What is the purpose and provenance of Mark's Gospel?

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What is the purpose and provenance of Mark's Gospel?

Mark's Gospel as it is offers little direct evidence as to why, where or when it was written. There are hints of course but no direct statement of purpose. By careful examination of Mark's Gospel and through also examining historical sources and historical events identifying purpose and provenance of Mark's Gospel become less of a riddle.

It is probable that the Gospel of Mark was written in Rome. While there is no evidence within the text that directly points to this conclusion the text implies that it was intended for Roman Christians as a strong Roman background is assumed. The translation of Aramaic words within the text and the many explanations of Jewish terms and customs suggests that the intended readers were neither Aramaic-speaking nor were they Jewish[ ]. The presence of Latinisms and Latin translations[ ] of Greek words in the Gospel of Mark implies that the intended readers were Latin speakers, though they could read or at least understand Greek. Other reference that point to a Roman audience include the reference to the woman in Tyre called "a Greek, speaking Syrophoenician by birth",[ ] this implies a Roman readership, because such a designation would be most understood by Romans, who distinguished between Phoenicians from Carthage and those from Syria[ ]. Historical sources that point to Rome as the provenance for the writing of Marks Gospel are abundant. The fragment of the Anti-Marcionite prologue placed the composition of the Gospel of Mark 'in the regions of Italy'. Papias places Mark in Rome with Peter around the time the gospel was completed. That Papias writes that Mark composed his gospel for Peter's hearers in Rome also implies that Mark wrote his gospel in Rome[ ]. That Peter and Mark are placed together in Rome in the early sixties[ ] is indirect evidence that Mark wrote the Gospel in Rome.

Dating the Gospel with precision is difficult, there is no direct evidence within the text that suggests a date and historical sources are contradictory. Traditionally scholars have tried to date it after the destruction of Jerusalem based on Mark 13 it is assumed that the reference to "the abomination that causes desolation" in Mark 13:14 is an allusion to Titus's destruction of the Jerusalem Temple c. 67-70 though this remains debatable[ ]. Historical sources point to the Gospel of Mark being written when Peter was in Rome or just after his death in Rome during Nero's persecutions, c. 64-68. Irenaeus claims that Mark wrote after the death of Peter[ ] as does The fragment of the Anti-Marcionite prologue[ ]. Papias asserts that Mark wrote according to his "recollection of Peter's discourses, has been taken to imply that Peter was dead. This, however, does not necessarily follow from the words of Papias, for Peter might have been absent from Rome"[ ]. Though in Clement of Alexandria's Hypotyposeis the implication is that Peter was still alive at the time of the composition of the gospel[ ]. The contradictory evidence as to whether Mark wrote his gospel before or after Peter's death, which took place during Nero's persecution of the church c. 65. leads to the conclusion that the Gospel of Mark can not be dated precisely though it is more likely a date ranging from c. 63-70 should be attributed.

The purpose of why Mark wrote the Gospel has been much disputed but it can be seen that there are many possible reasons, all plausible as to why he may have written. After a quick examination of the time in which it is assumed that Mark wrote the most obvious reason would be to preserve tradition. "The first generation eyewitnesses and guarantors of the tradition were either dying out or being killed, the evangelist would have to put the "gospel" in writing lest it be lost or distorted with the passing of time"[ ]. This however is in conflict with the view that oral tradition is a more reliable form of record then written tradition[ ]. Guelich also addresses...
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