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Monthly Archives: October 2020

The Reception of John Mark

I was recently asked to review Dean Furlong’s monograph The John also called Mark for the Catholic Biblical Quarterly and the review should be out next July. You can check out the author’s distinct thesis in the abstract of the book posted in the link, but without giving the details away I will just note that it is a thoroughly researched examination of the Patristic and Medieval traditions identifying John Mark with either the second or the fourth evangelist. He has also published The Identity of John the Evangelist: Revision and Reinterpretation in Early Christian Sources.

If you are interesting in how my views differ on the reception of the evangelists Mark and John, you can check out the following sources:


New Testament Christology Unit

I teach at Vose Seminary, which is part of a consortium of affiliated colleges known as the Australian College of Theology, Australia’s largest theological education provider. I recently developed a new unit entitled “New Testament Christology” taught at three different levels. It was an interesting challenge trying to provide a bibliography of 15-25 items for each of these levels, but I have provided a larger bibliography on Christology on this blog. For my own work on Christology, see the following articles:

My “Society of Biblical Literature” Paper on Justin Martyr and the Gospels

When I was last blogging several months ago, I was working on a series about the reception of the Gospels in the writings of the Christian philosopher and martyr Justin in the second century CE. However, I had to put the series on hold indefinitely due to my work responsibilities at the Seminary and the excitement of planning my wedding for December. However, I am presenting at the upcoming conference of the Society of Biblical Literature and, because it is completely online, I can present from the comfort of my own home in Western Australia. The program book has been made available online if you have not seen it. I will post my own session and abstract below:

Inventing Christianity: Apostolic Fathers, Apologists, and Martyrs
10:00 AM to 12:00 PM
Room: Room TBD – Hotel TBD

Theme: Canon as Concept

Taylor Petrey, Kalamazoo College, Presiding

Timothy A. Gabrielson, Sterling College
Tailoring Scripture: Clues about Barnabas’s Canon from Its Citation Formulae (30 min)
Tag(s): Apostolic Fathers (Early Christian Literature – Other), Intertextuality (Interpretive Approaches)

Michael J. Kok, Vose Seminary
Justin Martyr and the Fourfold Gospel Canon (30 min)
Tag(s): History of Christianity (History & Culture), History of Interpretation (Interpretive Approaches), Gospels (Biblical Literature – New Testament)

Ian N Mills, Duke University
Did Theophilus of Antioch Compose a Gospel Harmony? Reconsidering Testimonia from Jerome and the Book of Saint James (30 min)
Tag(s): Early Christian Literature (Early Christian Literature – Other), Gospels (Biblical Literature – New Testament)

Grant W Gasse, University of Notre Dame
Assessing the Latin Polycarp (30 min)
Tag(s): Apostolic Fathers (Early Christian Literature – Other), Latin (Philology / Linguistics (incl. Semiotics))

This paper will challenge the thesis that the “fourfold Gospel” (τετράμορφον εὐαγγέλιον), along with the conventional titles in the surviving manuscripts of the canonical Gospels, developed in the period before Justin Martyr. Although Justin was aware that some of his contemporaries were labelling the biographies of Jesus as εὐαγγέλια (1 Apol. 66.3; Dial. 10.2; 100.1), he preferred the designation “memoirs of the apostles” and does not explicitly name the evangelists. While some scholars read Dial. 103.8 as identifying at least four memoirs, two from the apostles (i.e. Matthew and John) and two from the apostles’ followers (i.e. Mark and Luke), the passage may only imply that all of the Gospels were produced by the apostles and their scribal assistants. Justin may have taken his cue from Papias (cf. Eusebius, Eccl. Hist. 3.39.15-16), for Papias reasoned that an amanuensis named Mark transcribed the preaching of Peter (cf. the memoirs of Peter in Dial. 106.3) and that qualified translators produced the Greek edition of Matthew’s Gospel. Perhaps Justin surmised that Luke recorded the Apostle Paul’s traditions about Jesus when composing his “account” (διήγησις), but this is uncertain since the earliest evidence for the tradition of Lukan authorship of the third canonical Gospel is found in the heresiological treatise of Irenaeus of Lyon (Haer. 3.1.1; 11.7; 12.12), the Muratorian Canon (2-8), and Bodmer Papyrus XIV. There is some limited evidence that Justin was familiar with the contents of John’s Gospel, but the debate over whether he included this book in the “memoirs of the apostles” mainly revolves around Dial. 105.1. I will argue that the memoirs that were read liturgically during Christian worship services (1 Apol. 67.3) were restricted to the Synoptic Gospels, whereas the Fourth Gospel was treated as equivalent to other valuable historical records about the life of Jesus such as the Gospel of Peter (cf. 1 Apol. 35.4). It may be anachronistic to read back the later dividing line between “canonical” and “apocryphal” Gospels to Justin’s discussion of the “memoirs of the apostles” or to the reception of Gospel literature in the first half of the second century CE more generally.

Abstract for Justin Martyr and the Fourfold Gospel Canon

My Article “Re-naming the Toll Collector in Matthew 9:9: A Review of the Options”

I have published a new article entitled “Re-naming the Toll Collector in Matthew 9:9: A Review of the Options” for the Journal of Gospels and Acts Research [JGAR] 4 (2020): 24–34. The volume is on sale at Amazon (it also includes articles from Craig Keener, Marie McInnes, Peter Bolt, Craig Evans, and Christoph Stenschke), but here is my abstract:

In contrast to the Synoptic parallels (cf. Mark 2:14; Luke 5:27), Matthew 9:9 specifies that it was Matthew, instead of Levi the son of Alphaeus, who was sitting at a ‘toll booth’ (τελώνιον) in Capernaum. Matthew 10:3 reinforces this point by attaching the label ‘the toll collector’ (ὁ τελώνης) to Matthew’s name. This article will review the various scholarly explanations for these two redactional changes. It will defend the position that the anonymous Gospel writer transferred Levi’s call narrative over to Matthew because it was believed that they both had worked in the same general occupation. Further, the evangelist deemed it necessary to narrate how Matthew completely abandoned this notorious profession, even though the exact details of how Matthew became a disciple of Jesus had long been forgotten, since his former means of livelihood is strongly condemned in passages that are unique to the first canonical Gospel.

If you are interested further in my work on the authorship traditions about the Gospel of Matthew, you can also check out my article entitled “The Patristic Traditions about the Evangelist Matthew” at The Bible and Interpretation web-journal. This one draws on my article “Did Papias of Hierapolis Use the Gospel according to the Hebrews as a Source?” for the Journal of Early Christian Studies. Finally, I have summarized some of the main theories for why Levi was renamed Matthew in Matthew 9:9 and 10:3 in my blog series here.