Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol I:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
The Church History of Eusebius.: Chapter XV
Chapter XV.—The Gospel according to Mark.
1. And thus when the divine word had made its home among them, 387 the power of p. 116 Simon was quenched and immediately destroyed, together with the man himself. 388 And so greatly did the splendor of piety illumine the minds of Peters hearers that they were not satisfied with hearing once only, and were not content with the unwritten teaching of the divine Gospel, but with all sorts of entreaties they besought Mark, 389 a follower of Peter, and the one whose Gospel is extant, that he would leave them a written monument of the doctrine which had been orally communicated to them. Nor did they cease until they had prevailed with the man, and had thus become the occasion of the written Gospel which bears the name of Mark. 390
2. And they say that Peter when he had learned, through a revelation of the Spirit, of that which had been done, was pleased with the zeal of the men, and that the work obtained the sanction of his authority for the purpose of being used in the churches. 391 Clement in the eighth book of his Hypotyposes gives this account, and with him agrees the bishop of Hierapolis named Papias. 392 And Peter makes mention of Mark in his first epistle which they say that he wrote in Rome itself, as is indicated by him, when he calls the city, by a figure, Babylon, as he does in the following words: “The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you; and so doth Marcus my son.” 393
The origin of the Church at Rome is shrouded in mystery. Eusebius gives the tradition which rules in the Catholic Church, viz.: that Christianity was introduced into Rome by Peter, who went there during the reign of Claudius. But this tradition is sufficiently disproved by history. The origin of the Church was due to unknown persons, though it is possible we may obtain a hint of them in the Andronicus and Junta of Romans xvi. 7, who are mentioned as apostles, and who were therefore, according to the usage of the word in Pauls writings, persons that introduced Christianity into a new place—missionaries proper, who did not work on others ground.116:388
See chap. 12, note 9, and chap. 14, note 8.116:389
John Mark, son of Mary (Acts xii. 12), a sister of Barnabas (Col. iv. 10), was a companion of Paul and Barnabas in their missionary journeys, and afterward a companion of Barnabas alone (Acts xv. 39), and still later was with Paul again in Rome (Col. 4:10, Phlm. 1:24Col. iv. 10 and Philemon 24), and with Peter when he wrote his first epistle (1 Pet. v. 13). For the later traditions concerning Mark, see the next chapter, note 1.116:390
That Mark wrote the second Gospel under the influence of Peter, or as a record of what he had heard from him, is the universal tradition of antiquity. Papias, in the famous and much-disputed passage (quoted by Eusebius, III. 39, below), is the first to record the tradition. Justin Martyr refers to Marks Gospel under the name “Memoirs (ἀπομνημονεύματα) of Peter” (Dial. c. Tryph. 106; the translation in the Ante-Nicene Fathers, Am. Ed. Vol. I. p. 252, which refers the αὐτοῦ to Christ, is incorrect; compare Weiss, N. T. Einleitung, p. 44, note 4). Irenæus (Adv. Hær. III. 11. 1, quoted below, V. 8. 2), Tertullian (Adv. Marcionem, IV. 5), and Origen (quoted below, VI. 25) confirm the tradition, which is repeated over and over again by the Fathers.
The question as to the real authorship of our second Gospel, or rather as to its composition and its relation to Matthew and Luke, is a very difficult one. The relationship of the three synoptical Gospels was first discussed by Augustine (De Consensu Evangelistarum), who defended the traditional order, but made Mark dependent upon Matthew. This view prevailed until the beginning of the present century, when the problem was attacked anew, and since then it has been the crux of the literary criticism of the Bible. The three have been held to be dependent upon each other, and every possible order has found its advocates; a common source has been assumed for the three: the Hebrew Matthew, the Gospel according to the Hebrews (see Bk. III. chap. 25, note 24), our canonical Gospel of Mark, or an original Mark, resembling the present one; a number of fragmentary documents have been assumed; while others, finally, have admitted only oral tradition as the basis. According to Baurs tendency theory, Matthew (polemically Jewish-Christian) came first, followed by an original Luke (polemically Pauline-Christian), then by our Mark, which was based upon both and written in the interest of neutrality, and lastly by our present Luke, designed as a final irenicum. This view now finds few advocates. The whole matter is still unsettled, but criticism seems to be gradually converging toward a common ground type (or rather two independent types) for all three while at the same time maintaining the relative independence of the three, one toward the other. What these ground types were, is a matter of still sharper dispute, although criticism is gradually drawing their larger features with more and more certainty and clearness. (The latest discussion upon the subject by Handmann, das Hebräer-Evangelium, makes the two types the “Ur-Marcus” and the Gospel of the Hebrews.) That in the last analysis, however, some space must still be left for floating tradition, or for documents irreducible to the one or two types, seems absolutely certain. For further information as to the state of discussion upon this intricate problem, see among recent works, especially Weiss, Einleitung, p. 473 sqq., Holtzmann, Einleitung, p. 328 sqq., and Schaff, Ch. Hist. I. 575 sqq., where the literature down to 1882 is given with great fullness. Conservative opinion puts the composition of all the synoptic Gospels before the destruction of Jerusalem (for the date of Luke, see III. 4, note 12); but the critical school, while throwing the original type back of that date, considers the composition of our present Gospels to have been the gradual work of years, assuming that they were not finally crystallized into the form in which we have them before the second century.116:391
This mention of the “pleasure” of Peter, and the “authority” given by him to the work of Mark, contradicts the account of Clement to which Eusebius here appeals as his authority. In Bk. VI. chap. 14 he quotes from the Hypotyposes of Clement, a passage which must be identical with the one referred to in this place, for it is from the same work and the general account is the same; but there Clement says expressly, “which when Peter understood he neither directly hindered nor encouraged it.”116:392
The passage from Papias is quoted below in Bk. III. chap. 39. Papias is a witness to the general fact that Mark wrote down what he had heard from Peter, but not (so far as he is extant) to the details of the account as given by Eusebius. Upon Papias himself, see Bk. III. chap. 39.116:393
1 Pet. v. 13. Commentators are divided as to the place in which Peter wrote this epistle (compare Schaffs Church Hist. I. p. 744 sqq.). The interpretation given by Eusebius is the patristic and Roman Catholic opinion, and is maintained by many Protestant commentators. But on the other hand the literal use of the word “Babylon” is defended by a great number of the leading scholars of the present day. Compare Weiss, N. T. Einleitung, p. 433, note 1.
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