Tag Archives: Cold-Case Christianity

Why Should We Think That Mark, Luke, and Acts Were Written Before AD 62? Part 6

Post Author: Bill Pratt

In part 6, we conclude J. Warner Wallace’s case for the early dating of Mark, Luke, and Acts, as written in his book Cold-Case Christianity. In the previous 5 posts, we have seen 11 pieces of evidence with which Wallace builds his case.  Now it is time to see what we can conclude from the evidence. Here is Wallace:

First we’ve got to account for the suspicious absence of several key historical events in the New Testament record: the destruction of the temple, the siege of Jerusalem, and the deaths of Peter, Paul, and James. These omissions can be reasonably explained if the book of Acts (the biblical text that ought to describe these events) was written prior to AD 61– 62. These events are missing from the accounts because they hadn’t happened yet.

The absence of these key events leads us to think that Acts was written before AD 62, and certainly before AD 70. Given the dating of Acts, what does that mean for Luke?

We know from the introductory lines of the book of Acts that Luke’s gospel was written prior to Acts, but we must use the remaining circumstantial evidence to try to determine how much prior. The fact that Paul echoed the description of Jesus that was offered by the gospel writers is certainly consistent with the fact that he was aware of the claims of the Gospels, and his quotations from Luke’s gospel in 1 Timothy and 1 Corinthians reasonably confirm the early existence of Luke’s account, placing it well before AD 53– 57. Paul was able to quote Luke’s gospel and refer to it as scripture because it was already written, circulating at this time, and broadly accepted. Paul’s readers recognized this to be true as they read Paul’s letters.

So the Gospel of Luke is mostly likely before AD 53-57 because Paul’s letters were quoting from Luke, and we have good evidence for the early dating of Paul’s letters. If Luke was early, then what about Mark?

Luke told us that he was gathering data from “those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word” (Luke 1: 2). As a result he either referred to or quoted directly from over five hundred verses that are found in either the gospel of Mark or the gospel of Matthew. It is reasonable to infer that these accounts were in existence prior to Luke’s investigation. If this is the case, Mark’s gospel would date much earlier than Luke’s, and can be sensibly placed in either the late 40s or very early 50s. This then explains some of the characteristics we see in Mark’s gospel. There appears to be a sense of urgency in the gospel, similar to the crime broadcasts that are made by responding officers, and Mark appears to be protecting key players in the account as if they were still alive at the time of his writing.

Because of the evidence, Wallace offers dates of AD 45-50 for Mark, AD 50-53 for Luke, and AD 57-60 for Acts. Thus Wallace writes:

The reasonable inference from the circumstantial evidence is that the Gospels were written very early in history, at a time when the original eyewitnesses and gospel writers were still alive and could testify to what they had seen. This is why Mark was careful not to identify key players and Paul could reasonably point to five hundred living eyewitnesses who could still testify to their observations of Jesus’s resurrection. While skeptics would like to claim that the Gospels were written well after the alleged life of the apostles and much closer to the councils that affirmed them, the evidence indicates something quite different.

Why Should We Think That Mark, Luke, and Acts Were Written Before AD 62? Part 5

Post Author: Bill Pratt 

In part 5, we continue with J. Warner Wallace’s case for the early dating of Mark, Luke, and Acts, as written in his book Cold-Case Christianity.

The eleventh piece of evidence is that Mark seems to be protecting key players. Wallace explains:

In my years as an investigator, there have been many times when a witness carefully chose his or her words to avoid dragging someone else into the case. This was particularly true when working gang cases. There were a number of times when a witness had the courage to come forward with information, but was less than forthcoming about the identity of others who might have seen something similar. Driven by the fear that these additional witnesses might be in a position of jeopardy, the witness would mention them in his or her account but refuse to specifically identify them. Most of the time the witnesses were simply trying to protect someone who they thought was defenseless and vulnerable.

I experienced just the opposite in some of my cold-case investigations. When re-interviewing witnesses who spoke to investigators years earlier, I found that they were now willing to provide me with the identities of people whom they previously refused to identify. Sometimes this was because they developed some animosity toward these people over the years; this was especially true when boyfriends and girlfriends broke up and were eventually willing to talk about each other. Sometimes it was a matter of diminishing fear; when the suspect in a case died, it wasn’t unusual to have people come forward and identify themselves simply because they were no longer afraid to do so.

Many careful readers of Mark’s gospel have observed that there are a number of unidentified people described in his account. These anonymous characters are often in key positions in the narrative, yet Mark chose to leave them unnamed. For example, Mark’s description of the activity in the garden of Gethsemane includes the report that “one of those who stood by [the arrest of Jesus] drew his sword, and struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his ear” (Mark 14: 47). Mark chose to leave both the attacker and the man attacked unnamed in his description, even though John identified both (Peter as the attacker and Malchus as the person being attacked) in his gospel account. Similarly, Mark failed to identify the woman who anointed Jesus at the home of Simon the leper (Mark 14: 3– 9), even though John told us that it was Mary (the sister of Martha), who poured the perfume on Jesus’s head.

While skeptics have offered a number of explanations for these variations (arguing, for example, that they may simply be late embellishments in an effort to craft the growing mythology of the Gospels), something much simpler might be at work. If Mark, like some of the witnesses in my gang cases, was interested in protecting the identity of Peter (as Malchus’s attacker) and Mary (whose anointing may have been interpreted as a proclamation of Jesus’s kingly position as the Messiah), it makes sense that he might leave them unnamed so that the Jewish leadership would not be able to easily target them. In fact, Mark never even described Jesus’s raising of Mary’s brother, Lazarus.

This also makes sense if Mark was trying to protect Lazarus’s identity in the earliest years of the Christian movement, given that the resurrection of Lazarus was of critical concern to the Jewish leaders and prompted them to search for Jesus in their plot to kill him. If Mark wrote his gospel early, while Mary, Lazarus, Peter, and Malchus were still alive, it is reasonable that Mark might have wanted to leave them unnamed or simply omit the accounts that included them in the first place. Scholars generally acknowledge John’s gospel as the final addition to the New Testament collection of gospel accounts. It was most likely written at a time when Peter, Malchus, and Mary were already dead. John, like some of the witnesses in my cold cases, had the liberty to identify these important people; they were no longer in harm’s way.

In part 6, we will conclude this series and summarize why all the evidence leads to an early dating of Mark, Luke, and Acts.

Why Should We Think That Mark, Luke, and Acts Were Written Before AD 62? Part 4

Post Author: Bill Pratt 

In part 4, we continue with J. Warner Wallace’s case for the early dating of Mark, Luke, and Acts, as written in his book Cold-Case Christianity.

The ninth piece of evidence is that Luke quoted Mark (and Matthew) repeatedly. Wallace explains:

Luke, when writing his own gospel, readily admitted that he was not an eyewitness to the life and ministry of Jesus. Instead, Luke described himself as a historian, collecting the statements from the eyewitnesses who were present at the time:

“Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.” (Luke 1: 1– 4)

As a result, Luke often repeated or quoted entire passages that were offered previously by either Mark (350 verses from Mark appear in Luke’s gospel) or Matthew (250 verses from Matthew appear in Luke’s account).  These passages were inserted into Luke’s gospel as though they were simply copied over from the other accounts. It’s reasonable, therefore, to conclude that Mark’s account was already recognized, accepted, and available to Luke prior to his authorship of the gospel.

The tenth piece of evidence is that Mark’s Gospel appears to be an early “crime broadcast.”

Mark’s gospel bears a striking resemblance to a “crime broadcast.” When first-responding officers arrive at the scene of a crime, they quickly gather the details related to the crime and the description of the suspect, then “clear the air” with the radio dispatchers so they can broadcast these details to other officers who may be in the area.

This first crime broadcast is brief and focused on the essential elements. There will be time later to add additional details, sort out the order of events, and write lengthy reports. This first broadcast is driven by the immediacy of the moment; we’ve got to get the essentials out to our partners because the suspects in this case may still be trying to flee the area. . . .

Although Mark’s gospel contains the important details of Jesus’s life and ministry, it is brief, less ordered than the other gospels, and filled with “action” verbs and adjectives. There is a sense of urgency about it. This is what we might expect, if it was, in fact, an early account of Jesus’s ministry, written with a sense of urgency. It is clear that the eyewitnesses felt this urgency and believed that Jesus would return very soon.

Paul wrote that “salvation is nearer to us than when we believed” (Rom. 13: 11), and James said, “The coming of the Lord is near” (James 5: 8). Peter, Mark’s mentor and companion, agreed that “the end of all things is near” (1 Pet. 4: 7). Surely Mark wrote with this same sense of urgency as he penned Peter’s experiences in his own gospel.

Mark’s account takes on the role of “crime broadcast,” delivering the essential details without regard for composition or stylistic prose. Papias confirmed this in his statement about Mark’s efforts:

“Mark, having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately, though not indeed in order, whatsoever he remembered of the things said or done by Christ. For he neither heard the Lord nor followed him, but afterward, as I said, he followed Peter, who adapted his teaching to the needs of his hearers, but with no intention of giving a connected account of the Lord’s discourses, so that Mark committed no error while he thus wrote some things as he remembered them. For he was careful of one thing, not to omit any of the things which he had heard, and not to state any of them falsely.”

In part 5, we will present Wallace’s 11th and final piece of evidence for the early dating of Mark, Luke, and Acts.

Why Should We Think That Mark, Luke, and Acts Were Written Before AD 62? Part 3

Post Author: Bill Pratt 

In part 3, we continue with J. Warner Wallace’s case for the early dating of Mark, Luke, and Acts, as elucidated in his book Cold-Case Christianity.

The seventh piece of evidence is that Paul reinforced the claims of the Gospel writers. Wallace explains:

While some modern critics challenge the authorship of Paul’s pastoral letters, even the most skeptical scholars agree that Paul is the author of the letters written to the Romans, the Corinthians, and the Galatians. These letters are dated between AD 48 and AD 60. The letter to the Romans (typically dated at AD 50) reveals something important. Paul began the letter by proclaiming that Jesus is the resurrected “Son of God.” Throughout the letter, Paul accepted the view of Jesus that the gospel eyewitnesses described in their own accounts.

Just seventeen years after the resurrection, Jesus was described as divine. He is God incarnate, just as the gospel eyewitnesses described in their own accounts. In fact, Paul’s outline of Jesus’s life matches that of the Gospels. In [1 Corinthians 15:3-8] (written from AD 53 to 57), Paul summarized the gospel message and reinforced the fact that the apostles described the eyewitness accounts to him. . . .

In his letter to the Galatians (also written in the mid-50s), Paul described his interaction with these apostles (Peter and James) and said that their meeting occurred at least fourteen years prior to the writing of his letter. [See Gal 1:15-19 and Gal 2:1]

This means that Paul saw the risen Christ and learned about the gospel accounts from the eyewitnesses (Peter and James) within five years of the crucifixion (most scholars place Paul’s conversion from AD 33 to 36, and he visited Peter and James within three years of his conversion, according to Gal. 1: 19). This is why Paul was able to tell the Corinthians that there were still “more than five hundred brethren” who could confirm the resurrection accounts (1 Cor. 15: 6). That’s a gutsy claim to make in AD 53– 57, when his readers could easily have accepted his challenge and called him out as a liar if the claim was untrue.

The eighth piece of evidence is that Paul quoted Luke’s Gospel in his letter to the Corinthians.

Paul also seems to have been familiar with the gospel of Luke when he wrote to the Corinthian church (nearly ten years earlier than his letter to Timothy). Notice the similarity between Paul’s description of the Lord’s Supper and Luke’s gospel:

“For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, ‘This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood.'” (1 Cor. 11: 23– 25)

“And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, ‘This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.'” (Luke 22: 19– 20)

Paul appears to be quoting Luke’s gospel— the only gospel that has Jesus saying that the disciples are to ‘do this in remembrance of Me.’ If Paul is trying to use a description of the meal that was already well known at the time, this account must have been circulating for a period of time prior to Paul’s letter.

Stay tuned for part 4 of this important series, where J. Warner Wallace continues to build his case for the early dating of Mark, Luke, and Acts.

Why Should We Think That Mark, Luke, and Acts Were Written Before AD 62? Part 2

Post Author: Bill Pratt 

In part 1 we looked at three reasons that Mark, Luke, and Acts were probably written before AD 62. However, J. Warner Wallace, in his book Cold-Case Christianity, provides several more pieces of evidence.

The fourth piece of evidence is that Luke said nothing about the death of James.

Luke featured another important figure from Christian history in the book of Acts. James (the brother of Jesus) became the leader of the Jerusalem church and was described in a position of prominence in Acts 15. James was martyred in the city of Jerusalem in AD 62, but like the deaths of Paul and Peter, the execution of James is absent from the biblical account, even though Luke described the deaths of Stephen (Acts 7: 54– 60) and James the brother of John (Acts 12: 1– 2).

The fifth piece of evidence is that the Gospel of Luke predates the Book of Acts. It is clear from the introductions of these two books that Acts is the sequel to the Gospel of Luke.

The sixth point is that Paul quotes from the Gospel of Luke in his letter to Timothy.

Paul appeared to be aware of Luke’s gospel and wrote as though it was common knowledge in about AD 63– 64, when Paul penned his first letter to Timothy. Note the following passage:

“The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, ‘You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing,’ and ‘The laborer is worthy of his wages.’ (1 Tim. 5: 17– 18)

Paul quoted two passages as “scripture” here— one in the Old Testament and one in the New Testament. “You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing” refers to Deuteronomy 25: 4, and “The laborer is worthy of his wages” refers to Luke 10: 7. It’s clear that Luke’s gospel was already common knowledge and accepted as scripture by the time this letter was written. To be fair, a number of critics (like Bart Ehrman) have argued that Paul was not actually the author of 1 Timothy and maintain that this letter was written much later in history. The majority of scholars, however, recognize the fact that the earliest leaders of the church were familiar with 1 Timothy at a very early date.

We will pick up the seventh piece of evidence in the next part of this series.

Why Should We Think That Mark, Luke, and Acts Were Written Before AD 62? Part 1

Post Author: Bill Pratt 

Some New Testament critics claim that all of the Gospels (plus Acts) were written after AD 70, some 40 years after Jesus’s death. While this is possible, it seems very unlikely. There are good reasons to believe that at least Mark, Luke, and Acts were written before AD 62. J. Warner Wallace, in his book Cold-Case Christianity, provides several pieces of evidence that lead to this conclusion.

Wallace starts with the failure of the NT writers to mention

perhaps the most significant Jewish historical event of the first century, the destruction of the Jerusalem temple in AD 70. Rome dispatched an army to Jerusalem in response to the Jewish rebellion of AD 66. The Roman army (under the leadership of Titus) ultimately destroyed the temple in AD 70, just as Jesus had predicted in the Gospels (in Matt. 24: 1– 3). You might think this important detail would be included in the New Testament record, especially since this fact would corroborate Jesus’s prediction. But no gospel account records the destruction of the temple. In fact, no New Testament document mentions it at all, even though there are many occasions when a description of the temple’s destruction might have assisted in establishing a theological or historical point.

Second, Wallace points out that even before the destruction of the Jerusalem temple,

the city of Jerusalem was under assault. Titus surrounded the city with four large groups of soldiers and eventually broke through the city’s “Third Wall” with a battering ram. After lengthy battles and skirmishes, the Roman soldiers eventually set fire to the city’s walls, and the temple was destroyed as a result. No aspect of this three-year siege is described in any New Testament document, in spite of the fact that the gospel writers could certainly have pointed to the anguish that resulted from the siege as a powerful point of reference for the many passages of Scripture that extensively address the issue of suffering.

Third, Luke failed to mention the deaths of Peter or Paul in the book of Acts.

Years before the siege of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple, another pair of events occurred that were significant to the Christian community. The apostle Paul was martyred in the city of Rome in AD 64, and Peter was martyred shortly afterward in AD 65. While Luke wrote extensively about Paul and Peter in the book of Acts and featured them prominently, he said nothing about their deaths. In fact, Paul was still alive (under house arrest in Rome) at the end of the book of Acts.

We will continue with Wallace’s analysis in the next post.

Did Jesus’s Disciples Conspire to Lie about Him? Part 2

Post Author: Bill Pratt 

In part 1, we started to look at J. Warner Wallace’s analysis of whether the disciples of Jesus could have successfully conspired to lie about his death and resurrection. We already saw that there were too many conspirators (disciples) for them to be successful, and the disciples were separated by great distances, unable to communicate with each other to keep their story straight.

In part 2, we will finish Wallace’s analysis by looking at whether there was a short time span, significant relational connections, and a lack of pressure. Here is Wallace, from his book Cold-Case Christianity:

The apostles would have been required to protect their conspiratorial lies for an incredibly long time. The apostle John appears to have lived the longest, surviving nearly sixty years after the resurrection. [Two criminals] couldn’t keep their conspiracy alive for thirty-six hours; the apostles allegedly kept theirs intact for many decades.

To make matters worse, many of them were complete strangers to one another prior to their time together as disciples of Jesus. Some were indeed brothers, but many were added over the course of Jesus’s early ministry and came from diverse backgrounds, communities, and families. While there were certainly pairs of family members in the group of apostolic eyewitnesses, many had no relationship to each other at all.

Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Simon the Canaanite, and Matthias had no family relationship to any of the other apostles. Whatever the relational connection between these men, the short years they spent together would quickly pale in comparison to the decades they would spend apart from one another prior to the time of their final interrogations. At some point, the bonds of friendship and community would be tested if their individual lives were placed in jeopardy.

Successful conspiracies are unpressured conspiracies. The apostles, on the other hand, were aggressively persecuted as they were scattered from Italy to India. According to the records and accounts of the local communities, each of them suffered unimaginable physical duress and died a martyr’s death. Ancient writers recorded that Peter was crucified upside down in Rome, James was killed with the sword in Jerusalem, and Thomas was murdered by a mob in Mylapore. Each story of martyrdom is more gruesome than the prior as we examine the list of apostolic deaths. This pressure was far greater than the fear of state prison faced by [modern conspirators], yet none of the Twelve recanted their claims related to the resurrection. Not one.

What is Wallace’s conclusion?

I can’t imagine a less favorable set of circumstances for a successful conspiracy than those that the twelve apostles faced. Multiply the problem by ten to account for the 120 disciples in the upper room (Acts 1: 15), or by forty to account for the five hundred eyewitnesses described by Paul (1 Cor. 15: 6), and the odds seem even more prohibitive.

None of these eyewitnesses ever recanted, none was ever trotted out by the enemies of Christianity in an effort to expose the Christian “lie.” Don’t get me wrong, successful conspiracies occur every day. But they typically involve a small number of incredibly close-knit participants who are in constant contact with one another for a very short period of time without any outside pressure. That wasn’t the case for the disciples. These men and women either were involved in the greatest conspiracy of all time or were simply eyewitnesses who were telling the truth. The more I learned about conspiracies, the more the latter seemed to be the most reasonable conclusion.

The idea that the disciples conspired to lie about Jesus is simply implausible. Only a miracle could have allowed the disciples to lie about Jesus and never be detected by their contemporaries. Unfortunately for most skeptics of Christianity, miracles aren’t an option.

Did Jesus’s Disciples Conspire to Lie about Him? Part 1

Post Author: Bill Pratt

In a previous post we laid out the requirements for successfully pulling off a conspiracy:

  1. small number of conspirators
  2. thorough and immediate communication
  3. short time span
  4. significant relational connections
  5. little or no pressure.

Former cold case detective J. Warner Wallace, after sharing these requirements, investigates whether the disciples of Jesus could have conspired to lie about his death and resurrection and never be found out. Here is Wallace, from his book Cold-Case Christianity:

The number of conspirators required to successfully accomplish the Christian conspiracy would have been staggering. The book of Acts tells us that there were as many as 120 eyewitnesses in the upper room following Jesus’s ascension (Acts 1: 15). Let’s assume for a minute that this number is a gross exaggeration; let’s work with a much smaller number to illustrate our point. Let’s limit our discussion to the twelve apostles (adding Matthias as Judas’s replacement). This number is already prohibitively large from a conspiratorial perspective, because none of the other characteristics of successful conspiracies existed for the twelve apostles.

The apostles had little or no effective way to communicate with one another in a quick or thorough manner. Following their dispersion from Jerusalem, the twelve disciples were scattered across the Roman Empire and, according to the most ancient accounts, were ultimately interrogated and martyred far from one another. Methods of communication in the first century were painfully slow . . . .

From Peter in Rome, to James in Jerusalem, to Thomas in Mylapore, the apostles appear to have been ultimately interrogated in locations that prevented them from communicating with one another in a timely manner. They had no idea if any of their co-conspirators had already “given up the lie” and saved themselves by simply confessing that Jesus was never resurrected. While skeptics sometimes claim that these recorded locations of martyrdom are unreliable because they are part of a biased Christian account, there isn’t a single non-Christian record that contradicts the claims of martyrdom offered by the local communities and historians.

We will continue with Wallace’s analysis in part 2.

How Can a Successful Conspiracy Be Pulled Off?

Post Author: Bill Pratt 

Former cold case detective J. Warner Wallace investigated many criminal conspiracies during his career.  Because of this experience, he was able to summarize rules for successful conspiracies in his book Cold-Case Christianity. Here they are:


The smaller the number of conspirators, the more likely the conspiracy will be a success. This is easy to understand; lies are difficult to maintain, and the fewer the number of people who have to continue the lie, the better.


This is key. When conspirators are unable to determine if their partners in crime have already given up the truth, they are far more likely to say something in an effort to save themselves from punishment. Without adequate and immediate communication, co-conspirators simply cannot separate lies from the truth; they are easily deceived by investigators who can pit one conspirator against another.


Lies are hard enough to tell once; they are even more difficult to repeat consistently over a long period of time. For this reason, the shorter the conspiracy, the better. The ideal conspiracy would involve only two conspirators, and one of the conspirators would kill the other right after the crime. That’s a conspiracy that would be awfully hard to break!


When all the co-conspirators are connected relationally in deep and meaningful ways, it’s much harder to convince one of them to “give up” the other. When all the conspirators are family members, for example, this task is nearly impossible. The greater the relational bond between all the conspirators, the greater the possibility of success.


Few suspects confess to the truth until they recognize the jeopardy of failing to do so. Unless pressured to confess, conspirators will continue lying. Pressure does not have to be physical in nature. When suspects fear incarceration or condemnation from their peers, they often respond in an effort to save face or save their own skin. This is multiplied as the number of co-conspirators increases. The greater the pressure on co-conspirators, the more likely the conspiracy is to fail.

What does this have to do with Christianity? Well, many skeptics claim that the disciples of Jesus simply lied about Jesus rising from the dead. They formed a conspiracy that has fooled the world for two thousand years.

Is this conspiracy theory really a plausible explanation? In our next post, we will look at whether the disciples of Jesus met the criteria for a successful conspiracy.

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.