Mark the Evangelist

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Mark the Evangelist
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Evangelist, Martyr
Born 1st century AD
Cyrene, Pentapolis of North Africa, according to Coptic tradition[1]
Died traditionally 68 AD
Honored in
All Christian churches
Feast April 25
Patronage Barristers, Venice, Egypt, Mainar

Mark the Evangelist (Latin: Mārcus; Greek: Μᾶρκος; Coptic: Μαρκοϲ; Hebrew: מרקוס‎) is the purported traditional author of the Gospel of Mark. One of the Seventy Disciples, Mark founded the Church of Alexandria, one of the original three main episcopal sees of Christianity. His feast day is celebrated on April 25, and his symbol is the winged lion.[2]

Mark's identity[edit]

Mark the Evangelist symbol is the winged lion

According to William Lane (1974), an "unbroken tradition" identifies Mark the Evangelist with John Mark,[3] and John Mark as the cousin of Barnabas.[4] However, Hippolytus of Rome in On the Seventy Apostles distinguishes Mark the Evangelist (2 Tim 4:11), John Mark (Acts 12:12, 25; 13:5, 13; 15:37), and Mark the cousin of Barnabas (Col 4:10; Phlm 1:24).[5] According to Hippolytus, they all belonged to the "Seventy Disciples" who were sent out by Jesus to saturate Judea with the gospel (Luke 10:1ff.). However, when Jesus explained that his flesh was "real food" and his blood was "real drink", many disciples left him (John 6:44–6:66), presumably including Mark. He was later restored to faith by the apostle Peter; he then became Peter’s interpreter, wrote the Gospel of Mark, founded the church of Africa, and became the bishop of Alexandria.

According to Eusebius of Caesarea (Eccl. Hist. 2.9.1–4), Herod Agrippa I in his first year of reign over the whole Judea (AD 41) killed James, son of Zebedee and arrested Peter, planning to kill him after the Passover. Peter was saved miraculously by angels, and escaped out of the realm of Herod (Acts 12:1–19). Peter went to Antioch, then through Asia Minor (visiting the churches in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, as mentioned in 1 Pet 1:1), and arrived in Rome in the second year of Emperor Claudius (AD 42; Eusebius, Eccl, Hist. 2.14.6). Somewhere on the way, Peter picked up Mark and took him as travel companion and interpreter. Mark the Evangelist wrote down the sermons of Peter, thus composing the Gospel according to Mark (Eccl. Hist. 15–16), before he left for Alexandria in the third year of Claudius (43).[6]

In AD 49, about 19 years after the Ascension of Jesus, Mark traveled to Alexandria [cf. c. 49 [cf. Acts 15:36–41] and founded the Church of Alexandria - today, both the Coptic Orthodox Church and the Greek Orthodox Church of Alexandria claim to be successors to this original community.[7] Aspects of the Coptic liturgy can be traced back to Mark himself.[citation needed] He became the first bishop of Alexandria and he is honored as the founder of Christianity in Africa.[8]

According to Eusebius (Eccl. Hist. 2.24.1), Mark was succeeded by Annianus as the bishop of Alexandria in the eighth year of Nero (62/63), probably, but not definitely, due to his coming death. Later Coptic tradition says that he was martyred in 68.[1][9][10][11][12]

Biblical and traditional information[edit]

Icon, St. Mark the Evangelist, 1657.

Evidence for Mark the Evangelist's authorship of the Gospel that bears his name originates with Papias.[13][14] Scholars of the Trinity Evangelical Divinity School are "almost certain" that Papias refers to John Mark.[15] However, Catholic scholars have argued that identifying Mark the Evangelist with John Mark and Mark the Cousin of Barnabas has led to the downgrading of the character of Barnabas from truly a "Son of Comfort" to one who favored his blood relative over principles.[16]

Identifying Mark the Evangelist with John Mark also led to identifying him as the man who carried water to the house where the Last Supper took place (Mark 14:13),[17] or as the young man who ran away naked when Jesus was arrested (Mark 14:51–52).[18]

The Coptic Church accords with identifying Mark the Evangelist with John Mark, as well as that he was one of the Seventy Disciples sent out by Christ (Luke 10:1), as Hippolytus confirmed.[19] Coptic tradition also holds that Mark the Evangelist hosted the disciples in his house after Jesus' death, that the resurrected Jesus Christ came to Mark's house (John 20), and that the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples at Pentecost in the same house.[19] Furthermore, Mark is also believed to have been among the servants at the Marriage at Cana who poured out the water that Jesus turned to wine (John 2:1–11).[19]

According to the Coptic tradition, Saint Mark was born in Cyrene, a city in the Pentapolis of North Africa (now Libya). This tradition adds that Mark returned to Pentapolis later in life, after being sent by Saint Paul to Colossae (Colossians 4:10; Philemon 24. Some, however, think these actually refer to Mark the Cousin of Barnabas), and serving with him in Rome (2 Tim 4:11); from Pentapolis he made his way to Alexandria.[20][21] When Mark returned to Alexandria, the pagans of the city resented his efforts to turn the Alexandrians away from the worship of their traditional gods.[citation needed] In AD 68 they placed a rope around his neck and dragged him through the streets until he was dead.[22]

Where Saint John Mark (son of Mary) is distinguished from Saint Mark, the composer of the earliest Gospel that we have, Saint John Mark is celebrated on September 27th (as in the Roman Martyrology) and the writer of the Gospel on April 25th. In addition to Saint John Mark's in Jerusalem, the Parish Church of Chester Hill with Sefton in the Diocese of Sydney (Anglican Church of Australia) is Saint John Mark's and it celebrated its patronal festival on September 27th. And icon of Saint John Mark on Cyprus, painted by a Russian Orthodox monk at Walsingham, was formerly in that church and is now in Christ Church Saint Laurence in Sydney.

Relics of St. Mark[edit]

Mark the Evangelist listening to the winged lion, Mark, image 21 of the Codex Aureus of Lorsch or Lorsch Gospels

In 828, relics believed to be the body of St. Mark were stolen from Alexandria by Venetian merchants and taken to Venice.[23] A mosaic in St Mark's Basilica depicts sailors covering the relics with a layer of pork and cabbage leaves. Since Muslims are not permitted to touch pork, this was done to prevent the guards from inspecting the ship's cargo too closely.[24] “History records no more shameless example of body snatching...” as John Julius Norwich put it. The possession of a truly important relic could have serious political consequences. When the body of St Mark came to Venice, the previous patron saint of the city, St Theodore, was demoted. The Doge of the day began to build a splendid church to contain the relics next to his palace, the original San Marco. With an evangelist on its territory, Venice acquired a status almost equal to that of Rome itself.[25]

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.[26] The newfound remains were placed in a sarcophagus in the basilica.[23]

Copts believe that the head of St. Mark remains in a church named after him in Alexandria, and parts of his relics are in Saint Mark's Coptic Orthodox Cathedral, Cairo. The rest of his relics are in the San Marco Cathedral in Venice, Italy.[1] Every year, on the 30th day of the month of Paopi, the Coptic Orthodox Church celebrates the commemoration of the consecration of the church of St. Mark, and the appearance of the head of the saint in the city of Alexandria. This takes place inside St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Alexandria, where the saint's head is preserved.

In June 1968, Pope Cyril VI of Alexandria sent an official delegation to Rome to receive a relic of St. Mark from Pope Paul VI. The delegation consisted of ten metropolitans and bishops, seven of whom were Coptic and three Ethiopian, and three prominent Coptic lay leaders.

The relic was said to be a small piece of bone that had been given to the Roman pope by Giovanni Cardinal Urbani, Patriarch of Venice. Pope Paul, in an address to the delegation, said that the rest of the relics of the saint remained in Venice.

The delegation received the relic on June 22, 1968. The next day, the delegation celebrated a pontifical liturgy in the Church of Saint Athanasius the Apostolic in Rome. The metropolitans, bishops, and priests of the delegation all served in the liturgy. Members of the Roman papal delegation, Copts who lived in Rome, newspaper and news agency reporters, and many foreign dignitaries attended the liturgy.

In a 2011 episode of the National Geographic Channel television series Mystery Files, historian Andrew Chugg suggests that Alexander the Great's body was stolen from Alexandria, Egypt by Venetian merchants who believed it to be that of St. Mark the Evangelist. They smuggled the remains to Venice, which were then venerated as St. Mark the Evangelist in the Basilica Cattedrale Patriarcale di San Marco.[27][28][29]

In art[edit]

Mark the Evangelist is most often depicted writing or holding his gospel. In Christian tradition, Mark the Evangelist, the author of the second gospel is symbolized by a lion – a figure of courage and monarchy.

Some Christian legends refer to Saint Mark as "Saint Mark The Lionhearted". These legends say that he was thrown to the Lions and the animals refused to attack or eat him. Instead the Lions slept at his feet, while he petted them. When the Romans saw this, they released him impressed by this sight.

Mark the Evangelist attributes are the Lion in the desert; he can be depicted as a bishop on a throne decorated with lions; as a man helping Venetian sailors.

Mark the Evangelist is often depicted holding a book with "pax tibi Marce" written on it or holding a palm and book. Mark the Evangelist attributes are the Lion in the desert. Other depictions of Mark show him as a man with a book or scroll accompanied by a winged lion. the lion might also be associated with Jesus' Resurrection because lions were believed to sleep with open eyes, thus a comparison with Christ in his tomb, and Christ as king.

Mark the Evangelist can be depicted as a man with a halter around his neck and as Mark the Evangelist rescuing Christian slaves from Saracens.

Major shrines[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Specific
  1. ^ a b c "St. Mark The Apostle, Evangelist". Coptic Orthodox Church Network. Retrieved 21 November 2012. 
  2. ^ Senior, Donald P. (1998), "Mark", in Ferguson, Everett, Encyclopedia of Early Christianity (2nd ed.), New York and London: Garland Publishing, Inc., p. 720, ISBN 0-8153-3319-6 
  3. ^ Lane, William L. (1974). "The Author of the Gospel". The Gospel According to Mark. New International Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. pp. 21–3. ISBN 978-0-8028-2502-5. 
  4. ^ Mark: Images of an Apostolic Interpreter p55 C. Clifton Black – 2001 –"... infrequent occurrence in the Septuagint (Num 36:11; Tob 7:2) to its presence in Josephus (JW 1.662; Ant 1.290, 15.250) and Philo (On the Embassy to Gaius 67), anepsios consistently carries the connotation of "cousin," though ..."
  5. ^ Hippolytus. "The same Hippolytus on the Seventy Apostles". Ante-Nicene Fathers. 
  6. ^ Finegan, Jack (1998). Handbook of Biblical Chronology. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson. p. 374. ISBN 978-1-56563-143-4. 
  7. ^ "Egypt". Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs. Retrieved 2011-12-14.  See drop-down essay on "Islamic Conquest and the Ottoman Empire"
  8. ^ Bunson, Matthew; Bunson, Margaret; Bunson, Stephen (1998). Our Sunday Visitor's Encyclopedia of Saints. Huntington, Indiana: Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division. p. 401. ISBN 0-87973-588-0. 
  9. ^ "Catholic Encyclopedia, St. Mark". Retrieved 1 March 2013. 
  10. ^ Acts 15:36–40
  11. ^ 2 Timothy 4:11
  12. ^ Philemon 1:24
  13. ^ Papias, Exposition of the Oracles of the Lord, VI. Newadvent.org [1]
  14. ^ Harrington, Daniel J. (1990), "The Gospel According to Mark", in Brown, Raymond E.; Fitzmyer, Joseph A.; Murphy, Roland E., The New Jerome Biblical Commentary, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, p. 596, ISBN 0-13-614934-0 
  15. ^ D. A. Carson, Douglas J. Moo and Leon Morris, An Introduction to the New Testament (Apollos, 1992), 93.
  16. ^ University of Navarre (1992), The Navarre Bible: Saint Mark's Gospel (2nd ed.), Dublin: Four Courts Press, pp. 55–56, ISBN 1-85182-092-2 
  17. ^ University of Navarre (1992), The Navarre Bible: Saint Mark’s Gospel (2nd ed.), Dublin: Four Court’s Press, p. 172, ISBN 1-85182-092-2 
  18. ^ University of Navarre (1992), The Navarre Bible: Saint Mark’s Gospel (2nd ed.), Dublin: Four Court’s Press, p. 179, ISBN 1-85182-092-2 
  19. ^ a b c H.H. Pope Shenouda III, The Beholder of God Mark the Evangelist Saint and Martyr, Chapter One. Tasbeha.org
  20. ^ "About the Diocese". Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States. 
  21. ^ "Saint Mark". Retrieved 2009-05-14. 
  22. ^ H.H. Pope Shenouda III. The Beholder of God Mark the Evangelist Saint and Martyr, Chapter Seven. Tasbeha.org
  23. ^ a b "Section dedicated to the recovery of St. Mark's body". Basilicasanmarco.it. Retrieved 2010-02-17. 
  24. ^ "St. Marks Basilica". Avventure Bellissime – Italy Tours. Retrieved 21 November 2012. 
  25. ^ Gayford, Martin, "Treasures of Heaven, Saints, Relics and Devotion in Medieval Europe, British Museum",The Telegraph, June 11, 2011
  26. ^ Okey, Thomas (1904), Venice and Its Story, London: J. M. Dent & Co. 
  27. ^ http://www.metacafe.com/watch/cb-1LsVpeVIO9Qp/mystery_files_the_disappearance_of_alexanders_tomb/
  28. ^ http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/tv-and-radio/mystery-files-alexander-the-great-wednesday-june-29-20110624-1gicv.html
  29. ^ http://natgeotv.com/uk/mystery-files/about

External links[edit]

Coptic
New creation Pope of Alexandria
43–68
Succeeded by
Anianus