Thoughts on ancient gospels and the like

14 July 2007

Mark: some of the candidates

Filed under: authors,Flavian,Herodians,Julio-Claudians,Mark — markandmore @ 22:39

So, who did write the Gospel of Mark?

Here are some of the persons who have been suggested:

1) The John Mark who appears several times in the New Testament, Peter’s secretary, and the first bishop of Alexandria. The founder of Coptic Christianity and whose body lies in the Cathedral San Marco in Venice. The orthodox version which we looked at in detail in the previous post.

2) Ptolemaeus Chennus (Ptolemy the Quail). This nomination relies on the fact that Dennis MacDonald in The Homeric Epics and the Gospel of Mark analyzes the Gospel as a transvalued emulation of mainly the Odyssey, but also parts of the Iliad. Ptolemaeus Chennus wrote an ‘anti-Homer poem’ which we no longer have – unless it is the Gospel of Mark. Ptolemaeus Chennus – like John Mark – was an Alexandrian who came to Rome. He wrote versions of old mythologies that rewrote the past.

3) Marcus Mettius Epaphroditus (+23 – 96?). Sometimes known as Tiberius Claudius Epaphroditus. The name ‘Epaphroditus’ means ‘of Aphrodite’, which may mean that he was raised as a sex slave, but not necessarily. Other New Testament characters e.g. Titus, Saulus have names with sexual connotations. Other NT characters have names dedicated to Greek gods: Apollos, Artemas (from Artemis), Zenas (=Zenodorus=gift of Zeus), Tychius (from Tyche). He was born in Chaeronea in Greece, a slave in the house of Archias, a grammaticus, who educated him. He was later sold to a Roman eques (of the lessor nobility), Marcus Mettius Modestus, who was prefect of Egypt in the +50s ruling from Alexandria (so like John Mark, Marcus Epaphroditus also came from Alexandria). Modestus freed Epaphroditus, and as per custom Epahroditus took the name of his ex-master. He moved to Rome, founded a school, founded a lepaphroditus_s.jpgibrary of over 30,000 scrolls, owned two houses and published several books: a grammatical Commentary on Homer (see Dennis MacDonald above), Lexeis (literary styles), Peri Stoicheion (first principles of language), a commentary on the Aitia by Callimachus of Cyrene, a commentary on the Shield of Heracles attributed to Hesiod. He also sponsored three of the books by Flavius Josephus. He rose at the court of Nero, first apparitor Caesarus, then viator tribunicius and finally libellis, which means that he drafted Nero’s replies to petitions. (As John Mark was secretary to Peter, Marcus Epaphroditus was secretary to Nero). In +65 he learned of the Piso conspiracy and shopped it to Nero. In exchange he received military honours and great wealth. When Nero was declared a public enemy by the Senate in +68, Epaphroditus and a few other freedmen helped him escape from Rome, and finally helped him to suicide (or maybe just killed him). He returned to the imperial court under Domitian, again as secretary. He also protected his now-freed slave philosopher, Epictetus, when Domitian was persecuting the philosophers (as John Mark had protected a slave devoted to himself). Finally Domitian had Epaphroditus executed. He also appears in Philippeans 2:25, 4:18, 4:23 as Paul’s emissary to the court of Nero. He is recognized as a saint by the Catholic and the Orthodox Churches.

See Robert Eisenman. James the Brother of Jesus.

4) Marcus Julius Agrippa (28 – 100?). The last king of the Herodian dynasty. He was raised in Alexandria. He was the only male Herodian of his generation descended from the Hasmodians (via Herod’s wife Miriam). He was known to the Samaritans as Marqeh bar Titus (he, like Josephus, had been adopted into the Flavian family) who wrote texts and hymns that became part of the Samaritan tradition, and is regarded by them as the second Moses. He was recognized as the messiah of Daniel 9:24-7. He ruled as king an area in Syria for at least 30 years after the destruction of the Jerusalem temple in +70. At the end of his life when he had fallen out with the Romans and was in their prison, he wrote another gospel, The Gospel of Me, explaining that the male child who reappears in the Gospel of Mark was himself.

See the various websites by Stephan Huller here, here and here

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