Dr. Oden argues that Mark’s close association with these two men fits him to play an important, even pivotal, role in the history of the church. Dr. Oden also discusses Babylon of Egypt, and shows the reasonableness of a brief sojourn for Mark and Peter in that place at the time of the writing of 1 Peter.
Key Terms and Names
Babylon of Egypt: A lesser known Babylon sits on the border between Upper and Lower Egpyt. Located in modern day Cairo, it is home to a number of Coptic churches. It is linked, historically, to the Jewish people as a refuge, and may have played host to Peter and John Mark, as proposed in this chapter of The African Memory of Mark. The presence of the Ben Ezra synagogue of Cairo demonstrates that there has been a Jewish refugee population in the area since pre-Christian times.
Consider the evidence amassed by Dr. Oden for the Babylon of 1 Peter 5:13 to be in Egypt. What evidences seem most important? Is it a valid conclusion that he has made? Given the time lines involved, is it more or less reasonable than the conclusion than the standard belief that Babylon refers to Rome? If we grant that the Babylon referred to is located in Egypt, does it seem reasonable that Peter would have taken with him someone who would have been familiar with Africa?
Given Peter's encounter with the Centurion Cornelius, and given Mark's association with Peter, would it be surprising if Mark were among those preaching to the Gentiles at Antioch (p.125)?
Consider the amazing things that Mark must have seen while associated with Peter and Paul. Consider the encounters that took place on Cyprus during the first missionary journey. What sorts of impressions must these have made upon Mark? Paul commands Timothy to entrust the teachings of Christianity to faithful men (2 Timothy 2:2). Think through the data that Dr. Oden has presented to us here. Does it seem that the person Peter chose (and later Barnabas) was Mark?
Paul, writing in the book of Galatians, takes it as a given that if Peter could welcome and support him, the Galatian people should respect and honor his teaching as well. If Mark were a close associate of Peter's AND Paul's, isn’t it reasonable to believe that Mark is an important personage?
Dr. Oden's point is that current western teaching concerning Mark tends to dismiss his importance, even downplay it, given Paul and Barnabas' dispute concerning him. The African traditions concerning Mark, along with the consensus teaching of Europe before the 1800's, by contrast, teach that he was a very important, significant person indeed. The question that we must answer upon reading this chapter is if it fits with the evidence presented that Mark could indeed be the kind of person African tradition paints him to be: a Patriarch, a force for changing a continent, a martyr for Christ. What do you say?
For further investigation: