Well, maybe if we just move on beyond Paul things will work better! Mark is by most all accounts the earliest of the Gospels. If (and it's a big if), Acts can be dated to 62 because it takes the chronology of Paul up that far and then stops, without any mention of whether or not he got out of house arrest in Rome, then Luke has to be before Acts (61 or 62) and Mark before Luke. But because church tradition says Mark was relying heavily on Peter's oral memoirs (and the two of them were together in Rome), while Luke was a free man also in Rome (while Paul was in prison), Luke could have learned about and relied on Mark's Gospel almost immediately after it was written so that Mark, too, could come from the very early 60s. Mark could therefore easily have come from just about the time Paul was completing most of his letters. Joel Marcus in the Anchor Bible commentary on Mark gives a good catalgoue of the various theological parallels between Mark and Paul. Among the most important are: calling Jesus’ message “good news” (Gk. euangelion) very centrally (Mark 1:1, Gal. 1:6-9, Rom. 1:16-17), stressing Jesus’ crucifixion “as the apocalyptic turning point of the ages,” highlighting “Jesus’ victory over the demonic powers" (via exorcisms in Mark; cf. Rom. 8:38-39, 1 Cor. 15:24), seeing “his advent as the dawn of the age of divine blessing prophesied in the Scriptures” (Mark 1:1-15, Rom. 3:21-22), depicting faith in Jesus as a God-given, new form of spiritual sight given to the elect with outsiders remaining spiritually blind (Mark 4:10-12; Rom. 11:7-10, 1 Cor. 2:6-16), and portraying Peter in a largely negative light (Mark 8:31-33; Gal. 2:1-14). Both Mark and Paul also emphasize that Jesus came not for the godly but for the ungodly (Mark 2:17; Rom. 4:15, 5:18-19), “on whose behalf he died an atoning death” (Mark 10:45; Rom. 3:25, 5:8), that Christ came first to the Jews but then also to the Gentiles (Mark 7:27-29; Rom. 1:16), and that incorporation of both Jews and Gentiles on equal terms in the church of Jesus Christ was made possible by the setting aside of the dietary laws, through the “cleansing” of “all foods” (Mark 7:19, Rom. 14:20). Of course, there are differing emphases, too, as between any two NT authors. But in today's scholarly world, the theological diversity of the authors tends to be emphasized much more than their unity, so rehearsing a catalogue like this is useful. Doubtless the most important of the parallels is the focus by both Mark and Paul on the cross as the heart of the gospel. It seems that much of the church today has lost sight of this crucicentrism. We hear the prosperity gospel preached in every time zone across the planet. And even when we don't explicitly hear that we are entitled to health and wealth, we have a crisis of faith all too often when we suffer. Why did God allow me to go through this? I suspect both Paul and Mark might have replied--whatever made you think that a Christian wouldn't have to suffer? If Christ endured the worst humanity could thrown at him, musn't his followers have to be prepared to follow him to the cross as well (Mark 8:31-38)?
- οἱ ἀπὸ τῆς Ἰταλίας --interesting. Expats. Priscilla and Aquila? Is this how we know he was writing back to Romans?
- It's the combination of 12:4 and 10:34. The confiscation of property sounds like the expulsion of Jews from Rome under Claudius (49) while no one has yet been martyred puts it before 64. The Jewish emphasis suggests Jewish-Christian house-churches in Rome. Those from Italy could be referring to people in Rome with the author who is writing to people elsewhere, but it reads a little more naturally as writing away from Rome back home.
- Nice. Never considered the historical background for that pointed barb. Thank you for continuing to school me. BTW, I have a second son, Nathan, who has heard the call to ministry. I've been encouraging him to apply at DenSem.