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The actual names of the Gospel writer Mark appears to have been John Mark, but he was referred to as just Mark to distinguish him from the others named John.
Mark was an eyewitness to Jesus’ arrest in the Garden of GethSemane, for his account tells us (at Mark 14:50-52):
‘Then [the Apostles] all abandoned [Jesus] and ran away.
But a certain young man (who had slipped a linen nightgown over his naked body) started following close behind…
And then [the mob] tried to grab him too, so he ran away naked, leaving his covering behind.’
The fact that Mark doesn’t identify this young man by name, indicates that he was likely talking about himself.
The next mentioning of him in the Bible is when he traveled with Paul and BarNabas to AntiOch, and from there on to the Island of Cyprus. But thereafter, the account tells us that he (against Paul’s wishes) returned home to JeruSalem.
And this departure later caused quite a dispute between Paul and BarNabas when BarNabas wanted to take Mark along on a subsequent missionary journey. However, in a letter written several years after that time, Paul indicated that he had forgiven Mark and he specifically asked for him to come to him.
We know that Mark was a resident of JeruSalem, because the Bible tells us that Peter went to the home of Mark’s parents (in JeruSalem) after a messenger from God had freed him from the jail there. And the fact that Mark was present in a nightgown at Jesus’ arrest, indicates that he likely lived nearby.
Some commentators have claimed that Mark’s Gospel was the first to be written.
However, it is clear to us as translators that much of Mark’s story was actually borrowed from the earlier and far more detailed account of Matthew. For it appears as though, in the absence of a Greek language copy of Matthew (the Christian writer Papias of Hieropolis wrote that Matthew’s account was written in Hebrew and an early Greek translation had been lost), Mark wrote his Gospel in Greek for distribution among the gentiles during his later missionary journeys.
Note for example, the comment at Mark 13:14, where the readers are advised to pay attention (or understand), and then compare the words to the same comment made by Matthew at Matthew 24:15. So from the context, we can see that one was obviously quoting from the written words of the other.
Who was quoting from whom?
Look at the following example:Notice that Mark actually made a correction to what Matthew wrote about the things that Jesus did after he rode into the Temple on the back of a burro to the acclaim of the crowds, shortly before his death.
For we read at Matthew 21:10-12:
‘When he entered JeruSalem, the whole city was stirred up [as people asked],
Who is this?
But the crowd [that was with Jesus] answered,
He’s Jesus, the Prophet from NazarEth of GaliLee!
Then Jesus went into the Temple and threw out all those that were buying and selling there’
As you can see, Matthew’s Gospel indicates that Jesus did this all on the same day!
However, it is apparent that Mark was clarifying this description when he wrote (at Mark 11:11):
‘Then he rode into JeruSalem, went into the Temple, and looked around at everything;
But because it was late, he [went back] to BethAny with the twelve.’
So according to Mark, Jesus didn’t do these things on that same day.
And you will notice a similar correction to Matthew’s account later in the same chapter, where it tells about what happened when Jesus cursed a fig tree.
Therefore, from such verses, it can be proven that Matthew wrote first, and then Mark borrowed from and actually quoted from some of the things that Matthew wrote. (See the link, Augustinian Hypothesis).
Of course, there is nothing wrong with one writer copying the words of another, since the books of Mark and Luke are admittedly compiled accounts, and the earlier writings of Matthew were surely included in those compilations.
Therefore, since many of the things that Jesus said and did are recorded in the same order in Mark as they are in Matthew (but not in the same order as in Luke’s Gospel); It is clear that Mark used the Gospel of Matthew as the source of his writing, and that someone else (probably Peter) helped him to clarify things where his recollections differed, or where he remembered other things that he felt should have been mentioned.
Which language did Jesus actually speak?
From the many references to what he said as recorded in Mark, we can see that Jesus spoke Aramaic (a later version of Hebrew). For Mark frequently shows Jesus’ words as they were spoken in Aramaic, which he then translates into Greek. And this, by the way, is also a pretty good indication that Mark’s Gospel was originally written in Greek.
Is Mark’s Gospel more accurate than Matthew’s Gospel?
Well, he did have a second look at what Matthew wrote, which always provides an edge when it comes to accuracy. And his close adherence to the words and order of events as in Matthew would indicate that his revisions are in fact corrections. However, most of the poetry of Jesus’ words is missing, so the beauty of what Jesus said was sacrificed for brevity.
You might note that Mark’s Gospel also seems to end rather abruptly, which likely caused two later writers to add their own conclusions to his words. However, a study of the wording indicates that neither conclusion is likely authentic, so both have been omitted from this Bible.