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The African Memory of Mark

Chapter 10

Mark’s African Identity Viewed Historically

Dr. Oden sets forth the recent history of dismissal of African tradition concerning Mark, and then builds the case for an early consensus concerning Mark that confirms the African memory by citing many of the earliest and respected church fathers.


Key Terms and Name:

Clement of Alexandria: a philosopher and educator, who presided over the Catechetical school in Alexandria.

The Letter to Theodore: ahighly controversial letter, or rather, a copy of a portion of a letter, purporting to be from Clement of Alexandria.  Authorities are divided as to whether or not it is a legitimate letter, or if it is a later forgery.  Dr. Oden cites this work as being a potential early witness to the presence of Mark in Africa.




Reflect on the criticism of Bauer toward the Alexandrian church.  Isn’t it just as fair to argue that since the Alexandrian church did not choose such a “primary” figure as Peter, that its much more likely that this tradition is historically true?


Who are the key figures for establishing the early traditions concerning Mark? Which figures point specifically to Mark’s presence in Egypt?


What is your take on the controversy surrounding the Letter to Theodore?   Even if it is proved, ultimately, that the letter was not written by Clement, does or doesn’t it point to an early belief in the traditions concerning Mark?


What is the significance of the fact that “Eusebius refers to his references in the plural, as ‘they,’ not in the singular” (210)? What resources, which Dr. Oden identifies, did Eusebius have that qualified him to speak for Mark’s tradition as he does?  Is there a hint of the idea of controversy concerning Mark’s presence in Africa that is betrayed by Eusebius?


For further consideration:

A good breakdown of the controversy and current state of scholarship on the Letter to Theodore can be found here: