Honouring the gods in the classical Mediterranean realm and on its fringes


Probably drafted around the years 65-70 of the first century AD, the gospel of Mark[1] is generally acknowledged as the earliest gospel to have reached us. It is also the second of the four gospels retained in the New Testament[2] canon: the first and third being respectively ascribed to Matthew[3] and Luke[4]; along with them it forms the group of so-called synoptic[5][5] gospels, followed by the fourth by John[6].

As duly noted by a number of academics, Mark's text attests a keen interest in the spatial representation of Jesus' peripatetic activity. In the narrative framework of the gospel and far beyond the patent ideological confrontation between Galilee and Judea, a very specific role is played by architectural spaces (house, synagogue, temple) with all their social and religious implications. This particularity is worth examining in the light of Jonathan Z. Smith's taxonomy of ancient religions which proposes a threefold typology distinguishing between the religions of “here”, “there” and “anywhere”.

Palestine in Jesus' days © SA, CERHIO
  1. Mark

    The attribution of the Gospel to an author named Mark is second hand, based on the testimony of Papias bishop of Hierapolis in Phrygia (c. 125 AD), quoted by Eusebius (Ecclesiastical History III, 39, 15). According to this testimony (which obviously sought to link the gospel to the authority of a prime eyewitness, Mark would have written his gospel as an interpreter of Peter (Simon), one of Jesus' first followers. This Mark is often associated to John Mark, Peter's companion and a collaborator on Paul and Barnabas' mission work as mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles and in the Pastoral Letters. Furthermore, the author of the First Epistle of Peter, in fact a pseudepigraphic piece, refers to Mark calling him “my son”. According to church tradition, Mark died a martyr's death in Alexandria, in Egypt at the end of the sixties.

  2. New Testament

    In Greek Hē Kainē Diathēkē, it is the compilation of the 27 texts considered normative by Christians. It includes in this order the four Gospels, the book of the Acts of the Apostles, the Corpus Paulinum (including the Deutero-Pauline and the Pastoral Epistles) amounting to 14 letters, the seven so-called Catholic Epistles and John's Book of Revelation. All these texts have reached us in Greek.

  3. Matthiew

    As in the case of Mark, the attribution of the first canonical gospel to Matthew, the tax collector turned friend of Jesus (Mt 9: 9 and Mt 10:3) associated to Mark's Levi (Mk 2: 14) is second hand and is based on Papias' testimony (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History III, 39, 16). According to later tradition, Matthew may have led a mission in Ethiopia then in other regions. Data on his death diverge: one testimony suggests that he died a natural death in his old age, another one sets him as a martyr.

  4. Luke

    Traditionally identified to Luke the medical doctor and Paul's associate referred to in several of the New Testament texts. Over and above the third canonical gospel, he is also credited with the authorship of the Acts of the Apostles (although in both cases the attribution is second hand). According to the evidence provided in the “Anti-Marcionite Prologue” (a text in Greek probably datable to the mid 2nd century, after Paul's death, Luke apparently worked in Achaea where his books were written; and his death is set in Boeotia at the age of eighty-four.

  5. Synoptic

    That can be seen as a whole, at a glance (from the Greek syn = together; opsis =view). The three synoptic gospels show some similarities in term of text content, form and structure. The Synoptic Problem, one of the most discussed questions among New Testament specialists, deals with these issues.

  6. John

    In chapter 21, which is an addition to the gospel's original text, the author is identified with “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (Jn 21:24) and whose name is never mentioned. From the second half of the 2nd century, the patristic tradition (Irenaeus of Lyons, Clement of Alexandria) name him as John and identify him with one of Zebedee's sons, the brother of James. Considered the author of the book of Revelations as well as other New Testament texts (John's three epistles) he is thought to have died at a great age in Ephesus at the very beginning of the 2nd century.

AccueilAccueilImprimerImprimer Overall coordination by Dominique Avon, Professor at the Université du Maine (France) Paternité - Pas d'Utilisation Commerciale - Pas de ModificationRéalisé avec Scenari (nouvelle fenêtre)