- The John Also Called Mark: Reception and Transformation in Christian Tradition by Dean Furlong
Furlong refers to John, also called Mark (cf. Acts 12:12), as “John/Mark” to represent his Hebrew-Latin double name (p. 3), and his investigation of the reception of this figure advances two theses. The first is that John/Mark, Mark the evangelist, and Mark the bishop of Alexandria were separate individuals. The second is that traces of the earlier identification of John/Mark as the beloved disciple and Johannine evangelist survived for centuries.
In chap. 1, F. builds on C. Clifton Black’s (Mark: Images of an Apostolic Interpreter [Minneapolis: Fortress, 2001] 25–49) case that John/Mark’s opposition to Paul’s gentile mission precipitated Paul’s split with Barnabas in Acts 15:37–39 (pp. 9–10) but overlooks Black’s differentiation of John/Mark from the Mark who was Paul’s coworker and Barnabas’s cousin (cf. Col 4:10). F. stresses that the patristic reports about the evange-list Mark are incompatible with the portrayals of John/Mark in Acts and the Pauline Epistles, for the evangelist relied solely on Peter’s testimony about Jesus and was active in Rome during Claudius’s reign. F. infers that Irenaeus, Ephrem, and the Anti-Marcionite Prologue depended on Papias when locating this Mark in Rome, but Irenaeus’s wording (see Adv. haer. 3.1.1) about Peter’s “departure” (exodos) to Rome was altered by a scribe who took it as a reference to the deaths of Peter and Paul (p. 16). Finally, the Martyrdom of Mark recounts the Alexandrian Mark’s adventures without hinting that he published a Roman Gospel.
Chapters 2 to 4 survey the amalgamations of Marcan traditions in Syrian, Greek, Latin, Coptic, and Cypriot texts. This process created internal inconsistencies, such as the disagreement between Papias’s assertion that Mark was not an eyewitness of Jesus (cf. Eusebius, Hist. eccl. 3.39.15) and the inclusion of John/Mark among Jesus’s seventy-two disciples. F. posits that “[t]he conflation of these traditions begins to appear probably no earlier than the turn of the fourth century” (p. 23). This entails that F. reject the authenticity of the Clementine Letter to Theodore and its “anachronistic” notice about the evangelist Mark in Alexandria (p. 31). The efforts to conflate the sources could be strained. F. observes, “While the Greek, Latin and Syriac sources could more comfortably navigate the three Markan traditions by placing the Papian narrative at their centre, the Coptic sources struggled to find a cohesive narrative which could affirm the central role of Africa and Egypt in their retellings of the Markan narrative” (p. 54). Similarly, the combinations of the Marcan [End Page 516] traditions in the Acts of Mark, the Acts of Barnabas, and the Enconium of Barnabas are independent of each other.
In part 2 of the monograph, F. examines reduplicated patristic and medieval traditions about John/Mark and the evangelist John. In chap. 6, F. explores how John/Mark was inserted into distinctly Johannine scenes, including ones featuring the beloved disciple, or credited with defending the incarnate Logos’s divinity. The parallels covered in chaps. 7–11 include John/Mark’s and the evangelist John’s noble birth, Levitical credentials, ownership of the house that hosted the Last Supper, missionary ventures, and burial in Ephesus during Trajan’s rule. In chaps. 8 and 9, F. treats the description of John adn mark wearing the sacerdotal plate, which F. conjectures was based on Hegesippus’s reading of the Odes of Solomon. Hegesippus reappears in chap. 12 as a hypothetical source for the reduplicated traditions. Some parallels were obscured by the misidentifications of John/Mark as the evangelist Mark and of the evangelist John as the son of Zebedee. Thus, the redating of John’s Ephesian ministry to Tiberius’s reign was influenced by the allotment tradition in which the apostle John was called to Asia Minor after Christ’s ascension, but this displaced the memory...