From Robert Lisle Lindsey :

A hebrew translation of the Gospel of Mark, Jerusalem, 1963


Trying to understand Mark's Method p 39-49


I had observed many instances of Markan annotation an desertion of a basic Hebrew-Greek style. The greek surprise for me was that Mark had used as at least one of his texts our Gospel of Luke, a canonical text of the New Testament.

As I think of this development today I wonder why another thought did not immediately occur to me: if Mark has used the Gospel of Luke could he not also have use the book of the Acts of the Apostles? Luke the physician is usually supposed to have written both of these treatises and even if Acts appeared somewhat later than the Gospel, is it not probable that Mark knew both works? This question did not occur to me, however with the result that when I later did begin to encounter numerous Markan expressions which could only be accounted for on the theory that either the author of Acts had used Mark or Mark had used Acts, this discovery too came as a surprise.

Nor did I yet fully understand the love of word-play which was becoming more and more evident in the Markan re-writing of texts. Mark sees "the Son of Man" and decides to change this in "the sons of men". He sees Luke use an occasional "unclean spirit" as a synonym for "demon" and he decides to use the synonym in preference to the much more frequent demon in Matthew and Luke. He sees Luke use elegen to introduce a saying now and then, regularly refuses to copy it in an immediate parallel with Luke (yet of the two time he does parallel Luke in the use he deftly copies it when removing the parable of the mustard seed from the Lukan Q context to insert his re-written version of the parable - cf parallels to Lk 13:18-19) but proceeds forthwith to use it nearly fifty times, often as a vehicle to introduce some expression found in a distant Lukan passage. Luke uses the Greek word meaning "teach" eleven times in parallel passages to Mark, Mark accepting only two of these in exact parallel yet using it himself in fifteen unique instances where Luke has parallel material but not "teach".

This pattern of rejecting-to-accept-and-use-otherwise-as-one-pleases is usually accompanied in Mark by a concomitant practice of replacing the rejected immediate parallel word by a synonym. This synonym is in turn, like the "unclean spirit" mentionned above, traceable to another written text. Thus our writer looks at his immediate written source, accepts some of the words without question but tries to remember other texts which contain similar expressions or synonyms, turns (at least very often) to these passages, read them, and then methodically uses them as supplementary material for his re-writing.

Mark is simply copying a well known story, perhaps for no other reason than that he feels he has as much to do so as anyone else. He enjoys words and their synonyms. He likes to recognize literary allusions in his sources. He sees nothing wrong with borrowing and expressions from unrelated and distant texts if they can give a more interesting or more dramatic or more elaborate design to the well known story...


There is no one who has left house our brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for my sake and for the sake of the Gospel who will not receive a hundredfold more now in this time - houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and fields, with persecution - and in the age to come life everlasting. Mk 10:29-30

This sentence does not sound like Jesus, thought he. Jesus does not make a habit of promising physical rewards for dedication to his movement. When a disciple leaves his family he can indeed expect to have new "brothers and sisters and mothers" in the believing community, but can he expect literal houses and fields to replace those he lost? Then the little expression "with persecutions" certainly looked like a secondary accretion.

How different the Lukan version!:

There is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the Kingdom of God who shall not receive much more in this time and in the age to come everlasting life. Lk 18:29

No houses are promised. No fiels will replace lost fields. More important still there is not even a promise of the replacement of the family. This is surely the original. To leave-house. The idiomatic meaning is of course "to leave-home" and this means to leave one's family. (Luke) has rendered the hebrew "house" literally, yet he has explained the meaning by adding: wife or brothers or parents or children. Thus the original can be reconstructed: there is no one who has left home for the sake of the Kingdom who shall not receive much more in this time and in the age to come everlasting life.

Now it is clear what Mark has done: he had interpreted the house literally! He supposes that a literal abandonment brings a literal reward; therefore the disciple will receive houses and lands in place of the houses and lands he had left. That Mark has read Luke becomes probable when we note that the "wife" of Luke is gone in Mark: it was not possible even for our redacting Mark to allow more than one wife to a believer! For good measure "for my sake" and "for the Gospel" (a Markan borrow from Paul) are the replacements for the Kingdom and "with persecutions" (never found in Luke but found in Acts) is Mark's way of toning down his own enthusiasm for physical rewards.


 For a fuller anlysis of Lindsey's theory: