and Barnabas took him along on the first missionary journey, but for some reason Mark returned alone
to Jerusalem. It is evident, from Paul's refusal to let Mark accompany him on the second journey
despite Barnabas's insistence, that Mark had displeased Paul. Because Paul later asks Mark to visit
him in prison, we may assume the trouble did not last long.
oldest and the shortest of the four Gospels, the Gospel of Mark emphasizes Jesus' rejection by
humanity while being God's triumphant envoy. Probably written for Gentile converts in Rome—after the
death of Peter and Paul sometime between A.D. 60 and 70—Mark's Gospel is the gradual manifestation
of a "scandal": a crucified Messiah.
Evidently a friend of Mark
(Peter called him "my son"), Peter is only one of the Gospel sources, others being the Church in
Jerusalem (Jewish roots) and the Church at Antioch (largely Gentile).
Like one other Gospel writer, Luke, Mark was not one of the 12
apostles. We cannot be certain whether he knew Jesus personally. Some scholars feel that the
evangelist is speaking of himself when describing the arrest of Jesus in Gethsemane: "Now a young
man followed him wearing nothing but a linen cloth about his body. They seized him, but he left the
cloth behind and ran off naked" (Mark 14:51-52).
Others hold Mark
to be the first bishop of Alexandria, Egypt. Venice, famous for the Piazza San Marco, claims Mark as
its patron saint; the large basilica there is believed to contain his remains.
A winged lion is Mark's symbol. The lion derives from Mark's description of John the Baptist as a "voice of one crying out in the desert" (Mark 1:3), which artists compared to a roaring lion. The wings come from the application of Ezekiel's vision of four winged creatures (Ezekiel, chapter one) to the evangelists.
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