The true message of the first gospel

I’ve been thinking long and hard about this topic and I’m confident now that I know what one intention of the anonymous Roman fiction known to us as “Mark” was… you know, apart from telling the Jews to lay down their weapons and follow Roman laws and pay taxes unto Caesar…

Before anybody complains about my description of the “Gospel According to Mark” as an anonymous Roman fiction, let me explain the two adjectives and the noun that I’ve chosen to describe that work:

1. The name “Mark”, appropriately derived from the Roman God of War, Mars, was only attributed to the fiction in the middle of what we now (since A.D. 525) know as “the second century”. (hence ANONYMOUS)
2. The work of fiction was penned in Rome, in a Roman dialect, following Vespasian’s rise to power in A.D. 70. (hence ROMAN)
3. The genre is “fiction” because it is a story told from the perspective of an all-knowing narrator, with, apparently, access to knowledge of what happened in private situations, and with “knowledge” of the characters’ inner minds. (hence FICTION)

The key passages that give the game away are to be found in Mark 13. Jesus is said to have prophesied thusly:

And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory … Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done

Given the time that the fiction was written, and given the time that “Jesus of Nazareth” was meant to have said this, you really have two options:

1. Jesus’ prediction failed
2. Jesus’ prediction was fulfilled by Vespasian

Now… Vespasian’s slave Josephus tells us quite plainly in his work “Φλαυίου Ἰωσήπου ἱστορία Ἰουδαϊκοῦ πολέμου” (Flavius Josephus’ The Jewish War) that Vespasian was the fulfilment of prophesy:

For the Jews, by demolishing the tower of Antonia, had made their temple four square: while at the same time they had it written in their sacred oracles, that “then should their city be taken, as well as their holy house, when once their temple should become four square.” But now what did the most elevate them in undertaking this war, was an ambiguous oracle, that was also found in their sacred writings; how “About that time one, from their country, should become governor of the habitable earth.” The Jews took this prediction to belong to themselves in particular: and many of the wise men were thereby deceived in their determination. Now this oracle certainly denoted the government of Vespasian: who was appointed emperor in Judea.

Furthermore, the Roman historian Suetonius tells us in The Lives of the Twelve Caesars (in his chapter on The Life of Vespasian):

Vespasian as yet lacked prestige and a certain divinity, so to speak, since he was an unexpected and still new-made emperor; but these also were given him. A man of the people who was blind, and another who was lame, came to him together as he sat on the tribunal, begging for the help for their disorders which Serapis had promised in a dream; for the god declared that Vespasian would restore the eyes, if he would spit upon them, and give strength to the leg, if he would deign to touch it with his heel. 3 Though he had hardly any faith that this could possibly succeed, and therefore shrank even from making the attempt, he was at last prevailed upon by his friends and tried both things in public before a large crowd; and with success.


There had spread over all the Orient an old and established belief, that it was fated at that time for men coming from Judaea to rule the world. This prediction, referring to the emperor of Rome, as afterwards appeared from the event, the people of Judaea took to themselves; accordingly they revolted and after killing their governor, they routed the consular ruler of Syria as well, when he came to the rescue, and took one of his eagles.

Tacitus tells us the following in his Histories

Prodigies had occurred, but their expiation by the offering of victims or solemn vows is held to be unlawful by a nation which is the slave of superstition and the enemy of true beliefs. In the sky appeared a vision of armies in conflict, of glittering armour. A sudden lightning flash from the clouds lit up the Temple. The doors of the holy place abruptly opened, a superhuman voice was heard to declare that the gods were leaving it, and in the same instant came the rushing tumult of their departure. Few people placed a sinister interpretation upon this. The majority were convinced that the ancient scriptures of their priests alluded to the present as the very time when the Orient would triumph and from Judaea would go forth men destined to rule the world. This mysterious prophecy really referred to Vespasian and Titus, but the common people, true to the selfish ambitions of mankind, thought that this mighty destiny was reserved for them, and not even their calamities opened their eyes to the truth.

Is it not the most natural thing, then, to recognise that one purpose of the anonymous Roman fiction known to us as “Mark” was to legitimise Vespasian as divinely sanctioned?

And isn’t it ironic that the three Roman historians most commonly used by Christian apologists to establish that Jesus was a real boy are the very men who have left these obvious hints for us?

Oh, I nearly forgot… all of this “Son of man” coming in the clouds and all that… it’s straight from the book of Daniel, of course:

I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.

As a final thought… the later synoptic gospels copied the bulk of “Mark” verbatim.