History of St Mark the Evangelist: Which Mark?

Bill Petro
4 min readApr 26, 2022

Mark the Evangelist is the author of the earliest written gospel, the Gospel of Mark, which appeared about 30 years after the crucifixion of Jesus in the late AD ’60s. His feast day is April 25 for Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches. He is significant historically both as the writer of the earliest Gospel and as the patron saint of Venice.

Which Mark?

The name Mark also appears elsewhere in the New Testament. One is John Mark, mentioned in The Book of Acts chapters 12, 13, and 15. The Pauline epistles of Colossians and Philemon mention Mark as the cousin of the evangelist Barnabus, who was an early traveling companion of St. Paul. The early Christian theologian Hippolytus of Rome of the early 3rd century believed that these are three different Marks.

But your friendly neighborhood historian humbly disagrees, as the only existing copy of this treatise on this topic appeared in Greece less than 200 years ago and is considered by most scholars to be pseudepigraphical. I believe all three Marks were the same man: the writer of the Gospel, John Mark, and the cousin of Barnabus.

Mark’s Life

Mark was not one of the original 12 Apostles but has been regarded as one of the 70 Disciples whom Jesus sent out to spread the good news of the Kingdom, as mentioned in Luke 10. So while not in Jesus’ inner circle, he was in the next circle larger. Some believe he is the unnamed young man who followed Jesus after his arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, mentioned only in the Gospel of Mark:

And a young man followed him, with nothing but a linen cloth about his body. And they seized him, but he left the linen cloth and ran away naked.

Other traditions record that the Last Supper was held in the house of Mark’s mother, as was Jesus’ post-resurrection appearance to the Apostles where he ate fish (Luke 24:42) and later when St. Peter escaped from prison in Acts 12:12.

John Mark accompanied Barnabus and Paul on a missionary journey starting in Cyprus and throughout Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey). Following the Council of Jerusalem, he accompanied Barnabus to Cyprus but without Paul. Around AD 42, Mark met Peter and accompanied him as his translator. During that time, Mark…

Bill Petro

Writer, technologist, historian. Former Silicon Valley tech exec. Author of fascinating articles on history, tech, pop culture, & travel. https://billpetro.com