Heidegger's Bible Handbook: Mark: Originally Written in Latin?

6. It is proven that he wrote, not in the Latin idiom, but in the Greek. The uncertainty of the tradition concerning a Latin autograph preserved at Venice.



That Saint Mark wrote his Gospel in the Latin idiom, ancient Eastern Translations, Persic and Arabic, at the very outset, related.But others incorrectly refer the Syriac to the same, which indicates in its subscription that Mark preached, not wrote, his Gospel רומאית, in the Roman tongue (by which word, nevertheless, the Greek Tongue is also distinguished, as the Most Learned Selden[1] proves, Commentario ad Eutychii, Observation 28).Nevertheless, that Mark wrote in Latin, is believed by not a few more recent men also, especially Baronius in his Annalibus Ecclesiasticis on 45 AD, section 31; Possevinus in his Apparatu; Bellarmine[2] in book II de Verbo Dei, chapter 7; and others.But they are resting upon a weak support for that.For, because they believe Eusebius that Mark wrote his Gospel at Rome, they gather that he wrote in the Roman idiom.But it is not certain that he wrote his Gospel at Rome:if he had written there, there had been no necessity of writing in Latin, since the Greek Tongue also was familiar and received everywhere.Paul also wrote an Epistle to the Romans in the Greek Tongue, because the Jews living at Rome, a great many ignorant of the Latin language, by long habitation throughout Asia and Greece had learned the Greek tongue, and there were very few Romans not understanding Greek.And not one of the ancients, if you set aside Pseudo-Damasus in his Vita Petri,[3] asserted that this Gospel was written in Latin.Indeed, that Mark preached in Latin, Gregory Nazianzen indicates in his carmine de quatuor Evangelistis:but, that he wrote in Latin, not likewise in Greek, clearly affirm Jerome in Epistle 123 and Augustine in de consensus Evangelistarum, book I, chapter 2.The very same thing is also argued by the providence of God, which has taken care of the Greek edition, not a Latin, of which there are no vestiges of authenticity.Moreover, the Roman Church has accused itself of a supine negligence, if it conducted itself as so negligent a custodian of the Gospel, which they persist was formerly written at its request, as it trust, that it was already of old necessary to make use of the version from the Greek text, which was not original, and is made use of to this day.But, which is the same thing as above, Possevinus mutters, and Baronius openly professes, to be confirmed by ancient tradition, that Mark translated his Gospel into Greek, which he wrote in Latin at Rome, while he was dwelling at Aquileia,[4] having been sent there by Peter to erect that Church; and that the Latin original was to be kept there for quite a long time, and finally moved to Venice (where it was kept in a Marcan collection, as Widmenstadius has related):they are mere words, rather than actual things.Nevertheless, if the matter thus stands, the Greek of the Gospel of Mark is able also to be authentic (which is sufficient for our purposes), or thence to be established.

[1] John Selden (1584-1654) was one of the most learned men of his age. His mastery of Rabbinic literature was profound. He sat as a lay member of the Westminster Assembly and was perhaps the Assembly’s most powerful proponent of Erastianism. [2] Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621) entered the Order of the Jesuits in his late teens. He became one of the great theologians of his era, a Cardinal, and, after his death, a Doctor of the Church. [3] Damasus I (c. 305-384) was bishop of Rome from 366 until his death. He is noteworthy for leading the Church through the Apollinarian and Macedonian controversies, and for the encouragement that he gave to his personal secretary, Jerome, to undertake the translation of the Scriptures into Latin. The Vita Petri appears to have been written by a sixth century hand. [4] Aquileia is in the extreme northeast of Italy, at the head of the Adriatic.

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Dr. Steven Dilday holds a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Campbell University, a Master of Arts in Religion from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia), and both a Master of Divinity and a  Ph.D. in Puritan History and Literature from Whitefield Theological Seminary.  He is also the translator of Matthew Poole's Synopsis of Biblical Interpreters and Bernardinus De Moor’s Didactico-Elenctic Theology.

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