Mark autograph as Latin or Graeco-Latin or two editions

Steven Avery


[TC-Alternate-list] Mark autograph as Latin or Graeco-Latin
Steven Avery - 2011-07
Hoskier - Paul-Louis Couchoud - Francis Crawford Burkitt - Francesco Carotta

Starting with this post from 2011. Tweaking it here.


The question of whether he NT documents were all written in Greek comes up occasionally. The Greek origin of the NT documents is close to axiomatic in textual criticism circles. And was generally supported by the Reformation-era and later scholars, including the Westminster Confession and John Gill, who emphasized the Greek and Hebrew-Aramaic originals. While these were references to the apographa, especially the Received Text, and not a reference to ethereal autographs, the use of the word originals often implied original apostolic language as well.

In considering whether the accepted is sound and proven, there are some theories that are a bit oddball. In that regard the Aramaic primacy folks (22 Peshitta books originally in Aramaic) have their niche on the mi. What is ironic in their theories is how much it is another perspective on Alexandrian corruptions. Many of their major arguments are the superiority of the Aramaic text over the Alexandrian! (Which is no surprise, since the Peshitta is predominantly Byzantine-equivalent.)

Putting that aside, we have in a general overview:



Disclaimer: There are being referenced en passant, without any special checking.

Historical questions about Matthew, in Hebrew, although by most reckonings that
would not be about canonical Matthew, but a separate writing no longer extant.

Sometimes there are theories of a dual-language origin, as in Hebrews, with Paul and Luke
corroborating in Hebrew to Greek (one theory, per Eusebius.)

Revelation, also special textually, has had some non-Greek theories.

There may be some others.
However the key question has been:



Mark has the largest series of questions. Apparently the unusual grammar fits a translation-Greek document well. Even in English translation I believe this can be felt and those savvy in Latin have commented on the grammatical undercurrent consistency.

There have been some theories of an Aramaic origin. And this was probably the larger movement for a short period because of Francis Crawford Burkitt (1864-1935), author of Was the Gospel of Mark Written in Latin? and Charles Cutler Torrey (1863-1956).

Yet more compelling arguments have been made of a Latin or Graeco-Latin original document. Historically, to begin with, it simply makes a lot more sense, fitting with various evidences and concepts and history of Mark and Peter in Rome. The two theories, Aramaic and Latin, have similarities in their strengths yet clearly are mutually exclusive.

On the Latin source question, Herman Charles Hoskier (1853-1938) wrote on this topic in Codex B and its Allies.

Paul-Louis Couchoud (1879-1959), despite being a bit of a mythicist, is also a major figure in this discussion, withL'évangile de Marc a-t-il été écrit en latin?
in 1926, also on JSTOR and in 1930 Das Markusevangelium Ist in Lateinischer Sprache Verfasst Wordem. There may be another writing in 1927. Klaus Schilling mentioning Couchoud on email lists. Burkitt wrote about Couchoud's ideas in 1928 in the article above Was the Gospel of Mark written in Latin?. One summary from Schilling is here.

In that period there are three other articles referenced in a bibliography, by Pernot, De Zwaan, not in English. The bibliography you can see at:

Gospel Origins - compiled by Alan Bill
"Latin as the Original Language of the Gospel of Mark."

1927 PERNOT, H. Études sur la langue des évangiles. 1927, 11+226pp. [EB 1928: p103]
1928 DE ZWAAN, J. "Scrip serit ne Marcus latine evangelium suum?" Mnemosyne ns55 (1928) pp243-253.
1938 DE ZWAAN, J. "John wrote in Aramaic" Journal of Biblical Literature 57 (1938) pp155-172.

On the flip side:

Mélanges: II. L'évangile de saint Marc n'a pas été écrit en latin / Lagrange Marie-Joseph

Those are some of the major references. There is also Francesco Carotta (b. 1946), who has used those Mark Latin ideas for his kooky Jesus as Caesar theory. His discussion and references on that one issue of Mark should not be automatically genetic-fallacy dismissed. However, they may be comparatively superficial anyway.

Going to an earlier times Caesar Baronius (1538-1607) and Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621) of the rcc used the idea of a Mark in Latin as part of their Vulgate position. Jean Hardouin (1636-1729) took a more extensive Latin original position and Palaeoromaica by John Black (1783-1855) created quite a stir c. 1822. There were many responses contra the gospels in Latin presentation, and a second book by Black. I would have to check, but he may have argued for all the Gospels in Latin.

Substantive discussions on textual forums are rare.
The late William L. Petersen (1950-2006) shared a bit in a thread on the tc-list in 1999.

tc-list Why Not Latin? - William Petersen - Feb 11, 1999


NEIL GODFREY CONTRA MAURICE CASEY - "stopped clock tells time !"

Notice this blog post. It is by Neil Godfrey, a bit of a skeptic-mythicist and very uneven. Godfrey approached this from another angle, first countering the Aramaic Mark theories. Apparently because he wants to disagree with Professor Maurice Casey on things like the historicity of Jesus :) And Casey's early dating of Mark.

Make a Path: Maurice Casey's evidence of an Aramaic source for Mark's Gospel, or Creative Fiction? - Nov 10, 2010

Notice that I shared with Neil there about the Latin Mark ideas, apparently leading to:

Roll over Maurice Casey: Latin, not Aramaic, explains Mark’s bad Greek - Dec 6,1010

A note of caution on Neil Godfrey, if you too strongly refute a position he takes, he may not post your note on his blog. This is not an open forum. Thus, I stopped posting there long ago. Nonetheless, occasionally there are some interesting blog entries, and I may try a round two.



A five page work of quotations.
Extracts from believers that Mark's Gospel was written in Latin.

David Bruce Gain

Proof that the Gospel of Mark was written in Latin.
David Bruce Gain.

Notice that in the bibliography above, a book on the topic was printed in 1978 in South Africa. As for David Bruce Gain's own textual reconstruction and translation techniques, and even the techie specifics of his arguments, that is not really the theme of this post. Even if the main gain from Gain is the early church writers quotes in the first article, that is helpful.



Usually all this about Mark in Latin gets minimal notice from textual writers. Despite the obvious significance to textual theories. However, I am told on a forum that Philip Wesley Comfort discusses Greek source documents being translations from Latin or other languages in :

Early Manuscripts & Modern Translations of the New Testament, Philip Wesley Comfort, 1996 pg. 115.

And I am hoping to get more information on what Comfort shares.

Plus there is real need for both an insightful discussion, and a web presentation where the chips fall as they may.