The Acts of Mark: Translation, Chps. 1–5

Note: The only known Greek text of the Acts of Mark is in the library of the Stavronikita monastery in Thrace, northern Greece. As mentioned in the introductory post on this important and still virtually unknown work, the Greek text was published by François Halkin in the journal Analecta Bollandiana 87 [1969]: 346–371. In 1969, Halkin wrote in a footnote: “Once again I am obliged to Mr. M. Richard for a photocopy of this inaccessible text.” Thanks to the offer of Dr. M. A. House, I am able to present here his translation, specifically for this website, of the first five chapters of the Acta Marci. It is my hope that in future a scholar will step forward to complete the translation of the remaining thirty chapters.

This is “a fairly literal translation, and so it may sound a bit rough,” in the words of the translator. Occasionally, the Greek is provided in brackets in cases where the translator was uncertain of the best English rendering. Some Greek words have also been provided for those who may not have access to the original text. Capitalizations (e.g. God, Spirit, Gospel) are the translator’s. The following translation is provisional. I have taken the liberty of adding minimal bolding that highlight points in accompanying discussions on this website.—René Salm

Deeds and Miracles and Testimony
of the Holy and All-praiseworthy Apostle and Evangelist Mark
From the codex Athonensi stauronicetae 18, s. xiii., f. 175v–189

Translated by Dr. Mark A. House
(January, 2012)

1. Prologue

The God-taught doctrines of the divinely wise and celebrated apostles, and their Spirit-moved and world-saving instruction, preached by God’s direction unto the ends of the world, and [their] judgment unfolding [as] the shining of solar rays, the greatest of the world, has delivered [us] from sophistic and satanic atheism and idol-mania and has transferred [us] to the light of the knowledge of God. Therefore, since the admirable and all-pious apostle and evangelist Mark is also from the God-appointed time of the great and divinely sweet apostles, he is also suitably worthy of highest praise and is celebrated with songs of praise by the pious. For which reason also our smallness and moderation has been incited by Scripture to pass along his praiseworthy and God-pleasing manner of life and [his] useful travels and his wonder-working, incredible deeds, both for the glory of Christ our God and for [the] benefit of those who encounter [it]. So, with the guiding assistance of the all-powerful and essentially unified trinity of the one divinity and [his] realm, emboldened also by acceptable supplication of the God-seeing evangelist for aid, let us begin casting forth [our] expository composition.

2. Mark’s Youth; His Knowledge of Scripture

This celebrated apostle Mark, the torch of the unfading light and the great herald of the teaching of the Gospel, was descended from stock [that was] godly-minded and adorned with a kindly strain [kai xrêstois êthesi kekosmêmenon], and derived as well from the Levitical tribe. And from his childhood into developed manhood and maturity, he ordered his life in a self-controlled and moderate fashion, abstaining from all unseasonable and hurtful vanities, but also clinging to all soul-benefitting and wholesome good deeds. Persisting in both fastings and prayers and petitions, and rejoicing in good deeds, he was known and marveled at by all. And encountering the prophetic books, and pondering the reading, and musing on the hidden and obscure meanings of the God-breathed predictions, by divine illumination he harmoniously interpreted with excellence and perfection, making the releases of these lofty divine discourses clear to all. So from this and from his virtuous way of living, the people called this man mystery speaker [mystolektês] and holy herald [hierokêroux].

3. His Generosity; His Other Virtues

Having his residence in Jerusalem, he was allotted great wealth from his ancestors, and he distributed this to the needy and poor. For this wonder-worthy apostle was generous and infected with much pity, kindly and courteously welcoming in poor and exiled people and providing for their necessities. With these his excellent successes and many other forms of virtue he distinguished himself, and rightly so. For he was predestined for discipleship of the only begotten Son of God and worthily called to transfer every good working of virtue to the highest degree [pasan aretês agathoergian], in order thus to receive divine illumination from the all-holy and life-giving Spirit and to become a clear-sighted torch and an enlightened [pamphaestaton] herald of the divine discourses of the Gospel.

4. He Is Baptized by St. Peter;
His Mother Receives Jesus the Miracle Worker

Now at first this blessed apostle was called John. But when he received the washing of renewal from Peter the divine and venerable leader, he was renamed Mark and bore the title [exrêmatisen] of an adopted son. And Mary, the mother of the blessed apostle Mark, had converted [metêrxeto] to a sober and God-loving life. And when she had seen a populous crowd following Christ as their God, the one who had become human for salvation of the human race and who had accomplished very great and inexplicable miracles, with great haste she goes to him and is ashamed and beseeches him to come away into her house. And the philanthropic and all compassionate Jesus, the God-man, the Creator of the whole world, the one who is present everywhere and fills the universe with his divine and all-authoritative power, hearkened to her [and] went along to her house. And he, the one [who gives] holiness to everyone, and who supplies enlightenment, and who gives a myriad of good things, illuminated and sanctified everyone in that place. For what could be more lofty and pleasant than this saving visitation and reception? That she, truly blessed and honored, the mother of the inspired apostle, received into her house the only begotten Son and Word of God, the one who brought forth from non-being all the seen and unseen creation, and who became human because of the extremity of [his] goodness and unutterable compassion. For the crowds were exceedingly struck seeing the truly great signs and wonders and the countless miracles that Christ, the Son of the Most High God, performed in [his] many years among those in the bounds of Jerusalem and that vicinity, just as the teaching of the Gospel specifies. For dead people arose and became alive with only a word, sight was granted to blind people, he healed epileptic and demon-possessed folk, he walked upon the surface of the seas [thalassiois], he authoritatively commanded the sea and the winds, he made the waves of a violent storm calm and smooth. From five loaves of bread he fed thousands, he healed those with half-dry necroses [nekroeideis] and those severely afflicted with leprosy and those under medical treatment, and he granted healing from painful and incurable diseases to countless multitudes. For he who accomplished these things is the Son of God and God the Christ, of the same substance as the Father and the Holy Spirit, who encompasses everything. And the Word has thus both accomplished these things and performed them repeatedly.

5. A Disciple of John the Baptist, and Then of Jesus;
Mark Received St. Peter Freed from Prison

Now the celebrated apostle Mark had previously followed the divine and greatly eloquent John, the forerunner, but when the only-begotten Son of God went from Jerusalem into Galilee, he followed him. And when Peter, the most divine and all-reverent leader of the apostles, was cast out from the inescapable and all-secure prison under the supervision of a holy angel, and was delivered from the hands of the all-abominable and thrice-accursed Herod and the baseless and lie-plastered betrayal of the all-brazen Jews, he went immediately from the prison to the house of the thrice-blessed Mark, sending up a hymn of thanksgiving to God and announcing to the brothers about the wondrous deed that had happened to him, how Christ their God had suddenly and amazingly delivered him from the brutal and murderous plot of the accursed Jews. So everyone rejoiced by sending up the appropriate thanksgiving to Christ their God.

NEXT—Acts of Mark: Dating

About René Salm

René Salm is the author of two books on New Testament archeology and manages the companion website

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