June 16, 2018

Holy Hieromartyr Mark, Bishop of Apollonia

St. Mark of Apollonia (Feast Day - June 16)


You balance Mark the weight of the stones,
Your hands as scales were hanging down.

This Mark is usually identified with Mark the cousin of the Apostle Barnabas. According to Hippolytus, in his work On the Seventy Apostles, Mark the cousin of Barnabas (Col 4:10; Phlm. 24) is distinct from John Mark the Bishop of Byblos (Acts 12:12, 25; 13:5, 13; 15:37) and Mark the Evangelist (2 Tim. 4:11). They all belonged to the Seventy Apostles of Christ (ranked #56, #65, and #14, respectively), who were sent out by Jesus to saturate Judea with the gospel not long before His crucifixion (Luke 10:1). Hippolytus says that Mark the cousin of Barnabas was a leader of the apostolic Church and the Bishop of Apollonia. (There are various possible sites for this place, including some in Greece, some in Italy, one in Thrace, one in Bithynia and one in Cyrenaica.)

Ancient sources in fact consistently distinguish the apparent three Marks of the New Testament. Medieval sources, on the other hand, increasingly regarded all New Testament references to Mark as Mark the Evangelist, and many modern scholars have agreed in seeing a single Mark. The very fact that various writings could refer simply to Mark without further qualification has been seen as pointing to a single Mark.

Mark the cousin of Barnabas is mentioned by Paul as a "fellow worker" in the closings of three Pauline epistles. In antiquity he was regarded as a distinct Mark, Bishop of Apollonia. If, on the other hand, the Marks are to be identified, the fact that these epistles were written after the departure of John Mark with Barnabas in Acts must suppose some later reconciliation. But a majority of scholars, noting the close association of the Marks with Paul and Barnabas, indeed regard them as likely the same person.

Mark the Evangelist, however, is known only from the patristic tradition, which associates him only with Peter and makes no mention of Paul. Jerome alone suggests that the Mark of whom Paul speaks may be the Evangelist. But modern scholars have noted that as Peter fled to the house of John Mark's mother, the two men may have had a longstanding association.

According to the Synaxarion of Constantinople, Bishop Mark of Apollonia suffered a martyric death by being hanged upside down, tying boulders to his hands, and leaving him to hang there in the void.