The author of Mark

Doing some badly needed reading today, and I thought of an old question of mine: How did the author of the Gospel of Mark introduce the text to an audience?

There’s always been the assumption that it was done anonymously, but I’ve never read an explanation of precisely how that was done. Did he drop the scroll off at an early church like a baby in a basket and run for the hills? That seems a rather undependable delivery method, especially if there was only one copy.

Did he introduce himself as a former disciple or biographer of Peter, as the legend goes, and distribute copies from church to church? Seems unlikely, especially given my ongoing thesis that the author of Mark disliked Peter, the original disciples, and the Jerusalem church.

The only likely explanation I can think of is that the author of Mark was a disillusioned Christian preacher far from Jerusalem and that he wrote the text for his own use in church, mixing prophecy, myth, extent Jesus stories, and rhetoric in way that was particularly useful for him after the siege of Jerusalem. People hearing it read obtained copies to start their own churches, or to introduce the text to other churches (either when they relocated, or on their own initiative). He could claim any origin for it, but only if he wrote it post-70, when he knew all the principals were dead or far away enough to not easily contradict his tale. The other gospels sprang up out of a recognition of the persuasive opportunities provided by the new genre and dissatisfaction with some of its initial content.

Another thought I’ve had over the last few years is that the author of Mark is young, perhaps early twenties at most. I see a lot of writing patterns in the text that remind me of college writers that are smart, even brilliant – and on the verge of developing their own style – but are still held back by recurring usage problems and lack of planning.

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