Thoughts on ancient gospels and the like

1 July 2007

The Life of Mark

Filed under: biography,Mark,walkons — markandmore @ 23:43


For someone who is basically a postulation because a text must have an author, Mark has a remarkably detailed biography.

Walk-ons in the New Testament

In his own gospel, it has been proposed that Mark is the young man who runs off naked (14:51-2), and the servant who carried water to the house of the last supper (14:13).

In John’s gospel, it has been proposed that Mark was one of the servants at the wedding celebrations in Cana who poured out the water now turned to wine (2:1-11), and the one who hosted the disciples after the death of Jesus and to whose house the resurrected Jesus came (20:19).

In Luke’s gospel, it has been proposed that Mark was one of 70 apostles sent by Jesus (10:1); in his sequel, it is proposed that Mark is ‘John Mark’ the son a Mary(Acts 12:12,25, 15:37,39), John (13:5, 13:13), and Mark (15:39); In Luke’s epistles, Mark is mentioned at 2 Tim 4:11.

In Paul’s epistles, Mark appears at Col 4;10 as a cousin of Barnabas, and Philemon 1:24.

In Peter’s epistles he appears at 1 Peter 5:13, described as the son of the author, presumably Peter.

Outside the New Testament

Eusebius quotes Papias that Mark had been Peter’s secretary and that the gospel is based on Peter’s reminiscences.

While preaching on the shores of the Adriatic his ship took shelter from a storm in the lagoon to be later called San Francesco della Vigna, and an angel appeared and told him of the future city of Venice. Mark also founded a church at Aquileia in the lagoon.

There is a strong tradition that Mark was the first bishop of Alexandria, that he performed many miracles, including healing a cobbler with an injured hand who became his successor, Bishop Anianus. Jesus appeared to Mark in his cell before he was executed in 67 or 68 (which raises the problem of his apparent knowledge of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 which is hinted at in his gospel). Several ancient Christian writers, Dorotheus, Eutychius and the Chronicon Paschale, state that Mark’s body was burnt. However the Acts of St Mark, 4th century, claims that a miraculous storm permitted his followers to steal away the body and bury it in a church.pdvd_002.jpgKing of Kings, 1927

Cecil B. Demille’s King of Kings, 1927


Venice has a tradition that Mark came down from Heaven to rescue a slave who was devoted to his shrine, and was about to be executed. Another legend relates how during a storm, a stranger (Mark) persuades a fisherman to pick up two other saints, and then go out to sea where they encounter a ship filled with demons intending to destroy Venice. The three saints destroy the demons instead. Mark pays the fisherman with a ring from his sanctuary to be taken to the Doge.

In either 815 or 828 Venetian sailors stole most of Mark’s body and smuggled it to Venice by hiding it under pork meat which the muslim guards avoided. Venice deposed its existing patron saint, Theodore, and built the cathedral San Marco in Mark’s honour.

Copts maintain that Mark’s head is still in St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church in Alexandria, and every year on the 30th day of the month of Babah, they commemorate its appearance.

In 1063, during the construction of a new basilica in Venice, St. Mark’s relics could not be found. However, according to tradition, in 1094 the saint himself revealed the location of his remains by extending an arm from a pillar.

In 1968 a delegation from the Coptic Pope to the Catholic Pope was given a piece of bone that had been given to the Catholic Pope by Cardinal Urbani, patriarch of Venice, and said that the rest of Mark remains in Venice.


Did they get the wrong body?

The Tomb of Alexander the Great was in Alexandria, and its location was well known in Roman times. The tomb disappeared in the dark ages. Andrew Chugg argues that the Venetian sailors in 815 or 828 stole the wrong corpse. They stole that of Alexander himself, and that it is Alexander who lies in the cathedral San Marco in Venice. !!!

JCJ Metford Dictionary of Christian Lore and Legend Thames and Hudson 1983 under ‘Mark, St’

Wikipedia entry on Mark the Evangelist

Andrew Chugg Alexander’s Tomb

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