“The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God;”
Some have found it curious that the names of the four Gospel writers are absent from their actual texts. Whereas Paul, Peter, and James for instance, sent personal greetings and salutations in their letters, the Gospels are absolutely silent about who their actual authors were. Liberal scholars suggest that the Gospels were written by unknown Christians in order to encourage and give direction to others in their communities. Only later were the familiar names, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John attached to these Gospels in order to give them more authority in the eyes of their Christian recipients. The idea is preposterous on the face of it. To begin with, the original Gospels would have been written as scrolls. In ancient times scrolls had a tag glued to their outer edge on which the name of the author was written. The Gospel writers therefore had no need of putting their names into the actual text. Secondly, it makes no sense to suggest that people would attach these particular names to the Gospels. Matthew was the despised tax collector, considered a traitor to Rome (Matthew 9:9-11). Similarly, neither Mark nor Luke were eyewitnesses to the events they describe; why attach their names to these allegedly anonymous works? As far back as we can go in church history, we see unanimous agreement on who the Gospel writers were, which is surely evidence against the claims of liberal scholarship. Furthermore, the church was unanimous in its understanding that the Gospel According to Mark is based upon the eyewitness recollections of Peter. When we consider carefully the content of Mark’s Gospel, this ancient view makes much more sense than modern liberal speculation. After his escape from prison, Peter made his way to the house of Mary, Mark’s mother, whose residence was apparently a kind of “home base” for the primitive church (Acts 12:12). Peter referred to Mark as “my son” (1 Peter 5:13), which gives evidence to the close relationship between the two. As we consider the actual text of Mark’s Gospel, we see all kinds of specific details being shared that Mark could not have gotten anywhere else but from an “inner group apostle” (i.e. Peter, James, or John). He notes the expression on the Lord’s face (3:3) and how He sighed before speaking (7:34; 8:12). In describing how Jesus was transfigured before him, he states that, “His raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller [launderer] on earth can white them” (Mark 9:3), and that Peter was talking nonsense out of fear (9:5-7 cf 2 Peter 1:16-18). He shares also the beautiful detail that when Jesus was interacting with the inquisitive rich man, “Jesus beholding him loved him” (Mark 10:21). He also tells us about how the blind man cast aside his garment as he came to Jesus for help and healing (10:49-50). May God bless our study of the shortest of Gospels, shared by Peter, penned by Mark, but given through the Holy Spirit (John 14:26).