Mark’s Sources in Mark 1: 15 and 6: 14-29-Paul, Josephus, and the Septuagint

Download 20.25 Kb.
Size20.25 Kb.
Mark’s Sources in Mark 1:15 and 6:14-29—Paul, Josephus, and the Septuagint

Brad McAdon, University of Memphis,


The thesis: The author of our canonical Mark knew, was influenced by, and used several of Paul's letters (especially Romans, 1 Corinthians, Galatians, and 1 Thessalonians), Josephus's Antiquities, Book 18, and the Septuagint. If my argument has any merit, then it will have significant implications concerning the historicity of Mark’s JB narratives, the dating of the composition of canonical Mark, and Mark’s compositional practices.

Mark’s knowledge and use of Paul

  • Mark 1:1-15 an inclusion influenced by Paul

    • [A] beginnιng of the gospel of Jesus Christ [son of God] (Ἁρχὴ τοῦ εὐαγγελἰου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ [υἱοῦ θεοῦ], 1:1), . . . . 14After John was handed over, Jesus came into Galilee proclaiming the gospel [τὸ εὐαγγέλιον] of God. 15and saying that the (appointed or opportune) time has come about and the kingdom of God has arrived; repent and believe in the gospel [τῷ εὐαγγελίῳ] (1:14-15).

    • Mk 1:1 almost verbatim from Phil 4:15

    • Mark’s use of εὐαγγελίον, Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, “Gospel of Christ” (εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ Χριστοῦ), son of God (υἱοῦ θεοῦ), gospel announced by the prophets, the appointed time has arrived, and kingdom of God, dependent upon Paul’s use of the same.

Mark’s use of Josephus’s Antiquities: See table on back side:

  • Mark 1:4-6 (John’s baptism and proclamation)

    • There are several thematic similarities between Mk’s narrative of JB’s baptism and proclamation and Josephus’s account of the same. See Table. These similarities need to be explained.

    • There are significant differences between Mk’s narrative of JB’s baptism and proclamation and Josephus’s account of the same. These differences can be explained if Mark used Josephus’s account as his model and then Christianized John to serve his (Mark’s) rhetorical ends.

    • There is a chronological incongruity. Josephus seems 1) to place John’s baptism after Jesus’s activity and 2) to date John’s death in 36 CE, which is several years later than the NT seems to date his activity and death. (not mentioned in my essay.)

  • Mark 6:14-29 (Death of John the Baptist narrative)

    • The number of and the specific thematic details within these similarities are striking and suggest dependence. Moreover, the fact that Josephus’s Antiquities 18 is the only extant source that includes narrative material on the Herodian family, a Philip, Herod Antipas, Herod Antipas and Herodias’s relationship, John’s criticism of this relationship, John’s baptism, his arrest, imprisonment, and death strongly suggests dependence one way or the other. If, for example, Mark did not know and use Antiquities 18, this would mean that he must have had access to and used some other source material for these narrative components of John’s baptism and death that included the specific thematic details about the Herodian family—including ambiguity about a Philip--and John’s baptism, arrest, and death that is extremely similar in content to, if not identical to, Antiquities 18. So far, we know if no such source.

Some of the Implications:

  • Historicity of John the Baptist narratives in Mark

  • Dating of the composition of canonical Mark

  • Contribution to understanding more about the final author of Mark’s compositional practices: Mark uses material from Josephus as models for his JB narratives just as he uses material from LXX Esther to craft Antipas’s banquet narrative (Mk 6) and LXX Jonah to craft his calming of the storm narrative (Mk 4).

Josephus’s Antiquities Bk. 18

Narrative Theme



John the one who is surnamed the Baptist (116)

John’s name

John the Baptist (1:4)


When the Jews and others too joined the crowds about him (18.116-117)

John attracts large audiences

All those in the area of Judea and all the Jerusalemites came out to him (1:5)


John exhorted the Jews to . . . join him in baptism (117)

John’s proclamation

John was in the wilderness proclaiming a baptism (1:4)


They were aroused to the highest degree by his sermons . . . Eloquence that had so great effect on mankind (117-118)

John was persuasive

All those who came out to him were baptized while confessing their sins (1:5)


When others joined the crowds about him, Herod became alarmed (118)

Herod’s response to John’s message

What Herod heard from John left him (Herod) greatly disturbed (6:20)


Josephus expresses John “was a good man” (117)

John a ‘good man’

Herod in awe of John, knowing him to be a good and holy man (6:20)


Because of Herod’s suspicions, John was brought in chains to Machaerus (119)

Reference to John’s arrest near the narrative of his baptism

After John had been arrested (1:14)


Herod and Herodias’s relationship detailed (109-112)

Herod and Herodias

Herod and Herodias’s relationship briefly mentioned (6:17-18)


Herodias was previously married (110)

Herodias’s previous marriage

Herodias was previously married (6:17-18)


Correctly, Herod’s brother (Herod II, 27-28, 106)

Herodias’s previous husband identified

(Incorrectly) Philip (6:17)


Philip as Herodias’s daughter’s (Salome’s) husband (136)

A Philip in both narratives

Philip as Herodias’s first husband (6:17)


Herod and Herodias’s marriage criticized for traditional / religious reasons (136)

Criticism of Herod and Herodias’s marriage

Herod and Herodias’s marriage criticized for traditional / religious reasons (6:17-18)


Implicit reference to Leviticus


Lev. 18:16, 21

Implicit reference to Leviticus



Herod’s fear of John’s persuasive effect may lead to a form of sedition (118)

Reasons for John’s arrest

Not because of John’s persuasiveness and the fear of sedition, but because of his denouncing of Herod for taking his brother’s wife (6:17)


Herodias’s daughter identified as Salome (136)

Herodias’s daughter

Herodias’s daughter not named

37And a fierce squall blew up and the waves broke over the boat until it was all but swamped. 38Now he was in the stern asleep on a cushion; they roused him and said, teacher, we are about to die [ἀπολλύμεθα]! Do you not care? 39He awoke and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Silence! Be still!’ The wind died down [ἐκόπασεν] and there was a dead calm. 40He said to them, ‘Why are you such cowards? Have you no faith even now?’ 41They feared a great fear [ἐφοβήθησαν φόβον μέγαν] and said to one another, ‘Who can this be? Even the wind and the sea obey him.’ (Mark 4:37-41)

4 And the Lord aroused a wind in the sea, and a great surge came upon the sea, and the ship was in danger of breaking up. 5And the mariners were afraid and cried out, each to their god. And they heaved the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to be lightened from them. But Ionas went down into the hold of the ship and was sleeping and snoring. 6And the captain came to him and said to him, ‘Why are you snoring? Get up, invoke your god in order that the god might deliver us and we not die [μὴ ἀπολλωμέθα].’ . . . .

10And the men feared with a great fear [ἐκφοβήθησαν οἱ ἄνδρες φόβῳ μεγάλῳ] and said to him, . . .

11Because the sea kept coming and stirring up a surge even more . . . And Jonas said to them, ‘Pick me up and throw me into the sea, and the sea will die down [κοπάσει]16 And the men feared the lord in great fear, . . (Jonah 1:4-16)

Download 20.25 Kb.

Share with your friends:

The database is protected by copyright © 2023
send message

    Main page