Is the Gospel of Mark Unreliable?

Here is an argument to show the unreliability of Mark to further show the Gospels are unreliable that Luke & Matthew: “plagiarize[d] (largely word-for-word) up to 90% of the gospel of Mark, to which they add sayings of Jesus… and would-be historical details.”

“Mark shows no first-hand understanding of the social situation in Palestine. He is clearly a foreigner, removed both in space and time from the events he alleges. For example, in Mark 10:12, he has Jesus say that if a woman divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery. As G. A. Wells… puts it: ‘Such an utterance would have been meaningless in Palestine, where only men could obtain divorce. It is a ruling for the Gentile Christian readers… which the evangelist put into Jesus’ mouth in order to give it authority. This tendency to anchor later customs and institutions to Jesus’ supposed lifetime played a considerable role in the building up of his biography.’”

“One further evidence of the inauthenticity of Mark is… in chapter 7, where Jesus is arguing with the Pharisees, Jesus is made to quote the Greek Septuagint version of Isaiah… Unfortunately, the Hebrew version says something different from the Greek. Isaiah 29:13, in the Hebrew reads ‘their fear of me is a commandment of men learned by rote,’ whereas the Greek version – and the gospel of Mark – reads ‘in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men’ Revised Standard Version). Wells observes dryly [p. 13], ‘That a Palestinian Jesus should floor Orthodox Jews with an argument based on a mistranslation of their scriptures is very unlikely.’”

Gerasa, the place mentioned in the oldest manuscripts of Mark, is located about 31 miles from the shore of the Sea of Galilee! Those poor pigs had to run a course five miles longer than a marathon in order to find a place to drown!.. Later copyists of the Greek manuscripts of all three pig-drowning gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) improved Gadara further to Gergesa, a region now thought to have actually formed part of the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee.”

“According to Mark 7:31, Jesus and the boys went by way of Sidon, 20 miles north of Tyre on the Mediterranean coast! Since to Sidon and back would be 40 miles, this means that the wisest of all men walked 70 miles when he could have walked only 30.“

“It turns out that Saul’s appeal to the authority of Jesus involves precisely the same error we found in the gospel of Mark. In 1 Cor. 7:10, Saul says that ‘not I but the Lord, [say] that the wife should not separate from the husband.’ That is, a wife should not seek divorce. If Jesus had actually said what Saul implies, and what Mark 10:12 claims he said, his audience would have thought he was nuts“.

Also with the Gospel of John:
“The inauthenticity of the Gospel of John would seem to be established beyond cavil by the discovery that the very chapter that asserts the author of the book to have been ‘the disciple whom Jesus loved’ [John 21:20] was a late addition to the gospel. Scholars have shown that the gospel originally ended at verses 30-31 of Chapter 20. Chapter 21 – in which verse 24 asserts that ‘This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true’ – is not the work of an eye-witness.”

I would think by now we would learn to have more faith in the words of those who lived in that time than in modern exegetes. Modern scholarship of the authenticity of the Scriptures is separated by 1950 years, give or take.


“Since Jesus is frequently referred to as ‘Jesus of Nazareth,’ it is interesting to learn that the town now called Nazareth did not exist in the first centuries BCE and CE. Exhaustive archaeological studies have been done by Franciscans to prove the cave they possess was once the home of Jesus’ family. But actually they have shown the site to have been a necropolis – a city of the dead – during the first century CE. (Naturally, the Franciscans cannot agree!) With no Nazareth other than a cemetery existing at the time, how could there have been a Jesus of Nazareth?“

I, for one, cannot fathom why a believer would willingly subject themselves to such bilge. If you are looking for reasons to doubt, there are millions. If you are looking for a reason to believe, there is just one:

Jesus Christ in the Most Holy Eucharist


As the American Atheists have clear biases and agendas against religion, these objections are interesting and I think it would be worth while to evaluate their validity (if not just freely asserted).

On the contrary, Mark’s Gospel is held by most scholars to be the earliest gospel. According to Papias, writing in the early second century, it was composed in Rome, based on information provided by the Apostle Peter.
Believe what you like, but I’ll take Papias’ words over yours, any day.


At least from the objections it seems Mark misunderstood divorce if only men could divorce and gives odd locations in Gerasa and near Tyre. This G.A. Wells certainly makes claims.

I doubt Mark misunderstood divorce at that time, and lean heavily towards modern exegetes misunderstand divorce at that time. Honestly, it’s things like this why I believe the laity should be very reticent to engage in biblical scholarship.

I suppose Wells can make claims, I’m genuinely not sure where this German professor got his information. I don’t know what to make of the mistranslations of Hebrew and Greek. The seemingly confusion of Palestine terrain is kinda odd.

Is this type of reading edifying for you? If you are looking for gotchas and slip ups that destroy the validity of the whole Christian faith, perhaps you should anchor yourself in your faith first.


Mark’s not unreliable. :slightly_smiling_face:

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That describes me perfectly, they are definitely NOT edifying. Sadly I seem to give too much credence to opposing opinions, I strive to be objective as I can. Tbh I hate these articles, but I have an internal struggle of finding the truth; it’s difficult for me to ignore these articles. Overall I can feel scared in my faith as it really hasn’t been anchored. I tend to be too skeptical, I am open to any suggestions to help anchor my faith.

For awhile I have felt certain of God’s & Jesus’ existence, it’s been more difficult to intellectually tie them into my Catholic faith. I have yet to really develop a personal relationship with God as I get too hung up on intellectual truth (“does He really exist based on these arguments?”). I realize intellectual truth will only get me so far, I need to experience God. All my topics I created reveal what I most struggle with.

FAITH ITSELF is beautiful

Which opens the Door to the wonder of the Message contained In the Gospel

It came my way even when I thought that I already had it…

FAITH is as a Key to God…

I’m not a theologian, but these arguments you have been posting aren’t based on very good history. I’m not aware of any significant scholar these days who would use terms like “unreliable” to describe the Gospels. That just isn’t a meaningful term to apply to them.

If you’re looking for solid historical scholarship look at John Meier, Raymond Brown, or James Dunn for starters.

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Well you have 4 people telling their version of the same account there would be slight variations and I think it makes it more believable if it was made up I doubt you would have different sayings With the exception of Luke you are seeing it from the eyes of three different people. I suspect Luke’s Gospel account came from Peter but I have never read where Luke Gospel account came from.


These take as an assumption for their basis that Jesus was just some random guy in Palestine, rather than the son of God. Jesus said and did a lot that didn’t conform to their culture and His message was intended as universal.

It takes the premises that random guys in Palestine wouldn’t have said or done certain things and that Jesus was a random guy in Palestine, therefore he didn’t say or do those things. The premise is bad.

It also assumes things like the Septuagint is less accurate than other extant Hebrew texts, etc. which is hardly settled to be the case.

Overall it’s just the usual tired, lame, worn-out stuff.


You, as a Catholic, are obedient to your Bishop, to the Magisterium, to the the Pope.
They give you the Gospel of Mark in and with the whole of the Scriptures, as fully reliable.
You are not obedient to the Historical Critical Method of text study, but to a person (Jesus) and the people he in person sent to you (Your Priest, Bishop, Pope) - He and his messengers are the guarantors of reliability, by the actual reality of the Holy Spirit which is theirs to grant to you when they lay their hands on you in your Baptism and Confirmation and Absolution (and Holy Orders, if you are a Religious).
You are a servant, not an independent judge.

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I think it’s a good thing to be as highly informed on all sides of any issue as possible. Yes, Mark was the first gospel. Yes, Matthew and Luke borrowed heavily from it. But none of these was intended as an historical treatise. They were written to represent an overview of the life of the most amazing man ever to have lived. We can select many verses which may be used for argument, but for me these create only an interest which has nothing to do with the foundation of my faith. I gladly read the arguments against Christianity, but only to search for counter arguments in favor. Poster billsherman recommended Raymond Brown as an author. I highly endorse him along with Bishop Barron. I have never yet been disappointed. :slight_smile:

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