As per Weeden, the Gospel of Mark was written in response to a strident claim to push Peter’s “primacy” in the church.
1. Written at a time when Peter was proclaimed as leading apostle?
Weeden (in a question and answer session on the “2 Jesuses” dvd avail at Westar) sums up his reasons for viewing the gospel as written at a time when the dominance of Peter was being pushed into the face of the churches. Mark’s intention was to undermine these claims:
- At the Caeasarea Philippi confession scene Peter “rebukes” Jesus — the word is the same used for exorcisms (Peter is depicted as attempting to “exorcise” Jesus) and Jesus responds with a counter “exorcism”: “Get behind me Satan!” Peter is attacked for rejecting the “suffering servant” christology.
- The trial of Jesus before the Sanhedrin is not historical and Peter’s denial hangs on that trial.
- And the gospel concludes (16:8) with the message of the resurrection of Jesus never having reached Peter, who is singled out as NOT having received it: the later gospel writers scramble to undo Mark’s damage by giving resurrection appearances to Peter.
Peter is attacked by Mark for opposing the “suffering servant” christology.
2. Written at a time when Rome was claiming dominance over churches?
As per Schmidt (I’ve posted the link in my earlier post here), the Gospel of Mark structures the crucifixion around the Roman Triumph. Was this in large part intended as a cynical attack on the presumptions of Roman bishopric attempting to begin asserting its authority over the church? An pushing into the face of Rome the “suffering servant” christology?
3. Written at a time when Christians were facing possible executions?
As per Price the crucifixion of Jesus, the “suffering servant” christology, has less to do with theological salvation than it does with presenting a model of how to respond to persecution. Mark was written at a time that knew persecution (Mark 13) — circumstances for which clear and undisputed evidence emerges only in the second century.
Add these to Detering’s dating of the Little Apocalypse in Mark and external attestation….
All three of the above — claims of the dominance of Peter, of Roman leadership, and the experience of persecution, surely point to a situation within Christianity that existed only from the second century. Detering gives reasons for dating the Synoptic Apocalypse (Mark 13) to the time of the Bar Kochba revolt during the reign of Hadrian; and the earliest possible external attestation to the existence of the gospel goes back no further than the early to mid second century.
And of course other issues of interest to Mark (allowable foods, the law) were also very much second century interests within the writings of the Church Fathers.
Crossley has argued for an early date for the gospel, pre 70 ce. That will obviously have to be addressed but ‘to date’ I have only had time to skim this.
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