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THE Gospel of Mark is a record of our Lord's actions rather than of his words. For example, Mark gives nearly as many miracles as Matthew or Luke, but gives only four parables, while they have so many. He presents no extended discourse save the great discourse on the Mount of Olives (chap. 13), and even of that he does not report half so much as Matthew.

Moreover, Mark's style and general manner of narration are singularly animated and pictorial. When narrating the same event as Matthew or Luke, he almost invariably adds touches of detail, and these never fail to brighten the picture. We can give only a few of the many examples. In the very brief account of our Lord's temptation, Mark adds (1 : 13), "and he was with the wild beasts," which vividly shows how unfrequented and desolate the place was, and suggests an affecting thought of the Saviour moving gentle and unharmed among the fierce wild creatures. When Jesus and the Twelve are crossing the stormy lake, Mark mentions (4:37) that "the waves were beating into the boat," and that Jesus himself 66 was in the stern, asleep on the pillow." How much would be wanting in our mental picture of the scene if these touches had not been given. And presently when the demoniac meets them beyond the lake, Mark states (5: 5) that "he was crying out, and cutting himself with stones." On Herod's birthday, Mark tells us (6: 21 f.) that he made a supper "for his lords, and the high captains, and the chief men of Galilee"; that the young dancer pleased Herod "and them that sat at meat with him"; that "she went out, and said unto her mother, What shall I ask? And she said, The head of John the Baptist. And she came in straightway with haste unto the king,” and made the startling request. Surely no small addition is thus made to the interest of this scene for all. In the account of our Lord's feeding the five thousand, Mark gives (6 : 40) an exquisite touch to the picture which our translations cannot well bring out. "And they lay down, garden beds, garden beds, by hundreds and by fifties." Counted off as if for military service, and reclining in ranks so that each group formed a parallelogram, the successive groups in their bright-hued garments looked like beds in a flower-garden. Here is indicated a close observer, and apparently an eye-witness. So in the story of Bartimæus, Mark says (10: 50), "And he, casting away his garment, sprang up" and came to Jesus. In 12: 41 Jesus sat down "over against the treasury" and observed the giving, and the poor widow; and in 14: 3, Mary "brake the cruse (crushed the box), and poured it over his head. And most remarkable of all are the vivid details as to the demoniac boy in chap. 9, too extensive to quote here, including besides other touches the whole of ver. 21–25 and ver. 26, 27.


These charming details of description which abound in Mark's Gospel show conclusively that it is not, as Augustine asserted, and as used to be generally supposed, a mere abridgment of Matthew and Luke. We remember the feeling of


disappointment with which, in a first youthful reading of Ripley on the Gospels, we came to Mark. The notes were dry in style, not juicy at all, but they were full of good explanation and judicious remark, and to one who had read no other commentary except in some desperate efforts to read Doctor Gill, they were really delightful all through Matthew. But on Mark there were hardly any notes-just a series of references for every paragraph, "See on Matthew— —, or "See on Luke ," and upon trying to compare, one found so much that was different from Mark as to make the process unsatisfactory and disheartening. So was Mark often treated by commentators. But more recent writers, the first of them in this country being Addison Alexander in 1858, have shown from facts like those just stated, that this Gospel has not at all the manner of an abridgment, but is thoroughly independent, having its distinctive tone and aim. It presents very few events or discourses not found in either Matthew or Luke, but presents them in its own connection and its own vivid manner. We ought to add that the matters given by Mark alone are all of singular interest and make vivid pictures. E. g. (3 : 20, 21), the crowd filling the house in which Jesus was teaching, so that they could not eat bread; and his friends hearing of it and going to lay hold of him, as being beside himself; again (4 : 26-29), the striking parable of the seed growing of itself, which is such a comfort to those who sow spiritual seed; the miracles of healing the deaf man in Decapolis (7 : 31 f.) and the blind man at Bethsaida who, at the first application, only saw imperfectly, beholding men as trees, walking (8 : 22 f.); and the incident of the young man who witnessed the betrayal, and when seized, left the linen cloth in which he had hastily wrapped himself, and fled naked (14: 51 f.)

The Sunday-school teacher ought to bear all this in mind, and in teaching Mark to bring out with special care the facts and scenes of the Saviour's life. Let him habitually look for means of vividly picturing the scene, and he will seldom fail to find them. It would be an excellent plan to read the whole Gospel at one sitting, and try to get the precise view of Jesus which this brief history is suited to present. Among other things he may notice as a peculiarity of this Gospel that it so often describes our Lord's looks and feelings. Thus in 3: 5, He looked round about on them "with anger, being grieved at the hardening of their heart." So in 3: 34 and 5: 32 we read of Jesus as looking round about him. In 6: 6, "He marveled because of their unbelief." In 7 : 34, 'Looking up to heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha." In 10: 21, 23, "Jesus looking upon him loved him... And Jesus looked round about," and said, etc. And to mention only one more example, after the triumphal entry Jesus came into the temple, "and when he had looked round about upon all things," he went out. There is also frequent mention of the effect produced on others by our Lord's miracles and teaching, the crowds that gathered about him, and their wonder and admiration.

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All this, as above suggested, seems to indicate the reports of an eye-witness, and agrees with the early statement that Mark wrote his Gospel from accounts furnished by Peter. Papias published between A. D. 130 and 150 a work entitled Exegesis of the Oracles of the Lord," from which we have several important

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fragments preserved by Eusebius in his history. In one of these, from the preface, Papias says that along with his interpretations, and by way of confirming them, he will from time to time give oral accounts which he had formerly gathered from many conversations with persons who had been acquainted with the apostles. In another fragment he states as what a certain elder used to say, that Mark was an interpreter of Peter, and wrote down accurately, from the accounts given by Peter in the course of his preaching, the sayings and doings of Christ. With this statement harmonizes all that we know of Mark's history. The first mention of him is when Peter was released from prison by the angel, and (Acts 12 : 12) 66 came to the house of Mary the mother of John whose surname was Mark." It is evident that the apostle had often visited the house, as the maid who went to the door recognized his voice before she opened it. And so when Peter, in closing his first Epistle (513), sends a salutation from "Mark, my son," we easily understand that Mark had been converted through his influence-just as Paul calls Timothy his child. The statement of Papias, thus supported, explains the tokens of acute personal observation which so abound in the second Gospel, and authorizes us to think lovingly of Peter in reading these descriptions, as we do of the eye-witness John in reading the fourth Gospel.


Matthew wrote especially for Jews, Mark for Gentiles. This is proved, among other things, by the pains taken to explain Jewish customs and local allusions. Thus (in 7: 3, 4) he tells how scrupulous the Jews were about ceremonially purifying their persons and the vessels from which they ate-a regard for the tradition of the elders making them as careful to cleanse everything thoroughly as would be done among us after a case of some contagious disease. This was a very remarkable scrupulosity, and people not well acquainted with Jewish feeling and practice have sometimes been slow to believe that they can have actually immersed themselves on returning from the market-place, so that our two oldest extant Greek manuscripts (of the fourth century) have it changed to "sprinkle themselves." And yet Herodotus tells us (II., 47) that among the Egyptians if any one of them in passing touched a swine, he went to the river and dipped himself (bapto), clothes and all. Again, in 13 : 3, Mark speaks of Jesus as sitting on the Mount of Olives over against the temple," which every Jew would have understood without the statement. So likewise, 14: 1, the Passover "and the unleavened bread"; 14: 12, on the first day of unleavened bread, "when they sacrificed the Passover"; 15: 42, the Preparation, "that is, the day before the Sabbath," are all explanations quite unnecessary for a Jew, but needed by Gentile readers.


It is also frequently said that Mark wrote particularly for the Romans. The principal evidence alleged for this is his frequent use of Latin words. But we think this does not prove the point. If the list we have collected is correct, and it cannot be far wrong, there are of Latin words borrowed into the Greek, in Matthew eleven, Mark eleven, Luke six, John five; and taking account of the fact that some of the words are used repeatedly, we have Latin words used in Matthew twenty times, in Mark seventeen, Luke eight, John twelve times. This shows a notable difference as regards Luke and John, but not as regards Matthew. Mark

being not quite two-thirds as long as Matthew, the number of Latin words and uses is somewhat greater in proportion; but the difference is not sufficient to justify the inference that Mark wrote for the Romans. Nor do we know of anything else to establish this position. We take the trouble to present these details because many writers repeat after each other the statement that Matthew wrote for the Jew, Mark for the Roman, Luke for the Greek, John for the Christian. The first of these is true, the last misleading, the second and third not proved. It is clear that Mark thought of Gentile readers, though not particularly of Romans. The supposed evidence that Luke had Greeks in mind, as opposed to Romans, is intangible and unsatisfactory. He wrote a history of the beginnings of Christianity, of which Part II. is called Acts of the Apostles, and he does not appear to be aiming distinctively at any particular class of readers. The comparison of the Gospels is often made in a fanciful way, and we need to guard ourselves against a suspiciously symmetrical tabulation of the matter, like that above mentioned. All we can be sure of is, that Mark does not write especially for Jewish readers, but for Gentiles.


Mark is nearly everywhere chronological, so far as we can determine from comparing the other Gospels. As he deals mainly in the outward facts of our Lord's life, and gives them in the order of their occurrence, his Gospel may conveniently serve as the framework for combining all that the four Gospels afford. Much good may result from such a complete view of all that we know concerning the life of Christ. But it may be well to offer two cautions. When a great mass of interesting matter from the other Gospels comes before, or in connection with, one of the lessons in Mark, the teacher must beware of spending so much time upon this other matter as to neglect the lesson. And when there are apparent discrepancies of statement, or minute differences of language in reporting the same discourse or occurrence, it is very undesirable to spend much time upon these. Most of them can be readily explained, when both teacher and pupils have studied the principles which must control such a combination of several independent narratives. Some have been explained in recent years more satisfactorily than ever before. In the few cases for which no really satisfying explanation has yet been offered, it is easy to believe that some bit of additional knowledge as to history or geography would at once clear up the difficulty, and in some of these cases such knowledge may come soon. So the teacher must explain what really needs explaining, and he is really able to explain, briefly and clearly, and must not get the class into a bother or wrangle about questions which they cannot settle and will often not half understand.


For thoughtful readers the best in existence is that of Addison Alexander (Scribner), which confines itself to patient explanation of the exact meaning, with little of historical and geographical illustration and hardly anything in the way of practical application and remark. It is printed in good type, and is not costly. A work of more popular tone is that of G. W. Clark, which, in its general character, resembles "Barnes' Notes," explaining, illustrating, and applying. Its learning is better than that of Barnes, and the style is equally clear. Doctor Rid

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