Date and Place of No date can be positively set for the composition of the Gospel according to Mark. It has been com monly dated immediately before the destruc tion of Jerusalem and thought to have been written at Rome. The latest conclusion of critics, notably of Harnack, based on his view of the early date of Luke's writings, sets the date decidedly before the year 60 and makes Jerusalem the place of original composition. 'There, or at Rome later, it might have been seen by Luke in its earliest form, while it is possible that additions were made to it before it was given to the world in its present form, which probably happened at Rome. (The oLatinisms" in its language are, however, no proof of relations to Rome, as they are merely such as had been everywhere in the empire adopted into the the common Greek of the time). It has been suggested that Mark's repeated revision of his original work resulted in what may he called three editions, the first, Palestinian and used by Luke, the second, made at Alexandria (with which city tradition asso ciates Mark in his work), and used by the author of the first Gospel, the third, our present Gospel according to Mark, having been com pleted and given to the world at (See article GOSPELS). Much of this theory, how ever, is undemonstrable. But it seems safe to assert that the substance of the book belongs decidedly before the year 60 and was very possibly composed in Palestine, while in its final form it is connected with Rome.
It is the verdict of textual criti cism that the last verses of the Gospel (xvi, 9 20) were not a part of the original work. They are lacking in only two manuscripts, the Vatican and the Sinaitic, but these are the 'most valued of all. A manuscript of the Old Latin replaces these verses with another, shorter ending for the genuineness of which no one contends, and four Greek uncials, one cursive, and also manu scripts of early translations into Syriac and other languages give both endings. An Arme nian manuscript gives the name Aristion as the author of the verses in question. There is, further, a notable lack of quotation of these verses by the Fathers, while several Fathers assert that in their time they were not to be found in the best copies of the Gospel. On
the basis of the merely textual evidence, however, the genuineness of these verses might be accepted, but there is general agreement among scholars that the internal evidence is decisive against their genuineness. The vocabu lary, the style, the thought of these verses are sufficiently unlike the rest of the Gospel so that the great majority of competent critics hold that they are not by Mark. Various explanations have been proposed for the abrupt close of the original text at the end of the eighth verse, as that the author might have been interrupted in some way and never finished his book as he intended, or that the last leaf was lost from the text which was the source of all our copies, and that some one (Aristion?) later attempted to make good the loss, but while any of the proposed explanations may be possible, it can not be said that any of them are probable.
Authenticity and While, as has been said, for many centuries both Matthew and Luke were more used and valued than Mark, this judgment has of late been reversed. As it is the oldest of the three Synoptics, or at any rate preserves the original traditions of the Palestinian Church in their most primitive and unmodified form, it is of the highest value as a record. This value is of course enhanced by the fact of Mark's association with so many of the early leaders of the Church, and still more by the contribution which Peter, in particular, is recognized to have made to the materials em ployed. The modern critical estimate may be relatively unfair to the value of the other Synoptics, but is doubtless absolutely correct in its high estimate of the authenticity and value of this Gospel.
Gould, E. P.,