Thursday, January 12, 2017

Illuminated Manuscripts + early paintings of Saint Mark, the founder of Christianity in Egypt

St Mark The Evangelist (John Mark)  Book of the Gospel of Archbishop Ebbo of Reims. (c. 815-835)

John Mark is named in the Acts of the Apostles as an assistant accompanying Paul and Barnabas on their missionary journeys. Traditionally he is regarded as identical with Mark the Evangelist. Strictly speaking, the Gospel of Mark is anonymous. 

Rossano Gopels St Mark The Evangelist (John Mark)  Early Christian 6C vellum codex. Rossano, Italy Cathedral Treasury, folio 121r

Although, Papias (the bishop of Hierapolis A.D. 140) wrote in his last work (Exegesis of the Lord’s Oracles) the strongest evidence for Marcan authorship tied to Peter: "The Elder said this also: Mark, who became Peter’s interpreter, wrote accurately, though not in order, all that he remembered of the things said or done by the Lord. For he had neither heard the Lord nor been one of his followers, but afterwards, as I said, he had followed Peter, who used to compose his discourses with a view to the needs of his hearers, but not as though he were drawing up a connected account of the Lord’s sayings. So Mark made no mistake in thus recording some things just as he remembered them. For he was careful of this one thing, to omit none of the things he had heard and to make no untrue statements therein."  

St Mark The Evangelist (John Mark) and his lion from the Ada manuscript Gospel Book of the Court school of Charlemagne, c. 810; in the Stadtbibliothek, Trier, Germany

In addition, The Anti-Marcionite Prologue to Mark (A.D. 160-180) mentions Mark as the Gospel writer and connects him with Peter: “...Mark declared, who is called ‘stumb-fingered’ because he had short fingers in comparison with the size of the rest of his body. He was Peter’s interpreter. After the death of Peter himself he wrote down this same gospel in the regions of Italy.”

IV St Mark The Evangelist (John Mark) Evangelia Einsiedeln, Stiftsbibliothek, Codex 17(405), p. 126St Mark 10C St. Gallen, Switzerland

John-Mark is mentioned in the Bible:
-He was a Jewish Christian whose mother, Mary, owned a home in Jerusalem where the early church met (Acts 12:12)
-He was a cousin of Barnabas (Col. 4:10)
-He was added to Paul & Barnabas’ party, when they visited Jerusalem for the famine relief (Acts 12:25)
-He went with Barnabas & Saul (Paul) on the 1st missionary journey, but turned back to Jerusalem, when they went inland to Asia at Perga in Pamphylia (Acts 13:5,13)
-On the 2nd missionary journey Barnabas wanted to take John-Mark along, but Paul refused because of his earlier defection, so Barnabas took Mark to Cyprus (Acts 15:36-41)
-Mark was with Paul during his imprisonment in Rome & served as his delegate in Asia Minor (Philemon 24; Col. 4:10)
-Paul instructed Timothy to send Mark to Rome to be with him during his final imprisonment, because he was useful to him for service (2 Tim. 4:11)
-When 1 Peter was written, Mark was with Peter in Rome & regarded as Peter’s spiritual son (1 Peter 5:13)

Saint Mark, from the Harley Golden Gospels, ca. 800-825 (British Library, British Museum, London)

Biblical scholars note that in AD 49, about 19 years after the Ascension of Jesus, Mark The Evangelist (John Mark) traveled to Alexandria [(Acts 15:36–41) & founded the Church of Alexandria, which today is part of the Coptic Orthodox Church. Aspects of the Coptic liturgy can be traced back to Mark The Evangelist  (John Mark) himself.  He became the 1st bishop of Alexandria; & he is honored as the founder of Christianity in Africa.  If St. Mark The Evangelist (John Mark) was from ancient Cyrene, as a Coptic biography (The Beholder of God) asserts, he hailed from what today is known as Libya, as Cyrene was a city in the Pentapolis of North Africa (now Libya).

St Mark The Evangelist (John Mark) The Gospel of Trebizond. Greece (c. 900)

However, a recent biography by the Coptic pope Shenouda III using additional primary sources is not very well known.  Some sources in the biography appear to date back to the 11C. Alexandria was one of the original 3 main episcopal sees of Christianity.  In Christianity, an apostolic see is any episcopal see whose foundation is attributed to one or more of the apostles of Jesus.

Tzanes Emmanuel. St Mark The Evangelist (John Mark) Greece, Venice (c. 1657)

Tradition adds that Saint Mark returned to the Pentapolis of North Africa later in life.  When Mark The Evangelist (John Mark) returned to Alexandria, the pagans of the city resented his efforts to turn the Alexandrians away from the worship of their traditional gods. In AD 68, they placed a rope around his neck & dragged him through the streets, until he was dead.  If the apostle Mark The Evangelist (John Mark) was a Cyrenean, then Jesus selected an African as a member of his inner circle & to share the gospel as an evangelist.

1524 St Mark The Evangelist (John Mark) with his lion and a quill. It is from an illuminated manuscript of the Renaissance. Library of Congress

Andrea Mantegna, (1431-1506) St Mark The Evangelist (John Mark) 

St Mark The Evangelist (John Mark) Byzantine Psalter 13C. Illuminated Manuscript Victoria & Albert Museum, London, England

St Mark The Evangelist (John Mark) Gospels from Mainz. Now in the Koninklijke Bibliotheek in The Hague (The National Library of the Netherlands).

Icon of St Mark The Evangelist (John Mark) in Albanian National Archive 10

Lichfield Gospels - Portrait of St Mark The Evangelist (John Mark) 

 St Mark The Evangelist (John Mark) Writing Unknown artist

St Mark The Evangelist (John Mark) sharpening his pen Gospel printed in Constantinople, c 1325-45. Getty Museum

St Mark The Evangelist (John Mark) writing the Gospel London Rothschild Hours' ('Hours of Joanna I of Castile), Ghent c. 1500

 St Mark The Evangelist (John Mark) 12C Manuscript

St Mark The Evangelist (John Mark) 13C Armenian Miniature Illustration

St Mark The Evangelist (John Mark) and his lion at the beginning of the Gospel excerpts, Add MS 34294, f. 10v Sforza Hours British Library c 1490

St Mark The Evangelist (John Mark)  folio 110v Greek Gospels Southern Italy-Sicily mid-late 12C Sp Coll MS Hunter 475 (V.7.2) Glasgow University Library Detail

St Mark The Evangelist (John Mark) Greek Icon

St Mark The Evangelist (John Mark) Orthodox icon

St Mark The Evangelist (John Mark) and his lion The four gospels in Arabic Cairo, Egypt 18C

 St Mark The Evangelist (John Mark) with Lion Book of Hours

St Mark The Evangelist (John Mark) with Lion Gospels from Mainz. Now in the Koninklijke Bibliotheek in The Hague (The National Library of the Netherlands).

St Mark The Evangelist (John Mark) folio 110v Greek Gospels Southern Italy-Sicily mid-late 12C Sp Coll MS Hunter 475 (V.7.2) Glasgow University Library

St Mark The Evangelist (John Mark) and his lion The Gospels of St. Medard de Soissons (Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, MS lat. 8850)

St Mark The Evangelist (John Mark) from 14C Illuminated Manuscript, Byzantine Model

 St Mark The Evangelist (John Mark) with Lion

The Martyrdom of St Mark The Evangelist (John Mark)  from the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry, a priceless 15C French

Morning Madonna

Giulio Romano (Italian artist c 1499-1546) Madonna and Child with St John c 1522

In this blog, I try to begin each day with a painting of the Madonna & Child. It centers me; connects me to the past; & encourages me to post some of the religious paintings which were a large part of the core of early Western art.  In the 4C, as the Christian population was rapidly growing & was now supported by the state, Christian art evolved & became grander to suit new, enlarged public spaces & the changing contemporary tastes of elite private clients.