By whom written: The author of this Gospel has been universally believed to be Mark or Marcus, designated in (Acts 12:12,25; 15:37) as John Mark, and in ch. 5,13 as John.
When is was written: Upon this point nothing absolutely certain can be affirmed, and the Gospel itself affords us no information. The most direct testimony is that of Irenaeus, who says it was after the death of the apostles Peter and Paul. We may conclude, therefore, that this Gospel was not written before A.D. 63. Again we may as certainly conclude that it was not written after the destruction of Jerusalem, for it is not likely that he would have omitted to record so remarkable a fulfillment of our Lord's predictions. Hence A.D. 63-70 becomes our limit, but nearer than this we cannot go: Farrar.
Where it was written: As to the place, the weight of testimony is uniformly in favor of the belief that the Gospel was written and published at Rome. In this Clement, Eusebius, Jerome, Epiphanius, all agree. Chrysostom, indeed, asserts that it was published at Alexandria; but his statement receives no confirmation, as otherwise it could not fail to have done, from any Alexandrine writer: Farrar.
In what language: As to the language in which it was written, there never has been any reasonable doubt that it was written in Greek.
Sources of information: Mark was not one of the twelve; and there is no reason to believe that he was an eye and ear witness of the events which he has recorded but an almost unanimous testimony of the early fathers indicates Peter as the source of his information, and you can find more about that here on st-takla.org on other commentaries and dictionary entries. The most important of these testimonies is that of Papias, who says, "He, the Presbyter (John), said, Mark, being the Interpreter of Peter, wrote exactly whatever he remembered but he did not write in order the things which were spoken or done by Christ. For he was neither a hearer nor a follower of the Lord, but, as I said, afterward followed Peter, who made his discourses to suit what was required, without the view of giving a connected digest of the discourses of our Lord. Mark, therefore, made no mistakes when he wrote down circumstances as he recollected them; for he was very careful of one thing, to omit nothing of what he heard, and to say nothing false in what he related." Thus Papias writes of Mark. This testimony is confirmed by other witnesses: Abbott.
For whom it was written: The traditional statement is that it was intended primarily for Gentiles, and especially for those at Rome. A review of the Gospel itself confirms this view.
(1) Mark's Gospel is occupied almost entirely with the ministry in Galilee and the events of the passion week. It is the shortest of the four Gospels, and contains almost no incident or teaching which is not contained in one of the other two synoptists; but
(2) it is by far the most vivid and dramatic in its narratives, and their pictorial character indicates not only that they were derived from an eye and ear witness, but also from one who possessed the observation and the graphic artistic power of a natural orator such as Peter emphatically was.
(3) One peculiarity strikes us the moment we open it,--the absence of any genealogy of our Lord, and you can find more about that here on st-takla.org on other commentaries and dictionary entries. This is the key to much that follows. It is not the design of the evangelist to present our Lord to us, like St. Matthew as the Messiah, "the son of David and Abraham," ch. 1:1, or, like St. Luke, as the universal Redeemer, "the son of Adam, which was the son of God." ch. 3:38.
(4) His design is to present him to us as the incarnate and wonder-working Son of God, living and acting among men; to portray him in the fullness of his living energy: Cambridge Bible for Schools.
Main reference: Smith's Bible Dictionary (1860s)
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