Mark the Evangelist

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April 25

Mark the Evangelist (Coptic: ΜΑΡΚΟС; Latin: Marcus; Hebrew: מרקוס‎; Greek: Μᾶρκος) is the traditional author of the Gospel of Mark. He is one of the Seventy Disciples of Christ, and the founder of the Church of Alexandria, one of the original four main sees of Christianity.

While later church tradition identifies Mark the Evangelist with John Mark and Mark the Cousin of Barnabas, the earliest church tradition recorded by the 2nd-3rd century father Hippolytus in his work On the Seventy Apostles[3] distinguishes them. According to Hippolytus, Mark the Evangelist (2 Tim 4:11) is distinct from John Mark (Acts 12:12, 25; 13:5, 13; 15: 37) and Mark the Cousin of Barnabas (Col 4:10; Phlm 24). They all belonged to the "Seventy Disciples" who were sent out by Jesus to saturate Judea with the gospel before his crucifixion (Luke 10:1ff.). However, when Jesus explained that the bread/flesh he offered was a spiritual bread/flesh and the wine/blood he offered was a spiritual wine/blood, many disciples left him (John 6:44-6:66), including Mark the Evangelist. He was later restored to faith by Peter; then became Peter’s interpreter, wrote the Gospel of Mark, founded the church of Africa, and became the bishop of Alexandria.

According to Eusebius (Eccl. Hist. 2.9.1-4), Herod Agrippa I in his first year of reign over the whole Judea (AD 41) killed James son of Zebedee, and arrested Peter, planning to kill him after the Passover. Peter was saved miraculously by angels, and escaped out of the realm of Herod (Acts 12:1-19). Peter went to Antioch, then through Asia Minor (visiting the churches in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, as mentioned in 1 Pet 1:1), and arrived in Rome in the in the second year of Claudius (AD 42; Eusebius, Eccl, Hist. 2.14.6). Somewhere on the way, Peter picked up Mark the Evangelist, restored his faith, and took him as the travel companion and interpreter. Peter's preaching in Rome was so successful that he was honored by the inhabitants with a statue in the city; and by popular request, Mark the Evangelist wrote down the sermons of Peter, thus composed the Gospel according to Mark (Eccl. Hist. 15-16), before he left for Alexandria in the third year of Claudius (AD 43) [4].

In AD 43, about 10 years after the ascension of Christ, Saint Mark traveled to Alexandria and founded the Church of Alexandria, which today is claimed by the Coptic Orthodox Church, the Greek Orthodox Church of Alexandria and the Coptic Catholic Church. Aspects of the Coptic liturgy can be traced back to Saint Mark himself. He became the first bishop of Alexandria and he is honored as the founder of Christianity in Africa.[5]

According to Eusebius (Eccl. Hist. 2.24.1), Mark was succeeded by Annianus as the bishop of Alexandria in the eighth year of Nero (AD 62/63), probably, but not definitely due to his coming death. Later Coptic tradition says that he was martyred in AD 68.[6][7][8][9][10] It is believed that on the night when Jesus was arrested in the garden of Gethsemane Mark had followed him there and the police saw him, he ran away and dropped his loin cloth. His feast day is celebrated on April 25, and his symbol is the lion.[11]

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