Does the fact that the scholarly consensus regarding the authorship of Mark is that John Mark did not actually write the gospel affect it's historical credibility?

What internal data from Mark's gospel is called into question because we don't know the author?

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    I think I can see a progression here. 1. Doubt the authorship of a book of scripture. 2. Doubt the content. 3. Reject the entire book. 4. Go on to the next book. 5 Go to 1. Once one has gone through all sixty six books, where will you be, then ?
    – Nigel J
    Commented Mar 5, 2019 at 19:37
  • That's essentially what I'm getting at, but I'd like to focus on Mark here.
    – WnGatRC456
    Commented Mar 5, 2019 at 19:49

1 Answer 1


First, it is only in relatively modern times (since about mid 19th century??) that the authorship of Mark was doubted. The unanimous consensus of early Christian writers and the early church viewed John Mark as the author of the Gospel of Mark. It was thus universal consensus by people, including those who knew the authors personally, that assured Mark's place in the Canon. Any doubt would have excluded it.

For example, Papias, bishop of Hierapolis was the first know writer (that is still extant, albeit fragmentary dating from about 100 AD) to speak about these matters - he is quoted by Eusebius in Ecclesiastical History iii 39 15; and clearly says that John Mark was the author of the Gospel, being informed by Peter.

Most of the other Apostolic Fathers quote from the Gospel of Mark and treat it with the same canonicity as the other Gospels or any other part of the Bible. There is never any hint that the Gospel of Mark is anything other than canonical in the earliest writings.

Irenaeus wrote in "Against Heresies" book III chapter VI section 8, "It is not possible that the Gospels can be either more or fewer in number than they are. For, since there are four … " by which he included the Gospel of Mark. Thus, this Gospel has been considered as part of the NT canon of Scripture since earliest times.

Secondly, if the author of Gospel of Mark wanted to create a forgery, that person would have attached the name of a much more prominent person such as (perhaps) Peter or James.

I can find little reason to doubt the traditional authorship of the Gospel of Mark. Now, how Mark wrote and produced the text we have and what sources he used are another question entirely; but that does not alter the authorship question. The important thing for us now relies on the unanimous verdict of those who knew the authors personally.

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    So you're saying the claim that we cannot know that John Mark actually was the author of the gospel according to Mark is factually incorrect? Although I do not personally doubt the authorship of Mark, the fact that the gospel is anonymously written is potentially a problem. Also, Mark is described in Acts as being related to Barnabas and an associate of Peter, and some scholars/preachers point to Mark 14:51-52 as Mark referring to himself. Wouldn't that make him a prominent person worthy of a forger to use his name? Finally, what led modern scholars to doubting Mark's authorship to begin with?
    – WnGatRC456
    Commented Mar 6, 2019 at 1:05
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    Modern scholarship often doubts all the Bible as myth. Further, if we need a book NOT to be anonymous, them most of the rest of the Bible is doubtful - Genesis, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel, I & 2 Kings, 1 & 2 Chronicles, most of the Psalms, Most of proverbs, Ecclesiastes, at least some of the minor prophets, etc, etc, What counts is the witness of the early church who knew them not a signature.
    – user25930
    Commented Mar 6, 2019 at 10:03
  • Thank you for the reply. That makes sense. Would you mind adjusting your answer with some citations/links regarding early church acceptance of authorship? Regardless, I will be accepting your answer later as I feel it answers the heart of my question.
    – WnGatRC456
    Commented Mar 6, 2019 at 11:54
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    Updated with further citations and references as requested.
    – user25930
    Commented Mar 6, 2019 at 21:30
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    It is a more recent practice to ALWAYS put you name on something literary. In ancient times, it was definitely quite optional. The interesting thing here is that forgeries (works in the pseudepigrapha) are much more likely to have their (false) author revealed than genuine works.
    – user25930
    Commented Mar 8, 2019 at 1:00

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