“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.”
These are the first words in the bible attributed to Jesus and they are found in Mark 1:15.
The Gospel According to Mark does not name its author. A tradition evident in the 2nd century ascribes it to Mark the Evangelist, the companion of Peter, on whose memories it is supposedly based. However, according to the majority view of biblical scholars, the author is an otherwise unknown figure, the author’s use of varied sources telling against the traditional account. The gospel was written in Greek, probably after 70 CE based on the references to the destruction of the temple., an event that the writers of Mark obviously knew had happened.
Thus, the first recorded words of Jesus were written by an “unknown figure” at least 40 years after Jesus allegedly spoke them. How did this unknown figure come to learn what Jesus said at least 40 years earlier? Someone told someone who told someone who told someone ad infinitum for 40 years. That process is called Hearsay, not Oral Tradition. .
The author of Mark wasn’t even present when those alleged words were allegedly spoken. Not even Christians claim that “Mark” was with Jesus. They acknowledge that Mark the Evangelist was the companion of Peter on whose memories, it is supposedly based. Really, how likely is it that Jesus actually spoke those precise words in the first sentence attributed to him? We think the probability of Jesus actually saying those words is zero.
All Of Mark Is Hearsay
Not only the first sentence attributed to Jesus but ALL the sentences attributed to Jesus in Mark, have the same pedigree. They are all hearsay. Every sentence recorded in Mark is the final result of multiple repetitions of a theme. Think of the parlor game “Telephone” where an initial message is whispered from one participant to another until it comes back to the originator of the message. Rarely is it identical to the original message. And that is usually less than 10 repetitions with no opportunity for memories to fade. This simple game illustrates how unlikely it is that we have any of the actual sentences spoken by Jesus.
Holy Spirit Guidance Debunked
Christians will argue that irrespective of who really wrote the gospels, or when they were written, the gospels content was dictated and protected by the Holy Ghost/Spirit. The Holy Spirit ensures the integrity of all that appears in the Bible. To that we say “nonsense”. The Bible is rife with historical inaccuracies and contradictions and inconsistencies. Here is just one example from 1000s.
And he sighed deeply in his spirit, and saith, Why doth this generation seek after a sign? verily I say unto you, There shall no sign be given unto this generation.”
Mark 8:12; Matthew 12:38–39, Luke 11:29. In John, Jesus provides six signs specifically to demonstrate his divine role. No need to repeat them. Christians love the Book of John and can surely recite the six signs.
And, how about this one:
- Matthew and Luke give two contradictory genealogies for Joseph (Matthew 1:2-17 and Luke 3:23-38). They cannot even agree on who the father of Joseph was.
For a look at major contradictions in Matthew alone click HERE
For a list of 140 contradictions (major and minor; shouldn’t be any) click HERE
For a list of 479 Contradictions, click HERE
For a comparison of John vs other Gospels click HERE.
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No one has ever claimed that Mark was an eyewitness to Jesus. But neither is there any reason at all for saying that an unknown writer forty years after Jesus first wrote the the words of Jesus down.
Perhaps the best reason for thinking otherwise is that the words of Jesus are clearly very literal translations into the Greek of an earlier Hebrew source. They bear even in the translations the Hebraisms that certainly would have been characteristic of Jesus’ language.
If the synoptic gospels were written somewhere around 70 A.D. – I am giving you the benefit of the doubt here since I think they were written earlier – the words of Jesus would have to have been written down earlier.
My guess, if we are guessing, is that the words of Jesus were recalled and repeated by the Apostles from the Day of Pentecost on, that they were passed on orally at first but then written down, and became the source for the synoptic gospels. See Acts 2:42 where the “teachings of the Apostles” (ta didache in Greek) is mentioned.
The statement that no sign would be given this generation should be read both in context of the sequence of events recorded in the synoptic gospels and in context of the Hebrew language in which it was spoken.
The Hebrew language first. The language of this quote is a Hebraism. Both the term “this generation” and “no sign” are specific examples. This generation does not mean as we might assume all the people of this period of time but the people to whom Jesus was speaking, the scribes and the Pharisees. They were the evil generation. Signs were, of course, given after this event as in the gospel of John, but not to the Pharisees. These signs were given to people such as Mary Lazarus’s sister who was already a believer in Jesus.
To the scribes and Pharisees, after this event, as Jesus declared, no further miracle was provided.
The Bible foretold that the Messiah would descend from Abraham through the family line of David. (Genesis 22:18; Psalm 132:11, 12) Jesus was a descendant of both.—Matthew 1:1-16; Luke 3:23-38.