Heidegger's Bible Handbook: Mark: The Life and Martyrdom of Mark

Updated: Jul 10

3. The manner of the life of Mark. Whether he was of the number of the seventy disciples? When, and with what sort of death, he died, is uncertain.



The manner of the life of Saint Mark, before he was a disciple of the Lord, is not known with certainty.That he was a Priest, and that he cut off his thumb, so that he might be useless for ministry,[1] some in Jerome have related.[2]After his conversion to Christ, in 1 Peter 5:13 he is called Peter’s υἱός/Son:by whom perhaps he was also converted, and to whom thereafter the ancients attach him as a companion.Whether he was of the number of the seventy disciples, whom Christ is said in Luke 10:1 to have taken to Himself, as Theophylact[3] and others think, is also uncertain.For thus Saint Peter would have called him Brother, rather than Son.Eusebius, Church History, book II, section 16, relates it as certain, that in Alexandria, Egypt he by the preaching of the Gospel first gathered a Church to Christ.That in the eighth year of Nero in that very place he died and was buried, Jerome mentions in his Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Catalogo, and that from that same time in Alexandria it was customary that the Presbyters set one over themselves, having been chosen out of their own number, whom they would call Bishop (whence, nevertheless, that Mark was the Bishop of Alexandria, the Episcopalians incorrectly contend), the same Jerome asserts in Epistle 85 to Evagrius.But Kirstenius’ most ancient Arabic Codex states that he came to Alexandria in the seventh year of the Reign of Claudius,[4] and that in the fourteenth year he was martyred in that very place:concerning which more fully a little afterwards.From the same Codex, where the word רמד, to incinerate, occurs, the same Kirstenius gathers that Saint Mark of Alexandria met his death on the second day, when he was most miserably dragged from the villages through the streets with a rope cast about his neck, set on a funeral pyre for the complete dissolution of the flesh, and reduced to ashes by the flames.But we also leave the question of Mark’s Martyrdom undecided, because it rests upon a doubtful and more recent account, as the most learned Blondel[5] well says, de Episcopis, page 7, until more certain things are discovered.

[1] See Leviticus 21:16-24. [2] Jerome’s authorship of the Prologi super Marcum is doubtful. [3] The Explanation by the Blessed Theophylact of the Holy Gospel of Matthew. [4] Circa 48 AD. [5] David Blondel (1591-1655) was a Huguenot minister, historian, and classicist. He served as Professor of Church History at Amsterdam (1649-1655). He is remembered for his critical stance with respect to the many forged and spurious documents coming out of antiquity.

Dr. Dilday's Lecture: "The Humiliation of Christ, Part 3"


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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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