Simon Greenleaf on the Gospel of Mark


Harvard Law professor and attorney Simon Greenleaf’s comments from The Testimony of the Evangelists Examined by the Rules of Evidence Administrated in Courts of Justice, 1874, available online at;idno=AGA1251.0001.001


§17. Some have entertained the opinion that Mark compiled his account from that of Matthew, of which they supposed it an abridgment. But this notion has been refuted by [Johann Benjamin] Koppe, [Marcus non Epitomator Matthaei [Mark is not the abbreviator of Matthew] (Göttingen, 1782; 2d ed. 1789)] and others,*


* Mr. [Andrews] Norton has conclusively disposed of this objection, in his Evidences of the Genuineness of the Gospels, vol. i. Additional Notes, sec. 2, pp. cxv-cxxxii.


and is now generally regarded as untenable. For Mark frequently deviates from Matthew in
the order of time, in his arrangement of facts; and he adds many things not related by the other evangelists; neither of which a mere epitomizer would probably have done. He also omits several things related by Matthew, and imperfectly describes others, especially the transactions of Christ with the apostles after the resurrection; giving no account whatever of his appearance in Galilee; omissions irreconcilable with any previous knowledge of the Gospel according to Matthew. To these proofs we may add, that in several places there are discrepancies between the accounts of
Matthew and Mark, not, indeed, irreconcilable, but sufficient to destroy the probability that the latter copied from the former.*


* Compare Mark x. 46, and xiv. 69, and iv. 35, and i. 35, and ix. 28, with Matthew's narrative of the same events. [See]


Mark 10
(1) 46 Now they came to Jericho. As He went out of Jericho with His disciples and a great multitude, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the road begging. 47And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Matthew 20
(1) 29 Now as they went out of Jericho, a great multitude followed Him. 30And behold, two blind men sitting by the road, when they heard that Jesus was passing by, cried out, saying, “Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!”



48Then many warned him to be quiet; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”



31Then the multitude warned them that they should be quiet; but they cried out all the more, saying, “Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!”

49So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be called.
Then they called the blind man, saying to him, “Be of good cheer. Rise, He is calling you.”
50And throwing aside his garment, he rose and came to Jesus.
51So Jesus answered and said to him, “What do you want Me to do for you?”


32So Jesus stood still and called them, and said,






“What do you want Me to do for you?”


The blind man said to Him, “Rabboni, that I may receive my sight.”


33They said to Him, “Lord, that our eyes may be opened.”

52Then Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus on the road.

34So Jesus had compassion and touched their eyes. And immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed Him.



Mark 4

(1) 35 On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side.” 36Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was. And other little boats were also with Him.

Matthew 8

(1) 23 Now when He got into a boat, His disciples followed Him.

37And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling.

24And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves.

38But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”

But He was asleep. 25Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!”

39Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. 40But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?”[1]

26But He said to them, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.

41And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!”


27So the men marveled, saying, “Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?”



Mark 14

66 Now as Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came. 67And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, “You also were with Jesus of Nazareth.”

Matthew 26

69 Now Peter sat outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came to him, saying, “You also were with Jesus of Galilee.”

68But he denied it, saying, “I neither know nor understand what you are saying.” And he went out on the porch, and a rooster crowed.

70But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you are saying.”

69And the servant girl saw him again, and began to say to those who stood by, “This is one of them.” 70But he denied it again.

71And when he had gone out to the gateway, another girl saw him and said to those who were there, “This fellow also was with Jesus of Nazareth.”
72But again he denied with an oath, “I do not know the Man!”

And a little later those who stood by said to Peter again, “Surely you are one of them; for you are a Galilean, and your speech shows it.”
71Then he began to curse and swear, “I do not know this Man of whom you speak!”

73And a little later those who stood by came up and said to Peter, “Surely you also are one of them, for your speech betrays you.”
74Then he began to curse and swear, saying, “I do not know the Man!”

    72A second time the rooster crowed. Then Peter called to mind the word that Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.” And when he thought about it, he wept.

Immediately a rooster crowed. 75And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” So he went out and wept bitterly.



Mark 1

35 Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed. 36And Simon and those who were with Him searched for Him. 37When they found Him, they said to Him, “Everyone is looking for You.”
38But He said to them, “Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth.”

Matthew 4


39And He was preaching in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and casting out demons.

23 And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people. 24Then His fame went throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all sick people who were afflicted with various diseases and torments, and those who were demon-possessed, epileptics, and paralytics; and He healed them. 25Great multitudes followed Him--from Galilee, and from Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan.



Mark 9

14 And when He came to the disciples, He saw a great multitude around them, and scribes disputing with them. 15Immediately, when they saw Him, all the people were greatly amazed, and running to Him, greeted Him. 16And He asked the scribes, “What are you discussing with them?”
17Then one of the crowd answered and said, “Teacher, I brought You my son, who has a mute spirit. 18And wherever it seizes him, it throws him down; he foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth, and becomes rigid. So I spoke to Your disciples, that they should cast it out, but they could not.”

Matthew 17

14 And when they had come to the multitude, a man came to Him, kneeling down to Him and saying, 15”Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic[Literally moonstruck ] and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. 16So I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him.”








19He answered him and said, “O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him to Me.”

17Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.”


20Then they brought him to Him. And when he saw Him, immediately the spirit convulsed him, and he fell on the ground and wallowed, foaming at the mouth.
21So He asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?”
And he said, “From childhood. 22And often he has thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”
23Jesus said to him, “If you can believe,[1] all things are possible to him who believes.”
24Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”















25When Jesus saw that the people came running together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him and enter him no more!” 26Then the spirit cried out, convulsed him greatly, and came out of him. And he became as one dead, so that many said, “He is dead.” 27But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose.


18And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour.

28And when He had come into the house, His disciples asked Him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?”
29So He said to them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.”[2]

19Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?”
20So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief;[2] for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. 21However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”[3]



The striking coincidences between them, in style, words, and things, in other places, may be accounted for by considering that Peter, who is supposed to have dictated this Gospel to Mark, was quite as intimately acquainted as Matthew with the miracles and discourses of our Lord; which, therefore, he would naturally recite in his preaching; and that the same things might very

naturally be related in the same manner, by men who sought not after excellency of speech. Peter's agency in the narrative of Mark is asserted by all ancient writers, and is confirmed by the fact, that his humility is conspicuous in every part of it, where anything is or might be related of
him; his weaknesses and fall being fully exposed, while things which might redound to his honor, are either omitted or but slightly mentioned; that scarcely any transaction of Jesus is related, at which Peter was not present, and that all are related with that circumstantial minuteness which
belongs to the testimony of an eye-witness.*


* See [Thomas Hartwell] Horne's Introduction [to the Study of the Holy Scriptures], vol. iv. pp. 252-259.


We may, therefore, regard the Gospel of Mark as an original composition, written at the dictation of Peter, and consequently as another original narrative of the life, miracles, and doctrines of our Lord.