Is Mark’s Gospel Peter’s Eyewitness Account? Part 2

Post Author: Bill Pratt

In part 1, we looked at evidence for Mark’s use of Peter’s eyewitness accounts for his Gospel. There are 6 pieces of evidence that have been assembled by J. Warner Wallace in his book Cold-Case ChristianityWe will look at the final two pieces of evidence below.

Fifth, Mark included details that can be best attributed to Peter. Wallace explains:

Mark alone included a number of seemingly unimportant details that point to Peter’s involvement in the shaping of the text. Mark alone told us that “Simon and his companions” were the ones who went looking for Jesus when He was praying in a solitary place (Mark 1: 35– 37). Mark is also the only gospel to tell us that it was Peter who first drew Jesus’s attention to the withered fig tree (compare Matt. 21: 18– 19 with Mark 11: 20– 21). Mark alone seemed to be able to identify the specific disciples (including Peter) who asked Jesus about the timing of the destruction of the temple (compare Matt. 24: 1– 3 with Mark 13: 1– 4).

While Matthew told us (in Matt. 4: 13– 16) that Jesus returned to Galilee and “came and settled in Capernaum,” Mark said that Jesus entered Capernaum and that the people heard that He had “come home” (see Mark 2: 1). Mark said this in spite of the fact that Jesus wasn’t born or raised there. Why would Mark call it “home,” given that Jesus appears to have stayed there for a very short time and traveled throughout the region far more than He ever stayed in Capernaum? Mark alone told us that Capernaum was actually Peter’s hometown (Mark 1: 21, 29– 31) and that Peter’s mother lived there. Peter could most reasonably refer to Capernaum as “home.”

Sixth and finally, Mark used Peter’s outline of the events of Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection.

Many scholars have also noticed that Peter’s preaching style (Acts 1: 21– 22 and Acts 10: 37– 41, for example) consistently seems to omit details of Jesus’s private life. When Peter talked about Jesus, he limited his descriptions to Jesus’s public life, death, resurrection, and ascension. Mark also followed this rough outline, omitting the birth narrative and other details of Jesus’s private life that are found in Luke’s and Matthew’s gospels.

Taken altogether, the six pieces of evidence paint a good circumstantial case that Mark recorded the eyewitness accounts of Peter, the apostle of Jesus. I think we have persuasive reasons to believe that the traditional view on the Gospel of Mark stands up to scrutiny.