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Mark (the bishop)
bishop 143?-153? A.D.
Ancient Christian Church
Alexandria/Egypt

Eusebius of Caesarea (c.260-340) initiated his Ecclesiastical History with reference to "the successions from the holy apostles" [I.1] thereby enunciating the principal one of those several themes by which he intended to tell his story [cf. Grant 1980, esp.ch.VI]. As a consequence those major urban centers of the Roman imperial world, including its second city, Alexandria, could provide Eusebius with the main points of reference wherein he could document literally by named persons those who were in that succession and thereby presided over the ministry of their respective urban communities.

Upon the passage of the Second Jewish War with Rome (132-135), including the devastating impact upon Jerusalem and its temple which included complete destruction and transformation into the new imperial city, Aelia Capitolina, named for the family of Hadrian, while the temple area had erected upon it one in honor of Rome's chief deity, Jupiter Capitolinus, with a statue of Hadrian within [H.E.IV.6; cf. Carrington 1957:II.46-47; Grant 1970:84-85], the remainder of his reign was relatively quiet and Publius Aelius Hadrianus (January 24, 76 - July 10, 138, ruled from August 8, 117) passed from the scene before the Alexandrian bishop. Hadrian was succeeded, as Eusebius would note, "to the principate of the Romans" by the adopted heir (Titus Aurelius Fulvus Boionius Arrius) "Antoninus, called Pius" (September 19, 86 - March 7, 161, ruled from July 10, 138) [H.E.IV.10].

While Christians had taken no part in this war, as Eusebius would next observe, "the church there (meaning Jerusalem but including Alexandria!) was (now) composed of Gentiles" such that "the first to be entrusted with the ministry of its members (specifically at Alexandria), in succession to the bishops of the circumcision, was Mark" [IV.6.4], "after Eumenes (q.v.) had completed thirteen years" [IV.11.6]. To which, Eusebius can only add, that "when Mark rested from his ministry after ten years, Celadion received the ministry of the church of the Alexandrians" [ibid.]. But of these "pastors" at Alexandria, there remains nothing more within the tradition that can be adduced pertaining to them.

Yet within this era Eusebius details the first of the "heresies" and "heretics" [IV.7] within the church at Alexandria (including Basilides [IV.7.6-8], Carpocrates [IV.7.9], and Valentinus [IV.11.1,3-5] q.v.), though one might equally note the rise of the famed "Catechetical School" under Pantaenus (q.v.; see H.E.V.10). Birger Pearson has suggested "that Pantaenus took over the leadership of the school from a Gnostic teacher" guessing this might have been "Basilides's son Isidore (who) would have belonged to that generation" [1990:210 incl.n.61] which generation must have included Eumenes, Mark, and Celadion!

Clyde Curry Smith



Bibliography (see link to abbreviations table below):

GEEC 33 (FWNorris)


Supplementary Bibliography:
Carrington 1957 The Early Christian Church, by Philip Carrington. Cambridge: At the University Press. 2 volumes.
Grant 1970 Augustus to Constantine: The Thrust of the Christian Movement into the Roman World, by Robert McQueen Grant. New York, Evanston, and London: Harper and Row.
Grant 1980 Eusebius as Church Historian, by Robert McQueen Grant. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Oulton 1927 Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea, The Ecclesiastical History and the Martyrs of Palestine, translated with Introduction and Notes, by Hugh Jackson Lawlor and John Ernest Leonard Oulton. London: SPCK. 2 volumes. Volume I: Translation, by John Ernest Leonard Oulton. (Specific references also cited as H.E. with book and chapter).
Pearson 1990 Gnosticism, Judaism, and Egyptian Christianity, by Birger A Pearson. "Studies in Antiquity and Christianity." Minneapolis: Fortress Press.



This article, received in 2004, was researched and written by Dr. Clyde Curry Smith, Professor Emeritus of Ancient History and Religion, University of Wisconsin, River Falls.


Click here for Abbreviations and Source References for Ancient African Christians.