mark 14:51-52, we cannot know.

Here’s an interesting passage from the Catholic Encyclopedia on the confusion related to John Mark’s martyrdom: “Chronological traditions concerning the apostolate and death of St. Mark have been handed down mostly by the Oriental compilers of chronicles. They are strongly legendary and often conflict with one another and with the Eusebian traditions. In more than one instance they seem to have originated from a misunderstanding of Eusebius text of which we know there was a Coptic translation, or from an effort to harmonize or supplement the traditions reported (but not confirmed) by that writer. Until these Oriental sources have been critically edited and their chronology brought out of its chaotic state, it is impossible to make use of them to any considerable extent. It seems, however, certain that St. Mark died a martyr, though the constant tradition that his martyrdom was on Easter Day and on the 24th or 25th of April seems to be worthless, seeing that from the year 45 to the end of the first century Easter never fell on either of those dates.” You have to wonder if the confusion has been intentional — a relevant point if John Mark is the Beloved Disciple who lived to the end of the first century to write Revelation. There may be forces who have never wanted us to know who the Beloved Disciple was for fear that identifying this person would humanize Jesus and validate his existence and divinity. Just a thought.

Admittedly, there are three big “if’s” to be noted, which without further evidence makes it impossible for us definitively to identify John Mark as the Beloved Disciple and the likely author of all of these other works. But if Shenouda’s biography is reliable, we have what we have never had: an apostle designated as a scribe who could write and write well … at least until he would have been up in years when his thinking and eyesight would likely have been impaired, which is a relevant point to consider in assessing the less than erudite content of Revelation.

The big question is … who might have lied about John Mark’s martyrdom, which thus would eliminate him for consideration as the Beloved Disciple who wrote toward the end of the 1st century, if such an untruth has been told? Because he was an African … whose race might help us to identify to racial identity of Jesus? Facing the emergence of the so-called Antichrist, if we are, Jesus’ race, if he did have African features, may be a means and method by which our adversary may try to fool “even the elect” as to the identity of the true Messiah. Help yourself to a grain of salt … but prove us wrong on any other points if you can.

Where does it say it is unscholarly to strive excessively for an answer to a very critical question which has remained too long unknown?

Also see the “Now Appearing” link Who Was Jesus’ Best Friend? and run a search of this website for John Mark.