Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Mark Son of Peter the Apostle

The Apostle Peter states in his first letter that Mark is his son.

Saint Mark the Chosen Son
Saint Mark wrote his version of the Gospel based on Saint Peter's spoken testimony. Peter the disciple of Jesus did not write a version of the Gospel, but he is the author of two epistles, both of which are in the New Testament. They were written during the first century, and the first of these epistles mentions Mark. Owing to this biblical Script, it is certain that Saint Mark the Evangelist is the chosen son of Peter the Apostle.

The Man From Galilee Who Became the Stone Foundation
Simon the fisherman lived in Galilee and was dedicated to his daily work when Jesus chose him along with eleven other disciples. He spoke Aramaic, as did all the disciples of Jesus, and with them he followed Jesus everywhere. On one occasion Jesus spoke to Simon and gave him the name Rock, in the spiritual sense of stone.

The Greek translation for stone is Petros, and from the Greek comes the name Peter. It has the spiritual meaning of foundation. On giving Peter the name Rock, Jesus declared that he would build his Church upon this foundation and give him the keys of the Kingdom of heaven.

Peter's Successor: the Keys Contested
Around the sixth century AD a book appeared in Rome with the title liber pontificalis, meaning the book of popes. The exact date of its first publication is unknown, but it has remained until this day the book through which the Vatican claims that papal authority dates back to Saint Peter. According to the liber pontificalis, Peter’s apostolic authority passed at the time of his death to a certain Linus, who is described as Peter’s successor and second in line of the popes.

The liber pontificalis does not recognise any of the biblical apostles – including the four Evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – as a successor to Saint Peter. Saint Peter’s two epistles, on the other hand, give an account of their own. Peter does not mention Linus in either of them, but in the first letter names only two men as being with him: Silvas, who helped him to write the first letter, and Mark, who Peter calls his son.

Peter’s Two Epistles Prior to the Written Gospel
In the period when Peter sent his two letters to the Church communities to whom they were addressed, the Gospel had still not been written. Peter mentions Paul’s letters, yet he does not allude to a written version of the Gospel, and so it can be reasonably assumed that the four Evangelists began their written work after Peter’s two letters were made known to the faithful.

The first three gospels, those of Matthew, Mark and Luke, are known as synoptic, for they present a correlation in the description of events that took place when Jesus preached the Gospel in Galilee and Judea. It is universally accepted that one of these books formed the basis for the other two that followed.

The first synoptic gospel is traditionally considered to be Matthew’s, followed by those of Mark and Luke, but biblical research has later concluded that the first of the three synoptic gospels is that of Mark. His gospel is by far the shortest, and it is no doubt the original script which Matthew and Luke each later included in their respective presentation and built upon by presenting further information.

From the Apostle Peter’s Second Letter to the Gospel of Saint Mark
In his second letter, Peter informs the faithful that he will do his best to provide a way for them to remember the good message of Salvation. In so doing he makes known his intention concerning the future of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and it would later become evident that Peter was alluding to a written Gospel.

As no further epistle from Peter appears after this, it is clear that a successor would continue the apostolic work and provide a way for the Church to remember the promise of Salvation in Jesus. The successor would accomplish this by presenting a written book in which the works and words of Jesus are recorded for all generations.

Peter had named Mark in his first letter, and although he did not use the word successor, he wrote of him as his son. The term son is used here to indicate his favourite disciple. The Apostle Paul used the expression my dear son in his two letters to Timothy with the same meaning of favoured disciple.

Saint Mark was not among the original twelve disciples, but he wrote his gospel according to the spoken testimony of Peter the Apostle. His work as Evangelist is the continuation of Peter’s apostolic mission, and so Mark son of Peter can be rightfully considered Peter’s successor.

The Gospel of Mark later became the basis for the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. In this way, the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven which Jesus had conferred upon Simon Peter were transferred – by way of the three synoptic Evangelists – into the written New Testament, to which the Evangelist John later added his gospel.

  • gospel according to Matthew
  • first and second letter from Peter
  • first and second letter to Timothy
Written by D. Alexander

Read also: Saint Mark the Evangelist. The great controversy between the Church of St. Peter and Rome.

Who was Saint Peter's Successor? Is he a pope or an Apostle?

Saint Peter's Primacy from Zion: Do you know that Zion is the Mount where Jesus Christ is the eternal High Priest?

Saint Peter's Successor: Was pope Linus an Apostle or an Evangelist? Or neither? Can he be greater than St. Mark Evangelist who the Apostle Peter called his son?

The First Written Translation of the Gospel: read about the Evangelists who wrote the Gospel that Jesus taught.

Monday, 26 December 2011

The Origins of the English Church

The origins of the English Church date back to the sixth century, following the marriage between a Kentish prince and a French princess.

The Royal Marriage in Kent
Christianity reached the shores of England by way of a royal marriage in the Kingdom of Kent. Prince Ethelbert, son of King Eormenric of Kent, married Princess Bertha, daughter of Charibert King of the Franks. In this marriage lay the origins of the spiritual foundation of the English Church.

The Anglo-Saxons Prior to the English Church
When the Anglo-Saxons settled in England in the fifth century, Christianity was unknown to them. They came into contact with the Britons, who had already converted to Christianity, but, owing to the hostility between the two populations, there was no immediate exchange of cultural identity between them. As a result, the Anglo-Saxons continued following their own religion, which was that known to all Germanic and Scandinavian populations prior to their conversion to the Christian faith. Traces of this ancient religion have remained intact in England over the centuries and are present in everyday language, namely in the days of the week, the most notable being Thursday, dedicated to Thor.

During the early Anglo-Saxon period, contacts of a commercial nature existed between England and the European continent, mainly with the Frisians and the Franks, yet no missionary from any Christian Church ever visited England. In this same period, the British Church of the Celtic speaking Britons had lost contact with Rome and the other Christian metropolitan centres of the Mediterranean Sea. Little is known about cultural relations between British Celts and Anglo-Saxons, but the difference between Celtic and English undoubtedly prevented missionary work on the part of the Christian Britons, as there was no translation of the Gospel in the language of the Anglo-Saxons.

The Anglo-Saxons formed independent kingdoms, each ruled by a king. Some of these became important names in English history, such as Wessex, Mercia and Northumbria, but there were many others, including East Anglia, Essex, Sussex and Kent. The kingdom of Kent in south-east England was the closest to Europe, and in the latter half of the sixth century the Kentish king, Eormenric, sought to establish a matrimonial bond with the Franks by way of a marriage between his son Ethelbert, who was heir to the throne, and Bertha, daughter of King Charibert.

Kent and Christianity in the Sixth Century
Ethelbert, like all Anglo-Saxons, was not a Christian, as no missionary activity had reached the shores of England, whereas the Germanic speaking Franks living on the other side of the sea were firmly dedicated to the Christian faith, as were the Latin speaking Celts among whom they shared the same land.

A marriage between a Christian princess and a heathen prince was unusual, yet Ethelbert must have made a good impression on the Frankish royal family. The Kentish prince set sail for France, for it is stated that he received Bertha from her parents. Ethelbert returned with Bertha to Canterbury, Kent’s capital at that time, where his father ruled as king. In course of time, Bertha’s Christian faith would make Canterbury the centre of the English Church and eventually a destination for pilgrims travelling from all over England and Western Europe.

Around 590 Ethelbert succeeded his father as King of Kent. He took great interest in the faith of his consort and restored for her an ancient chapel that had been built in Canterbury by the Christian Britons. This chapel, dedicated to Saint Martin of Tours, was in fact the first English church, and it was in function before Saint Augustine’s arrival in England in 597. It preceded Canterbury Cathedral and all other churches built or restored by the Anglo-Saxons.

The English Church came into being not because the Roman Church had sent a missionary to England to make known the Gospel in a land where it was not known, but owing to the marriage between Ethelbert and Bertha. The Frankish princess brought with her the Gospel of Jesus Christ and imparted the Word to her husband. They spoke similar languages – the Anglo-Saxons and the Franks both speaking Germanic tongues – and Ethelbert believed in the faith of his wife.

When King Ethelbert took the decision to become Christian, he consulted with the noble families of Kent in order to remain king, for it meant breaking with the old religion. He succeeded owing to the persuasion of his consort’s faith, and a number of those surrounding him also chose to convert to Christianity, as did many more people among Kent’s inhabitants. When a papal envoy came from Rome to Kent to help establish ecclesiastical administration, King Ethelbert had already spiritually accepted the Christian faith and thereby set the foundations for the English Church.

The pope’s envoy came in the person of Augustine with about forty ecclesiastics accompanying him, and they set about baptising in water the people who converted. The actual arrival of the Gospel, however, and the spiritual conversion of King Ethelbert, came about prior to Augustine, namely in the heart of Bertha the new Kentish princess and in the copy of the Gospel which she brought with her, and in her ability to convert her husband.

Written by D. Alexander
Read also about Celtic foundations within the English Church:

The English Church came about through a marriage between man and woman. Marriage is between man and woman:

Photo 1: reproduction of an ancient Kentish grail in Dover district.

Photo 2 and 3: A Kentish church in Walmer, Dover district.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

The First Oral Translation of the Gospel

The Evangelist Luke recounts how the Gospel was orally translated for the first time in Jerusalem.

From the Old to the New Testament
Saint Luke the Evangelist is the author of the book of Acts of the Apostles, his second biblical book. He wrote it in the first century after having completed the version of the Gospel that bears his name (the Gospel according to Saint Luke). In his book of Acts, Luke gives apostolic testimony that is not to be found in any other book of the New Testament. He reveals how the old Temple gave way to the new Temple, how the Old Testament passed into the New Testament, how the Jewish Synagogue became the Christian Church.

Pentecost and the Old Temple in Jerusalem (Old Testament)
Pentecost is the Greek name for a Jewish biblical feast known in the Old Testament as the presentation of the first fruits. The Law of Moses prescribes that every year this feast must be celebrated forty-nine days after the offering of the sheaf of the first grain. Moses also commanded that the Israelites, in order to celebrate this holy feast, must gather at the place where the Altar of God stands.

Around the year 1000 BC King David brought the Altar of God to Mount Zion in Jerusalem, Mount Zion being located in the high part of the city, and the priests serving at the Altar of God took up residence in Jerusalem. David’s son Solomon, who succeeded him as King of Israel, later built a Temple to serve as a house for the Altar. This first Temple was destroyed in the year 587 BC prior to the Babylonian Exile, and the Altar disappeared.

When the Jews returned to Jerusalem after forty-nine years of exile in the region of Babylon, they built a second Altar in the place where the first one had stood, and after a further twenty-one years they proceeded to build the second Temple to accommodate the Altar. In the first century AD the second Temple was extensively renovated and embellished at great public expense.

Pentecost and the Foundation of the Church in Jerusalem (New Testament)
According to Luke, on the day of Pentecost the eleven faithful disciples and a number of Christ’s other adherents were gathered within one room in a house in Jerusalem. This was forty-nine days after Jesus had returned at Easter. On that day of Pentecost the Spirit from Heaven descended upon all the faithful who were present in the room. On receiving the Spirit the disciples and all those with them began to talk under divine inspiration, speaking in many languages. At that very moment they became Apostles.

Many Jews had gathered in Jerusalem from all over the Diaspora, swelling the number of the city’s inhabitants. They had come to Jerusalem to celebrate the presentation of the first fruits. They were walking the streets speaking in the languages of the regions from where they had come, while others spoke in Judaean Aramaic. Those passing near the house on which the Spirit had descended perceived voices from within, and each heard the words in their own language.

The people gathered to listen, for those inside the house talking in many tongues were speaking as though reading from the Scriptures, and they were speaking of the Messiah, who is Christ. This was unusual, as the house was not a synagogue, and when reciting from the Scriptures, a priest or rabbi would speak in one language, where-as those in the house were talking in different tongues.

The Place Where the Altar of God Stands
The location of the house to which the Spirit came is not known, but it is certain that it stood in Jerusalem and that it was not the Temple that had been built after the return from the Babylonian Exile. Luke’s testimony in the book of Acts indicates that a new Temple with a new Altar had been founded in Jerusalem among the disciples and adherents of Jesus to whom the Spirit had come, and that the Spirit spoke openly by way of these Apostles to the many Jews gathered in the streets.

The house where this came about was the first church building, and those gathered within it formed the first assembly of Christ’s Church that had been founded there. It was the place where the Altar of God was established. On that day of Pentecost, therefore, the Altar was not in the magnificent stone Temple where most Jews thought it was.

Concluding upon Luke’s description of the events, the apostolic priests of the new Altar were in the house to which the Spirit had descended, and under divine inspiration they spoke the Word of God in numerous tongues. Within course of time this oral Gospel was to become the written Gospel, and so the Word of God is to be found in the written New Testament.

In the first chapter of his version of the Gospel, John the Evangelist states that Jesus is the Logos, the Word of God. According to Saint Luke’s book of Acts, the Logos spoke the Word in many languages on the day in which the Church was founded in Jerusalem.

The Logos, the Son of God, preached the first oral translation of the Gospel in the house where his faithful apostolic assembly had gathered, speaking in many tongues through the first fruits gathered unto the Presence of the Holy Father in Jerusalem.

  • Book of Acts of the Apostles
  • Gospel according to Saint John
Written by D. Alexander

Read also: the first written translation of the Gospel:

The origins of the English Church: how a royal marriage brought about the foundation of the  English Church in Kent.

Saint Peter's primacy comes from Zion the High City, not from Rome:

The great controversy between the Church of Saint Peter and the popes: